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My duty is to follow orders

Even though I know this cannot work, yet I sometimes wish it is possible to serve God on my own terms. Tell me, if this be so, who shall be serving who? Looks more like God serving me!

I am the one created for service, hence I am the servant. God chooses the service; He decides what to be done in the manner it should be done. He goes further to decide when and where it should be done. I am trying to say that God is behind it all when it comes to service. My singular duty, therefore, is to follow His leading and instruction. I simply follow orders!

I have, for this long period, suffered a stunted growth because I do the leading and simply call on Him for backup. I choose What to do and the Where, How and When of the work. He is pushed aside only for me to call on Him whenever I hit a storm. Should this be?

I base what is to be done on the measurement of my ability. If it is what I think I can handle, fine! I go ahead to accept the work. On the other hand, if the demands of the work are reckoned beyond my strength, I coil in. How dare I accept a task from God based on what lies within me as human strength, ideas and knowledge.

I thought He should be the strength in me for His assignments. He is the wisdom and all that I need for the work and not my limited ability. What is to be done will not always fall within my scope of comfort and ease. In most cases, His assignments are stretchy. I must be stretched out of what I am used to; out of what gives me comfort.

He does this to grow and widen my knowledge of Him and to make me ever dependent on Him. I guess He dislikes not being seen in the picture of the work. At every stroke of the painting brush, God must be seen. He is the great God within, without, behind, beside and before a small man called to service.

Now I really wish to serve Him beyond the set lines or boundaries of my official title; beyond what I have measured my capacity to be. Nothing should restrict or limit my service. Once He calls, I move without anything weighing me down and eventually weighing me out of divine relevance.

Where He leads me I will go and what He wants will remain my focus. I do not intend to consider myself before the task. I mean, why should I first want to know how the gains or pains of the work will affect me before accepting to pick up His job offer? Secularly, this makes sense, but nothing of God makes human sense.

Even if He leads me to an island of pains, I should know that these mere earthly pains are ingredients for eternal gains. There is no divine pain without a far weighty gain or glory. As they say, No pain; No Gain. No Thorn; No Crown.

Is the place I am, therefore, called to serve looks so small and little known? This may be, but the song writer says, “Little is much when God is in it. Labour not for wealth or fame. There’s a crown and you can win it, if you go in Jesus’ name.” soldiers

So what if He sends me to a big field? Even this big field requires God to be in it if success will not remain an idea from dreamland. Big and intimidating fields are His ways of saying, “I can use the weak to confound the strong; the poor to confuse the rich and the stupid to shame the wise.

Only the weak and humble shall overcome by His strength. “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts.

Burning Bush Boy

Gleanings from John 9

Our God is a God of Splendor. He sometimes ‘allows’ some situations and circumstances to take place in our lives in order for Him to show Himself in ways that will bring pleasure to His name. Please note the word, ‘allow’ is used to show that although God may permit or allow ‘evil’, He doesn’t do evil because only good and perfect gifts come from Him.

In a sense, what we call evil is only evil due to our inability to see the end of God’s wisdom from the beginning. If only babies could talk then I am sure that a day-old baby born prematurely will accuse you of being evil by placing him in a confined incubator with rays of light directed at him. You must be wicked and evil for doing that! Are you not? Well, to the little baby with a limited and undeveloped ‘brainbox’, you are, but matured minds know that you are a loving parent just as God is.

Since God is, therefore, a God of splendor then I should be bold to make Him known to others in every aspect of my life. This also implies that God desires that we experience His splendor in our ministry, marriage and career.

John 9 verse 5 says “As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world”. Light illuminates, brings joy (in Nigeria we shout “Up NEPA” whenever electricity is restored), things left undone will be accomplished and hidden things are brought to the open. So, as long as I am alive in this world, I am expected to be a solution provider; a joy to the people and darkness repellant.

In verse 7 of the same chapter, Jesus gave the blind man an instruction and when he acted accordingly, he returned with an instant healing. When God does the miraculous in your life, people will not recognize you again because your status, appearance and sometimes, your name will change. In the case of the blind man, he stopped begging, he was able to change his clothes and people no longer call him blind or a beggar. Finally, when God does the miraculous in your life, you will have reasons to testify and men will seek Jesus through your life.

By the time the people discovered what happened to the man, they began to ask him about the person who healed him. When God changes your story, He’ll bring you before the important men of the society. This man was formerly a common beggar on the street with a beggar’s garment, but when his story changed, he was brought before the Pharisees – an important sect of the time.

When people query your testimony, it does not mean a change did not take place. You must, therefore, never be ashamed to declare what God has done for you when people wish to know about it. Whenever you speak about His deeds, you are spreading the gospel i.e. Good News and the ‘questioners’ will be left to decide on whether to accept the truth or not.

The man did not know Jesus by name, but from His actions, he concluded that Jesus was a prophet. Do your actions depict that you are a Christian or do you have to constantly argue to remind them that you attend a Church and that you even hold a key position there?

The Pharisees went ahead to interview the parents of the man; seeking to know more of him, but his parents answered and said he was of age so he could speak for himself. This implies that there comes a point in a man’s lifetime when he becomes accountable to God and sometimes to men over what goes on in his life.

Why did his parents make that statement? It was because they were afraid that the Pharisees (men) could put them out of the synagogue. They feared men and not the God of the Synagogue and they chose not to acknowledge the work of God, thus denying God.

On the part of the Pharisees, they were willing to acknowledge God, but ready to deny and lay a disclaimer on the Vessel. God will not deny His vessels, so even as we return all glory to God, we must still honour His vessels.

In verses 30-33, the man spoke about Jesus as though he had studied Theology, yet he never attended a Bible School. It was a genuine encounter that gave him a revelation of the personality of Jesus so much that he could give the Pharisees a concise lecture entitled: “The man God uses’”.

Below is a brief outline of the lecture.

Characteristics of the man God uses:

  1. He does the will of God.
  2. God listens to him and answers his prayers.
  3. God is able to perform the miraculous through him
  4. He has to be connected to God to do the work, because he has no power of his own.

 

God is counting on you. Will you deny Him or declare Him?

– Ope Sanyaolu

Swimming against the tide of life

Lord, grant me the grace to swim against the tide of life. I have looked around me for a dry ground, but I found none. All I see is a body of troubled waters being tossed here and there by strong wind.

I would have dared to swim in still waters, but in these troubled waters, I dare not risk my precious life. I can’t guarantee my safety in these troubled waters with broken blocks, dangerous particles and terrible animals lying therein. Yet, it is a must for me to cross to the other side for there lies my promised land; my purpose and fulfillment.

How long am I going to tarry and study these troubled waters when God’s will and purpose lie on the other side? I have studied several books on swimming. I have made several researches about swimming in troubled waters. I have even taught several people about swimming against the tides, but none of these will yield any fruit when I’m still afraid of plunging into these troubled waters.

Lord, all I pray for is the grace to swim over these tides of life. I want to go beyond teaching theories. Grant me the boldness to dive into these troubled waters. This generation awaits your manifestation in me and I have kept them waiting long enough; standing here and studying the tides. I have denied some of them the access to their purpose and fulfillment. Some of them have lost hope because of my indecisiveness.

I have no excuse remaining on this side, because it is very much possible for me to cross this tide by your grace. All I need to do is to let go of my life; my fears and to trust in you who walked on the sea and laughed at the storm. It is possible for me to stand for righteousness in this world that is tossed here and there by the tide of unrighteousness. It is possible for me to remain faithful in the storms of lies that force everyone towards one direction. It is possible for me to stand for Christ even in a world where it is so hard for people to remember their Creator.

I submit myself unto you Lord. I submit my will and my all. Let it no longer be that it’s me at work, but your power working in and through me. Help me to swim against tides that force one’s life towards destruction that I may save myself and my generation.

Lord, I thank you for granting my request.

-SAP

Hunger: A need that must be tamed

When a man is hungry, seriously hungry, nothing else apart from eating matters. When a man is hungry, the saying says, he is an angry man. However, when a man is completely down with hunger, he loses the energy to stay angry and starts acting dull. Not too long, he begins to act stupidly and desperately to survive.

According to the Advanced English Dictionary, hunger is defined as a physiological need for food; the consequence of food deprivation. It also defines it as a strong desire for something other than food.

In this sense, hunger, especially when it relates to food, could be seen as a legitimate sensation. Would it, therefore, be right to condemn a hungry person when you know he has not eaten for a considerable period of time? No! Nobody is exempted from hunger, so let us not feel bad when we’re hungry.

 

We should also not condemn ourselves for having a strong craving (desire) for something other than food. For example, having a strong craving for professional or academic excellence may not be considered evil, provided the craving is well managed.

 

What about cravings for something negative? It is not uncommon to notice an occasional desire for something negative, but as long as such inordinate hunger is appropriately checked or dealt with, we need not hang ourselves.

 

It is, therefore, not the hunger that really matters, but the way and manner we intend to satisfy it. When you become hungry, either for food or for something else, my advice is that you keep your cool instead of behaving irrationally. The feelings of hunger, like I said, may not be the big deal, but its management is surely important.

 

To shed further light on this issue, please read carefully the personal account of a beloved brother.

 

I was born a twin, but since I was the first to step into the world from my mother’s womb, I was considered to be the first son and the first child in my family.

 My twin brother’s name is Jacob and just as I must have guessed, his name rings bell in your ears as in the ears of many others. Isn’t it? A lot of people know so much about him (Jacob) than they do of me. I really do not blame anyone for this – I made it happen that way for Jacob. I gave him my throne and allowed him to sit as the heir of my family. I chose to slide into oblivion, although I didn’t quite realise the gravity of my actions on time.

 While Jacob was mummy’s boy, I was my father’s favourite. Isaac, my father, loved me so much that he was prepared to hand over his entire estate to me. Of course, legally, all belonged to me. Never mind; I stupidly truncated his lofty plans as I handed over the opportunity to be the first to Jacob on a platter of a plate of red stew.

 As a hunter, I was more on the field while Jacob would always stay at home. It’s so easy to trace where and how he learnt to cook so well. My mother, Rebecca, had no rival when it comes to cooking and with Jacob spending his day in the kitchen with mum, you wouldn’t expect anything less of him. Surely, he turned out an expert in preparing and dishing red stew!

There was, however, this fateful day I returned home tired and hungry from a failed hunting expedition and unfortunately, it was Jacob who met me at the entrance. I was extremely weak and at such a period, how refreshing would it have been to rest on a brother’s shoulder. My own brother had no such comfort in mind to offer me. He had actually waited for me to be weak enough that he may launch his attack. I pray you will not walk into the waiting hands of such a brother as mine.

 How on earth was I to know that meeting my own blood brother with a plate of red stew would be tragic? I was tired and hungry and since he had food with him, I didn’t know I had to think twice before asking him for some of the food. Why should I have to be on my guard when I’m with my brother!

 So, without thinking I could be asking for too much from my brother, I asked: “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.”

 Was asking for that same red stew my undoing? Should I have asked and waited for another one to be cooked? Should I not have ignored his plate and go ahead to cook mine, even if it won’t be as tasty as his? These are mere after-thoughts.

 As I waited to hear him say: “You are welcome. Please join me as we eat together,” he went ahead to ask for what had always been in his heart. “Sell me your birthright as of this day,” Jacob replied me.

 

If only I was in my right senses and have not allowed the demands of my stomach to hinder me from thinking straight, the conversation between us should have ended at that point. I was, however, too hungry to think deep on Jacob’s request to have me sell my BIRTHRIGHT to him.

 

Brethren, never you allow hunger to shut down your thinking faculty. You can be hungry and still be sensible to the inner witness of the Holy Spirit in you. Instead of walking away, I was foolish enough to stay back and think I could dine with the devil in my brother’s cloak without having to pay dearly for the meal. Tell me, who has ever heard the devil serving a free meal? I replied Jacob: “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”

I have never stopped to give myself a knock on the head each time I play back the happenings of that day. Who told me that missing a day’s meal has ever killed a person or will kill me? Honestly, I shouldn’t have believed the spirit that told me I was about to die and talking of a lying spirit; one indeed spoke out of me that day.

 It is a blatant lie from the devil that you will die if you don’t take that wrong means of satisfying your hunger. The enemy will tell you that you are about to lose your life, integrity, home and all that is precious to you if you insist on keeping your sanity and faithfulness. He will tell you that you haven’t got much time and so you must have to sell your birthright to stay alive. He will never tell you that the threatening hunger will not and cannot kill you. He will create a fake sense of urgency to lead you into taking a desperate and negative step. I ask, is it not the mis-management of hunger that kills? Lord, if only someone had told me what I am now telling your children!

 As soon as Jacob spotted that I was desperate and ready to offer the most precious gift in my life for food, he went further. “Swear to me as of this day,” he demanded and foolishly, I did. I sealed the sale of my birthright to Jacob with an irredeemable oath. Jacob walks tall today, because while I gave him something eternal, he offered me back with something temporary. Not a fair deal you will agree with me, but that’s too late now.

You should ask me what happened after he handed over that same red stew to me. I ate and I felt satisfied. My stomach was filled, but my life became empty afterwards. That food drained life and authority out of me. After paying so much a price that cannot be quantified in any nation’s currency for a plate of red stew, I thought I should never be hungry again, but the next day, hunger knocked on the walls of my stomach.

 Let me personify hunger for a moment and tell you about one of my discussions with him – Mr Hunger. I once told him I had already paid with my birthright, so I shouldn’t expect his visitation again, but he laughed and said:

 “Esau, you behaved foolishly in exchanging your birthright for a plate of red stew. Your birthright, the rare rights you have by being the first child was actually your insurance against me. Your birthright comes with the authority to command Jacob (your brother/enemy) to get you your own meal for the day. With it, you can order your father’s servants (angels of God) to fix you your meal at any time you want it. They would have served you with whatever you requested for. With your birthright intact, you could have remained an heir to the throne.

 You were born with authority to rule and you had everything at your beck and call, but you were blinded by the aroma of the stew and the lie that the food would keep death away from you. You thought you would die when actually, you had life in you. You believed you were too tired to forge ahead, yet you could have simply called on the Holy Spirit to renew HHoly hhyour strength. Esau, with your birthright as the son, next to the father, you had power over all, but sadly, you despised it”.

 These statements from hunger have since hunted me, but my dear reader, my own life is now history, while yours is still very much in your hands. Hunger is real. Hunger demands and pushes. Hunger will drive you to take quick, but mostly, irrational decisions. Hunger will keep you from thinking and worse still, it will stop you from hearing the words of wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

 Hunger comes with lies, blindness and deception and in a desperate attempt to satisfy this natural, but dangerous need, wolves sneak up on you dressed up in brothers’ cloaks. What you are about to satisfy your hunger with may actually be a trap to have you exchange your birthright as a child of God. Watch it!

 Do always remember that as a child in God’s family through your faith in Jesus Christ; you have a birthright with loads of power to overcome the deceits of the enemy. Go back to God and let the Holy Spirit define your hunger and give you the details behind it. It is indeed well with you. Amen!

 Lest I forget, my name is Esau Isaac and my story is well documented in Gen. 25:21-34 & Heb. 12:16-17. Thank you.

=Burning Bush Boy

Faith for sale!

There is a lucrative business now in town involving the offering of your faith for sale. The traders in this business are very smart, eloquent, motivating and psychological endowed. These businessmen, though, from a humble background, have grown drastically in their ‘faith for sale’ business to the extent that they do not walk on the ground with common men again. If they must do, there must be legions of bodyguards around them.

It is so amazing to see them going about their business manifestos with armed men around them, yet much gullible audience pay attention to them. They are very smart in milking dry their prey. They will squeeze them with their oratory power and psychological tricks until they (their prey) exchange their gold for faith. (Faith in whom, you wonder.)

The purpose of these ‘Shepherd-turned-businessmen’ should be to present the Author and Finisher of this faith to their sheep (audience), but instead, they keep presenting themselves as the Author and Finisher of their faith. They have made themselves the Alpha and Omega. How dare you talk to them standing! You must be on your knees, crawling and licking their shoes with your tongue before they can attend to you.

Foolishly, we have idolized them; sheepishly giving our hearts to them. Whatsoever they say is final; be it right or wrong, we don’t bother to check again. They have enslaved our spirits and cajoled our minds so much that we have failed to realize that they are mere human like us – men of like passion. They have told many lies and falsely established laws from the Scripture, which sadly, they have now taken as their business marketing book.

Examples of such lies and laws are: “Though shall not appear before the Lord empty handed.” Even if you don’t have, go and borrow. “He who believes in a prophet shall reap the reward of a prophet”. In other words, whatsoever these businessmen demand for, you must obey for you to reap the reward (if any) that will come after. “Those that sow with tears shall reap with joy”. This means that for you to reap a bountiful harvest thereafter, you must sow a very huge amount of money which must bring about tears from you.

They have customized and packaged this faith in different forms and sizes. The faith packages include: Anointed Goya Oil, Handkerchiefs, Anointed Pure Water Sachets and Table Water, Divinely Anointed Pen, Anointed Suits and Aprons, Anointed Shoes of Divine Favour, Anointed Powder and Perfumes just to mention, but a few. These faith packages are sold at exorbitant rates – 500k, 200k, 100k and so on.

Special projects never cease in this ‘faith for sale business’. Today, we are building a classic University in the name of moving forward the Mission (expanding the ‘faith for sale business’) and vision (making more money). Though the schools are built from the sweat of common men, yet, the children of these common men can’t afford the fees of these so-called Mission Schools.

We sell our clothes and belongings for these ‘faith for sale’ businessmen to appear glamorous. We sell off our shoes for them to ride on jets. We go hungry for them to feed sumptuously. They ask us to pay tithes without them paying theirs. They ask us to fast while they eat in their own closets.

How long shall we remain gullible and ignoramus? How long are we going to exchange our sweat for these faith packages? How long are we going to keep selling our faith to these monsters that have no human feelings? When are we going to wake up from our sleep? Phew! How long are we going to be deceived and cajoled?

The good news, however, is that the True Shepherd will soon appear and all these business hirelings will be disgraced. He will surely purge His Church. He will turn the tables of the moneychangers and chase them away with His whip. He will heal the broken hearted and revival shall return to our land.

Nevertheless, before the True Shepherd appears, kindly guide your faith with all diligence. Holdfast to that which has been handed over to you and don’t trade your faith for any junk. My faith is not for sale. What about you?

-SAP

Do not opt for an alternative

Whenever we are faced with realities of life as things fail to work out as expected, many times, what comes to mind as mortal vessels, is to source for an alternative. However, these alternatives, as fascinating as the devil might make them appear, can never in any way be compared to what God has in His plan for us. They may, at best, bring us temporary reliefs, but never will they bring lasting solutions to our problems.

Indeed, we do groan whenever we find ourselves in some unpleasant situations and circumstances that bring us on our knees, yet at such point, we are in a perfect position to pray unto God and sincerely, as He had promised to always hear us whenever we call on Him, so He will. Jeremiah 33:3 & John 16:24. Do you doubt this? Have you ever found Him to be a failure? Never can He be! He is ever committed to fulfilling His promises.

When life brings you to a point where you have no other option than to opt for an alternative, put yourself together and have it at the back of your mind that you have the best option available which is to call unto Jesus.

In a nutshell, I will like to remind you of the story of the Israelites in the land of Egypt. At a point in time, as they suffered in the hands of their taskmasters, God looked down from heaven and saw them being oppressed. Exodus 3:7. He could see the extent of their afflictions in the hands of the enemy and the most interesting part of the story was that God knew all the way that they would experience such harsh treatment. He knew ahead of time that they would actually serve and be afflicted in a foreign land for Four Hundred (400) years. Genesis 15:13.

However, He didn’t proffer any solution to their predicaments until the Israelites did something many of us are found lazy doing. When it comes to the issue of prayer, I have discovered that many of us are too lazy as Christians, yet Jesus in the Bible actually admonished us to ask that our joy may be full. John 16:24.

It is written: “And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by the reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows”-Exodus 3:7.

Beloved, can you just try as much as possible to figure out God’s verdict on the situation the Israelites had found themselves? “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt”.

Oh, maybe you are not aware that He who created the eyes is able to see-Psalm 94:9. As disciples, I want us to register this in our hearts that God is aware of whatsoever situation we may find ourselves. He can see the unpleasant situations and the pain we are going through. It must be known to us that our God is not shy of our predicaments.

In that office where you might have spent ten years on a level without promotion; our God knows about it, don’t be discouraged. You have married for the past few years without the fruit of the womb; getting married to another woman is not the best option. God is aware and very soon, you will be celebrated. In the area of your calling as God’s servant, though it seems too small, yet it is the pleasure of the Father for it to be so (maybe for now). Do not because of that opt for an alternative.

Again, the Lord said “… And I have heard their cry”.

What is the implication of this? The implication of this is that we must not relent in praying unto God. Our inability to call on Him in our turbulent times will only compound issues. Prayer, as it is required of us should be without ceasing-I Thessalonians 5:17.

I want to believe you can recollect when Jesus and His disciples were sailing on the sea. Jesus, being with them in the boat had fallen asleep and the disciples were in jeopardy, because the ship was sinking. They called on Him and they were saved from a shipwreck-Luke 8:22-24.

Meanwhile, there is the need for us to know one of those reasons they refused to opt for an alternative. The reason being that they had Jesus with them in the boat! With Him in the boat, they knew they were secure no matter the threat posed by the storm. In fact, to them, they had no second thought.

If He lives in us, sincerely, we have no reason to opt for any alternative in time of trouble. Be assured that Christ in you cannot afford to be afflicted because you are His replicate here on earth. He can’t afford to be shipwrecked while He lives in us, but calling on Him is a priority.

Little wonder when the Bible says the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runneth into it, and is saved. Remember that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved-Acts 2:21.

Beloved, don’t opt for an alternative; it is not the best option for you as a believer. The best option is to know Jesus and to call on Him. He can feel what you are experiencing and very soon, the storm will be over; it cannot last forever. Be calm for songs of praise shall fill your lips and His name alone will be glorified.

Let this mind be in you: don’t opt for an alternative.

  • Adetuyi Temitope Michael