Category Archives: Christian perspectives

Discipline of Giving Free Ebook


The older I get the more convinced I am that I should give away a lot of what God has entrusted to me.

In that spirit for the month of November I am making available as free download one of my books which demonstrates the power of giving. I pray that this book will be a blessing to you and yours.

In this book I present a concise and definitive view of biblical giving from both practical and theological perspectives. This book deals with controversies about giving in an irenic way rather than in a polemical way. It presents an apologetic for biblical tithing as well.

You will need an E Pub book reader for you to be able to read this book.

 

Download the book from this link:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/dr-t-a-makoni/the-discipline-of-giving-ebook/ebook/product-23378087.html

 

God bless.

 

 

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Celebratory Free E-Book Offer


Blessings. I know that its been a while since my last post. I have been busy with my newest book, The Tabernacle of David: The Key to Discipling Nations as Priestly Kings. I have just completed the initial draft of that book. Since tomorrow is my birthday, I have decided to launch this my fifth publication by offering the full manuscript as a free e-book download to celebrate my birthday month. It will remain available as a free download for the month of September 2017. Feel free to forward link to your friends. I hope you enjoy this offering and will offer your thoughts and insights on this blogsite (www.nurturingchampions.com). I am believing that your input will happen sharpen the hard copy edition that is still in final stages.

To download you own free copy with absolutely no obligation please click on this link:

Free download link http://www.lulu.com/shop/dr-t-a-makoni/the-tabernacle-of-david/ebook/product-23313742.html

To enjoy the book make sure that you have an E Pub reader.

Enjoy the journey and more importantly I hope this offering will enrich your own purpose quest.

Blessings. In His and Your Service.

Hastening travellers along the way!

 

Firstfruit Giving


Firstfruits offerings are an interesting concept from the Old Testament that has powerful New Testament implications. Deuschle (2011:22) contends that the “pattern of firstfruits is found in the Old Testament, with its principles reflected in the New.” We will start by discussing some scriptures that touch on this in New Testament before investigating the Old Testament roots. Finally we will work out some applications for the New Testament believer of this often misunderstood concept.

Definitions

The first-fruits, or the first sheaf of ripe grain was required to be offered to the Lord, and was waved before him by the priest, as expressing the sense of gratitude by the farmer, and his recognition of the fact that God had a right to all that he had. (Lev 23:10-14). The word (reshiyth #H7225), therefore, comes to have two meanings:

(i)         That which is “first,” the beginning, or that which has the priority of time; i.e. first in place, time, order or rank and,

(ii)        That which is apart and portion of the whole which is to follow, and which is the earnest or pledge of that; as the “first” sheaf of ripe grain was not only the first in order of time, but was the earnest or pledge of the entire harvest which was soon to succeed. It refers to first in dignity, the first of its kind and first fruits with regard to time

First-fruit (ἀπαρχή, aparchē #563) denotes the firstling of fruit or grain which was separated from the mass and presented as an offering to God. The Jews were required to present such a portion of their harvest to God, as an expression of gratitude and of their sense of dependence. (Num 15:19-21). Until this was done, it was not lawful to partake of the harvest.

Practical Working Definition: Firstfruits is the first portion of any increase, harvest or new source of income given to God as an offering to acknowledge that He has first priority in our lives and that He is the owner and source of our fruitfulness and increase. It demonstrates gratitude for the harvest and guarantees the full harvest.

One has to think from an agricultural perspective to understand first fruits. The Jews were farmers who took days or often weeks to plant their crops due to low technology. Consequently when the crops would ripen they would do so in stages over weeks. The first crop to ripe would be the early portion out of which a small portion was taken and presented to God as firstfruits. This would be before the rest of the harvest ripened. The firstfruits offering attracts God’s blessing upon the rest of the harvest. It is a demonstration of our faith that God is the one who will guarantee our full harvest. Alcorn (2003:176) correctly states that ‘The nature of firstfruits requires it be taken ‘off the top’. It’s both the best and the first. As soon as it is harvested or received it’s given to the Lord’

Scriptural Survey on Concept of Firstfruits in New Testament

Romans 11:16 declares that “For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump (the whole, the rest) is also holy; and if the root is holy, also the branches.” The Scripture demonstrates that once the first fruit is dedicated representatively on behalf of the whole harvest, consequently the rest is considered holy and blessed. Put simply: Once the first fruits were given, it rendered the rest of the harvest holy, that is, it was lawful then to partake of it. The first-fruits were the best portions of the harvest; so that it can be the best expression of their thanksgiving.

Some have erroneously implied that the firstfruits are the full first income. But the truth is that firstfruits are just a representative of the first ripe harvest and NOT the full first harvest. Similarly firstfruits do not mean the bigger portion but simply refers to the quality and preciousness of the first ripe crop. In fact it refers to the small portion of dough or kneaded meal that was offered to God; and then the mass or lump (φύραμα) was left for the use of him who made the offering. (Num 15:20-21). Clearly in the Jewish mindset the firstfruits were a very small portion which thwarts the attempts by some to make firstfruits the whole income.

In context Paul maybe referring to the patriarchs[1], the devoted and set apart people of old, as the first-fruits of the Jewish nation; (see Rom 11:28.) By their godliness the nation was, sanctified, or set apart to the service of God; implying that yet the great mass of them would be reclaimed and saved. Similarly the Jews were the firstfruits of the nations of the world who will be saved. Jesus Christ becomes the firstfruits of those who would be raised from the dead. As consecrating the firstfruits to God was the means of drawing down his blessing upon the rest, so the conversion of Abraham to the faith, and the several Jews who have now embraced Christianity, are pledges that God will, in process of time, admit the whole Jewish nation into his favor again, so that they shall constitute a part of the visible Church of Christ.

If the root be holy, so are the branches can be implied to mean that if the root of a tree is the source of nutritious juices necessary for its growth, and gives its character to the tree, is sound, then we expect the same of the branches. If the leadership (firstfruits) is offered to God the whole church will be blessed. As goes the leaders so goes the church.

Firstfruits are a thanksgiving offering to God for the expected full harvest that enable the rest of the harvest to be guaranteed and blessed by God. So firstfruits produce a blessing on the anticipated harvest or income.

I Cor 15:20-23

“But now Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who slept. For since death is through man, the resurrection of the dead also is through a Man.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruit, and afterward they who are Christ’s at His coming (the harvest)”

Christ is declared the firstfruits of those who slept. Just as the firstfruits[2] were what first sprung out of the earth, were first to ripen, and were first reaped and gathered in, and then offered unto the Lord; so Christ first rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven, and presented himself to God; as the representative of his people. The firstfruits were the best, and most valuable. Christ rose as the first in dignity, as well as in time. He rose as the head of the body, the firstborn, the beginning, that in all things he might have, and appear to have, as he ought to have, the pre-eminence. As Deuschle (2011:54) observes, ‘The firstfruit, therefore comprised of the best and first of their increase.”

The firstfruits, i) sanctified the rest of the harvest, ii) represented the whole, iii) gave right to the ingathering of it, and iv) ensured it. Similarly Christ by lying in the grave, and rising out of it, sanctified it for his people, and in his resurrection represented them; they rose with him, and in him; and their resurrection is secured by his; because he lives, they shall live also. Christ is the firstborn from the dead, with respect to the many brethren. His resurrection has been demonstrated, and our resurrection necessarily follows; as sure as the first fruits are the proof that there is a harvest, so surely the resurrection of Christ is a proof of ours.

It was not merely or mainly that Christ was the first in order of time that rose from the dead, for Lazarus and the widow’s son had been raised before him; but it was that he was chief in regard to the dignity, value, and importance of his rising; he was connected with all that should rise, as the first sheaf of the harvest was with the crop; he was a “part” of the mighty harvest of the resurrection, and his rising was a “portion” of that great rising, as the sheaf was a portion of the harvest itself; and he was so connected with them all, and their rising so depended on his, that his resurrection was a demonstration that they would rise. He is, therefore, the first of those that thus rise, and a portion of that great host which shall be raised to die no more. The first sheaf of the harvest was consecrated to God, and then all the harvest was regarded as consecrated to him.

The firstfruits, i) sanctify the rest of the harvest, ii) represent the whole, iii) give right to the ingathering of it, and iv) ensure it. The firstfruits are proof and demonstration that the harvest will happen even as Christ’s resurrection ensures and guarantees the general resurrection of the saints.

The Jewish Understanding of Firstfruits

The whole land’s produce was consecrated to God by the consecration of the first-fruits, just as the whole nation by that of the firstborn. The law[3] required that;

(i) The feast of Tabernacles be held as an acknowledgment that the fruits of the harvest were from the Lord (Exo 34:22[4]).

(ii) Every individual, was also required to consecrate to God a portion of the first-fruits of the land (Exo 23:19[5]) for the benefit of the priests, his representatives. (Num 18:11-13).

(iii) The law enjoined that no fruit was to be gathered from newly-planted fruit-trees for the first three years as they were regarded as uncircumcised and profane, and that the first-fruits of the fourth year were to be consecrated and devoted to the Lord (Lev 19:23-25). Lev 19:23 states that when we give the first fruits then “in this way your harvest will be increased.”

In acknowledgment of the fact that the land and all its products were God’s gift to Israel, and in thankfulness for His bounty, all the first-fruits were offered to Him.

Deuschle (2011:63) commends on the relationship between the tithe and firstfruits from Lev 19:23-25[6] as follows, “The spiritual significance of this principle is that the firstfruits offering ensured God’s lifelong blessing on the tree, while the tithe guaranteed the harvest i.e. protecting the yield each subsequent season.”

Joshua 6:16-19 tells a story that reveals the importance of firstfruits. “The seventh time around, when the priests were about to sound the trumpets, Joshua ordered the people to shout, and he said, “The LORD has given you the city! The city and everything in it must be totally destroyed as an offering to the LORD. Only the prostitute Rahab and her household will be spared, because she hid our spies. But you are not to take anything that is to be destroyed; if you do, you will bring trouble and destruction on the Israelite camp. Everything made of silver, gold, bronze, or iron is set apart for the LORD. It is to be put in the Lord’s treasury.”

The city and the inhabitants of it should be devoted[7] to destruction, and the riches and spoil of it dedicated to God’s uses, and not become the property of the Israelites; for as this was the first city in the land of Canaan that was conquered, it was appropriate that the firstfruits of the conquest should be the Lord’s, as an acknowledgment of His gift of the land to them, and that the conquest of it was due to him. So Jericho, as the first Canaanite city that was captured, was devoted by Israel as first-fruits to God, as a token that Israel received all the land from Him.

I disagree with Lusk (2001) who believes that firstfruits were typological in character and have found their fulfillment in Christ, the firstfruits of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20) and the firstborn over all creation (Col. 1:15, 17; Rom. 8:29). While I concur that they do find fulfillment in Christ, I believe that the underlying principle of first fruits is not abolished but is transferable to the New Testament. An example of how this works is shown in this rather long quote from the early Church. It demonstrates that they reserved their earliest thoughts and activities and offered them as firstfruits to God on a daily basis. If they did this with their words and movements, how much more with their financial resources? Clearly this quote demonstrates the principle of firstfruits used within a New Covenant setting with matters outside agricultural produce. So surely there is room for transferring this principle to financial matters.

“But what shall I say of the firstfruits which surely are given daily by all who serve Christ faithfully? For when men waking from sleep and arising with renewed activity after their rest, before they take in any impulse or thought in their heart, or admit any recollection or consideration of business consecrate their first and earliest thoughts as divine offerings, what are they doing indeed but rendering the firstfruits of their produce through the High Priest Jesus Christ for the enjoyment of this life and a figure of the daily resurrection? And also when roused from sleep in the same way they offer to God a sacrifice of joy and invoke Him with the first motion of their tongue and celebrate His name and praise, and throwing open, the first thing, the door of their lips to sing hymns to Him they offer to God the offices of their mouth; and to Him also in the same way they bring the earliest offerings of their hands and steps, when they rise from bed and stand in prayer and before they use the services of their limbs for their own purposes, take to themselves nothing of their services, but for His glory advance their steps, and set them in His praise and so render the first fruits of all their movements by stretching forth the hands, bending the knees, and prostrating the whole body. For in no other way can we fulfil that of which we sing in the Psalm: “I prevented the dawning of the day and cried;” and: “Mine eyes to Thee have prevented the morning that I might meditate on Thy words;” and: “In the morning shall my prayer prevent Thee;” unless after our rest in sleep when, as we said above, we are restored as from darkness and death to this light, we have the courage not to begin by taking any of all the services both of mind and body for our own uses. For there is no other morning which the prophet “prevented,” or which in the same way we ought to prevent, except either ourselves, i.e., our occupations and feelings and earthly cares, without which we cannot exist-or the most subtle suggestions of the adversary, which he tries to suggest to us, while still resting and overcome with sleep, by the phantoms of vain dreams, with which, when we presently awake, he will fill our minds and occupy us, that he may be the first to seize and carry off the spoils of our firstfruits. Wherefore we must take the utmost care (if we want to fulfil in act the meaning of the above quoted verse) that an anxious watchfulness takes regard of our first and earliest morning thoughts, that they may not be defiled beforehand being hastily taken possession of by our jealous adversary, and thus he may make our firstfruits to be rejected by the Lord as worthless and common. And if he is not prevented by us with watchful circumspection of mind, he will not lay aside his habit of miserably anticipating us nor cease day after day to prevent us by his wiles. And therefore if we want to offer firstfruits that are acceptable and well pleasing to God of the fruits of our mind, we ought to spend no ordinary care to keep all the senses of our body, especially during the hours of the morning, as a sacred holocaust to the Lord pure and undefiled in all things. And this kind of devotion many even of those who live in the world observe with the utmost care, as they rise before it is light or very early, and do not at all mix in the ordinary and necessary business of this world before hastening to church and striving to consecrate in the sight of God the firstfruits of all their actions and doings.[8]

Deuschle (2011:87) postulates that giving “firstfruits to God was a covenantal declaration of submission to Him; the outcome of which was the Lord’s favour on the remainder.”

Who Receives Firstfruits and Why?

Deut 18:1-8 says “The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and his inheritance. Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the LORD is their inheritance, as he hath said unto them. And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep; and they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw. The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him. For the LORD thy God hath chosen him out of all thy tribes, to stand to minister in the name of the LORD, him and his sons forever. And if a Levite come from any of thy gates out of all Israel, where he sojourned, and come with all the desire of his mind unto the place which the LORD shall choose; Then he shall minister in the name of the LORD his God, as all his brethren the Levites do, which stand there before the LORD. They shall have like portions to eat, beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony.”

It is clear that within the Old Testament the priests received the firstfruits. We should be careful to avoid taking Old Testament models and patterns rigidly and instead take the patterns and formulate principles through the modification of the patterns to enable applicability to New Testament context. For example it is strenuous to make direct application between High Priests and Levites AND apostles and pastors respectively.

We should remember that while principles are universal, applications vary according to various situations and church models. Ezekiel 44:30 declares “The best of all the first-fruits and of all your special gifts will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household”.  From this Scripture Deuschle (2011:98-99) provides an application that the priest in this case refers to pastors in function and so one can bring his firstfruits to a pastor. The minister of the word, who partakes of the firstfruits, and is comfortably provided for and supported, may pray to the Lord for such who liberally contribute to him; that a blessing may come and abide upon them and their families, and prosperity and success may attend them in their secular business and employments of life; as well as they and theirs may be blessed with all spiritual blessings, with grace here, and glory hereafter. So the firstfruits are meant for the man of God. The purpose of a firstfruits offering is for the man of God to pray a blessing over your ventures or your finances or business.

The testimony of the Early Church gives credence to this principle and shows that it was applicable to the New Testament[9]. The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (sometimes called The Didache), applies the firstfruits to the Church. “Every firstfruit of the produce of the wine-vat and of the threshing-floor, of cattle and flocks, you will take and give as the firstfruit to your prophets; for they are your chief priests.  If you prepare food, take and give the firstfruit according to the commandment. Likewise, when you open a jar of wine or oil, take and give the firstfruit to the prophets. Take also the firstfruit of money and clothing and every possession, as it may seem right to you, and give according to the commandment.” It further states: “If, however, you have no prophet [minister of the gospel], give [the first fruits] to the poor” (13:4). Finally, 13:7 says to take the first fruits of “money and clothing and whatever [else] you own as you think best and give them according to the commandment.”

Quantum of Firstfruits

The Law ordered, in general, that the first of all ripe fruits and of wine, or the first of first-fruits, should be offered in God’s house. It was an act of allegiance to God, as the giver of all. No exact quantity was commanded, but it was left to the spiritual and moral sense of each individual. It is however clear that it was just a small portion. Some Jewish rabbis prescribed either a fortieth or a sixtieth of the whole. But this is extrabiblical teaching. The main thing is that it shows that it was a small amount. Put simply there is no set portion. Some may give a percentage others may give the whole of the first fruit. Unlike in a tithe where the quantum is predetermined, the firstfruits allow for you to be led by the Spirit in determining the portion. The firstfruits differ from the tithe because their amount is not prescribed but determined by the giver in the same manner as the freewill offering.

How to Give Firstfruits?

Deuschle (2011[10]) while understanding the African custom already alluded to earlier, states “The first portion belongs to the Lord. A portion of first paycheck would be the first fruit and it should be given to God. This does not preclude giving a portion of your first income to your parents either.”

The firstfruits are given out of the first harvest before the full harvest has been gathered. So if one has an increase they take a portion out of that increase on the first salary and give it. Or if one has gotten a new business or project, he can separate a portion of that first income and separate it as firstfruits. On the other hand the tithe is taken out of the full harvest when it can now be quantified. So the firstfruits offering is a portion of the very first income in order to have the rest blessed. While the tithe is given after the full harvest because then one can compute the tithe or ten percent of the full harvest. Let me illustrate the difference: When I acquire a new business or start a new production line, I take a portion out of the first product and offer it as firstfruits even though I do not know what the full production would be. When the business is now running or the project is completed I can now compute the full gross profit from the generated revenue on the project or business and then pay my tithe out of that gross profit. So firstfruits are taken upfront on the production while tithing is calculated at the back end of the production.

Firstfruits may be given out of new job, out of new business opportunity or out of new harvest opportunity or out of a significant income stream[11].

Summary

Firstfruits are presented to God from the earliest harvest, as an act of gratitude and dependence on God for harvest. They were required before one would eat of his harvest.

Once the best portion of the first is given to God the whole harvest is blessed and sanctified. The offering of firstfruits would cause a drawdown of blessing on the rest of the harvest. The firstfruits are a representative of the whole harvest or revenue stream. The firstfruits sanctify the rest of the harvest, represent the whole, give right to the ingathering of it, and ensure and guarantee it. The firstfruits are a pledge that the whole harvest will come through. The firstfruits where for the benefit of the priests or ministers of the Gospel. Firstfruits are a powerful strategic tool for drawing God’s blessings.

[1] From Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible. His material influenced most of my thoughts and I try to paraphrase him in this section to bring clarity on the subject of firstfruits.

[2] Source: John Gill’s Exposition of Entire Bible

[3] Source: Faucett’s Bible Dictionary  and Easton’s Bible Dictionary

[5] As you harvest each of your crops, bring me a choice sample of the first day’s harvest. It must be offered to the Lord your God.”

[6] “When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the LORD your God.”

[7] For a more detailed and comprehensive discussion of the concept of the devoted thing as part of firstruits, see Deuschle (2011) chapter  9.

[8] Chapter 26 – How we ought also to offer our firstfruits to the Lord. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 2, Volume 11, PC Study Bible © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft,

[9] This application clearly supports Pst Tom Deuschle’s interpretation of the pastor as the equivalent of the priest as regards receiving firstfruits. It should be pointed out that this is an application of principle and not a reinstitution of the priesthood. Deuschle and I fully adhere to the priesthood of all believers.

[10] This is a free quote from a message he taught in Church. In Deuschle (2011:163) he refines it this way, “The first paycheck belongs to the Lord, and when it is given to Him, His blessing follows. Unfortunately when they give it to their relative, they only receive a relative blessing. …. Consequently, these people have missed God’s blessing.”

[11] For detailed practical applications of firstfruits giving scenarios for today, see Deuschle (2011) Chapter 14.

Day Ten: Gratitude Challenge


As I close this journey of gratitude and thanksgiving that has allowed me to look back with introspection at my life and stop long enough to reflect and be thankful, I am awed at the most precious gift that God has given me – the gift of life. So today I want to thank God for life. Jesus said that He came that I may have life and have it more abundantly. I thank God for abundant life. Life that is abundant in that it is full of purpose and meaning. I thank God for my life purpose. Thank you Lord for weaving your purpose and plan into my life. I exist to hasten travelers along the way.

I thank you Lord for physical life. I am alive and healthy. I walk in divine health. I am so thankful for physical strength to. Be able to fulfil my purpose by releasing my gifting. My life has been preserved by the working of God.

Today I thank God for a solid and purposeful soul life. I am strong in my emotions, in my mind and in my will. I thank God for the ability to think and exercise my intellect for His glory and for the advancement of the cause of the Kingdom. I thank God for the ability to make sound decisions that result in businesses and achievements that better other people. I thank you Lord that in my soul my emotions are solid, healthy and healed. I am thankful that I do not carry unnecessary emotional baggage that would hinder my life assignment. Thank you Lord for life.

I am grateful for a progressively expanding and growing spiritual life. Lord I thank you that the more that I serve you the stronger your love grows. The more that I love you the more love you bestow. The longer that I serve you the sweeter it grows. Through every struggle and every spiritual exertion and every defeat of sin, you are maturing my spiritual life. I thank you Lord for life.

I thank you Lord for success, survival, victory, prosperity, preservation, sustenance and deliverance that I have experienced in my life journey. May my life continue to be a testimony of your goodness. While I thank you for life may that life Lord reflect your glory! You clearly state in your word that everything that was created was created for your pleasure. May this life bring you pleasure Lord!

My Father I thank you for the life experiences that I have gone through and by your grace conquered. As I look back at my life I can only join Paul the Apostle in affirming, I am what I am only by the grace of God.

In closing I would like to thank my brother GP for nominating me for this gratitude or thanksgiving challenge. I am required by the rules of the Thanksgiving Challenge to nominate other people to embark on this challenge where they express gratitude on Facebook once a Day for at least one thing for a continuos ten day period. I therefore nominate everyone who has followed my own journey in the last 10 days and had not started this Thanksgiving challenge. If you accept this challenge please say I do below and start. Please note that the length and extent of your gratitude is entirely dependent on you. It maybe a one sentence, one paragraph or one page. Feel free to be yourself. Stay blessed

Day Eight: Gratitude Challenge


When I look back at my life I notice that the major milestones of my life are marked by one institution: The Church. Today I take time to thank God for the church. Without a doubt it is one of the most significant institutions in my life. My parents raised me in the church but the church became meaningful when in February 1982 I gave my life to Christ and God by His Spirit baptized me into the Body of Christ. One of my earliest discoveries was that my salvation was a personal matter but my Christian walk was a public matter as it had to be lived out within the context of a community of believers called the church. So today I reflect on the church and my life.

I was born again under the ministry of Mr Muti who was Headmaster of St Peters Kubatana when he came to preach for an SU meeting at St Augustine’s. He was a lay preacher in the AFM Church. I was then discipled and baptized by triune immersion within the context of the AFM Church. I thank God today for those early days within the AFM foundational faith. Thank God for the church.

In August 1982 I was invited by some fellow believers to the AWWW Heroes Campmeeting at Goromonzi High School and fell in love with the Family Of God Church. I transferred my membership to that church and served within it for almost 20 years. All the foundations of my faith were laid within that movement. Thank you Lord for FOG. Right there I met and married the love of my life. Thank God for the Church. I fellowshipped with FOG Mutare, Rusape, Marondera, Harare etc. There I made lifelong friends.

In 1989 I found myself in Greece with no known relationships and family. But thank God for the church because right within the Body of Christ I met my new family. I thank God for Abundant Life Church, Kala Nea and Word of Life Church. There in foreign land my family found a home in the hearts of the saints. Both of our children were born and dedicated to The Lord within the Greek Church family. They became a global breed indeed. At the altars surrounded by Greek speaking family we dedicated our children to The Lord. Thank God for the church.

In May 2001 we felt The Lord guide us to transfer our membership to Celebration Church where we have served faithful in various capacities ever since. In this place of the Lords planting our call to ministry matured. Thank God for the church. That why I am thankful and love the church of Jesus Christ. In this place our children grew up and were nurtured in the ways of The Lord. They made friends and explored their giftings. Thank God for the church.

Just after Christmas in 2002 we sadly bade farewell to my baby sister Venencia as we laid her body to the grave there to await the sound of the trumpet. There surrounded by the Church and reunited with my AFM roots we sang songs like Mwari Muri Zuva Rangu to find comfort and make sense of the pain in our hearts and to instil the hope of the resurrection. Thank God for the church of Jesus Christ.

For years we celebrated great victories, graduations, birthdays, weddings and moments of pain and sorrow around the family of believers. We thank God for the church which lifted us in our moments of pain, shared our burdens and celebrated with us our victories. Thank God for the church.

Last year when we bade farewell to my Dad it was the church that helped carry the burden and lighten the load. Our homestead was overwhelmed by hundreds of believers and tens of pastors who gathered to comfort and console us. We celebrated and sang songs of praise the whole night. Thank God for the church.

In August 2012 our son Emmanuel went off to College where many have wandered away from their faith. Instead of being alone and lonely in a strange land, he plugged into Victory Church of Lethbridge and immediately felt at home. Thank God for the church. Today he is an active worship leader in this amazing transformational church. I can never thank God enough for the Church.

Many people are surprised when I speak about my love of the church because they feel that I should love Jesus Christ and not the church. I argue that it is biblical to love the church. Jesus loved the church. I love Jesus and I love what He loves. So I love the Church of Jesus Christ because I love Jesus. Thank you Lord for conceptualising and creating the Church as the Body Of Christ on earth and an extension of your hand.

Day Seven: Gratitude Challenge


The Bible teaches that we should have a heart of gratitude as in the last days people will generally be  ungrateful and ungodly. I take this time today to reflect and thank God for a few friends who have made a difference in my life. The Bible does teach that there are friends who sharpen another man’s countenance and those who in the manner of Christ are friends that are closer than brothers. I have been blessed with a  few good men who have made a difference in my life. Being  a reserved person (off stage) I do have very few close friends. Today I take time to reflect on these and thank God for their impact on my life.

I thank God for Dr EC Majachani whom I met at the UZ way back in 1986. I don’t even remember how exactly we met at Campus but I now we were members of the Family of God Church group together. Majee has become a covenant brother indeed. Now an accomplished Obs and Gynae specialist based in RSA we meet less frequently because of distance and technological challenges (on one part) but every time we meet he is just a source of encouragement and refreshment. I am honoured to be counted among this gentle servant of God’s friends. I will never forget his kindness to my family and I in ways that can never be put on paper during a very trying time for us. May the Lord God of heaven who sees remember and reward him openly for that which he did in secret. And I thank him for taking care of my daughter Edith. (For all I know he may never see this posting because he has no time for this kind of technology).

in 1998 I was working on a business plan to develop a significant chain retail dental surgeries together with a few colleagues. To complete our financial modelling we worked with a sharp MBA consultant. This consultant once he had gone through the concept introduced us to a medical practitioner Dr Matt Wazara who was working on a complementary healthcare project. We became great friends. Although we never managed to  consummate the business structure we discovered that we were kindred spirits. Thank you Lord for Matthew and Priscilla Wazara and for their friendship. Due to various commitments chiefly that Matt is a busy Specialist General Surgeon, astute business man and also that now we fellowship in different churches, we struggle to meet as often as we wish we could . However the few moments that we can grab out of our busy schedules still remain significant divine moments of refreshing. Matt my brother I love your pure and un-defiled love for Christ, for your wife and for the church. I love the way you communicate the riches of the Gospel with style, sincerity and simplicity. More importantly I love you as  a churchman par excellent! Would to God that he would raise in our nation many such church statesmen like you my brother with  a love for both the Lord and His Church!

I have come to discover that there are some relationships which simply flow. They are not difficult to sustain and neither do they require extra energy to maintain. You can have “heavy maintenance handle with care” relationships which are painful to nurture and sustain. Pane hushamwari hunorema! My friendships with these two doctors are almost “maintenance free”. I thank God for these brothers and their input in our lives. May the Lord increase their footprint and impact for Christ!

During my sojourn I have come to treasure the friendship of Justin Machibaya and his family. Justin has stood with us and helped us fight some of our fiercest battles with a heart that simple shocks me. An accomplished businessman in his own right and a Kingdom financier par excellent Justin reaches out to minister to others with unfeigned love that lacks pretensions or fan fare. Thank you Lord for Justin and his family. I am honoured to be counted among his friends. Its always a pleasure to partner you in some projects like we have done in the past and keep doing!

I am no longer sure of the order but Justin either brought Vincent Tendayi or the other way round into my circle of friends. Thank you Vincent for loving us and standing as a brother indeed. I do enjoy your company especially after cell on Wednesdays. You are  breath of fresh air. I love your passion for God, nation and business. May the Lord who has brought you this far raise you higher in your influence. The unassuming and quiet Kingdom financier who mostly works behind the scenes unless of course you are talking about ACBF, this brother is going places. May you keep your heart and focus squarely set on our Redeemer!

Finally I thank God for a young man I struggle to categorise. I am not sure whether to call him a friend or a brother. It could be both. I thank God for Fungayi Moses Makoni and his family. I still remember the day at the Hotel School  Bulawayo in the beginning of 2008 when I was asked by my assistant pastor to come and meet this young man who had given his life to Christ in the service. I met you then and was both your pastor and elder brother. We have come along ways since then and I cherish those moments. I love your passion for business and your sincerity in loving God. My family and I are indeed eternally grateful for the acts of friendship and love that you demonstrate. I am eternally grateful for providing the Pathfinder Luxury coach to ferry people to Dad’s funeral. The Lord sees and may He reward you as only He can. May your reach be increased for His Glory.

I am indeed a rich man because of these deep friends. There are many others who have touched my life as I cannot mention everyone by name and to them I say thank you and may God bless you. Others I cannot consider them friends as they are heroes I look up to as elder brothers. It would be too presumptive of me to consider them my friends. Thank you big brothers!

Finally  — and yes one more finally – allow me to say thanks- a million thanks to the friend of friends – my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Who though He is King he dared to call me friend! Yes the Lord of Lords calls me friend. Thanks Lord Jesus. Where would I be if it wasn’t for you? Again I say thanks!

Day Six: Gratitude Challenge


Seeing that Dad passed on into eternity a year ago, it left me the inevitable and unenviable task of trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to fill in his place as head of our family. It is in this regard and in that capacity that I take time today to thank God and pray for this family which I have inherited as head. Lord I thank you for each of my siblings in their uniqueness. In each one’s different way they enrich my life and enrich the family. I thank you for the differences in personality, temperament and gifting. I thank you Father that you have always cherished not uniformity as that would be monotonous but unity in diversity. Thank you for the emotional diversity and expressiveness that I see in the family and I declare that even in that diversity I see a unity that is bound together in the bond of the peace that is in Christ. I thank you Father for a family that though it has origins in Bvekerwa, Rusape has truelly become a global family with members scattered across the globe.
Father I thank you for each one of the family members as they have come to a saving knowledge of Christ and declare that they will serve you all the days of their lives. Father I thank you for their children who will all grow up to serve you in their generation. Lord it can only be a working of your grace that can bring a whole family to salvation. For that I am thankful. May every member, their spouse and offspring always bring you glory and pleasure.
Lord I thank you for the way you work in our lives even in moments of disagreement and sibling rivalry. Even then you are at work in our characters and personalities both to will and to do of your good pleasure. Would to God that you bring this work to completion that in all things we may bring you glory?
I thank you for Rufaro Magnus the first born and pioneer academically in the family. Thank you Sis for being who you are. I declare that you are the beloved of The Lord. You are not forsaken or forgotten by Jehovah. I love your gentle spirit and your passion for intercession. May your children and your grandchildren grow in the fear and knowledge of God. I am so glad that The Lord is your anchor and strength.
Lord I thank you for Shingai Felicity Patience because she was the firstfruits of salvation of the family – having believed in Christ first. I love her sweet spirit that lies beneath that volatile and expressive personality. I admire her commitment to self improvement academically and thank God for the victories that He is giving you. I will never forget the excitement that you exhibited in February 1982 when I gave my life to Christ in that SU meeting under the ministry of Mr Muti. You were so excited that it brought me embarrassment. Thank you for leading the way for the family into the saving faith that is in Christ. Thank you Lord for Shingai’s family and I declare total and complete restoration in all things.
Father I thank you for Nokuthula as she represents the lineage of Venencia. Father I pray that she may walk before you and live in your presence with an expectation of the glorious reunion over yonder! I thank you Lord for the work that you are doing in her spirit and soul bringing her to Wholeness and purity of purpose and mind. Lord I ask that you deliver her from the wicked one and keep her from harm.
I am thankful for Gervase Pfungwa (GP – God’s Property) who nominated me to this Gratitude Challenge. Lord I thank you for him and his family. I thank you for the work that you are doing in his life as a minister of the Gospel and an educator. I thank you Lord that he took over the mantle of MGM as an educationist. Father I pray that you enlarge his territory and increase His influence in his area of calling. I pray blessing, stability, and favour over him and his family. Father I thank you for all that is his and declare them blessed going in and coming out. I declare to Satan that GP is God’s Property and so you can not touch him neither can you do him any harm.
Lord I thank you for Kudzanai Charity. I thank you Lord for her dogged determination to become all that you have called her to become. I thank you for the persistent stretching of herself to become the best that she can be for you. Lord I ask you to continue to reward her effort and bring her to her place of destiny. I declare the grace and favour of God that causes her to enter into God’s rest and destiny. As I thank you for her I ask that you protect her tender heart and heal it from wounds of the soul. Keep her in perfect peace because her mind is set on you. May the desires of her heart be granted as she continues to pursue you. I bless her family and declare greatness upon her family and offspring. May they be mighty in the earth for our King.
My King I thank you for Maita Mary the peace keeper in the family. Lord I thank you for her heart that is always persuaded better things of others. Lord I thank you that though she is a lady she indeed is a Barnabas in the family – a son of Consolation. Thank you for the way she refreshes the bowels of the saints. I declare Lord that you are not unrighteous to forget her labour of love. Father even as she sows peace and seeks peace May peace always be her portion. May you cause people to arise and favour her and her family. May they receive unexpected favour and support in unexpected places and unexpected times. May you raise up people who will fight for her cause at school at work and in life. May she never lack for people who will champion her cause and speak up for her when others rise against her. Bless her family and make them a beacon of light and hope in a dying world.
Finally I thank you Lord for Tendekai Stephen and his family. Though he be last born Father may you work in his life to confirm your word that says the last shall be first. I pray for an elevation that comes from God. Lord I thank you that you are working in him to cause him to cease from striving for acceptance as he is already accepted in you. May he learn to rest in you and in your love. Father I thank you for faithfulness as he -as a delegated authority – takes care of Mom on behalf of the family.

I am thankful Lord for this great godly tribe that you are raising to influence the world for Christ. May they, their spouses and their children and grandchildren become a mighty company in the earth. May they become a mighty righteous generation for your glory and honour! I place each one of them under the protective cover of the blood of Christ as I commit them to your care and watch.

Day Five: Gratitude Challenge


Today is half way through the ten day challenge. Since it’s the 5th day I will stick with the the Biblical model of the 5th commandment being to honour your father and mother. Today Lord I thank you for my parents who brought me into the world and raised me up in the fear of God and laid a foundation for continuous learning in my life. I thank you for my father Maynard who was unassuming and yet modeled life for me. I have learned many lessons from him both what to do and what not to do. Last year in May he slipped out of time into eternity. May His memory be forever blessed. As I remember with gratitude his life I remember it as if it was yesterday when he said to me, “Son you are a Buffalo. You are a Makoni. We have bequeathed to you a powerful name untainted, keep it with integrity. Do not cause that name to be brought into disrepute.” With thanksgiving in my heart all I can say is Yes Sir mandate received and every attempt is being made to accomplish the mandate. Till we meet again on the other side!

Today I thank my mother Faith who stood with my Dad through thick and thin. I thank God for their 50 years of marriage. I thank God for how she taught us to be industrious, diligent and committed. I salute her sharp wit even with minimal education. She is one of the sharpest minds I have ever met. The way she thinks fast on her feet is simply amazing. Lord above all I pray that she may have an encounter with you and submit her life to you. I pray for the salvation of God to visit her. Lord you promised that if we believe on The Lord our whole household will be saved. Complete the circle Lord in our day. While I thank you for mom I pray for long life for her to see and enjoy her grandchildren’s children.

I still stand in amazement on how my parents while dependent on just single salary of a school teacher could afford without complaint to educate and take care of all 8 children. I take my hands off to these heroes. Thank you Lord for mom and dad.

I also take this time to thank you for my sister and mother Phoebe P. Mandizvidza. Thank you Lord for such a loving mom who brought me the love of my life and adopted me into her own family. I thank you for her love for family and for God. Lord I thank you for the greatest lesson I learned from her: that there is no age restriction to lifelong continuous personal development. I remember her completing her Bachelors degree and enrolling into a Masters programme when she was just about to retire from a long service to the nation. I thank you Lord for helping her raise not only Audrey singlehandedly but many of her siblings’ children. Her love for family and nation is legendary. I have learned to passionately love my motherland and work for its advancement. Thank you Ms PP Mandizvidza for lighting the way and being the first black female Municipal Councillor in Masvingo.

Lord I am so grateful for these parents who showed us the way and were faithful even though the light they walked in was little. They did their best to be true to the revelation they had and walked in the light they had. I salute them and greatly appreciate the sacrifices they made for us joyfully.

Day Three: Gratitude Challenge


Today I am thankful to God for the children that he has blessed us with. It is still an amazing thought that God would co labour with humans to bring children into the world to fulfill His purpose.

I thank God for the son of my right hand EW whom by Gods grace we are raising to fulfil his destiny and demonstrate that God is indeed present with us. Born in December he is a reminder that God dwelt among us as Emmanuel. I thank God for the fine young man he is becoming. A leader in the making with a heart for God compassion for the vulnerable and a sharp sense of marketplace leadership. I thank God that He has blessed him with both a powerful worshipping voice and hands that are great at playing the harp. May He live in the Lords presence and walk in Gods glory. Walk on son, though there maybe no evident paths along your way know that paths are made by walking. Do not walk in established paths but be a pathfinder as you express your gift and calling. Thank you Lord for the Real Maky a Buffalo indeed with no guile.

Lord I thank you for the second lady in my life – my sweet angel Faith W who never ceases to amaze me with her sharp wit and innocence. May her life demonstrate faithfulness and faith in God. Lord I thank you for who she is and who she is becoming. While I thank you I pray that you may keep her from harm and preserve her spirit soul and body. May her life point others to the redeeming and loving Saviouh. I thank you for the initiative and leadership skills that she exhibits. May her days be as the days of heaven on earth. Lord as I thank you for FW I ask you to watch over her.

Finally I thank you Lord for these arrows who are our investment into the future. May they be our voice into the next generation. Father by your grace may we raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord. While we thank you for them may we ever be mindful that we are but stewards of these gifts as in the final analysis they are really your children. May by your grace we be able to reflect the Fathers heart and love to them and model a godliness that is undefiled before them.

Thanks a million for the privilege of sharing with you in the creative act of bringing them to earth. May your agenda prosper in their hands. I declare that they were created for your glory and for the purposes of bruising the head of the serpent in their generation.

Jesus Modelling Prayer for the Disciples


There was something about Jesus’ prayer life that touched the disciples and showed them they did not know how to pray.  They observed him at work engaged in the business of prayer and asked for help. Hear Luke 11:1-4 (ESV) as he records this: “Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”  And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name.  Your kingdom come.   Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” Obviously there was something visible or tangible the disciples saw about his prayer life that made them request a lesson on prayer. Pastors should often teach prayer by praying in the presence of their disciples. Jesus was not ashamed of modelling prayer. I am convinced that a greater reason for the prayerlessness in the pews emanates from prayerlessness in the pulpit. Pastors need to pray and pray in the presence of their flock. It is amazing that generally pastors do not attend prayer meetings. When I quizzed one pastor about this, I was shocked because he said that his flock felt intimidated by his prayer life. No pastor no. The flock is inspired and taught prayer by observing your prayer life. Jesus was not afraid of intimidating his disciples by his prayer. In our own church movement we have noticed that the All Night prayer meetings and prayer meetings of churches were the local pastors attend the meetings to pray through with the flock, are generally more effective in mobilising the church members to pray. By the way when pastors attend prayer meetings, they should do so to pray and not necessarily to lead the meeting. Pastors should take time to enjoy prayer when they are not leading but praying together with others. When pastors do not attend prayer meetings with the flock they send a message that prayer is not important. However Jesus took the opportunity to teach prayer by praying with and before his disciples.

Extract from Business of Prayer. Available at Amazon.com on the following link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Business-Prayer-Serious-Offensive/dp/149093622X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386742334&sr=8-1&keywords=DR+T.+A.+Makoni