UNWAVERING FAITH

The faith of Christian lawyer HORATIO GATES SPAFFORD, author of  “It is well with my soul” is as strong as that of Job who lost all and yet did not forsake God. He was even asked to curse God but he refused  in the spirit of God owns “my life and whatsoever he does with it I will neither query Him nor swear against Him.” When his three friends began to blame him, expressing their thought that spoke of Job’s possible hidden sin; he ignored them including his wife’s suggestion that Job should curse God and die apparently because of the serious agony he was experiencing. Job took it stoically but at a time wished he were dead and put an end to the excruciating pain and sorrow. He still anchored his faith in Jehovah.

All is well that ends well. God allowed Satan to lay his hand on Job and got to a point God had to uphold His instruction earlier on, that Job’s life was not to be tampered with. God had Job’s health restored, his loss was replenished many folds more than it was before the test of his faith, and he was commissioned to pray for his friends who had sort of ‘blasphemed’ in the way they judged an innocent man like Job. The chain of disaster and misfortune that HORATIO suffered was enough to make a weak believer or non believer to commit suicide. It was like he hung on to the thread of faith that his redeemer lives.  History puts it that so many rich people committed suicide during the Great Depression of the 1930s The millionaires that woke up to find their wealth had literally flown away resorted to ‘end it all’ via suicide. In other words, Trust in God was amongst people of ages gone by and we in our contemporary society find it hard to change our orientation. Can anyone fault the faith the three young Hebrews  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego showed in bluntly refusing to worship the king’s gold image. Even though it incurred them the wrath of King Nebuchadnezzar, but did not bulge and insisted on their stand of not disobeying the God of Israel. In the king’s consternation, he said only three men were thrown into the fiery furnace but he was seeing four people  and the forth person looked liked the son of God. WHO TOLD HIM .OR SHOWED HIM THE FOURTH PERSON WAS THE SON OF MAN?

There are more examples of disciples that showed faithfulness during persecution like the records in Acts 5:40-42, Romans 8: 17-18, 2Corinthians 4: 10-11, Hebrew 11: 24-25 (The faith of Moses)

I’m agnostic, but I know if it wasn’t for Christians many more homeless people would die on the streets – by Paul Anderson

Grace + Truth

homeless-and-cold-400I have worked for a variety of homeless charities for over 20 years, so generally not much surprises me when it comes to the reality of poverty and destitution.

However, this week I was out doing a street count in London to assess how many people are actually sleeping on the streets. It’s been a while since I did outreach work like this and it made me reflect on what I saw.  I was particularly struck by three things:

  1. How dangerous and frightening the streets are

I was out deep into the night and at around 2.00 am, it struck me again how dangerous and frightening life on the streets actually is. In the eerie silence of a city stilled, my ears became acutely aware of every noise. Every person wandering around was a cause of suspicion: Why are they there? What are they up to? Where are they going?

It struck me how damaging the impact of…

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OUR DESIRES

Our desires can be godly and can be ungodly. A Christian and indeed a sane person is expected to be able to determine doing what is good and edifying rather than doing that which is unedifying and therefore ungodly. Titus 2: 11-12 says “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world.” (KJV). By certain operational definition or usage desire and passion are synonymous like a feeling of sexual desire. When perverted, it becomes ungodly whereas sexual desire between lawfully wedded couple is a way to satisfying each other ‘s legitimate controlled passion. King David was perpetually desiring to please God such that even when he sinned, he never waited to be forced to confess his sins to God and ask for forgiveness as we see in Psalm 51. He had passion for having God to be his guide, strength and armor, and that was what enabled him to defeat the much dreaded Goliath and put the Philistines to shame. Conversely, he desired to have Uriah’s wife who he saw bathing afar off at a time he ought to be at the war front. The desire or passion or love by infatuation that ruled his heart was ungodly as the woman was not his wife. Not that he did not realize it was sinful, the irrational desire led to irresistible action that followed. It earned him the wrath of God that manifested in various calamities that befell his household. These included the death of the child born out of wedlock, Amnon raped his half sister, and was killed by Absalom. Absalom staged a palace coup that forced David into exile for a time. David lost his most dependable confidant or counselor called Ahistophel and Absalom ruined his own chance of possibly becoming king over Israel. 2 Samuel 13: 22- 18: 9 (NIV)

Nabal had passion for for amassing wealth. He only wanted to be getting and not to be giving to benefit others. The Nabal-David encounter reminds us of the consequence of ungodly desire. God blessed Nabal and David helped to care for his sheep in the wilderness; but when David asked for some food for his army, Nabal bluntly refused with disparaging remarks about David. David wanted to avenge the wickedness of Nabal but Abigael, Nabal’s wife prevailed over David. A few days later Nabal died. David had to thank God that saved him from taking revenge, because it is God’s saying that “Vengeance is mine.”

Any action that does not conform with the fruits of the spirit can be classified as evil desires or ungodly passion like lust, covetousness, or gratifying the desires of the flesh. Ephesians: 2: 4-5 is very relevant to this discussion. It is expected of believers to fear the Lord and make every effort to have positive desires and passions to be able to fulfill the admonition in Galatians 5: 16-17 that says: “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires (lusts) what is contrary to the Spirit” (NIV) This discourse is aptly summarized in Galatians 5: 19-21 on one part and 22-23 on the other. There is therefore a dichotomous relationship between the acts of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissection, factions and envy, drunkenness orgies and the like, I warn you as I did before that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Against such things there is no law.” Samson, the Nazirite, dedicated to the Lord from the womb lost his anointing because of his uncontrollable lust (desire) for Delilah. King Nebuchadnezzar’s desire and lust for power made him berated God that enabled him build an empire and got sentenced to become an inhabitant of the forest for seven seasons interpreted to mean seven years. Daniel 4: 28-32.

CHILDREN:SO DEAR TO GOD

Children are so dear to God that Jesus had to invite them to him to the surprise of the Priests, rulers of the synagogue, and even the disciples. The feeling that they ought not to come near Jesus was faulted by not only inviting them to himself, He also carried them and divinely blessed them. Matthew 19:13-15 captured the essence of their worth to Christ Jesus:  “Then were there brought unto Him little children, that He should put his hand on them, and pray, and the disciples rebuked them, But Jesus said suffer and forbad them not,to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven, And He laid His hand on them, and departed thence.”

Fresh lilies and daffodils are good to look at. They are acceptable gift of love as well as fresh roses. If we read through Psalm 127: 3-5 we will appreciate God’s expression of love and ownership. HE only granted them to their parents as precious gift from Him to them. By this, parents should know that they are merely custodians for the children and therefore, are expected to take good care of them. To families, especially believers, the onus of training children in the way of the Lord is incumbent on them. Under our statutory laws,when a parent  is granted custody of a biological child or by court award, the child’s character will be expeted to be moulded by the parents or foster parents.

Do you know that children do enjoy worshipping God and are usually a delight unto Him; Psalm 8: 2. They never feel too big or small to sing, shout, jump or clap for the Lord. This is why in Matthew 21: 15-16. Jesus did not despise the children as they shouted “Hosannah to the son of David” even though the Chief Priest and the Scribes were very uncomfortable. They asked whether Jesus heard the children and he confirmed that He indeed heard them, he further said; “Ye have never read, out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise?”

As great and pius as king David was, he sinned and did fast and prayed fervently to prevent the death of the child. The child died but David showed fatherly love for the child as recorded in 2 Samuel 12:18-23. Another angle to appreciating children is found in Psalm 127: 3-5. It says “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of the youth. Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate”.

Now I say, were it not for the grace of God on King David, chances are that Jesse would probably have remained irrelevant in the Jewish history. David still mourn the child of his loin in the person of Absalom who exiled him and was later killed in battle. He even pleaded with his warlord to treat his son gently in battle. That is the way in which God loves us and especially children who are innocent of adults’ sinful mind. It was Jesus Christ that raised the horn of Virgin Mary, otherwise, she would have blossomed and florished in the vast desert of life without any mention of her in the Jewish tradition. Therefore, parents train your dhildren in the way of the Lord so that when they grow old they will not caause you (parents) any trouble. Proverb 22: 6 is very relevant. Love begets love.

 

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS: A memorial Name

The anti-Christs do not want to hear the name of Christ less to talk of having any remembrance of Him. It is therefore convenient for them to lay claim on the fact that the memorial name “Christmas” was not mentioned in the bible. However, Christians and anti-Christs who disparage people’s celebration of Christmas failed to realize that any event of significance will continued to be remembered. The birth of our savior as we know about Jesus Christ calls for joy and celebration in spiritual term not glorification of man’s efficient merchandising or commercial nexus not related to the spiritual significance. The business world hijacked the reason for Christmas and really wiped it off. The birth of Christ had been predicted many centuries ago by respected Prophets of God and specifically stressed His mission on earth which He achieved. People who are criticizing date of birth chosen by converted pagans and made Christianity a world religion are merely chasing shadow instead of substance.

Isaiah 7:14 says “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign : Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call His name Immanuel.” Prophet Micah in Chapter 5: 2, he foretold the coming Messiah thus: “But you Bethlehem Ephrata though you are little among  thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to me, The one of the ruler of Israel, whose going forth are from old, from everlasting.” It was Angel Gabriel that gave the good tidings in fulfillment of Isaiah”s prophesy in Isaiah 61:1 where Jesus was to later read to the hearing of the elders during which the Savior outlined His mission. Isaiah 9: 6-7 says “For on to us a child is born , unto us a sign is given: And the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,  Prince of Peace, Of the increase of His government and peace, There will be no end upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgement and justice, From that time forward, even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of host will perform it.”(NKJV)

Thanks goodness no true believer has ever derogated the divine nature of Christ as being above all men. In Matthew 1: 17, we read about the relevance of Christ to the Jews and their ancestral father Abraham: “So the generation from Abraham to David are 14 generations and from the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.” in other words. there were forty-two generations from Abraham to the birth if Jesus Christ. The Messiah was to redeem Israel. On his arrival, He commissioned his disciples to carry the gospel to the uttermost part of the earth. the gospel is still spreading up to today and beyond.

God’s promise of redemption to mankind got fulfilled in the birth of Christ. Matthew 1:16-28 was where bible recorded the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy. His prophesy was fulfilled in Virgin Mary as recorded in Luke 1: 26-31. So also Zacharias’ prophesy in Zacharia 9: 9-10 was fulfilled in Luke 1: 67-80. The scribes knew that Bethlehem was to be the birthplace of the Messiah and Jesus was born a Bethlehemite. Matthew 2: 4-6. The sign that heralded the arrival of the savior was a new star that appeared in Israel Matthew 2; 1-2 “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying , where is He who have been born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east and have come to worship Him”

Let us look at it that the religious elites or pundits ranging from the Chief Priests, Priests, to the Sanhedrin consisted of Pharisees, Sadducees and Zealots tended to believe that such a great spirit-filled king should come from possibly the Priest cadre or the Sanhedrin. The prophesy had declared the lowly birth of  Jesus especially from Zacharias 9: 9 and at such these cadre of elites found it hard to believe that the coming of the expected messiah could ever be from the rural area and ever to be born “lowly riding a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey”  The Jewish elites sought to wipe out the memories of Jesus missionary work by fiercely prosecuting his disciples and followers to and beyond the time of Paul’s conversion. Paul later became the “MVP” (Most Valuable Player) in the spread of the gospel. It was in pagan Rome that the seed planted in jewish land was watered and nurtured to fruition to become the state religion in the then Roman Empire that subsists up to today as Roman Catholic Church world-wide with possibly the largest followers in the world.

Having said all the foregoing, the Jewish historians would never have deliberately chosen to think of celebrating Jesus’ birthday. So those that venerated Him chose to pick a date to celebrate his birthday.  There is therefore no surprise about stressing the correctness of date. Is it the date that is important or following his teaching that is meant to make them make heaven? It was historical record that proved that Princess Diana belonged to the British nobility with royal ancestry at the time she was to be married to Prince Charles of Wales. Solemnly remembering the birth of Jesus Christ should not stress anyone. it is joy to the world that a savior was born and He fulfilled his ministry. What is important is in following His teaching for eventual salvation of lost souls through Him.

However, if the complaint is on commercializing what ought to be a solemn ceremony, I would join forces with them. The period had been turned into a period for fattening the pocket of business enterprises. All believers should jointly condemn turning spiritual joy into a period of exploiting the populace. such situation tends to drive man away from the spiritual appreciation of what Lord Jesus had come to do and did achieve to ensure that man does not perish as per Romans 6: 23 which states: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord”. To God be the glory of man’s redemption. Take it or leave it. See you at the judgement seat.

Backsliding

To backslide is to lapse in morals or from standard religious practice. A post or tree on one spot cannot be said  to have backsliden because of any twist and turn even in stormy weather. In christendom, such movement refers to stormy blast of life that can break or uproot a standing tree of faith. Christians are known to develop anchor to their faith. It has been seeing them through all their difficulties, even from ages past.

A born  again christian that backslides, shows a situation of strong faith and belief in Christ Jesus but owing to certain events or condition faith and belief can be eroded by so many factors thus making the believer to lose grip of his or her erstwhile faith. Baptism signifies a believer’s rejection of sinfullness or worldliness. It thus suggests breaking bond with the devil or agents of darkness. Such a new believer is supposed to have become adopted into the sonship of the Almighty God.

However, baptism is a beginning phase of walking with Jesus in faith. It is believed that one has died  to his sin and had risen (from the water in baptism by emersion) with Christ Jesus holy and pure.. One has thus gotten free access to salvation. Though ticket to salvation is free but it has to be guarded from being taken away or losing it. One is deemed to be carrying God’s anointing that needs to be continuously replenished. The process is as simple as effectively and effectually praying without ceasing among other observances, for the mere fact that the devil as a roaring lion is roaming the world seeking whom to devour. A prayerless Christian is said to be a Christless believer. Prayer represents maintenance of the armor of God so that the devil will not be able to yank one out from following Christ in thought, words and deeds.

…..To be concluded.

                                    FALL SEASON IN LIFELEAVES FALL FREELY IN FALL SEASON TO STARTWITH FRESH LEAFAGE FORFULL FRESH SPRING FOLIAGEThere is more than seven after six. It is a local saying that assures us that failure is not the end of life. However, life is like a train in transit but has to stop for some passengers to alight at their own destination and still has to bring in fresh passengers whose destination would be ahead. When it reaches the end of the ‘to’ journey, it would return via the same route having to stop at the fixed stations for more passengers to disembark and embark. For seasonal weather, the cyclical journey goes into eternity. Human life is patterned into a mould that fits the train movement until it becomesobsolete, written off and scrapped. We are born to die is a common knowledge that man has been grappling with without solution. He has times of high and low tides in life, so, the seasons can come with hardship or pleasure. No matter what, if one does not allow the heat of sunshine Summer to kill or debilitate him one would transit to fall season where dress code starts changing to accommodate changing weather that will again gets more unbearable if one fails to adapt to winter coldness. As the season of harsh coldness advances it can lead to freezing if care is not taken. Unknown to unsuspecting people, it is cleansing the air of all dirty substances hanging in the air as rain falls. Debris hiding in sewage pathway is being cleared by erosion. By the time Spring season springs in, the air is clean, drainage is free of stagnant water which prevents breeding of mosquitoes and other harmful insects. At the advent of Spring season, life returns with freshness. Nature brings fresh flowers like daffodils and fresh lilies with poppies throughout Antelope Valley at the north end of Los Angeles County which gets celebrated. In other words, man’s life is full of ups and downs. It is only those who cannot re- invent or restructure themselves after a failure or disaster that would sink rather than swim across the sea of problems besetting them that do perish along with their problems. I join all American citizens to doff my hat to the revered President Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) who after vicissitudes in his political career got vote to become the 16th President of the United State in America. The current Nigerian President was once a military Head of State. He was ousted but at the return to civilian government, he started contesting in every Presidential election and was failing since 1999 only to succeed in 2015 Presidential election. He seemed to have favorably weathered the political storm to emerge at the country’s ASO ROCK, an equivalent of the American WHITE HOUSE.So ‘Fall season in Life’ stands for just a chapter in a person’s life. Like the old folks’ song “Nobody knows the trouble I see, nobody knows my sorrows. Nobody knows the trouble I see, Glory Hallelujah: Sometime I’m rich, sometime I’m poor, O yes Lord. Nobody knows the trouble I see; Glory Hallelujah!!!”. Therefore, death is a means to an end and not an end in itself. Man can get to FALL season in his life and go into winter bitter cold; if he remains resilient he would be able to spring back to life’s freshness and buoyancy. “Circumstantial Homelessness” is a fitting scenario. (Ref: ValuPlus Poems: Focus on Behavioral Tendencies. Pg 24 Copyright 2008 by Emmanuel Osindele). In other words, at the end of a dark and cheerless night, there is always the dawn of a new day. 

No one is enough

No one is enough by oneself without total dependence on or yielding to Christ Jesus. He knows our weaknesses and had promised to be with us at all times. Matthew 19: 26 ” with God all things are possible”. It behoves us to be obedient to God, keep worshipping, praising and holding him in awe if we want to attract his unconditional love and blessing. We just have to commit all our ways to the Lord and HE will prosper us. The Ten Commandments and made simple by Jesus; “Love of God and Love your neighbor as yourself”. They are short and easy to remember for compliance. As we do the foregoing, and praying for forgiveness our need for sufficiency or being enough is being guarantied. I can do all things by Christ Jesus that strengthens me- Apostle Paul’s encouragement. No one can do it all alone.

TRAIN THEM NOT, BLAME THEM NOT

In this post, I am re-using the Chinese maxim: “If you don’t train them, don’t blame them”. It is very popular in the circle of management and human resource trainers and developers. The wisdom behind the statement is not an exclusive preserve of the Chinese people. It had existed in biblical times in Jewish tradition.
To become a High Priest one must belong first to the Levites and would have served from the lowest cadre to be able to ascend to that envious stage in the service to the Lord.

Moses trained Joshua, Deuteronomy 31: 7-8; Prophet Eli trained Samuel, 1Samuel 31: 1-21; Elijah trained Elisha, II King 2: 1-18 and in the New Testament, Apostle Paul adopted young Timothy as his son-in-the-Lord 1Timothy 1: 18-20. In all these cases, these responsive  followers of good leaders made their marks in what they were trained for. Joshua with his absolute relationship with Moses  as directed by God led the children of Israel into the promised land and led them in the wars to possess their possession. Samuel learnt to become a spiritual leader of Israel under Prophet Eli. His priesthood was in accordance with their relatedness to the Patriarchs. Elisha as servant to Elijah learnt to be Prophet of God with such an outstanding follower-ship that he got Blessed double portion of his master’s miracles. Conversely, Gehazi had a result oriented-trainer but his true behavior (inability to respond to the tenet of prophet virtue) became evident as he pursued and asked for gratification from Naaman (the Syrian army commander) from whom his master refused to take any gift. II King: 1-27. He was rewarded with Naaman’s leprosy as against positive reward or blessing for serving a great master. Elisha got a positive reward for his dedication and obedience under Elijah’s leadership while Gehazi did not show responsiveness to training and development; contrary wise he attracted the wrath of his master. 2King 5: 20-27.

In all Peter’s relationship with Jesus, he was teachable. His master foresaw devil’s plan to buffet Peter and destroy his destiny and therefore prayed to avert the evil before it struck. Even though, Peter stumbled with thrice denying Jesus, he wept bitterly when he saw Jesus turn his face towards him. By the anointing Jesus’ prayer had conferred on him, he was able to rally the disciples and waited until the day of Pentecost for them to receive the Holy Spirit. His preaching led to 3000 people accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. He also became the Head of the Church. His training was fruitful. Peter’s being teachable elevated him from a mere fisherman of low estate in Jewish tradition, a humble beginning, to the level of standing taller than the Jewish Priesthood and the Sanhedrin. Acts 2 and especially in chapter 10 where he at first felt awkward having to he invited by Cornelius, a Roman centurion. He went in obedience to God, after he went into trance where God instructed him thus ” What God has cleansed, that call not thou common”. Having been trained in obedience, commitment and genuine follower-ship under Jesus Christ, he was able to perform the sacred task as given in Mark 16: 15-18. The training the disciples received enabled them to bear the persecution unleashed on them with the blessed assurance of gaining entry into the kingdom of God .

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