Be an agent of PEACE
|Apostle Dr. Opoku Onyinah, Chairman of The Church of Pentecost worldwide and Chancellor of the Pentecost University College as well as the Chairman of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC).|
Be an Agent of Peace
“You are an agent of peace, security and stability. If somebody wants to do something that will destabilise the peace that we have in our country, tell the person to stop it, and BE AN AGENT OF PEACE ...”
Introduction: This is a message delivered and preached at the Ghana Independence Square in Accra-Ghana on March 18, 2012 in observance of The National Prayers and Thanksgiving Day Service. The theme for the occasion was "Peace, Security and Stability within Your Borders, Oh' Ghana" Psalm 122:6-8.
Apostle Dr. Opoku Onyinah, Chairman of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC) as well has the Chairman of The Church of Pentecost worldwide and Chancellor of the Pentecost University College delivered the sermon for the occasion. The President of Ghana, Professor John Evans Atta Mills emphasised in his speech that his government is committed to a peaceful Ghana before and after the December elections and further made the following assertions in quote "We all want a peaceful Ghana, before during and after the elections. As human beings what we can do is to exercise the power that God has given us...But it is only God who can add his seal of approval to our efforts...let us continue to pray because without prayers we are nothing,”
The full text of Apostle Dr, Opoku Onyinah's sermon is as follows. We pray it moves you in mending any broken fences and to help and enable you to be a champion of PEACE in JESUS name we pray, Amen.
Main Text: 1 Samuel 25:23-31; Others: Luke 6:27-38; Roman 12:9-21
Beloved in Christ,
I want us to thank the Lord God Almighty for giving us the opportunity as a nation to acknowledge his sovereignty and to express our thanks to him.
I want to thank his Excellency, Professor Atta Mills, the President of Ghana, and the planning committee of this thanksgiving service for giving me the opportunity to share the word of God with you. I am grateful. It is my prayer that the Lord will use this occasion to bless all of us. Amen
As a nation we have been praying for a week on the theme, "Peace, Security and Stability within Your Borders, Oh Ghana" (Ps 122:6-8). Broadly I will be speaking on this theme.
Specifically I am speaking on the sub-theme, Be an Agent of Peace, taken from the passage which was read from 1 Samuel 25:23-31.
David became popular when he killed Goliath. His popularity disturbed King Saul to the point where he wanted to kill him. In fact Saul moved the whole army of Israel to pursue David in the attempt to kill him. Meanwhile David had done nothing wrong. His main charge was that, as the women of Israel sang in jubilation after Israel’s victory over the Philistines, which was championed by David's killing of Goliath, they placed David ahead of Saul. The king felt threatened about this. His solution was to kill David.
David was taking comfort from Samuel, the prophet who had ordained him secretly as king. Unfortunately Samuel died. David then had to leave to a border town, called Maon. This town shared a boundary with Philistia. He should have gone to Philistia but he thought the people would recognise him and kill him, since he had killed Goliath. He was in a dilemma; he thought the border town may help. When there is no peace, security and stability in a nation, people run away for their dear lives. Some leave for other countries, while others play hide and seek game like what David did. We pray that all Ghanaians will protect the peace, security and stability that we are enjoying as a nation, ensuring that never will Ghana be sent into a state of confusion and instability.
It was at this border town that David met the shepherds of a man called Nabal. Nabal was wealthy. Many wealthy people like Nabal in his time would hire soldiers to protect their sheep against raiders who stole people’s flock. David and his men gave protection to the sheep and goats of Nabal, without taking any money from him.
Therefore, during a festival, David sent ten of his men to see Nabal for some food stuffs for use by his people. But Nabal refused and rather insulted David by equating him with servants who had broken away from their masters. When David was informed about this he became very angry. He organised 400 of his men (soldiers) to go and kill all the males in the household of Nabal. In fact Nabal was not his real concern. David was already a worried person. He only mistakenly decided to vent his worry on Nabal and his household.
This is what often happens when people are disturbed. Often they pour their grievances on wrong people. Throughout the world there have been instances where people have poured their frustrations on the wrong people, leading to the killing of innocent children, women and men.
There are many examples, but a typical one is the number of people who died at the September 11 2001 disaster at the World Trade Centre, in New York, USA. May the Lord forbid that such things will happen within the borders of Ghana.
It was during this time of David's annoyance that one of Nabal’s servants went to report the incident to Abigail, his wife. Abigail decided to be an agent of peace by pleading with David not to go ahead with what he had decided to do.
It is my prayer that every Ghanaian will be an agent of peace now, during and after the elections. To be able to do this we need to learn from Abigail.
THREE RECOGNITIONS OF ABIGAIL
Abigail made an appeal to David. I want us to examine her appeal. There are three recognitions that she made.
Abigail appealed to David on the Basis of David’s faithfulness to God (1 Sam 25:26, 28c)
26 “Now, my lord, as surely as the LORD lives and you yourself live, since the LORD has kept you from murdering and taking vengeance into your own hands, let all your enemies be as cursed as Nabal is.
27 And here is a present I have brought to you and your young men. 28 Please forgive me if I have offended in any way. The LORD will surely reward you with a lasting dynasty, for you are fighting the LORD’s battles. And you have not done wrong throughout your entire life (NLT).
What is Abigail saying here? She is saying that, "My lord David, you have been faithful to God. You have not killed King Saul, the one who is seeking your life. You have not committed any crime in life. You are a peaceful man. Many people know this. So please keep it up. You do not need to kill Nabal.
Abigail was singing the song that the Apostle Paul would come and sing to us in the New Testament. "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord" (Rom 12:19, ESV).
We need to appeal to people’s faithfulness to God, to the nation and to friends in times of trouble. There are many people including politicians, judiciary, professionals, chiefs, academics, social commentators, medical doctors, soldiers and pastors who have really made various sacrifices for the nation. During critical times, remind such people of the good things they have done for the nation. Sometimes people forget about their past sacrifices. In times of trouble, remind them. Abigail reminded David of this.
Abigail appealed to David on the Basis of God’s faithfulness to him (1 Sam 25: 28-29)
28 Please forgive me if I have offended in any way. The LORD will surely reward you with a lasting dynasty, for you are fighting the LORD’s battles. And you have not done wrong throughout your entire life.
29 “Even when you are chased by those who seek your life, you are safe in the care of the LORD your God, secure in his treasure pouch! But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling! (NLT)
What is Abigail saying here? She says God has promised you David, we are aware of it. Although your life is being sought after by a very important person, the person will not be successful, because the one who has promised you is faithful. He will give you an everlasting dynasty. You are going to be king, so don't worry about what is going on now.
Perhaps David thought by the death of Samuel people might have forgotten the fact that the Prophet Samuel anointed him king. It was a good reminder. In other words, Abigail was reminding David that God had promised him a throne. All of them remember the promise.
The God who had promised was faithful. God would always fulfil his promises to His people.
This was a good reminder to David. Remind people about the faithfulness of God. God has been faithful to many people. Some have been sick, some have had accidents, some have been to prisons, yet God has delivered all these people. Some have been at the throes of death, yet God has brought them back to life. The God who has promised will do it. Remind yourself of what God has done for you. Such reminders are good.
Abigail appealed to David on the basis of the power of sin (1 Sam 25:30-31)
30 When the LORD has done all he promised and has made you leader of Israel,
31 don’t let this be a blemish on your record. Then you won’t have to carry on your conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed and vengeance. And when the LORD has done these great things for you, please remember me!” (NLT)
What is Abigail saying here? God will certainly fulfil all that he has promised you. If you kill, your conscience will haunt you because sin is very powerful. You will gain the throne, but inwardly unknown to any other person, your conscience will condemn and tell you that you gained the throne through foul means. You don’t need to do that.
We need to remind people to be aware of the power of sin and the soul. Once you use foul means to achieve your aim, you are going to pay for it outwardly or inwardly throughout your life. Nobody may know of it but you will be tormented by the power of the soul and your own conscience. Sometimes this power of the soul is portrayed in movies; one may see a ghost of a dead person chasing the one who killed him/her. I wonder how many people learn from these. It is always better not to use evil means to achieve your ends.
Here Abigail advice people not to kill or do any evil thing to achieve their goals. One evil thing you do or one bad word you pronounce will follow you throughout your entire life.
David listened to Abigail's appeal and stopped what he had intended to do. In 1 Samuel 25:32, "David replied to Abigail, “Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today (1 Sam 25:32, NLT). "Then in 1 Samuel 25:35 “Then David accepted her gifts and told her, “Return home in peace. We will not kill your husband” (NLT). Abigail had been a very good agent of peace. We need to listen to other people's counsel in times of difficulties. This was a strength of David.
SOME LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM THE THREE PERSONALITIES
There are three personalities in the story we have shared: Nabal who spoke and insulted David; David who had wanted vengeance by killing Nabal, and all males in his household; And Abigail whose peaceful and wise approach stopped David from killing innocent people. What lessons can we draw from them?
Nabal was successful. Don’t forget that. He was wealthy. He was popular. He made a statement that incited trouble for himself and his household. Part of what he said was true; indeed some servants had broken away from their masters. But that was not the situation of David. Part of what he said was a blunt lie. He did not know what he was saying. He made the statement at the wrong time and to the wrong person. We must not be quick to pass judgement. Our Lord Jesus Christ admonishes us in Luke 6:38 that we need to be careful, because "...For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you" (ESV).
We must not behave like Nabal. Words are powerful. One word you speak may incite trouble for your family, church, institution, party, country and your race. Be a kind person.
On the other hand, there may be some Nabals who may speak and incite trouble, but you need to be like the woman Abigail. Don’t just insult those people, but change the situation and put what they said in the right perspective.
This is what one husband did when his wife insulted him in the presence of his friends. "Look at his big head (hwe ne tikeseebiaodigyinaho)". The husband responded. "You know my wife, she really admires my brain. Did you hear what she said? She always says I have a big brain that can solve every problem and that is how she often puts it. Wonderful woman! I love you". Be an agent of peace!
Our Lord Jesus Christ says in Luke 6:31 "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them" (ESV).
David wanted to kill Nabal who had insulted him, and others who had done nothing wrong. What can we learn from him?
There are three great lessons we can draw from him.
No lesson is ever learnt permanently apart from the grace of God.
David had overcome the desire to kill Saul, who had attempted to kill him. He had the opportunity to kill Saul but did not. Yet David later wanted to kill Nabal, who had only refused to grant his request for food. This means that no spiritual lesson is ever leant permanently apart from the grace of God.
Without the grace of God we are doomed to repeat past mistakes.
Don’t think that we are mature now as a nation, so we cannot repeat past mistakes. Many things have taken place in our nation that must remind us to be more responsible in what we do, accountable in our responsibilities and vigilant in our activities. We need to be careful else we can repeat past mistakes. One "white man" I was walking with one day committed a mistake twice and told me that his father cautioned him when he repeated the same mistake. "Only a fool makes one mistake twice". We will not like to fall into the trap of this man. Ghanaians are gentle, respectful and wise. Let us assume our true nature.
Without the grace of God we are doomed to reproduce the failures of others in our lives.
The sin of Saul was being copied in the life of David. Saul moved the whole army of Israel in the attempt to kill David for no reason. David also moved his army of 400 men in the attempt to do so to Nabal and the males in his household. We are surrounded by other countries that have engaged in civil and ethnic wars. Without the grace of God, we can copy them. We need the grace of God to be poured upon Ghanaians not to reproduce the sins and mistakes of others.
Abigail took the bold step to speak to David when she heard what her husband had done. We must speak to our friends, spouses and even those we don't know when there are possible dangers ahead. We must be agents of peace, security and stability within our borders, no matter how hard the situation is. God will intervene; he will grant it.
The situation seemed to have been decided already. David was at the verge of destroying all males in the household of Nabal. But when Abigail made the appeal David listened to her. It is never late to make a peace move. As a nation it is not too late for us to wholly depend upon God's grace and love. We need to forgive one another and press on. God can intervene.
Are you an agent of peace? Or are you part of the problems that we encounter in the nation? Nabal caused trouble which could have affected his entire family. I pray that the spirit of Nabal, that is, insults will be completely out of every Ghanaian. We are too gentle to follow Nabal’s bad attitude.
David had been a peaceful person. He had resisted killing Saul to gain power, yet he nearly killed Nabal and some innocent persons who were not part of Nabal's irresponsible behaviour. No lesson is ever leant permanently apart from the grace of God. Without the grace of God we are doomed to repeat past mistakes. Without the grace of God we are doomed to reproduce the failures of others in our lives. Since we work for God and the people, we must listen to people when they speak to us in times of trouble and anger.
Like Abigail, we must always be peace makers.
You are an agent of peace, security and stability. If somebody wants to do something that will destabilise the peace that we have in our country, tell the person to stop it, and be an Agent of Peace since he/she is an agent of peace.
Thank you and God bless you.