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TRAIN THEM NOT, BLAME THEM NOT

In this post, I am re-using the Chinese maxim: “If you don’t train them, don’t blame them”. It is very popular in the circle of management and human resource trainers and developers. The wisdom behind the statement is not an exclusive preserve of the Chinese people. It had existed in biblical times in Jewish tradition.
To become a High Priest one must belong first to the Levites and would have served from the lowest cadre to be able to ascend to that envious stage in the service to the Lord.

Moses trained Joshua, Deuteronomy 31: 7-8; Prophet Eli trained Samuel, 1Samuel 31: 1-21; Elijah trained Elisha, II King 2: 1-18 and in the New Testament, Apostle Paul adopted young Timothy as his son-in-the-Lord 1Timothy 1: 18-20. In all these cases, these responsive  followers of good leaders made their marks in what they were trained for. Joshua with his absolute relationship with Moses  as directed by God led the children of Israel into the promised land and led them in the wars to possess their possession. Samuel learnt to become a spiritual leader of Israel under Prophet Eli. His priesthood was in accordance with their relatedness to the Patriarchs. Elisha as servant to Elijah learnt to be Prophet of God with such an outstanding follower-ship that he got Blessed double portion of his master’s miracles. Conversely, Gehazi had a result oriented-trainer but his true behavior (inability to respond to the tenet of prophet virtue) became evident as he pursued and asked for gratification from Naaman (the Syrian army commander) from whom his master refused to take any gift. II King: 1-27. He was rewarded with Naaman’s leprosy as against positive reward or blessing for serving a great master. Elisha got a positive reward for his dedication and obedience under Elijah’s leadership while Gehazi did not show responsiveness to training and development; contrary wise he attracted the wrath of his master. 2King 5: 20-27.

In all Peter’s relationship with Jesus, he was teachable. His master foresaw devil’s plan to buffet Peter and destroy his destiny and therefore prayed to avert the evil before it struck. Even though, Peter stumbled with thrice denying Jesus, he wept bitterly when he saw Jesus turn his face towards him. By the anointing Jesus’ prayer had conferred on him, he was able to rally the disciples and waited until the day of Pentecost for them to receive the Holy Spirit. His preaching led to 3000 people accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. He also became the Head of the Church. His training was fruitful. Peter’s being teachable elevated him from a mere fisherman of low estate in Jewish tradition, a humble beginning, to the level of standing taller than the Jewish Priesthood and the Sanhedrin. Acts 2 and especially in chapter 10 where he at first felt awkward having to he invited by Cornelius, a Roman centurion. He went in obedience to God, after he went into trance where God instructed him thus ” What God has cleansed, that call not thou common”. Having been trained in obedience, commitment and genuine follower-ship under Jesus Christ, he was able to perform the sacred task as given in Mark 16: 15-18. The training the disciples received enabled them to bear the persecution unleashed on them with the blessed assurance of gaining entry into the kingdom of God .

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Leader-Follower Consequences

One has to extrapolate the meaning of leader-follower consequences to include all functional mentors that guide and develop individuals, young or old into leading a successful life in serving the Lord and humanity. They are such as classroom and Sunday School teachers, biological parents, foster or surrogate parents, evangelists, preachers counsellors, youth leaders and many more. In other words, biological and sociological parents or mentors do expectedly guide and help their wards and the mentored or followers to develop respectable personalities whatever the field of their endeavor in life. The control that they exercise on their followers is usually not the negative type. The end of the nurturing may be glorious or inglorious depending on the level of behavior-pattern that evolved in the individual that was mentored in view of individual’s cognitive resonance or dissonance.

This post covers the situation of master-servant relationship in terms of learning under a master with the ultimate aim of coming to take the place of the erstwhile master who had been served diligently and devotedly devoid of personal ‘hidden agenda’. Abraham remains the proximal and distal father of the Jews as established in God’s covenant with him. He was also an uncle to Lot, indeed a great father-figure from whom Lot could have learnt obedience, humility as well as worship of YAHWEH, the God of Israel. It turned out to be that Lot did not make Abraham a looking-glass self thus did not emulate his mentor, Genesis 13: 1-118. It was obvious that there was a good comparison between the two duos of Abraham-Lot and Mordecai-Esther in terms of humility, obedience, commitment and total yielding to the training and development in the master-servant model in this post. In Genesis 13, we saw how Lot severed relationship from Abraham only to end up as an unparalleled sinner ( committed sodomy); whereas, Esther became Queen to King Ahasuerus instead of Vashti in Shushan the palace. Esther 2: 1-18 and saved the Jews as well from the plan of getting rid of them as conceived by Haman.

In the life of Moses and Joshua, Deuteronomy 31: 3-8, they were a perfect blend of master and devoted servant or better call it apprentice. Before Moses was no more, Joshua was sufficiently fitted into the great task of leading the children of Israel throughout the war of possessing their (Canaan Land) possession in fulfillment of God’s promise to descendants of Abraham. Out of all the spies that went on reconnaissance mission only Joshua and Caleb returned to give an encouraging report. No wonder they were both appreciated. Caleb claimed his own portion of land after about 40 years as reward for their loyalty while Joshua emerged as the great leader. In his watch, he adopted the Law of Victory. Joshua 6: 1-20. Under this dispensation, Achan failed to imbibe the lesson Joshua’s Leadership stood for. Achan breached the Law of victory by stealing some of the valuable items the soldiers were supposed to have destroyed. He suffered total destruction in consequence? Joshua 7: 1-25.

David was highly devoted to God and was constantly enjoying divine grace and protection but his son Absalom chose a life of vengeance against his enemy. He also revolted against his father’s rulership. He subsequently perished. 2 Samuel 15: 1-17. He obviously rejected his father’s control or leadership and surely did not end well. The relationship between David and Solomon showed a child that was in compliance with a great and mighty father or if under a similar boss is more likely to benefit therefrom. I therefore posit that a child that learns from his accomplished parents and never rebels against them, tends to have the good life. But if after their death there occurred
a shift in paradigm from being the image of his good parents or erstwhile boss then any negative consequence would not be blamed on the mentor. King Solomon as a preferred son received his father’s approval to ascend the throne after him. He also humbly asked for wisdom needed to make him God-fearing King and be able to judge his subjects equitably. His request so pleased the Lord that God added prosperity beyond measure, not comparable to any being of his time. His holding YAHWEH in the high esteem gradually waned and he began to marry foreign women and allowed them to bring their gods into the house of worship of the God of Israel, God became disinterested in him. King Rehoboam did neither learn to put God first nor be compatible to elderly advice. As he walked not in the wisdom of God, he lost the ten Northern kingdoms of Israel to Jeroboam 1King 11: 29-40. Prophet Elijah and Elisha epitomized father’s or master’s leadership that the ‘son’ accepted and adhered to tenaciously. Elisha served Elijah so well that it was not difficult for him to request double portion of Elijah’s power when he was about to be taken up in a chariot. He did build himself up not to take no for an answer, even in spite of pupil prophets’ mocking him regarding his master’s departure. He undauntedly followed the master and was richly rewarded. Conversely, Elisha’s servant avariciously demanded and took gratification from Naaman, (head of Syrian army) and bagged leprosy that struck him with immediate effect. Timothy was lucky to have been brought up in the way of the Lord by both his mother – Eunice and grandmother- Lois, ITimothy 1: 2; 2 Timothy 2: 1, such that Apostle Paul proudly adopted him as son in-the-Lord and was able to pull through in the ministry. Hymenaeus and Philetus rejected Apostle Paul’s pure doctrinal mentoring by engaging in profane and vain babbling, for they increased in their ungodliness. IITimothy 2: 17. So also was the case of Alexander the coppersmith in II Timothy 4: 14-15.
The consequences on all of them and in contemporary times can only be better imagined than experienced as followers of Christ.

Work : The key to success

Work is the driving force behind achieving every individual hopes and aspirations. It constitutes common denominator between physical and spiritual endeavors. The evangelists needs to study the bible texts relevant to his outreach all the time. On the mundane level the builder must engage workers skilled and unskilled to be able to start and complete his project efficiently and effectively.

THE TONGUE (PART ONE)  The tongue is the man’s instrument for navigating his life’s path to paradise or perdition. It is a very small portion of the body but both very positively rewarding and at the same time negatively powerful. Abraham blessed Isaac and Ishmael but placed greater worth on the blessing of Isaac because he was a child of promise who would  be one of the patriarchs of the Jews. Isaac blessed Jacob by default through the intrigue of Rebecca his wife and mother of Jacob and Esau. Isaac later realized he had blessed the wrong child, he said  that it was not possible to redo or change the blessing poured on Jacob. Thus, Jacob became the third of the three patriarchs of the Jews. As for Esau, he became the father of the Edomites.  Esau and his descendants could not stand shoulder to shoulder with the Israelites because of what blessings Isaac placed on Jacob. By the potency of the power of the tongue that made the pronouncement, life never remained the same for the twin brothers. It is expected that any word that proceeds from man’s tongue, is supposed to be potent, just as God’s pronouncement does not return to him void. The psychologists, whether they individually believe in God or not, they scientifically work in line with what God wants from us. It involves watching our tongue which is preceded by positive thinking and product to be positive use of our tongue. It is apparently difficult for a negative mind to profess positively in all sincerity.Prophet Eli did not pray elaborately for Hannah, he only used his tongue (though anointed) as a stamp of God’s authority on Hannah’s prayers because he had the anointing being a true prophet of God. A Christian, a true believer indeed, knows that Jesus is the anchor to his faith. In other words, the daunting people’s antagonism, cheating, backbiting, plotting to kill or hinder progress are nothing before God. Use your tongue to pray the prayer of deliverance from your enemies and the battle would be won without physically waging war for physical victory. Confess Jesus as your Lord and savior and leave the battle for Him to fight on your behalf. Such fight is nothing physical. So you do not need to go to the gym to build and tone your muscles. Instead engage in spiritual battle with fasting and prayers. 2 Corinthians 10: 3-4 “For though we live as human beings, we do not wage war according to human standards. For the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds.We tear down arguments.”Prophet Elijah used his tongue to invoke the spirit of the God of Israel for fire to come down to devour his own sacrifice on Mount Carmel and put 450 prophets of Baal and”400 prophets of Asherah” to shame. He ordered the 450 prophets of Baal to be herded to Kishon Valley where he executed them. Tongue, as said earlier on, is the culmination of what resides in the heart, soul and spirit. Elijah was head, heart, soul and spirit God’s faithful servant to the extent that when the whole of Israel turned against God, he remained loyal to the core irrespective of the danger posed to his life by Jezebel, Ahab’s wife. By his being in tandem with the will of God, he was able to dictate the pace in his bid to bring back the erring children of Israel in the Northern Kingdom first before asking God to end the three-year drought he pronounced on Samaria (N. Kingdom). 1King 18: 1-46.  There were specific portions in this chapter 18 where Elijah’s tongue was used to command everybody without anyone disobeying him because of the anointing on him.Righteousness shows in the way we use our tongue. Take the case of Nicodemus who went by night to learn more from Jesus about being born again. In was in his pursuit of righteousness that he separated himself from the general erroneous belief of the Jews and especially the members of the Sanhedrin. These were the religious elites, the Rabbis, priests and High Priests. Essentially, they could not reconcile with the messianic  mission of Jesus Christ, in spite of their knowledge of the prophets of God’s prediction of the birth and mission of the “Lamb of God” that was to come and be the propitiating lamb for the remission of sins of humanity. Proverbs 10: 32 says: “The lips of the righteous know what is pleasing, but the speech of the wicked is perverse. Honestly,  Proverb 14: 23 says “In all hard work, there is profit, but merely talking about it only brings poverty”. This is a depiction of heart being right or being serious about doing and  the tongue revealing the mind. So watching one’s utterances is helped by asking God to be our guide to be able to follow the path of righteousness. We see again a situation of unbridled tongue: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue , and those who love its use will eat the fruit.” Proverb 18: 21..

Integrity

One with integrity can rise from prison to palace. Integrity is a word that denotes a set of character or behavior pattern or an adorable constant characteristic in a person that conforms with what the Lord demands from human beings in our daily living. The holiness of god can be translated to mean integrity. God’s “Yea is Yea and Nay is Nay”. HE does not blow hot and cold at the same time. A person to be known to have integrity must be able to say or do something and stand by it, even it brings sorrow and anguish but at last one would be vindicated. Thus, one canexplain as inviolable trith that cannot be decicrated.

Let us look at the sweet-sour life of Samson that was born with special anointing to combat and contain the ravaging Philistines. He started well.He later lost focus and was no more able to adhere to the tenets of theanointing upon him even inspite of his parents’ admonition. Judges 13 talked about his miraculous birth while chapters 14-16 how he lost his integrity which was the hallmark of his anointing. Man is prone to sinning but confessing and asking God to return him to the path of righteousness in order to get him saved from eternal damnation.The last minuterequest he made to God gave the anointed power to avenge his ordeal by killing The man  more at death than he did  in his early life. “The man of integrity  walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out”. Proverbs 10: 9.

The life of David is such that his becoming king was based on what God ad seen in his heart and not on his physical attributes. to choose who to anoint king after KIng Saul. God Prophet Samuel who wanted to use physical for choosing the king until young was brought from the wilderness where he was tendering the flock. 1 Chronicles 29:17 says “I know my God,that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity” Joseph’s journey to Egypt and from prison to palace agreed with what the bible recorded. He showed he was a man of integrity by refusing to blot his inviolable character of fearing the Lord and to stand for truth and for honorable character. He refused to sleep with his master’s wife. It could have ruined his destiny of becoming an alien Prime Minister  of Egypt. In Psalm 84:11, the psalmist wrote, “The Lord God is a sun and shield,the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless”. It is more or less an epitaph on the life of Joseph in Egypt.

Integrity sustained the life of David long before he became king, especially when he was on the run for dear life. king Saul took 3000 men from the cream of his soldiers to search, find and kill David. In a cave located in the Wilderness of Engedi saw King Saul sleeping defenceless in the midst of his bodyguards who were also fast asleep. Ordinarily, he had every reason to strike King Saul to death but the fear of the Lord prevented him from killing the God’s anointed. he regarded such as most heinous sin. Were he to have seized the possibly rare opportunity kill King Saul his own soldiers would have unconsciously imbibed the culture of killing the incumbent in order to ascend to the throne. He would have unconsciously taught them that such was the best option as road to the throne 1Sam 24. In 1Sam 26: 22-24, we saw David’s integrity at its best. David replied, “Here is the King’s spear!; Let one of your servants cross over and get it.The lord rewards each man for his integrity and loyalty.Even though today the Lord delivered you into my hand, I was not willing to extend my hand against the Lord’s anointed one. In the same way I valued your life this day, may the Lord value my life and deliver me from all dangers”.

Known biblical reference pointed to Achan as one without integrity and it led to Israel’s defeat in the hand of a small town called Ai, whereas with God on the side of Israel, they destroyed  Jericho (that was a strongly fortified city) with songs of praises and dancing round it for seven days . On the last day, final action was taken in obedience to God and the Walls of Jericho fell. It is obvious that one with integrity can rise from grass to grace.

PROVISION OF GOD (PART THREE)

At the end of Part Two we saw how God’s providence got extended toa a Moabite, Ruth, the daughter-in-law to, Naomi from Bethlehem in the land of Israel. It is clear that a non-Israelite was not to be reckoned as part of the People of God. Such people are usually counted out of being worthy of God’s favor and compassion, but the unfolding events in the case of Ruth; if an individual, community or nation recognizes the Lordship of the Almighty Jehovah, HE would not count out such person or persons. Those who trust and obey God shall receive God’s favor and grace, as well as His splendor.

It is a common maxim that armament does not literally translate into victory at war. Before every endeavor, one has to talk to God first for guidance, irrespective of adequate or inadequate resources. In Judges 12: 1-25 the Midianites constituted thorns in the flesh of the Israelites. When they truly called on God, the Lord assigned Gideon to lead the war their enemies. At first, he was in doubt as to his fitness to lead in the war. He did seek confirmation and he got it. Furthermore, he armed with God’s choice of the number of men to prosecute the battle in His name. JUdges: 2-3 summarized what conditions Gideon complied with to ensure Israel’s victory over the Midianites. “And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people who with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israelites vaunt themselves against me, saying my own hand has saved me. Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return early from Mt Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand and there remained ten thousand.

It is a common parlance in management that when responsibility is assigned, it must go along with enablement or simply put, the wherewithal to function. I believed man borrowed the concept from God. Obviously, Joshua feared assuming the responsibility left behind by Moses, the great prophet of God of Israel. God had to give Joshua positive reinforcement through Moses.Deut, 31: 7-8 says “And Moses called unto Joshua, an said unto him in the sight of all Israel. Be strong and of good courage: for you must go with people unto the land which the Lord had sworn unto their fathers to give them, and thou shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He it is that does go before thee; He will before thee,He will not fail thee, neither forsake; fear not, neither be dismayed” (KJV)

Much as it is expected of sinners to be penitent and be able to attract forgiveness, the Almighty God that to forgive is divine.Were God to have completely visited the sins committed by the children of Israel they could have been wiped out from the face of the earth. Instead, any time they show remorse, even if they have been enslaved, He would forgive and return them to the promised land. He did it for them in Babylon as per the 70 years in exile.This reminds us of the wickedness of Joseph’s brothers who sold him into slavery in Egypt. As at the famine brought them down to Egypt to buy corn, he recognized them and introduced himself and assured them of his unconditional forgiveness. Genesis 45;1-14, and Gen.50:15-21. Praise the Lord.

Jehovah is no-nonsense God, but at the same time He is full of mercy; coming of Jesus to reconcile us sinners with God would not have been required or necessary. Take the case of the woman caught with the sin of adultery even in the very act. She had been humiliated and was about to be stoned to death in obedience to mosaic law. jesus as God incarnate asked them to stone her if there was any who had not committed the sin before. Conscience pricked them all such that one by one thy dropped their stones and left the woman. Jesus rose up and forgave the woman and admonished her to go and sin no more John 8: 1-11 (KJV). God does not abandon anyone even in spite of sins committed. He always make provision for forgiveness. This was amplified in Lamentation 3: 31-33. Another testimony to the fact that God does not forget or abandon those who can confess and stop sinning any more. King Nebuchadnezzar spent seven seasons living the life of animals in the forest but was later restored back into his kingdom ONLY when he realized  his folly and learn to honor God. Daniel 4:33-37

It is established that the love of the Lord never ceases. He always provide redemption for all repentant sinners,