The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, salutes you; and so does Marcus my son. [1Pet 5:13] KJV
Do you remember Babylon? The same Babylon of the Chaldeans.
Oh Babylon, the Babylon that besieged Jerusalem, took from her choice vessels and retrained the mighty men of Judah so that they should speak its language and serve her gods. Do you remember the Babylon that imprisoned men of prayer? The same Babylon that gave the servant of God, Daniel to lions that they may have his flesh for their fill. The Babylon that erected idols high unto the sky and threw men who didn’t bow into the fiery furnace. Yes, the same Babylon. It is spoken of here as a city within which there was a church. Is it not amazing that the mustard seed of God dropped in Babylon (through the captivity of Israel) blossomed into a tree large enough to house vessels of grace? For she now had in her a church. This is the way we (Christians) must we see ourselves. We are in the world but not of the world. This is what the three Hebrew chaps (Daniel, Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego) knew and it served as the seed that later established the church in Babylon. We must indeed converse in this world and yet ensure through grace that the world does not dwells in us. We would live in it but it won’t find space in us.
If there could be a church in Babylon, it means that grace can keep a man no matter the adversity of opposition and the darkness of sin. For a church to survive in the land, we who are saints in such a dark world must be encouraged in the strength of God to keep his church. We shall live in this Babylon as signs of the answers to the prayer of our master (Jesus Christ) – I pray not that thou should take them out of the world but that thou should keep them from the evil one (John 17:15). We have no excuse, for we are the church in Babylon (World).
The church in Babylon? Does not this exclude me from the many activities of this sinful land? While the Chaldeans may sin their way through life, I must remain holy, separate as the chaste virgin of my beloved. I cannot walk as they walk, I cannot talk as they do. The way they live must not excite and lure me into worldliness. I am called to holiness and glory; purity and blessedness. I must be the remnant of God in this Babylon. I must be her church. I must abide in Christ while Babylon despises and laughs at such things as I hold dear. I must remember who I am – the church in Babylon.
The church in Babylon? Does not this speak of my great responsibility unto this land. I am her church, sanctified that she may be? I have entered into the covenant of life as a sign that she can enter. I am a testimony, given concerning the great intentions of God towards Babylon. For it is the Lord’s desire that she also may enter into his courts and call upon his name. God wills also that she be redeemed and transformed into his church as saints – redeemed, justified and sanctified. For he has paid the price for them even as he made the sacrifice for we all. Shall we forget this great task? Rather, let us be reminded. Let us seek the lost. Let us carry them in intercession. Let us also be their priest no matter how imperfect we seem. Let us rise and fight for them. Let us stand between the living and dead and weep until the dead become alive. For Jesus died for them also. As the church in Babylon deemed it fit to die that through her sacrifice Babylon may call upon the Lord. May I be the Daniel who will purpose in his heart (Daniel 1:8), the Meshach who fears not man but honours God, the Shedrach that has the Holy Ghost as a companion in fire and the Abednego who shall love not his life unto death. May I arise and be the church in this Babylon of the world.
The church in Babylon? What does this really mean? Is it not a picture of Christ in this dying world? Is it not the picture of the Son of God lying in a manger, living among the poor, dinning with sinners, dying for the lost, interceding for the saints and resurrecting for thy justification? Is this not a message for the child of God to follow in the steps of our Saviour – to live as he did?
Written by Alao Rotimi
As I was approaching my room, I had already started making plans for the 3 hours of free time I had on this beautiful Friday after my hectic week. The plan was simple: (1) get something to eat and (2) to sleep for as long as possible before my work shift later in the evening. I hurriedly boiled some rice, and made my favorite fried plantain and some stew and boiled eggs. I wouldn’t call myself an expert at cooking, but this particular meal was welcoming. I hurriedly reached for a bottle of Cola in my fridge to accompany my food. Everything was set, and it was written all over the atmosphere, as I sat on my bed to eat that I was set to have a nice time with my “special” brunch.
Then I decided to watch a short movie as I ate. To me, this was the perfect way to relax-to have a nice meal while watching a movie. My friend had just told me about this website where I could watch the latest movies and I decided to try it out. On getting to this website, I searched to find a movie I liked and then I saw a recent movie entitled “Beauty and the Beast”. It was a movie acted from the fairy tale written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740. And it was indeed a good one.
The story-line of the movie was quite interesting, with a lot of singing and funny imaginations. One of such imaginations was a talking clock, a living lamp-stand, Mrs Pot, a human tea cup, a talking wardrobe and some other fantasies. All talking and behaving like human beings. Of all the things in the movie, their characters was the most interesting to me. I watched in amazement. I had finished eating and was tired and ready to sleep, but I just couldn’t get my eyes off the special characters. I wanted to see how the story unfolded to the end! As soon as the movie ended, I fell asleep almost immediately. Now, here is the most interesting part of the story that afternoon. As I slept, I had a peculiar dream. I had this Mrs Pot, Mr lamp-stand, boy tea-cup, visit me and I was talking with them. I couldn’t really remember what our discussion was when I woke up, but I knew they came to me in my dream and that we had a “nice” chat.
The video I was watching some minutes ago, has now become a reality in my dream. Though this was funny and harmless, it opened my eyes and show me how the mind is in capturing sounds and images. This reminded of a particular lesson in the bible, which it is to “Guard your heart with all diligence”.
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23 KJV)
The 2 entrances to a man’s heart are his/her eyes and ears. Therefore, why should I guard my mind?
I guard my mind because it is very powerful in capturing visions and words. I am who I am today, because of the words I have heard and the things I have seen since I was born, and the same is also true for everyone including you, my dear reader.
Sex-addicts, drug-addicts, thieves, terrorists, Pastors are all products of words they heard and things they saw. Even being a Christian, you must hear and believe the gospel. Therefore, everyone is basically a product of what they have heard and believed.
Let me explain. I remember being taught in university that the mind is like a reflecting mirror. It only reviews and contains what is being exposed to it and that at birth it is like a “clean slate”. The later part of Proverbs 4:23 in the KJV says that out of the mind are the issues of life which means that a man is a product of how he thinks. So that’s why someone born in Nigeria won’t act like another born in Germany, because the cultures in this two countries are clearly different, and these two people have been exposed two different cultures entirely making them think different.
Many people have been captives of some strange and wrong beliefs all their lives because of such exposure. While I don’t say we shouldn’t be open minded to hear people and watch videos, it is advisable to be careful. It is good we are open minded to listen to people, learn and try new things, but we must be careful to examine everything we see or hear newly to be sure they agree with God’s word, the bible.
“Do not be carried away by diverse and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established and strengthened by grace and not by foods [rules of diet and ritualistic meals], which bring no benefit or spiritual growth to those who observe them. (Hebrews 13:9 AMP)”
The Bible gives this admonition: “It is good that our heart be established in grace”. Listen to and watch things that establishes us the more in grace. Listen and watch things that reminds us that Jesus loves us, that he died for us and rose up for our justification and everything that makes the spiritual more real to us. So how do we know what is ‘’good for our heart’’? It’s very simple – it is everything that makes us understand the bible more and strengthens our faith in our lord, Jesus. As we do this, just as in my story, what we see and read becomes a reality and our hearts are established in GRACE. As we listen to God’s word we become like God.
As I round-off this article, it is important we also note that as Christians, the Bible encourages us to “renew our minds”.
“And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]” (Romans 12:2 AMP)
As we renew our minds, let us expose it to the right things (songs, videos, words etc.). So that we are changed towards the image of Christ. And as our minds are changed, we are changed from our old way of life to live as Christ did on earth. Let us be selective to the songs, the videos, the gatherings we expose ourselves to. Some things are worth skipping, not because they are sins, but because they are not fruitful to the renewal process of the mind. So, I won’t do some things not because if I do them they are sins but doing them will not help the process of the renewal of my mind. My Pastor once said, God won’t change us without our consent. To Allow God change us, our consent must be given in what being careful in what we feed our minds through our eyes and our ears.
I have often said that our environment are filled with a lot of junks and nudity already that deliberating watching a video or song in support of it is not doing myself any good at all. I encourage you, as you progress in this journey of renewing of your mind, to guard your heart with all diligence, because whatever we allow into our minds sooner or later becomes our reality.
I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi
Listen to me, o earth,
Give me your ears all humans,
for you all came out of my loins,
I am the first man who lived,
this is the story of the beginning,
how I lost my boldness to go into the creator’s presence,
and how the saviour bought it back with his blood,
he paid on the cross with his life.
What a beautiful view as I gazed through my window. It was my first view into life, and the only message my immediate environment told me was “life indeed must be very beautiful”. Only thoughts of hope, Peace and Joy ran through my mind as that was the only message my view painted to my pure, and never used mind. Everything had been beautifully prepared and arranged by my host and all I was expected to do was to enjoy what had been prepared for me. What to eat, where to sleep were questions I didn’t need to ask myself because everything was already made available by my host.
Ranging from little animals with sweet voices singing in the morning and peacefully flying from one tree to another without any fear of any predator hunting them down, entertaining the other animals around the environment to little springs of either warm or cold water all around everywhere nourishing bright and beautiful flowers with beautiful scents in the garden and to having a lot of “pet-friends” to cuddle around and play with. I later had the privilege to name this my “pet-friends” and I carefully picked very beautiful names for them. It was clearly written everywhere in my environment that there was peace, No-one could be on this island and have a troubled mind. None of the creatures meant any harm to another. A lot of people this days would pay a lot of money to travel anywhere they could get to this garden and here I was enjoying this all free.
There were no laws, no police-man to pursue thieves, no worries about anything. I was free to eat anything in the garden except one tree in the garden which my host called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. And, for me that was quite simple. My host was my family, my confidant, what I enjoyed most were those cool evening walks with my host through the garden, I gathered a lot of wisdom from his words, he very wise, explaining to me a lot about myself and his intentions for creating the garden. One thing I never wanted to lose was the relationship I had with my host and leaving this beautiful garden.
While I was busy with trying to keep the Garden, my host thought it wouldn’t be good for me to be alone. He made for me a beautiful damsel. She was exactly the lady of my dreams. She was the definition of beauty, from white nice set of tooth, to round soft lips, which made me want to kiss her all day, to long cully hair, and a general appealing appearance, every feature of her body was just perfect. I loved her. Now, I don’t have to cuddle my pet-friends around anymore but now someone just like me, and that was just good for me. She was a great companion as she completed my beautiful world as I did hers.
Oh what a horrible it was, the day the deceiver came. Oh! How I wish it never happened. How I wish I never disobeyed my host. It was the saddest and painfully the last day of my life in the garden. The serpent deceived me and my wife into eating the fruit of the tree my host told me not to eat. Immediately, I did this, I had a strange feeling, a feeling of guilt, unworthiness, and fear for my host. It was very strange because I had never felt this way before. In the evening when my host came to relax and discuss with me, I hid myself. I hid myself because of the guilt of disobedience. I felt very unworthy of His presence. I could no longer look into his face anymore. I tried to act as though nothing happened but I just couldn’t. I had lost it. I had lost the boldness I had to come into his presence.
“And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool [afternoon breeze] of the day, so the man and his wife hid and kept themselves hidden from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” [Genesis 3:8]
“But the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, “Where are you?” [Genesis 3:9]
He said, “I heard the sound of you [walking] in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” [Genesis 3:10]
I wept and cried but it was too late, my host was holy and just couldn’t look over disobedience. He called it Sin. And Sin had a legal punishment which was death. From that day, everything changed. I died! Everything was corrupted. I and my wife were chased out of the garden, it was painful to me so much that my children had just been denied the possibility of living in this beautiful world. As from that day we had to toil, labour before we could eat. Our only hope of having that express permission with my host was to wait for the saviour.
Every man came from me. I am the father of all living. And because of my fallen nature (Sin) and the consciousness of sin that accompany it every man also lost the boldness to come into the creator’s presence.
And after a lot of years, the saviour came, He paid for our sin. And now we all who have received him can boldly enter into his presence. Now what was lost is back to us.
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16)”
“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father (Eph. 2:18)
We have been forgiven, we can come boldly into God’s presence because we have his righteousness, our sin nature is gone. Glory! We have a new spirit. We have a right standing with God. We are can now come boldly into His presence without any sense of guilt.
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Col. 1:14)”
I Call You Blessed!
Written by Samson Afolabi
I had just finished from work on this beautiful Saturday 29th April when I decided to go have a haircut you know to confirm that I am wonderfully and beautifully made by God. After quite a wait at the barbers shop, it was finally my turn. I gave the barber instructions on how I wanted my cut and he followed it perfectly. Just as we were finishing up, my phone rang.
It was a call from a “Big-Brother”, someone who had been a special blessing to me in my sojourn in this foreign land. He was inviting me over for dinner and wanted to introduce me to new friends. It was an opportunity I had been waiting for, so I immediately decided to join though it was with a short notice. Plus, the possibility of eating a local dish made me more ready to attend!
We met at his house and it was great time. While the meal was being prepared, we had chatted over appetizers. My “Big-Brother” the host happened to love sports, and fortunately that night was the big boxing night for the world heavyweight champion between “Anthony Joshua” and “Wladimir Klitschko”. We were all in support of Anthony Joshua because we were all Nigerians in the room except for one Kenyan friend who had accompanied me to the meeting. I probably wouldn’t have watched the match that night if I wasn’t for him because to be honest, I’m not really a fan of boxing.
After many blows, Anthony Joshua won. So much glory and honour for him that night. I wished I was him just after he won, but not before he won. I couldn’t manage to receive those punches he received.
Here comes my analogy; in life there are 3 categories of people, those who are less than conquerors, those who are conquerors and those who are more than conquerors.
That night Wladimir Klitschko was not (less) than a conqueror, Anthony Joshua was the conqueror. He persevered through the pain receiving punches here and there on his body, and even had a black eye in the end, but still snatched the prize.
The last category of people are the most blessed. Imagine if Anthony Joshua was to go home that night. Imagine that after the match, he handed over his belt and millions of dollars in prize money to his Mum as a gift. In this case, his mum would have been MORE THAN CONQUEROR.
Why? Because she sat at home all throughout the fight, didn’t receive any punches, didn’t join him in his 12 weeks of intense training, didn’t get a black eye and yet got all the reward her son Anthony Joshua got.
This is the case of the Saviour of the world, who was beaten, bruised, disgraced, wounded, nailed to the cross, and hung on the pole, for our sins. He was killed but then he resurrected. Yes he came out victorious! He was a conqueror. After his resurrection he gave all the glory belonging to his victory at the cross to us. He credited the victory into our account. And all we need do to be more than conqueror is to believe “that He died for our sins”. If we believe we are then the MORE THAN CONQUEROR. We are MORE THAN CONQUERORS right now. We are not just going to be more than conquerors in the future; we already are right now.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37 KJV)
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us so much that He died for us” (Romans 8:37 AMP)
Those who fight and win are conquerors. Those who allow God fight for them are MORE THAN CONQUEROR. We are more than conqueror over sicknesses, diseases, famine, poverty, shame and over every challenge we go through.
Paul speaking in Romans 8:33 – 37, listed the different difficulties he was going through at the moment, yet all those didn’t stop him from believing; he was MORE THAN CONQUEROR. Not because of anything He had done or didn’t do but because Paul had received the victory from the conqueror (Jesus Christ) by believing. He had received the love God showed him by giving Jesus to die on the cross.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
At the Cross, Jesus said “It is finished”. And yes IT IS FINISHED. He finished whatever challenge we are going through. He is not just working on our challenges, He finished them already. It is done. He finished Poverty, Spiritual ignorance, lack, sickness at the cross and gave us the victory and the right to tread upon serpents and snakes. Amen!
This means that we are to believe and keep confessing what we believe. A closed mouth is a closed destiny. We must keep speaking what we believe. If you feel pain in your body, confess you are healed because Jesus made you MORE THAN CONQUEROR over sicknesses, if you are in lack financially, confess you are rich until you start to see it because Jesus made you MORE THAN CONQUEROR over poverty. Whatever the case keep confessing and keep your confessions right. Believing and Confessing leads to seeing.
“We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak” (2 Cor. 4:13)
I Call You Blessed!
Written by Samson Afolabi and Edited by Christine Talens
John chapter six describes how Jesus miraculously fed five thousand men with five loaves of bread and 2 fish. He was moved to do this after noticing that they were tired and exhausted. (What a loving teacher he was.) So he asked his disciples to get food for these people. Naturally, this is how they replied:
“There is a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are these for so many people?” (John 6:9)
With the bread and fish that they had, they believed they couldn’t do it. To Jesus’s disciples, it was humanly impossible to feed five thousand people with this. Had you and I been in their places, we probably would have also thought the same way.
God wanted to reach the whole world with the message of Salvation – that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for the sins of mankind – but all he had was eleven disciples (minus Judas Iscariot) and some other followers totalling to 120 people (Acts 1:15). Compared to the number of people on earth at the time, 120 people was a really small number. Just like the five loaves of bread and two fish was not enough to feed five thousand men, 120 people was nothing. It was ‘’not enough’’ to get the message to the people of the world. It was humanly impossible.
However, our God is a God of the humanly impossible. He is a God of miracles! After the first followers received the holy-spirit, very soon the message spread to Jerusalem, and later on Judea, Samaria, Asia, and today to a large part of the earth. In-fact it was said of this people that:
…”These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too (Acts 17:6)”
Sometimes we look at the seemingly impossible task of the great commission …”Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15)” and we look at how huge this task is and ask “what difference can I make if I preach the gospel?” or “how many people can I really reach?” And we feel discouraged and hopeless, and then we go with the crowd, forgetting that God can multiply our little efforts. There are as well many examples, of how we may think that our efforts and what we can do are little compared to what has to be done.
We ask, “What difference does this make if I choose to be godly, or choose to stand for righteousness? Seeing that the whole world is ungodly anyway”.
Luke 13 also illustrates the kingdom of God in this way:
“It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the sky found shelter and nested in its branches.” (Luke 13:19)
Did you know that mustard “seeds are usually about 1 to 2 millimetres (0.039 to 0.079 in) in diameter? (Don’t worry, I didn’t either, Wikipedia told me.)Can you imagine how small that is? The bible says even this small seed later became a very big tree providing shelter for birds.
God is still in the business of multiplying our little efforts today, He is happy to do it. Your little efforts can make a huge difference. Your little prayers of intercession and evangelism to just one person can make a big difference. There is so much stored up in a believer that can never make his contributions worthless. There is so much in me and you, God’s power is at work in us. We too can turn the world upside-down for Jesus through our efforts. However ‘’small’’ they may be, they are powerful.
So what does this mean for you and me today? This means that we are called to arise like Deborah, and put in our best into whatever God has committed into our hands.
“The inhabitants of the Villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel” (Judges 5:7)
Deborah decided to arise, to stand-up and be God’s voice and through her God won the battle for Israel. She didn’t see her contribution as small. What did the disciples do?
“Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands” (Acts 14:3)
They spoke boldly. Yes you also speak boldly. Your contribution is not too little. Whatever you are doing, leading a small group, reaching out the gospel to a friend, leading the Praise and worship in Church, know that your contribution is huge in the body of Christ and it is highly needed. Your contributions are not small or little, God doesn’t see it as such and he even delights in multiplying them.
I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi