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THE PROMISE DRIVEN LIFE

CALEB ABAS

GOSPEL ESSENCE PUBLICATIONS is the publishing ministry of Gospel Essence Ministries Inc. Books, tracts and other Christian literatures are part of the tools to enhance the growth of Christians in the knowledge of God and in the pursuit of His counsel. The Promise Driven Life Copyright Š 2013 by CALEB ABAS. All rights reserved. First printing September 2013

Your Guarantee for Divine Intervention

C A L E B A BA S

Gospel Essence Publications

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address Gospel Essence Ministries Inc, 750 Oakdale Road, Unit 52, Toronto, Ontario M3N 2Z4 Canada. Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from Authorized King James Version of the Bible. Copyright Š 1994 by Zondervan. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Published by Gospel Essence Publications Cover design by Denis Makarenko Interior design by Mevlana Media Solutions Inc. For all enquiries or to place orders write: info@gospelessence.org or call (416) 402 9672 or 08034704474 ISBN: 978-0-9813440-2-7 1. Christian Living: Practical Life: Personal Growth 2. Spiritual Growth


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APPRECIATION

C O N T E N T S

Chapter 01 ........................................... 01

Chapter 02 ........................................... 07

Chapter 03 ........................................... 17

Chapter 04 ........................................... 28

Special thanks to Rev. (Dr.) & Rev. (Mrs.) Paul Fakunle of God’s Family Church in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, on whose platform this message was first delivered. I am grateful for being a recipient of your God-given wisdom and encouragement. I am also indebted to Mrs. Olayinka Olaleye for spending valuable time to edit the manuscript. You are deeply appreciated.


GREAT TIME INDEED! We live in challenging times. At no time have men desired the manifestation of the invisible to halt the ominous darkness and chaos enveloping the world as our time. The unsettling feeling of insecurity, the torpedo of moral values and etiquettes as evidenced in shameless parade of immoral lifestyles, and the heart wrenching occurrence of bloody violence that is unsparing even of the so called civilized world, have made the clamour for the unseen realm in hope for a solution so trenchant. The Lord Jesus warned aforetime, “ And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Mathew 24: 6-8). The Lord Jesus warned that these are the beginning of sorrows! Does that not terrify your mind? All the chilling natural and human- caused disasters we witness on daily basis are just the tipping point of the reign of terror. May God have mercy upon us for His Son’s sake. In our days, the Scripture is coming alive, as the end- time prophecies, spoken hundreds of years ago are now being fulfilled. But some skeptics would tell us that what we are experiencing is nothing new as far as the history of man is concerned. But what they would not tell us is the global dimension these events

have taken; their spontaneity, their rapidity and persistence, and the mind boggling devastation some of the occurrences have left in their wake. Added to these troubling events is the growing intolerance, if not outright hatred of the gospel by some world leaders especially in the West, the known bastion of democracy. This is really frightening. The world as it is presently is one. Who could ever think that in the 21st century, French soldiers would be involved in combat missions in far away Mali, a landlocked country in West Africa? Political leaders are very sensitive to events in the countries of the world as it becomes evident that the destiny of one country can affect many other countries. Pestilence, financial upheavals, war, terrorism, famine, political turmoil and so many more, travel with ease in our days as men migrate from place to place. How then can humanity survive the gathering storm of man- stoked catastrophe? I have no doubt in my mind, it can only be through divine intervention – and this is at all levels; individually, corporately and nationally.


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Chapter That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:12

1 When God steps in It is very unlikely that there is any human on earth today who has not experienced divine intervention at certain times and in one way or the other. By divine intervention, we mean the altering of a course towards shame, death, failure or disaster which cannot be explained in natural terms. It is then judged that the unseen hands of God have moved in to stave off what could have brought untold sorrow and grief. Personally, I can recollect certain times when I know that had it not been for the divine hands of God, I should not have been alive today. I remember very vividly the experience I had in Sierra Leone during the war sparked by rebel soldiers in the country. People who are familiar with events in the once beautiful West African country would not forget an evil incarnate named Corporal Foday Sankoh who led a rebellion in the little country which claimed many lives and maimed many more. The effect of the war is still manifest in the general 1


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landscape of the country till today. As a missionary and a part time journalist working for a daily newspaper in the country, I could not summon the courage to take a look at an eight months old baby whose two arms were chopped off by the rebels when the village her parents lived in was invaded. It was one of the many outrageous atrocities committed by the rebels. The government had invited journalists to the main hospital in the capital, Freetown to witness the wickedness of the rebels in order to arouse the numbed conscience of the international community. What my eyes saw on the streets of the capital city where human corpses were littereds was enough grief to my soul that I could not take in more of the agony of an innocent baby whose tender arms were macheted by evil men. May God heal Sierra Leone and her people who suffered such unparalleled cruelty in the hands of savages whose only goal was to corner the wealth from diamond; a natural resource with which God abundantly endowed the country . Back to my own story of divine intervention. The day opened with its normal firefight between the rebels and the regional intervention army known as ECOMOG. After weeks of stockpiling of weapons by the rebels in the capital, Freetown, war finally broke out. The rebels had covertly moved weapons to the city in coffins pretending they were going for burial. They safely buried the weapons in the cemeteries across the city, without the government security apparatus getting any hint. The rebels had been perpetrating their havoc in the hinterlands but could not penetrate the nation’s capital, Freetown because of the formidable presence of the ECOMOG soldiers on guard of the city. The

presence of the ECOMOG soldiers brought a sense of peace and everyone went about their daily activities in the capital ignoring the havoc that was being wrecked by the rebels in the other parts of the country. I had firsthand experience of what it meant to be in warfare – be it physical or spiritual, and it became so clear to me what the scripture says when it instructs: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1Peter 5:8). Similarly, the word of God reveals, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1Thessalonians 5:3). Precisely, the rebels seized on the ignorance of the people and a distracted army to build an armoury in the capital in readiness for the day of a once for all battle. And they struck! They moved from house to house forcing people out on a pretence peace march through the streets of Freetown. In minutes, the city was teeming with thousands of totally surprised residents who kept wondering how the rebels had entered the capital in such large numbers being fully armed , when there were countless numbers of checkpoints manned by soldiers all across the roads that led to the city and within. The rebels had carefully planned their strategy and it worked even though for a while. It seemed they would succeed - they had numerous civilians; a swarming population of defenceless citizens as human shield, and together with the people, they marched with songs of peace to the seat of power. The government sensing a collapse of her security apparatus, immediately dispatched the ECOMOG fighter jet

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to scare off the people, but the rebels were on ground to deal mercilessly with any civilian defector. When scare tactics did not work, the fighter jet dropped a cluster of bombs that shattered the lives of many terrified residents including a pregnant woman who appeared very close to delivery. In the ensuing pandemonium, she was further stampeded. She bled to her death. War is evil, friends! In the intervening days, a large number of ECOMOG soldiers were killed by the rebels and many houses were burnt down. The soldiers were obviously caught off guard; some of them actually were reveling in the social life of the capital city, forgetting their call. They paid gruesomely for it. Day after day, the war raged on with the rebels trying to take the city, but the ECOMOG soldiers finally reinforced and began to flush out the rebels with vengeance. The rebels were eventually overpowered and the rebellion crushed. The soldiers began to move from house to house to fish out the remaining rebels that were in hiding. Before the rebels struck, I had visited a missionary friend in the hilltop section of the city. I remained holed up with my friend for several days as we ran from place to place, hiding from war and looking for food. The place where we were hiding was relatively safe, so it attracted so many people, many of whom were young men who ran for their lives too. As the government soldiers were combing places looking for rebels, they stumbled on my hiding place. The unusual concentration of young men in the place made the soldiers conclude that we were all rebels. The commander of the soldiers who was an army captain ordered every one of us numbering about twenty to lie with our faces

down on the ground with the soldiers’ guns pointing at our heads point blank. I could not remember how many Psalms I chanted within those few seconds. I was so close to being shot dead. It was not anything new to see human corpses littering the streets , many of whom were either killed by rebels or government soldiers. Suddenly, one of the soldiers asked their captain, “Oga, should we finish them?” The question was asked in my own native language. With trembling, my voice rang out from where I laid, “Baba, please do not finish us”, I responded in my native language. The soldier and the captain were surprised to know that someone like me was still in the country and at that particular place. I had no doubt, that short conversation was a life saver for my friend and I and all the young men with us. We were ordered to disperse as we might not be that fortunate with another batch of soldiers. For me that was a divine intervention! And I would forever be grateful to God for sparing my life that day and all through the time of the war. I am sure, dear reader, it should not take you too much effort to remember an event in your life for which you could say, had it not being for God, the story of your life could have been forever altered for the worse. But God stepped in. Hallelujah! However, as much as I would not downplay the mercy of God for that intervention, let me quickly add that the nature of divine intervention which God longs to demonstrate in our lives as the world races to its doom, far outweighs the kinds of divine intervention we might have experienced. For example, 1Corinthians 10:5 says “But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” God saved the children

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of Israel from bondage in Egypt with a promise to take them to Canaan. The deliverance came at the very high point of their distress. They cried, they groaned and God heard their groaning and sent Moses who was in the wilderness for forty years, in preparation for his divine assignment. The encounter of Moses with Pharaoh and the ultimate deliverance of the children of Israel after a display of power play between Moses and Pharaoh were nothing short of divine intervention. In Exodus 15, they sang and danced in appreciation to God who showed Himself strong by making them cross the Red Sea while they saw the same sea burying Pharaoh and his dreaded army. However, of all the children of Israel who were delivered from Egypt, only two entered the Promised Land. Others perished in the wilderness. Through divine intervention, God took them out but they did not get to the destination God promised them. They wasted away trying to find their way without God. May your life never waste away as you embark on the journey of purpose and meaning in Jesus’ mighty name. So, we need to be more thoughtful of the kind of divine intervention we seek from the LORD as we pursue our divine destiny in order to fulfill God’s divine counsel for our lives.

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2 Quest for divine inter vention It is certain that when people seek divine intervention, it is because PURPOSE is being attacked in their lives. PURPOSE is the bedrock of meaning; without PURPOSE life becomes meaningless. An online dictionary defines purpose as, “The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” The enemy knows the importance of purpose to man and that is what he attacks. There may be some reading this book who have consistently experienced attacks in their health, finances, marriage, family life, business and such like. Those things may not be the purpose for living in themselves but they are very critical to man’s fulfillment of purpose. Where purpose is lacking, man lacks a sense of meaning. There is no greater affliction that can befall a person than living a life devoid of purpose. What is so troubling about purpose, and which should be a source of concern, 7


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is that it does not necessarily have to originate from God. There are people who have found their purpose for living in endeavors that are destructive either to life or to the environment in which man lives. Take for instance, the entertainment industry. There are a number of movies or music that are out there, that have been the cause of destruction to many lives mostly especially the youth. Yet those who wrote them found their purpose and meaning in those destructive creative enterprises. Many others find their purpose by accumulating material wealth and living in it. To such people, life is meaningful and purposeful simply because of material wealth. However, for people who know their God, they are aware that there is no purpose or meaning in what destroys life, no matter how it presents itself, or in mere material wealth. Examples abound of children of God who walk away from material wealth or naturally rewarding vocations or endeavors to embark on the pursuit of divinely orchestrated purposes that can truly bring peace and fulfillment to their souls. In a nutshell, purpose that brings true meaning and fulfillment comes only from God. The scripture declares, “Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:4-5). Now, God told Prophet Jeremiah why he was created which exactly was his purpose for living, but we saw no place in the scripture where God expressly told King David his own purpose before he was anointed king over Israel.

Yet both Bible characters are very significant when it comes to discovering, understanding and fulfilling one’s divine purpose. How then did King David know his own purpose for living? That question becomes very important because there are people who thought because they did not receive direct information from God concerning their purpose for living just as Jeremiah did, it could mean they were not created for any divine purpose. Everything God created is made with a divine intent and divine purpose. Without doubt, God speaks to men; “For God may speak in one way, or in another, Yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, While slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction.” (Job 33:14-16). The Scripture says further, “But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding” (Job 32:8). If a Christian walks in close communion with God, the Holy Spirit will unfold to the Christian the purpose of his or her being in this world. Without discovering that divine purpose and fulfilling it, life is just an empty pursuit. However, Christians can become so bothered with keeping their purpose for living, most times employing natural means in doing so, because purpose is just too critical for meaningful living, but the Scripture instructs that by the arm of flesh shall no man prevail (1Samuel 2:9). There are Christians whose lives have been thrown into pandemonium through ceaseless attacks on their purpose for living. They go from prayer Mountains to prayer Camps, from one prophet to another, and deliver-

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ance conferences all in search of solution to a troubled purpose. The first apparent mistake they are making is by looking up to purpose as the alpha and omega of lives. The question then is: what should we look to if we do not look towards purpose for a life of meaning?

The basis of any Christian’s PURPOSE is a PROMISE. Let me emphasize: for every child of God, promise precedes purpose. We can hardly conceive the reason why God is called by the name of Abraham. “God of Abraham” is still a signature tune in our prayers today as we petition heaven for specific requests. We could naturally explain why Adam, being the first man created, was excluded from any possibility of “God of Adam”, but why not “God of Abel”, or “God of Seth” or “God of Noah”? Why not “God of Enoch”, a man who walked so uprightly with God that he could not be captured by death? “  And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him]” (Genesis 5:24 Amplified). These were men who walked in close fellowship with God before Abraham, yet none of them could occupy that portion in God’s heart. Abraham was a fresh page opened upon the march of man towards God’s appointed destiny. The chapter that opened Abraham’s life, which is opened to us as fellow pilgrims, and for which we are identified with Abraham, is the promise of God. “Now the Lord had said to Abram: Get out of your country, from your

family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.  I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12: 1-3). We already know that before Abraham encountered God, he was living for a purpose, but the purpose changed the day God met him. As it were, it was as if God was saying, “Abraham, you have been living for your own earthly purpose but now you would have to start to live for my own eternal purpose – the purpose for which I created you.” And in flagging off the new purpose, God called him personally and gave him a promise. We may find a similarity in the call of Abraham to “come out” of certain levels of relationships, to a Christian’s call to “come out” of the world to Christ. The starting point of divine purpose is established on that foundation. Let me share briefly about promise so we can understand the nature of the divine intervention which we crave for. It is significant that twice the Scripture describes believers in Christ as children of promise: “But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.”  That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not

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The basis of a Christian’s purpose


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the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son” (Romans 9:6-9 emphasis added). “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise” (Galatians 4:28). It is important for us to note that believers in Christ are not called the children of purpose but rather the children of promise. The reason is that purpose can fail or falter; purpose can even be defeated but not so with promise. As a matter of fact, purpose as related to Abraham faltered; it was as if it would be permanently defeated, because himself and his wife Sarah passed the age of childbearing, and it was as if there was no purpose to live for. But there was something they lived for, and that was the promise of God. In his walk with God, if there was anything Abraham was convinced of, it was God’s promise. Listen to the scripture: “And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb:  He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4:19-21 emphasis added). Purpose that originates from the promise of God stands solid against adversities because it is the same promise that keeps the purpose. The enemy can attack a man’s purpose for living, but he cannot attack the promise of God that underpins the purpose. So, praying to God

and communing with Him become more assuring and meaningful when they are entrenched in God’s promise. When purpose fails, a child of God can stand strong on God’s promise and the promise will surely make a rebirth of a better purpose. As a Christian, if you have faced vicious attacks on your purpose for living, and you desire divine intervention, the most assured way for you to receive your purpose is by standing solidly on God’s promise that has to do with your purpose. Do not run to any prayer mountain or healing camp without arming yourself with God’s promise. When the Lord Jesus said that heaven and earth shall pass away but not His word (Mark 13:31), what He meant was His promise. Let me say it here again, “It is written” is one powerful inheritance God bequeathed to believers in Christ, and it denotes the unerring power of God’s promise in petitioning the heavens for help, and in assailing the kingdom of darkness to release its captives. “It is written” simply means, “God you said, God you promised”. Perhaps there are areas that the enemy is attacking in your life that is making you lose a sense of meaning and purpose; areas of marriage (looking for husband or wife), gainful employment, academic pursuits, fruitfulness, health matters, financial prosperity and such like; get into the promises of God relating to those areas and plead with God based on those promises day and night without wavering until you see the manifestation of God’s promise. If God said it, He will do it – very certainly. The man, Job during his distress declared with certainty: “If a man die, shall he live again? All

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the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come” (Job 14:14). Job could wait because of the promise of God, “...and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me” (Isaiah 49:23). The Scripture is replete with men and women whose purposes failed at one time but held on to the promise of God and were able to bounce back to a better purpose. Job, our example, was showcased by God as exemplary in character and conduct. What we saw after that testimony was a crash landing of everything that surrounded Job. He was literarily stripped to the bone; his possessions were taken away, all his children perished, his affluence and influence were cut off, and his friends and family members deserted him. You could ask: What then remained for the man to live for? If purpose is the fuel for life, then his power for living was extinguished but not Job. As you read through Job’s reflection in Job 19:127, you understand the message that his power for living was beyond purpose; it was a promise from One who never fails. Satan must have had a party with its allies having thoroughly stripped Job of everything a natural man could live for, but there was one thing he could not take away from Job and that was His God. And God lived to His promise: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you” (Isaiah 43:2). Rick Warren, a popular American preacher wrote a book: The Purpose Driven Life; it was well

read by many in search of purpose for living. But how I wish the book was actually titled “The Promise Driven Life”, because only those who are driven by the Promise will stand secure; they shall not be disappointed in the end. Promise will lead them to their purpose and the promise will secure the purpose. Those who are merely driven by purpose will find themselves groping in the dark valleys of life when their purpose is attacked and defeated by forces beyond their control. It was the promise that Daniel pleaded for when he pounded the heavens with his moving petition in respect of the spiritual declension of the children of Israel (Daniel 9). It was the promise Apostle Paul held on to when all hell was let loose on him and his purpose to the point that he confessed he despaired of life (2 Corinthians 1:8). It was the promise of God (Isaiah 49: 24-25) that anchored my soul and that of my wife as we stood before God to reclaim the life of our older son who for a long period was swept away by the powers of darkness and the errors of the western world. The hallmark of Hillsong (Australia) “You Are Faithful” is God’s irrevocable commitment to keeping His promise with those who are bonded to Him. Read and meditate on the lyrics and listen to the song if you can: www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9h8SEDqJXM

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Lord of all the earth How You care for me You have made me You will save and carry me always


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You are faithful You are faithful You are faithful Your joy is my strength Lord you are my God I rely on You I put my hope in things not seen Your promises all true Always you’re with me Your hand will lift me My trust is in your hands Let us conclude with the following facts: 1. Before there is a purpose, there is a promise. So promise precedes purpose. 2. The enemy cannot attack promise, he can only attack purpose. 3. Purpose can be defeated but not promise. 4. God does not intervene in situations when a man is still strong (except in judgment). Surrender precedes God’s intervention. Joshua was a leader fully armed and prepared for battle but the LORD told him to put off his shoes (surrender) because he stood on holy ground. (Joshua 5:15). So, I urge you to surrender to the Lord Jesus, He will fight for you as He promised (Exodus 14:14, Deuteronomy 1:30, Joshua 23:10). 5. When desire is connected to the promise of God, God shows up. A good example is the coming of the Holy Spirit in the Upper room. (Acts 2:1-4).

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3 The Nature of Promise and Purpose After a very careful look, one will discover that everything God has in store for man is encased in promise. Thus, every time we come across the word ‘faithfulness’ as it relates to God in the scripture, the word speaks about God’s eternal commitment to His promises. For man to live purposefully on earth, God gives him a promise. It is the promise that births the purpose and it is the promise that will keep the purpose. You should also know that heaven for a believer in Christ is a promise. The Holy Spirit through whom all mysteries are unlocked is a Promise. “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:4-5). “In whom ye 17


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also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13). Faith is a very significant factor in walking with God and it is required because a promise is only as authentic as the one who gave it. At one time or the other, some of us have received promises from individuals which we instantly knew were empty promises, or at least, there was a doubt in our hearts concerning the promise. The trouble we had was not essentially about the promise itself, but about the one who gave the promise. Our evaluation of the promise giver impacts on the promise given. The first hurdle man faced from the beginning was that of faith in God. Adam and Eve did not believe God and that was why they fell prey to the devil. The issue of faith is so paramount to God that the Scripture insists that “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 emphasis added). On that basis therefore, the Scripture adds, “ Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) (Hebrews 10:23 emphasis added). We have not as much touched on the depth of a promise from God’s perspective, for it is too enormous for our finite comprehension. For instance, we understand from the scripture that it is through God’s promise that we are invited to be partakers of God’s own nature. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that

by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2Peter 1:4). Through God’s promises, believers have been called to share in God’s divine nature which makes divine intervention a normal course of events. Divine intervention is anticipated and appropriated no longer as a mystery, but as that which is normal and consistent with the nature they share and the faith they live. “Deep calls unto deep...” (Psalm 42:7) explains the mode of interaction between God and those who share in His divine nature. We have been trying to follow the course of divine intervention, exploring promise and purpose so as to understand the intended outcome. We have established that promise gives birth to purpose but there are two kinds of purposes and both purposes enjoy divine intervention: (1) Incidental purpose, and (2) Divine purpose. I shall explain the two purposes from the backdrop of Ishmael and Isaac. As you know, the two men were the sons of Abraham and both of them enjoyed divine intervention in their lives at different times (Ishmael- Genesis 21:16-19, Isaac Genesis 22:1115). Having waited for a long time without the son God promised, Abraham decided to try it using his own method, and he succeeded at it. He produced Ishmael and presented him before God when God decided it was time to fulfill His own promise. Let us read the account: Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.

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And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.” 17  Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18  And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” 19  Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. 20  And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21  But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” 22  Then He finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham (Genesis 17:15-22). Abraham prayed “Oh God let Ishmael live in your presence” (v.18) but God categorically said “No” (v.19). Nothing of the natural course (fleshly inspired) will abide in God’s presence. Nonetheless, God still committed Himself to bless Ishmael (v.20). If purpose is what a man lives for, for meaning and fulfillment, then Ishmael did get one and that from God! “And as for Ishmael, I have heard

you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation” (Genesis 17:20). But it was an incidental purpose because it had no connection with the eternal purpose of God. It was a purpose that originated and perished here on earth with all its incentives. God did not bind Himself with Ishmael as He did with Isaac. Ishmael was blessed with things; material things, but he was not blessed with God – no binding covenant that could secure his destiny with God. Charles Spurgeon says, “All that Nature spins time will unravel, to the eternal confusion of all who are clothed therein.” But regarding Isaac who was yet unborn at the time, God spoke to Abraham, saying, “I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him........ But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year” (Genesis 17: 19 & 21 emphasis added). Isaac had a divine purpose backed up by everlasting covenant. With God’s covenant comes altar, a place where God interacts with those He is in covenant with. Abraham built altars for God, so also Isaac but Ishmael had no altar before God all through his lifetime. Of course, anyone who is worth calling a Christian must have a personal altar. The altar we speak about here is not a physical structure but a heart that has a burning love for God and for His Son Jesus Christ. God makes the distinction between the purposes and this is the distinction, if I may para-

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CALEB ABAS

phrase it: 1. You can have all my blessings and live for that purpose, but you cannot have me. (Incidental purpose – in fulfilling this purpose, you do not need to walk in obedience to God – you can worship God but as convenient for you or based on your own opinion. Just enjoy the blessings and keep doing your own thing until your expiration). 2. You can have me with my blessings, but you have to live for me from now till eternity. (Divine purpose – walking in obedience to God and keeping your eyes on Him at all times is the key to fulfilling this purpose). I do not downplay the power of purpose as it relates to man’s mental and emotional well being. Purpose stimulates drive and fires up motivation. However, it is important that children of God be aware of the nature and content of their purpose and the direction it leads. Isaac and Ishmael shared the same father but not the same covenant. It did not even matter that Ishmael was circumcised in the flesh just as Isaac was, as God instructed in His covenant with Abraham; mere outward circumcision, it appeared, was not enough to guarantee Ishmael a place in God’s eternal covenant. And so, Ishmael could be materially wealthy; God guaranteed him those blessings, but he lived without God as a matter of purpose. His purpose for living was the material blessing; it was what gave him mean-

ing and relevance. He had the best of everything in his days – visibly wealthy and numerous but eternally destitute. He had no altar before God that could secure God’s abiding presence and promise in his life. Even in our day, there are people who worship God not because they enjoy doing so, but because they needed Him for material wealth, fruitfulness – for their safety and protection. There are indeed some people in the Church today who consider it a burden to serve God. They have no personal living altars before God. If it were possible, they would want everything done without God. They treat God as an unnecessary intrusion into their already planned- out and well -scheduled lives. It is those kinds of Christians that you need to prop up every time; reminding them it is Sunday morning and that they needed to get up early to get to church. Preachers need to keep preaching on giving so as to soften their hearts towards God and give Him some self-willed stipends as if God were a beggar. They could tolerate God because life is a mystery to them and the world is a mysterious place. Who would doubt the fact that life is a mystery? Some years ago, the LORD spoke to me: “What difference does it make between an avowed enemy who desires your hurt and failure by all means, and a close friend who is afraid of your success?” It got me thinking. It got me not just thinking, it made me more sensitive to my environment and the people I relate with, after all I can be careful with enemies but how careful could I be with a friend who secretly does not wish me good?

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So, life is indeed a mystery and it is not as if some people enjoy serving God, but serving Him actually serves their own purpose – serving God is the only way by which they can place themselves on the safer side of life’s mystery, after all God is known to all as mighty and powerful. He can be fled to for refuge any day; He is so gracious and merciful. But there are people for whom it is their life’s only goal to serve God; people to whom God has opened His heart and shown His eternal counsel, and to whom life no longer poses any mystery. Do you know that in heaven there is no mystery? (1 Corinthians 13:12, 1John 3:2) Consequently, for you as a child of God, it is not enough to say God gives you your purpose, and that you have found meaning and fulfillment in the purpose. The issue is, “Where is God in the purpose?” If God is not the Purpose in the purpose, it is a mere incidental purpose – a terminal purpose at that! It may bring you fame, wealth, power and relevance, but it lacks the eternal fibre that guarantees your life beyond the present fading life. The purpose is void of divine value. That was exactly what God was trying out in the life of Abraham when He demanded that Isaac, the promised son be sacrificed. Did you see that God did not ask for Ishmael? The reason was because He had no covenant with Ishmael – no eternal relationship. Would Abraham hold tenaciously to the promised son having waited so long and suffered so much for him? Was he even prepared to do anything that would hurt Sarah, the love of his heart, and give up Isaac who was the visible reward of their toil and

the evidence of their hope and love? Or would he just simply trust God upon whose promise Isaac was birthed, and simply put his heart on the Promise Giver rather than the product of the promise? In the end, Abraham chose to rest his heart in God who made the promise. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed be called:   Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Hebrews 11:17-19). Christians who follow divine purpose will be confronted with the same challenge from time to time. God will demand to know if you value the created content of your purpose than the Creator. At the altar, God gave Himself to man and it is at the altar God demands all of man. I sympathize with Christians who still find it a struggle to pay their tithes. What a loss they suffer by withholding from their Maker who promised His all in keeping them from harm, a lot less than their human governments take for far less provision! The altar is a place of giving – far more than money or any created wealth; it is a place of giving the heart! Fellow Christian, where is your heart – in your possessions? Too sad if it is so. As Ishmael and Esau, you can have the best of this world in material terms: cars, mansions and all the luxuries of life and you would rightly claim God blessed you. Sadly, your purpose and fulfillment come from the blessings or the accomplishments you have and not from God Himself. Your strength,

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your meaning and your fulfillment are in what you have, not in the God who gave those things. How tragic it is to have your life’s purpose in what can be swept away in minutes? The Lord Jesus said, “ For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36) The Holy Spirit brought my attention to the word “profit” and how it is often overlooked in the quoted verse. In normal business transactions, merchants do not talk of profits until the end of the transactions. It is when the business is concluded, (and only God knows the number of hours, days, months or years before that happens) that the merchant will determine whether his investment of time and resources have yielded any profit. Some people are in the prime of their lives or careers now and it seems things are going on well with them without God, but they should wait, for there is coming a day when they will look back and determine if all they lived for in their prime years is really of life’s worth. When a man is young, he looks forward – life is before him full of promises, but when a man attains old age, he looks back. Old age is typically a time of reminiscence. You can understand why the scripture admonishes, “Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” 2 Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky.” (Eccl. 12: 1, 2 NLT) And that is the more reason why the strength

and glory of a true child of God cannot be measured by material wealth or any of such things the world can offer. As a matter of fact, it is too belittling, if not insulting to show created wealth as evidence of God’s glory and presence in a Christian’s life. If the worth of a virtuous woman is far above rubies (Proverbs 31:10) to what shall we equate the worth of God’s glory in a man’s life? Have you found your purpose yet? Is your purpose for living divine or incidental – eternal or terminal? I encourage you to find fulfillment only in the pursuit of purpose that makes God the purpose for your life. It is that kind of purpose that can guarantee you true joy, peace and meaning. You do not need to fear losing that purpose, because God whose eternal promise gave birth to it is ever alive to keep His promise never to leave you or forsake you.

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There are lots of occurrences that have happened in our lives which are unexplainable naturally and which we can only attribute to the mighty hands of God. God is great and He does mighty things. Some have experienced miracles, signs and wonders that have altered the course of their lives for good. However, any divine intervention that has no bearing with divine outcome of the life for the one who experienced it is very tenuous; it terribly falls short of God’s purpose for showing Himself strong in any matter. God is eternal and He delights in ventures that bear eternal consequences. Some people have been healed miraculously, some have been promoted to positions of honour they never thought possible, some were delivered from deep pits of trouble – these are all God’s glorious power of divine intervention, but where do they end? There are two kings I want to bring to your attention as we draw the curtain on this book. The

kings are Saul and David. Both Israeli kings were recipients of God’s divine intervention. A careful look will show few similarities at the point of their call – they were both caring for their fathers’ herds when they received their call and anointing. Saul, in the company of a household servant was looking for his father’s lost asses and was at the verge of giving up when he encountered his destiny. David, on the other hand, was an abandoned young man, who gave his all to protect his father’s sheep in the wilderness. King Saul was God’s answer to the belligerent request of the children of Israel for a king. God spoke unequivocally that by their asking for a king, the children of Israel had rejected Him from being King over them but that never changed their stand. “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; 20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (1Samuel 8: 1920). It was a credit to the children of Israel that even though they demanded for a king in the manner they did, they left the choice to God. In making a choice, God spoke to Samuel, “Tomorrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me. 17  And when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! This same shall reign over my people” (1 Samuel 9:16-

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4 Divine inter vention: Starting anew


THE PROMISE DRIVEN LIFE

CALEB ABAS

For Saul, that was divine intervention. How could Saul ever be king over Israel except God determined it? Hear Saul himself: “And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? And my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Wherefore then speakest thou so to me?” (1 Samuel 9:21). That was King Saul’s humble reflection when he was picked for a royal position he never dreamed off. There is much to say about that divine intervention but then our focus is on how he ended – what became of God’s investment in his life. King Saul had preference for people’s affirmation than for God’s approval. He would do anything to keep the crowd around him even if it would mean disobeying God (1 Samuel 13:11). It appeared King Saul also knew better than God; he knew what to spare and what to destroy when God’s instruction to him was to totally destroy the enemies of God. And he very well buried his greed under the doctrine of ‘sacrificial offering’ to God (1 Samuel 15:15). Sadly, he had everything but God and listened to no one but himself. He was still on the throne directing the affairs of God’s people yet God had left him. It was a strange word God used when He spoke to Samuel “How long would you mourn for Saul” (1 Samuel 16:1). I thought you could only mourn for one that was dead because he had come to an irretrievable end. King Saul was a man who was still physically alive but in the sight of God, he was already dead. And it all happened because Saul had found his purpose for living in the power and

glamour which God gave him and cared less about the God who gave them. God began the process of finding a replacement for King Saul in the house of Jesse. I encourage you to read the whole of 1 Samuel 16 and see how God disqualified all of Jesse’s sons except the one Jesse himself had already disqualified. God’s comments on the first son Eliab should intrigue you: “And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, surely the Lord’s anointed is before him. 7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord  seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord  looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16: 6-7). God said He had refused Eliab even when he had not been physically tried. That is God; He is all – knowing. It was in the same manner God rejected the other six sons. Samuel was perplexed because he knew God never made mistakes and he asked Jesse if the seven sons presented were all the sons he had (1 Samuel 16:10). Then Jesse with a note of reluctance mentioned David the eighth son who was in the field tending the sheep. I marvel at God’s ways of doing things – many times I ask why God did not tell Samuel straightaway that it was David he should look for and anoint instead of going through all Jesse’s sons. But God, through the process He chose, revealed Himself in a new way both to Samuel and Jesse. Samuel who thought he was so close to God that he could hardly get it wrong and Jesse who misused his fatherly authority

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by excluding David because of age and stature. “For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord  looketh on the heart.” Everything the first seven sons of Jesse represented was all present in King Saul. God would not duplicate King Saul whom He was replacing. The seven sons of Jesse represented the end of human perfection but God was looking for something new – a break from the old order. God was looking for someone who could not be swayed by popular opinion against God’s counsel. He was looking for a man whose heart could not be hijacked or corrupted by the material to the point that he could care less if he disobeyed God who commissioned him. And so, He reached forth to the eighth son, David, marking a new beginning (in the scripture eight is the number for new beginning). That is the beauty of divine intervention; when God works it out according to His own eternal design, not according to the terminal design of man. In looking for a king, the children of Israel had asked, “Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5) because they had lost their identity and sense of purpose and became just exactly like other nations. Their call was to be a peculiar people, separate from others in terms of mission and destiny. And God gave them Saul who would judge them like other nations. However, before the destiny of Israel was totally marred in the hands of King Saul, God intervened through King David to usher in a new direction and to ensure Israel remained true to her eternal purpose. Has it not been said that

instead of God’s purpose to fail, He would rather change the man commissioned for the purpose? God is doing something new in our days. If you are a child of God, you should by now be sensing the move of God in your own personal life, ordering your steps into that which is entirely devoted to Him and not marred by human manipulation. Evil is full blown in the world today and God is raising children who will live to their divine calling to be light and salt in a world that is bewildered and lost. The Lord Jesus is at the peak of His preparation to step into this world and make an unprecedented divine intervention that will usher in an end to all evils, and begin a new life of endless peace and joy. But in the meantime, God is divinely intervening through His obedient children who can stand their ground against the “Goliaths” of this world and win the battle for the LORD where the likes of “King Saul” have failed. Goliath continued to strut for days on the territory of Israel, boasting and demeaning the God of Israel (1Samuel 17:8-10). Even though physically armoured and in his kingly regalia, King Saul was confounded and timid; he had no voice, no authority to counter the boisterous challenge of Goliath. Evil is getting too loud in the church of God, decimating every area of her strength and desecrating her consecration like Goliath against Israel. But God is never caught unawares; He has a seemingly “foolish” answer for the professionally armed “Goliaths” of this world. His answer is in entirely God- dependent sons like David. Can God count on you as the “David” for this

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generation? Are you hearing the voice of the LORD urging you, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6: 17-18). It was Malcolm Muggeridge who said, “Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream”. Would you stand out and be counted for God? Would you become God’s own divine intervention in a world that is dark and dreary? Hurry! The Lord Jesus comes soon, and when He arrives may He find you worthy of the investment of His life and love on you. We conclude with the following words of Charles Spurgeon: “Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” Redemption is a solid basis for confidence. David had not known Calvary as we have done, but temporal redemption cheered him; and shall not eternal redemption yet more sweetly console us? Past deliverances are strong pleas for present assistance. What the Lord has done he will do again, for he changes not. He is faithful to his promises, and gracious to his saints; he will not turn away from his people. “Though thou slay me I will trust, Praise thee even from the dust, Prove, and tell it as I prove, Thine unutterable love. Thou mayst chasten and correct, But thou never canst neglect; Since the ransom price is paid, On thy love my hope is stay’d.” 34


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