During this Sunday service Pastor Richmond Leigh (my husband) preached from the Book of Acts. ‘So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans’ (Ac 8:25). Pastor Richmond Leigh said that Peter and John, two of the leading disciples, after finishing the work in Samaria, they did not rush back to Jerusalem. They preached the Gospel in many villages in Samaria. This is an astonishing statement of a deep revelation. Why ‘waste time’ preaching to the villagers? This action is in contrast with the way the world does its things. So, why did they do this?
The first reason why the Apostles preached to the poor people in the villages is because of the nature of the message. The Gospel is designed to be preached to all men, but to the poor people in particular. This is God’s plan and purpose. The Gospel is the Good news of the Cross. Jesus died for our sins so that we might live. This Gospel makes people happy. The effect of believing the Gospel is that people begin to sing. Even if their voices are not very melodious, they cannot stop singing. This is a sign of joy, freedom and thanksgiving. When the angels announced the birth of our Lord, they were singing (Lk 2:14). Once you believe the Gospel, you shall experience a new desire to tell everybody about it. It is like you have discovered a treasure. The believer is talkative! The Gospel was so wonderful and amazing, that Peter and John could not contain themselves, they could not refrain themselves from preaching it. They were happy to preach it to the poor men and women in the villages. Halleluiah!
This attitude or strategy is the opposite with that of the world. The world tells its preachers to go to the bog cities and preach to the rich, famous, educated and emancipated men. The world loves brilliant ideas but unfortunately for them, the Gospel is not meant for the worldly wise brilliant men. The way God designed the preaching of the Gospel, is that the wise men of this world will regard it as ‘foolishness’ (1Cor 1:17-24). The proud wise men cannot find God thru their proud investigation. But the simple poor men believe what the big men rejected. Their faith leads to salvation. They believe that Christ crucified and resurrected is the wisdom and the power of God! That is how they get saved! That is why they rejoice!
Let’s look at our Savior, Jesus Christ! Imagine for a moment that He came into this world as the world wanted it. He could have been born to a rich, educated couple, in a palace. He could have gone to the best schools in Jerusalem. He could have come with pomp and pageantry. But see the way He came! He was born as a baby, in a manger, among animals. His parents were poor simple people. God came in the flesh as a helpless baby. He worked with his hands. He was a carpenter. When He started His ministry, Jesus did not go towards the rich, noble, educated and famous people. He went to all, but especially to the poor people. He was not a Pharisee.
Can you imagine that? A whole Jewish Redeemer who did not train in their Bible schools or prophetic classes! He chose disciples among the simple people, mostly the working class and the fishermen in particular. “And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” (Jn 7:15). Jesus did not start a School of Philosophy where the great question of the unity of Christ could be thought, where debates could have been rewarded. Jesus did not come as a military general to set up a military academy. He did not go to Jerusalem to set Himself as the King of the Jews. He could have appeared to all saying that He needs qualified men to be His assistants. Their CVs should show a minimum requirement of PhD in Philosophy, working as a Pharisee for 20 years or being a senator in Rome for at least two terms, with exceptional oratory skills. In that case, none of us could have been saved and none of us could have been able to work for God! What a Savior!
When Jesus sent a word to John the Baptist, to encourage him while in prison, He said that the Gospel is confirmed by miracles and it is ‘preached to the poor’ (Mt 11:3-5). The Gospel is preached to the Poor! This is the distinguished quality of the Gospel! That is why it is different from any other religious teaching or worldly philosophy! The Pharisees and the Greeks wanted nothing to do with the low class, uneducated poor men and women. In the Parable of the Great Supper, the king’s invitation was rejected by the rich men. ‘Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ (Lk 14: 21). This is what King Jesus says: “Bring in here the poor, that they may feast at the royal table!”
Jesus was a humble preacher. The world did not understand him. Even His brothers did not understand Him. When He was arrested He did not struggle with the soldiers. He went to die ‘like a sheep going to the slaughter’. He did not ‘phone’ His friends in high places. When He was crucified, Jesus died ‘quickly’. The Roman soldiers were surprised. Crucifixion is a slow and painful form of death. But He died quickly. Why? So that the prince of this world, the devil, will not change his mind and bring Him down from the Cross. He died for us that we may be free from the judgment of sin and death! What a Savior!
In everything that He did, from His birth to His death, Jesus was the reverse of all that the world expected. Look at the mother of Jesus! Mary was a simple girl. She was not a queen. She did not live in Herod’s palace. The first people who received the good news were simple shepherds. The announcement of the birth of the Messiah, was not given to the Governor of Judea, to the High Priest in Jerusalem or the Pharisees. The Word of God bypassed the big men, the politicians and the religious leaders and went to the wilderness, to a simple man called John the Baptist (Lk 3:1, 2). Why God did avoid the wise and powerful men of the world? This is so that ‘no flesh should glory in His presence’ (1Cor 1:26-29)!
Let us remind ourselves that it is the Gospel of Christ alone that has ever given hope to the poor. Revivals rarely start in big cities. They usually start in places nobody has heard of, or in places people think that they are too ungodly. They do not start in majestic cathedrals but in simple homes where the humble and faithful children of God gather to pray. To many people, Warri/Effurun in Nigeria is a village. Many say: ‘What good can come to Warri? There is nothing good in Warri!’ But in this humble town, the Gospel is preached! This is great news! Jesus has come! The Holy Spirit is pouring fresh wine upon us! That is why we rejoice! Not because Warri has skyscrapers or beautiful parks (because it does not yet have them). But we are witnesses that the Holy Spirit loves it! That is enough for us to continue to sing unto the Lord! If Warri is good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for me and you! Jesus is the Simple Savior! He brought the simple Gospel to give salvation to simple people, like me and you! Never forget! Salvation is of God! He saves whom He wills! If you are a rich man, educated and famous then humble yourself! Believe the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved! (Ac 16:31). Worship the Lord!
“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (PV 4:7)
Somebody gave me this advice long time ago. It has been useful to me all these years. It will be wisdom of life to you too! Never forget! This is the order of importance starting with the greatest:
1-Your relationship with God! (Know God!)
2-Your relationship with yourself! (Know yourself)
3-Your relationship with your spouse! (Know your husband/wife)
4- Your relationship with your children! (Know your children)
5-Your relationship with church people and your co-workers
6- Your relationship with others!
This list must be in this order! Once you switch the order, you will fall into trouble! For example, if you love your children more than you love your wife, you will fall into trouble! But the most important thing to remember is this: God first! God first! God first!
“If you come across a bird’s nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young” (Deut 22:6)
God loves the mother bird and her chicks. This is a warning to the hunters. If a bird has babies, leave them alone! Do not kill them! Do not take them as pets! God’s special covering protects them! According to the Word of God, Motherhood is blessed holy safety! Praise the Lord!
Child of God, you are like a spiritual mother! Like the mother bird, EAT more than you need for this present need…. Taste and see that the Lord is good… Eat and carry that food home… Let it be more than enough, more love, more courage, more anointing, more hope, more faith, more wisdom … until it comes out from you…until there is an overflow of grace… until your words become fruitful in other hearts… until it pours into the waiting mouths of your chicks… There is a running over into the hearts of them who believe! Mother is never too late to bless… Bread, Oil and Wine… I am so satisfied… Love cares until the last breath…Love never fails!
“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49)
When Jesus came into this world of sin, His express desire was to bring ‘fire on the earth’. John said that Jesus will baptize His own with the Holy Spirit and with fire. God is described as a consuming fire. What is the source of this fire? That volcano is found on the Calvary hill, at the Cross of Christ. It was there, hanging on that tree, the Son of God became a curse for us. It was there, when Jesus died for our sins that the fire of God came from heaven and consumed all things. The history of humanity, nothing and nobody was ever the same, after the Cross. Old things passed away and everything became new.
Fire stands for judgment. We are afraid of fire, for we know that fire has no mercy. All things, all labor and ministry shall be tried with fire. We all shall have an encounter with the fire of God. There is no salvation, deliverance, promotion or blessings that come without the fire. It purges the hearts and kindles the passion in pure vessels. Once you pass thru the fire, you are safe. For example, the patient who survived the sickness called Ebola, has nothing to fear anymore. The wicked virus has tried to kill him but failed. The immunity of the body has won. This survivor is the best candidate to go back to the Ebola infested villages and with bare hands help the others. That is a picture of a man who has passed thru fire and survived. There is no more fear; only power and only joy. That is a picture of a believer baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire. Nothing shall hurt him anymore. The devil has failed in his life.
I heard of a story. There was a man and his little son walking in a park in New York. Suddenly a fire started burning along the path. In few minutes they were trapped by the blaze. The father tried to use branches to quench the fire, but all in vain. The wind was driving the flames closer and closer to them. Then the father knew that the only way of escape is to pass thru the fire. He carried his son on his shoulders, comforted him that all is well, and jumped thru the fire to the other side. Behind the blaze all was calm. For all things were burnt off. The fire can never go back to a place that is burnt. That is the law of the fire, it never goes back to where it has damaged.
There is a spiritual lesson here. Whatever things you have suffered, if God was with you during that trial, you shall never go back to them again. The devil tried to kill you. And really, you should have died. That sickness should have sent you to the mortuary. That stress should have given you incurable depression. That loss should have made you homeless sleeping under the bridge…But, by the grace of God you survived…This is your testimony, that passing thru the fire, you did not end up a corpse. Even the things that got burnt, have a new meaning for you, for God promised to give you beauty for ashes, joy instead of weeping and a victory song nobody can quench. In the furnace of affliction, Shedrack, Meshach and Abednego met with the Forth Man, the Son of God who is the King of kings and also the King of fire.
This is my testimony: fire tried but failed to destroy me; its heat was not enough to disfigure my anointing; its flames could only purify my heart and my vision. I passed thru the fire of rejection, misunderstanding, sickness and slander. And I survived. Not only survived, but I am now qualified to encourage others coming behind. So this is my word to you: Fear not! Like that father and son, let’s jump together to the safe place behind the fire…Follow me as I follow Christ…Let’s go to the Cross where Jesus died for our sins…Let’s go behind the Cross, where no sorrow, no pain, no rejection and no sickness can ever attack. Come on…that is the way…thru the fire, into the freedom of worship, the power of true anointing and the victory of the blessed!