Tag Archives: Nigeria

Guest Blog: Do NOT Mismanage God’s Affairs by Lucky Atugbara

Do NOT Mismanage God’s Affairs by Lucky Atugbara

Dear Readers,

Once upon a time, in the not-too-distant past, my husband and I lived for two years in Lagos, Nigeria. Some people pray, “Lord, I will do anything for You, but please don’t send me to Africa.” Being sent to Africa was one of the best things in my life. I needed to be there. God sent me there to learn some important spiritual lessons that I could only have learned from being there! I also met some lovely life-long friends during the process.

One of them was our driver Lucky. Like many people in Nigeria, two jobs are a reality. Lucky worked for us at a secular job as our driver, but his “REAL” job was that of a minister. Some people believe that pastors must have higher education. I agree that education is an excellent plus for pastors, but in some situations and some countries, that is not realistic. Lucky is a self-taught minister of the gospel, and he is good at it. Theologian A.W. Tozer sums it up when he says, “The thing that must really be understood is that our knowledge of God cannot be acquired simply through academic processes. What we really know about God is what He has faithfully revealed to us.” ¹

Lucky occasionally sends me his Sunday sermon messages. I devour them! God is using this man to preach the gospel in Lagos. Below is a recent sermon he sent me. Yes, I edited his “speech” a little—with his permission—to make it more readable to my blog followers. I hope you enjoy it, and as you read it, look for the main point. The main point is the essence of our walk with our triune God.

Patti Greene

  1. God will never allow spiritual growth if we do not manage our lives correctly. So instead of praying for something from God, we should pray for the spirit to handle our sin, guide us into His truth, and be responsible for what He has given us. God will not allow you to have something you have prayed for if you cannot manage them.
  2. God created men and women to worship Him—as God. He required a manager to manage what He made. Note that whatever you mismanage, God will not allow that area of your life to grow—until you can handle it.
  3. If we ask people why God created man, they usually say, “It is to worship God.” Correct, but we must worship Him with the right motives, the right desire, and glorify Him because He is God.
  4. Whatever you mismanage, you will most likely lose. Whatever is under your care, work diligently to protect and care for it. God cannot give you what you pray for if you do not manage what He has already given to you well. He can only provide you what you can handle. You pray for a new house. But God looks down on the apartment you have and sees it is not well-kept or clean. So, He says, “No! You have not managed the apartment I gave you, so you may not have a house.” He only gives you what you proved you could manage.
  5. Some people might get jealous of your ministry. They may not understand what is going on behind the scenes and making your ministry grow and flourish. If you do not manage your church or church assignments correctly, you may lose them, just like if you mangle your body, you might lose part of your arm, leg, or health. If you mess up your relationships, you might lose them. If you mishandle your children, it is possible to lose them. If you blow your money or bungle your business, you could lose them.
  6. To my pastor friends, I say, “So stop crying, Pastor. Don’t say, ‘I don’t know what’s happening to me. Life does not give you what you deserve but for what you fight for. Start reading Philippians 4:6.”

Ask. Seek, Find

My dear friends, the only way we can defeat the enemy we face is to pray. We must appreciate and tell the people that God has blessed us in one way or another.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7 NASB).

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6 NASB).

GOD BLESS YOU, MY BELOVED MADAM,

I hope you liked my sermon and have extracted something from this message.

In God’s Grace,

Lucky

Bible Verse:

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord and not for people, knowing that it is from the Lord that you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve (Colossians 3:23-24).

Prayer: 

Dear Lord, I come to You today lifting my heart to You. I desire to work and serve You diligently. Please take away all my ungodly motives, my wicked spirit, and any desire to be “seen” for my works. Make me desire to live a life pleasing to You in grace, love, and humility. Remind me that my purpose in life is to understand the revealed truths You give me through Your Word. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

¹ Tozer, A.W. Delighting in God: True and Absolute Freedom is Found only in the Presence of God. New Delhi: General Press, 2020.

Verses are taken from The New American Standard Bible (NASB).

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Wanna Banana?

Driving: A Common Life Experience

One day at a busy intersection in Houston, I geared myself up to hit the gas pedal—holding tightly to the steering wheel waiting. However, my deep desire to accelerate quickly was held back by the red traffic light staring right at me.

While sitting at this busy juncture, I was also trying to psyche myself into a spiritual high by listening (and fake singing) to the blaring voice of Andre Crouch singing My Tribute—a popular Christian song from the ’70s!

Immobilized by the traffic light, I was situated as a prime target for an aged homeless man who was only a few feet away from me, resting on an old overturned white paint bucket.

Experience: Provided by Our Culture and Beliefs

When we lived in Nigeria a few years ago during our temporary relocation to that country, I was trained not to open our car windows to the beggars and to only look straight ahead. My husband’s company security regulations drilled into us that, as expatriates, we should never have eye contact with the street people—the “down-and-outers”.  I did understand the strict company policy was in place to keep us safe! But now I was here in the United States. Expatriates are people who live outside their native country, but now I was on my home turf!

My mind rewound to my pastor’s recent sermon about how valuable people are. While I can’t exactly quote what he said, I do remember the gist of his sermon that addressed how un-Christlike it is if we can’t even look a homeless person in the eye—which was exactly what I was doing!

Making the matter worse was I was trying to soak up His blessings while listening to such “Godly music”:

With His blood, He has saved me; with His power, He has raised me; to God be the glory for the things He has done . . . Just let me be, pleasing Lord to thee and if I gain any praise, let it go to Calvary.

A Banana: Provided by a Reluctant Believer

How could I not look this homeless man in the eye while listening to those Christian music lyrics and not give him something?

Just let me live my life; Let it pleasing, Lord to Thee

I had no cash—and if I did, it would take longer than the red light gave me to dig through the bottom of my purse to find some loose change.

Wait! I had a banana that I had just put in my purse for my lunch. Not just any banana. It was a beautiful, large yellow banana—perfectly shaped and ripe for a luscious eating experience!

I pulled that banana out of my purse, rolled down my window, and asked the man, “Wanna banana?” I gave him the only thing I had.

His blood-shot blue eyes sparkled, and he looked right into my eyes.  On top of that, his “larger-than-life” smile contained more gratefulness and sincerity than I had experienced in a long time, even among my Christian acquaintances. If only his eyes could talk.

Conviction filled my heart as I thought that just a few seconds earlier I couldn’t – possibly wouldn’t – even turn my head to look at him.

Meat: Provided to the Israelites

After two decades of being captive in Egypt, Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt to enter the Promised Land that was given to the Israelites by God. Unfortunately, that generation did not make it to the Promised Land due to sin: rather, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Early on, the people complained about the lack of food. But God, in His goodness, provided water and food for them. He took care of His people.

This reminded me that God still takes care of people today—whoever they are. In this case, even the homeless man in Houston merited divine favor. Who was I to judge whether he was deserving or not?

Moses said, “This will happen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for He has heard your grumblings.’” 10 It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. 15 When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat. (Exodus 16:8-15)

Bread and Fish: Provided to Five Thousand

Our needs are known by God. In the gospels when 5,000 people were hungry, Jesus’ compassionate nature responded with action. He did not send people away hungry. He fed the entire multitude with a few loaves of bread and a handful of fish. Many commentaries propose that this miracle — which is recorded in all four of the gospels—suggests that our Lord really wants us to understand that we should be loving and benevolent to the hungry and hurting people we encounter.

13 Now when Jesus heard about John [how John’s head was brought on a platter and given to the Herod’s daughter, and how she brought it to her mother], He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14 When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick.15 When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” 17 They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” 18 And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” 19 Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20 and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children. (Matthew 14:13-21)

Acknowledgment: Provided by God

As he took my banana and started to peel it, the homeless man said something. I know it was more than a “thank you.” But because of my blaring Christian music, I couldn’t hear him.

I wish I knew what he said, but within my soul, I heard, “Patti, you’re my good and faithful servant. You just practiced kindness. Thank you.”

Bible Verses

He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor. (Proverbs 22:9)

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22)

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:21)

But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” (Acts 3:6)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Prayer

Heavenly Father, teach me Your ways. Let me never look down on anyone. You have made everybody in this world. Continually remind me that sharing Your love with others through my words and deeds is what You desire from me. As Titus 3:14 prompts us all, let me learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs so that my actions will be fruitful. Amen.

God Bless.

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Central Houston Inspirational Writers Alive! Associate Member; BibleGateway Blogger, Member; SBC, Church Member

Edited by E. Johnson.

Works Cited

New American Standard Bible. BibleGateway.com. Web. 5 Sept 2019.

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Poverty and The Poor

Poverty and the Poor

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The last few days I have been thinking a lot about poverty and Lagos, Nigeria. My husband and I resided in Lagos during 2013-2015. We saw a lot of poverty as we traveled within the city. I know there is poverty in the United States, but the poverty in Lagos was different than what we had seen in the United States of America.

Poverty is a global problem, but the poverty I saw in Nigeria was more bothersome than what I had seen in the USA. Maybe it was because I was unaccustomed to it – maybe not. Each nation may have different issues to consider, but the results usually involve what most people think poverty is – a lack of food, clothing, and shelter.  Knowing that poverty is a very complex issue, I decided to look at some of the issues that led up to poverty in Nigeria.

In Nigeria, many politicians were corrupt and governmental money was not being used to help the people in the country. We saw the imported products being unloaded from the docks because manufacturing, agriculture, and entrepreneurship were limited due to lack of education or funding available. Buildings dangerously toppled down from lack of codes or enforcement. Transportation and roads needed a throughout upgrading. Getting used to an electrical system where your electricity goes out 5-10 times per day was strange. Schools, hospitals, and medical facilities were in need of an upgrade. The majority of the economy’s focus was on oil production, but there was pilfering of oil, unequal distribution of the oil’s wealth, and disdain by many locals towards the oil companies. Beggars were commonplace. I ran into a lot of “workers” who felt they deserved a handout just because we supposedly had more money than they did. Paying a bribe for safety or special favors began to seem logical after a while. In our short time there, we experienced two close calls with criminal behavior. And being an avid newspaper reader, I read many newspaper articles about the living conditions of the people in the northeastern part of the country being killed and displaced due to the terrorist organization Boko Haram.

The first step of my research for this blog involved trying to figure out who really were “THE POOR.” I decided to search the Bible to find out what God had to say about the poor. While I couldn’t find a definitive definition in the Bible of who exactly the poor are, I found multiple words and phrases about the poor in Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon. From various verses throughout the Bible, the poor were noted as weak, hungry, indigent, needy, of the lowest class, impoverished, reduced to beggary, afflicted, wretched, lean, powerless to accomplish and end. In addition, Strong’s mentions the Greek word ‘ptόchos’ defines the poor as:

One who crouches and cowers; beggarly; destitute. The Greek word ptōxόs defines the poor as deeply destitute, completely lacking resources (earthly wealth) – i.e. helpless as a beggar. It relates to “the pauper rather than the mere peasant, the extreme opposite of the rich.”

Andrew Wilson interviewed Natalie Williams in his article Who Are the Poor. In that article, Williams states,

One biblical characteristics of poverty is [you are] powerless to raise yourself out of your circumstances.”

It is my opinion that since not all poor people are destitute, it would be wise to look at poverty and the poor in the context of each Scripture that addresses the issue. That is a challenging task since the word ‘poor’ and/or related words are mentioned in the King James Bible hundreds of times.

  • Poor – 205 times
  • Poorer – 1 time
  • Poverty – 15 times
  • Beggar – 3 times
  • Destitute – 8 times
  • Needy – 38 times
  • Penury – 2 times

Living in Nigeria made me wonder what God’s attitude toward poverty is. I noticed that poverty was affecting good people as well as bad people —maybe not equally, though. I noticed many Godly people who were poor and I noticed many ungodly people who were rich. It saddened me to see the shame, struggles, and ruin that affected many poor people, but it also saddened me to see the rich and famous lack humility, peace, and an ungodly lifestyle. My conclusion regarding poverty is that poverty does not have to lead to an ungodly life, but life is still tough. In the Bible, the word ‘poor’ most often referred to a person’s economic situation. But in each Biblical and/or current story on poverty, the causes and circumstances surrounding poverty are very different and complex.

Possible Causes of Poverty

  1. Sin; Genesis 3:17-19
  2. Trials/Misfortunes/Bad decisions i.e. stock market crash, bad investment, illness; Job 1:13-21
  3. Lack of discipline; Proverbs 13:18
  4. Idleness; Proverbs 10:4
  5. Neglect in giving; Proverbs 28:22
  6. Divine punishment; Proverbs 22:16
  7. Injustice; Proverbs 13:23
  8. Debt; Matthew 18:23-25
  9. Natural occurrences, i.e., tsunami, famine, tornado, hurricane, flooding; Genesis 47:20-22

Sometimes our attitude towards the poor has to do with why we “feel” a person is poor. We might not feel sorry for a person when they are poor because they don’t want to work and are just expecting a handout. When I see people asking for money on the street corners, I am a skeptic most of the time. I wonder why they are experiencing poverty or if they are really poor or even a fraud. I wonder what the cause of their poverty might be and then I make a judgment call. Whether that is acceptable or not, I do know that God is very specific about how He wants the poor to be treated.

How Should ‘The Poor’ be Treated?

  1. The poor should be treated fairly. Exodus 23:6
  2. The poor should not be mistreated. Galatians 6:9-10
  3. The poor should be cared for. Luke 3:11
  4. The poor should be helped generously. Jeremiah 39:10
  5. The poor should have special privileges. Exodus 23:11

We should show compassion for the poor among us. When we look at the early church, we see a Godly attitude shown by the first believers toward the poor. We see Jesus having compassion on the poor. The Bible says that when we show compassion toward the poor we will be rewarded. The Bible even gives some examples of the poor we should help – the orphans and the widows specifically. [Note: The family should be the first to help relatives, especially the orphans and widows in need.]

Poverty Principles

  1. Poverty will always exist in this world. Matthew 26:11
  2. God is concerned about poverty. Psalm 14:6
  3. People in poverty are expected to work if possible. 2 Thessalonians 3:10
  4. Family members are to help their poor relatives. 1 Timothy 5:8, 16
  5. People who are financially able should help the poor, i.e. gifts, food, clothing. Ephesians 4:28
  6. The church should help the poor. Acts 15:26

So far, I have spoken only of the physically poor. However, there is also the spiritual poor – those without Jesus Christ in their lives. And just as there are reasons for physical poverty, there are reasons for spiritual poverty. One may lack faith, understanding, or knowledge of God. This is where those who understand the redemptive power of Jesus Christ must pray for the Holy Spirit to change a person’s heart so that they will be drawn into loving relationship with Jesus. God does hear the prayers of the poor in spirit who are willing to trust Him for their daily needs.

I once saw a lady in Lagos on the street begging as she wearily walked up and down between the cars. Her shirt top was pulled down as she was nursing twins – one on each breast. She wore raggedy clothing. Her facial expression exhibited true despair. Her body screamed “malnutrition.” I don’t know about you, but in my estimate, she qualified as being one of the poor. You will run into people throughout your life that God will call you to minister to. They may be needy; they may be destitute; they may even be faking poverty. But by using your God-given wisdom and discernment abilities, He will show you what He wants you to do or how to help the poor! He really will!!!

God Bless,

PATTIGREENE.eps-(1png-300x9

Bible Verses:

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him. Proverbs 14:31

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? Matthew 16:26

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, when we see weariness, distress, and poverty, please allow us to discern who you want us to minister to – both physically and spiritually. Open our eyes to see everything we encounter through your eyes. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


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Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon. 14 March 2016. Online. EliYah.com.

Wilson, Andrew. “Who are the Poor? A Conversation with Natalie Williams.” 14 Oct 2015. Web. 13 March 2016.

Zondervan Dictionary of Bible Themes. Ed.Martin H. Manser. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999.

My Housekeeper

I love my housekeeper.

Yesterday I received a Facebook post from my good friend Glory. It was simple and easy to read, but so powerful. It simply said, “Become friends with people who aren’t your age. Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours. Get to know someone who doesn’t come from your social class. This is how you see the world. This is how you grow.” I do not know the source of this statement, but knowing my friend who posted it, I feel sure she meant that this is how you grow as a Christian.

Glory's post FB 2

As an USA expat living in Lagos, Nigeria, I have now seen poverty, unbelievable health problems, corruption, and the tears of people reaching out to God for help. But, I have also seen the calm sweet spirit of those who love Jesus and want to be obedient to Him no matter what life has brought them.

In Nigeria, most expats have housekeepers, cooks, and drivers. I am no exception. Yesterday, I told my housekeeper to show up, but that she was not going to clean for me, because I wanted to take her out for a birthday lunch. I decided to take her to a simple place next to our flat where we could walk to and not spend too much time.

I was ready to go. Mary (not her real name) showed up in a nice, lovely suit for the occasion. I was just wearing my regular old jeans that I had worn the past two days. I was gently jolted into reminding myself that this lunch was a very special occasion for her. We arrived at the restaurant. Remember, it is Nigeria. We had to proceed through a scanner and have our purses checked before being allowed entrance. The table in the main restaurant was covered with a bright white tablecloth adorned with a lovely folded cloth napkin. I ordered a steak and French fries. She ordered a hamburger and French fries. She ate her French fries with a fork. We laughed. I told her that in America, we eat our French fries with our fingers. I made her order a dessert since it was her birthday. She ordered an apple pie to go. She wanted to share her special occasion by bringing something home to her husband and son. Throughout the meal, we shared our lives. She told me about her tribal wedding and her white wedding. She asked me if I drove a car. She was shocked that someone from the USA didn’t have a driver to drive them everywhere. She doesn’t drive. You see, there is no opportunity here for her to ever own a car. She takes multiple buses to get home after cleaning my flat – sometimes taking up to three hours to get home.

table set

One day I asked her what she really wanted if I could bring her one thing back from the U.S. Her answer wasn’t fancy clothes, toys for her son, or needed medicine. She wanted a new watch. Hers wasn’t keeping time correctly, so she wanted a new watch, so she wouldn’t be late to work.

The lunch ended. We walked back to my flat. She left. I sat down and I thanked God for an opportunity to share with someone who was not my age, someone I had to ask to repeat what she said when she jumped into her tribal dialect, and someone who definitely was not from my social class.

Then, later that night, when I read the post from my friend, I could totally relate to it, because I had just experienced it and lived it this very same day.

While my housekeeper thanked me for my kindness towards her, I thanked God for the blessing I had just received.

Bible Verses:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

“I will make them and the places around my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in its season; there shall be showers of blessing.” Ezekiel 34:26

Six hours after I posted this blog, I received a message from Mary that I want to share. It is written exactly as she wrote it.

“Gudeven mum. I am very happy and appreciated for what u did for me .may almighty God reward u and bless ur family in jesus amen.I love u mum .thanks Mary.”

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Dealing with a Crisis

Many country crisis situations occur in Nigeria. One is a crisis going on right now at the Lagos Airport Cargo Terminal. Last week, custom clearing agents, who worked in the cargo section of the Muhammed International Airport, assaulted officials of the Nigeria Customs Service who came for an inspection of their warehouse.

Armored personnel were called in and many were severely injured during this violent clash. The end result was that cargo terminals have been closed while terminal security management figures out how to handle random people entering the cargo area, violence, inadequate national security issues, and how to clear the terminal of “unwanted” elements. The bottom line is that airport security at the terminal needs to be improved, but many are furious that the terminal buildings have been shut affecting  both revenues and companies that have their cargo currently locked up affecting goods purchased for their Christmas sales – including perishable items.  With criminals jumping fences and illegal access to gates that are not policed, this crisis has become a totally chaotic situation.

A newspaper article in This Day Live entitled Taming the Crisis at Lagos Airport Cargo Terminal says the main concerns with this crisis are:

–          A Porous Facility

–          An Inadequate Security, and

–          A Lasting Solution

That is exactly what happens in our lives when we are dealing with an insurmountable crisis that has become chaotic and uncontrollable.  When a crisis reaches that level, we need to check where the holes are, find the full-proof security, and come up with a lasting solution.

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First, you need to analyze what is coming into your life porously causing the instability and confusion. Are ungodly influences in your life? Have you been involved in any sinful behavior? Are your attitudes towards people or your circumstances entering your mind causing disruption in how you see your crisis? Second, where is your security? Is your solution to the crisis based on Jesus Christ? Have you confessed your sins and placed your security in the arms of your blessed Lord and Savior? Doing this will fill the inadequate security problem in our lives. When Jesus Christ is leading our lives, our security creates stability and assurance that God will take over and handle our problem. Finally, the lasting solution is in trusting God and seeking His will and His way out. It may involve making changes, require apologies, and/or disassociating from undesirable individuals. Reading the Bible and asking God to speak to you about your problem will bring you peace and a lasting solution to your crisis, but you must obey His Word and His leading as it is shown to you.

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Plugging up the holes that create porosity, finding the appropriate security in Jesus Christ, and trusting that God can provide a long-lasting solution is the means your crisis can be overcome and maintained.

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Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5-6

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Saying Goodbye

I just spent the final 30 minutes saying goodbye to my driver Lucky. Today we are leaving our expat assignment in Nigeria to move back to the United States. Yes, almost all expats in Lagos, Nigeria must have drivers for safety reasons. Lucky and I sat in the hotel lobby chatting. I shared how much I appreciated his service and love towards us. You see, Lucky is a believer. He is also a pastor. He was also our driver. We both needed each other for the time we had together. Going above and beyond his job description was Lucky’s forte. He would lay out Christian books and magazines for me to read on the backseat of the car. He would play Christian music for me as we drove around if I requested it. He would answer my deep theological questions. Lucky was not only our driver, but a brother in Christ. He shared that when we first came to Lagos my husband became like a father to him. His father died when he was 10 years old. He had no uncles or cousins to fill his father’s void. Per Lucky, my husband became that father figure to him. Have you ever noticed that it is in the final moments with someone, we tend to share our deepest thoughts? It could be the last minutes before you leave your child at college for the first time, it could be during the mother-son wedding dance, and it could be your final moments with a loved one before they pass away. In our final moments, Lucky and I encouraged each other by expressing our love and gratitude for each other. We both confirmed why God drew our families together. We also agreed that The Lord knows why we are being separated. Our most honest thoughts were shared in this final meeting. Now, let’s look at three of Jesus’ last earthly “cry outs” on earth. What did he share before his earthly separation from the people God created Him to serve and be an example to? First, before Jesus’ arrest, Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, “Eli Eli, lema sabachthani? That is, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) Secondly, at his crucifixion, Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:45) Finally, at his death, Jesus called out with a loud voice saying, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) Whenever we depart from friends, families, jobs, let’s “pretend” that those moments might be our last moments with them. Let’s use our words wisely and follow Jesus’ example by saying only words and phrases that are heartfelt, meaningful, and Godly.

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State of Emergency

I read a lot of news articles – many involving a particular state of emergency I have them sent directly to my iPhone. I use Google Alerts so I will be notified immediately on certain topics. I read many online newspapers. And I subscribe to “real” magazines.

One day one of the articles that came through one of my sources and printed in the Star Tribune was entitled More than 40 people killed by 2 female suicide bombers in northeastern Nigeria. The article was about two teenage girls that entered the busy marketplace in Maiduguri, a provincial capital in NE Nigerian state of Borno. In their vests were explosives hidden beneath their full hijabs. The first girl detonated her bomb killing 3 women. As rescuers rushed in, the second girl screamed and set off her explosives, killing many more.

While bombings and killings like this occur frequently in Nigeria, I wondered if we are getting desensitized hearing about it. The answer is probably YES. But, with this article, I wondered if the two girls were being used by the Islamic Extremist group Boko Haram who were immediately suspected to be the insurgents responsible for the attack. Were the girls forced to carry the bombs? And were these girls from the group of the 200+ girls kidnapped from Chibok (78 miles southwest of Maiduguri) in April, 2014 that are still missing? Then, my mind wondered if people are really “suicide bombers” if they are forced to carry out a task such as this. I also placed my heart into the minds of those 200 girls’ parents still missing – wondering if they were all now concerned that these two girls might have been their daughters. There must be nothing like losing a child, double that with your child being kidnapped, double that with thinking that your child might be used by an Islamic militant group to carry bombs, and double that with not knowing if your child is dead or alive.

Maiduguri is the largest city in Borno state. The city had already been placed under a state of emergency because of the extreme violence there.

But what happens when a city has been declared in “a state of emergency?” The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English states a state of emergency is, “when a government gives itself special powers in order to try to control an unusually difficult or dangerous situation, especially when this involves limiting people’s freedom.”

No matter what your ‘State of Emergency’ might be, God is the only one that can come to your rescue, answer your questions, and get you to a place of safety. He can do that, but you must first place your trust in Him as your Lord and Savior. With your relationship secure in Him, He has provided you with His Holy Spirit who can guide you in prayer and help you to understand the Bible in new and exciting ways. Look to Him, read His Word, and believe He will touch you and guide you.

While cities and countries depend on the government to help them during these states of emergencies, we must depend on God through our Lord Jesus Christ to get us through our own personal emergencies.

Ephesians 4:19 – And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ESV

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Bible Gateway Blogger Grid (BG²) is an international network of independent bloggers who meaningfully blog—and who are serious—about matters relating to the Bible. Follow the members on Twitter using our BG² List.

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Intercessory Prayer

Recently, my husband and I have been the recipients of “Intercessory Prayer.” Intercessory prayer means that you are offering prayers for others, i.e. friends, family members, co-workers. It is as simple as that. During our need for prayers, we can honestly say we could feel the prayers of others reaching heaven and coming upon us to help us in our situation.  Within us, those wonderful prayers created peace, security, healing, and comfort to particular need.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you can’t pray for yourself or the only thing you can do for others is pray for them? Maybe there has been an accident, an emotional or psychological incident, an unforeseen occurrence, or a spiritual dilemma creating an inability for you to pray. Those are the times to call upon your believing friends so they can lift you up in prayer and support you. There are also times, when you can’t do anything else but pray.

On October 29, 2014, while living in Lagos, Nigeria, an elderly-appearing man knocked on the back seat of the car window when I was stuck in bumper to bumper Lagos traffic. His wrinkles showed a very hard life. His dry swollen hand went up to his dry, cracked, parched lips begging for something to drink. Yes, I had a half Coke Zero in the car, but due to company security policy [due to possible kidnappings and armed robberies which are ongoing in Nigerian cities] we were strongly advised to err on the side of caution and not open our windows or doors for anyone. He stood there for what seems like an extremely long time. All I could do was turn my head away and pray. While I wished I could quench his thirst, I couldn’t. There are really times you can’t do anything but pray.

I have been writing out my prayers out in notebooks and journals since 1973! Yes, I know you don’t think I could be that old, but I was 17 years old when I started. I still have all those journals. It is very humbling to look back over my prayers. One day, I decided to look through some of my “prayer journals” and I saw that early in my Christian walk, most of my prayers were about ME and then about ME some more, but as I matured in the faith, I noticed my prayers had started becoming more about other people. Yes, I still pray about my concerns and life, but they seem to be a lot less about me and more for others now. Praise God.

In the Bible we can find many examples of intercessory prayers. Let’s look at three examples.
EZRA – In the book of Ezra, the scribe and scholar named Ezra, discovers an apathy developing among the Jews returning from Babylon to Jerusalem. The officials told Ezra about the Israelites and Levites not separating themselves from the Babylonians people and about their wicked acts and direct violations of God’s will which included intermarrying with foreign women.

When Ezra heard this, he rent his undergarment* and his mantle*, he pulled hair from his head and beard, and sat down appalled. He trembled. He sat astounded. But then he arose from his depression and he fell on his knees and spread out his hands to the Lord his God. He then says, “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads and our guilt has mounted to heavens. Since the days of our fathers we have been exceedingly guilty; and for our willfulness we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, captivity, plundering, and utter shame, as it is today.” [Ezra 9:6-7 AMP] “Now while Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there gathered to him out of Israel a very great assembly of men, women, and children; for the people wept bitterly.” [Ezra 10:1 AMP] Within this example, we can see the dire pain that Ezra felt toward those returning Jews. He was interceding on their behalf. Have you ever interceded for someone with that much depth and passion before?

Another person who came boldly to God’s throne in prayer is Paul. Paul prayed many times for believers in the New Testament. In Philippians 1:9-11 ESV, Paul prayed, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Jesus was probably the ultimate intercessor of all times. He prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail. [Luke 22:32] He prayed for believers and His disciples. He prayed for those who crucified him. Many times Jesus prayed with deep cries and tears for those around him. As Jesus prayed, so should we.

But how do we know for whom to pray? There are so many people and so many needs. While not an exclusive list, I have found most of my directions to pray for someone has come from these sources.

  • Seeing a need;
  • Feeling a holy hunch that someone/some issue needs prayer;
  • Hearing about a need and it being brought to my attention; and
  • Discerning a possible prayer need.

Intercessory prayer is powerful. It is like putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, feeling their pain, and praying from God’s perspective. Let’s look around us this week and see for whom God brings to us to pray. There are many faces today that need our prayers. Look for that face in the crowd. And pray diligently and boldly.

In Jesus’ Name.

Bible Verses:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. 1 Timothy 2:1

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  Romans 8:26

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

Prayer:
Jesus, let us pray in your power and strength. Lord, show us people and issues that need our attention in prayer. Imprint their needs upon our hearts so we can’t let go until prayers have been lifted up for them. Let us pray as you would – seeking God and trusting all outcomes to You. Take our prayers and bring them to the Father. Let your will be accomplished through our prayers. Cleanse us so we can receive Your wisdom and discernment in all we do. Thank you Lord. Amen.

God bless you.
Patti Greene

* The undergarment was a tunic.

* In biblical times, a mantle was typically a large, loosely fitting garment made of animal skin, probably sheep skin.
Breneman, Mervin. Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther: an exegetical and theological exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary). Holman Reference. 1993.

“What in a mantle in the Bible?” Got Questions Ministries. [15 June 2015.]

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Bible Gateway Blogger Grid (BG²) is an international network of independent bloggers who meaningfully blog—and who are serious—about matters relating to the Bible. Follow the members on Twitter using the BG² List.

www.PattiGreene.com

 

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