Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What Commitment Does

What Commitment Does (Acts 21:10-14)
All science tell us that smoking is dangerous to our health. Most western countries and many developing nations have laws against smoking in the public because we are told that even second-hand smoking can kill. Some countries force cigarette makers to provide a message on the packets that smoking kills. Yet, there are smokers who would not give up. I’ve heard of smokers who told people to not preach to them as they don’t care about dying. They tell us that man must die of something anyways. I recently watched on television the documentary of a murderer who, when caught, said that he was addicted to drugs and could not survive one day without it, so he had to kill an innocent lady just to steal her camera (so he could sell it) and any available cash to enable him buy drugs. He asked the authorities to sentence him to death because he knew that he deserved death. These people are committed, committed indeed, to the wrong things.

When Peter tried to insist that Jesus would not die, Jesus’ reaction was swift: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16:23). Jesus knew that those words were planted in the mouth of Peter by Satan, so He rebuked the devil directly. Jesus was committed to His cause. He was here to die and die He did; not even a million Satan(s) could stop Him. Paul’s cause was the same. From the day he encountered Christ on the way to Damascus, he never relented in delivering the assignment that Christ gave him. He was incarcerated several times and delivered to authorities for judgment. Even when he was sure (by prophesy from prophet Agabus) that he was going to be bound or killed in Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-14) and the brethren pleaded with him to not go, Paul said “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” He went through trials, temptations and tough times, but he wouldn't give up. Paul was a great example of commitment to the course of the gospel.
So, what does commitment do to people? Commitment shifts priority away from the personal agenda of the committed. From the day s/he is committed to a cause, s/he never gives up until mission is accomplished. I have never seen any serious assignment without challenges. Only the committed is able to bring missions to a successful close. If you work in an organization that never finishes what they start, I will suggest that you start looking for work because they are likely to go bankrupt in the near future. Those who never take anything seriously will die and their names will not be remembered!

Commitment promotes the committed. Jesus remained humbly committed to His cause even unto the point of death and was given a name that is above every other name. Abraham remained committed to faith in God for a child even when it made no sense and it was inputted to him for righteousness. Daniel remained committed to praying daily even when it was against the King’s ordinance. He knew that he could die and was indeed thrown to the lions’ den but came out triumphant and was promoted in the Kingdom. It was commitment to the fight for freedom that made Nelson Mandela to remain in Prison for 27 years, not minding that he could die in the process. Today, he could look back happily and smile, having accomplished his mission. Only a person who lives in the bush without radio or television may not have already heard of his good name. Are you committed to something? Remain committed until mission is accomplished because success and promotion are waiting at the finish line to welcome you. 
God bless you and bless Nigeria!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What Wisdom Does!

What Wisdom Does (Proverbs 4:7-13)
The judgment delivered by King Solomon in the case between Prostitute-1 and Prostitute-2 in 1 Kings 3:16-28 was acclaimed by all who heard it as one backed by great wisdom. For those who are not familiar with the story: the plaintiff claimed that both she and the defendant gave birth to sons and on a particular night the defendant slept over her son and he died. Then, she exchanged her dead son with the plaintiff’s living son. The defendant insisted that she had the living son. After plenty of argument, the King asked for a sword and instructed that the living son was divided to two and one half given to each Prostitute. The plaintiff cried out and asked that the King give the child to the defendant instead of killing him. The defendant cheered the King’s instruction and asked the infant to be divided so neither of them would have him. The King saw a true mother’s cry in the plaintiff and asked that the living son be given to her because she was her mother.
No true leader can lead without wisdom. There are often differences of opinions among followers and between leaders and followers and the leader is expected to manage this conflict in a way that no one could truly challenge him or her over the final decisions. This requires wisdom! Any investigator that lacks wisdom will fail woefully in his or her duties. Prosecutors are often required to ask questions from suspects in ways that would make the offender consciously or unconsciously confess the truth. It is not enough to have book knowledge; if this were enough, then most of our daily lives would be computerized. University degrees can only take us to points where we need to use our initiatives to do things. Wisdom could make a great difference between success and failure.

In Proverbs chapter 4 verse 7, the Bible says “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding.” How else did we think that Jesus Christ was able to deal with the cunning questions of the Pharisees during His days? Look at the encounter between Him and the Pharisees and Herodians in Mark 12:13-17. The chief priests were looking for a way to arrest Him so they sent these two teams to seduce him into making statements that would warrant His arrest. In verses 14 and 15, they said “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” Thank God for Wisdom! Jesus knew their hypocrisy and asked them directly “Why are you trying to trap me?” In verse 17, the Bible says that the answer that Jesus gave to them made them to be amazed in Him.

So, what does wisdom do? Wisdom will promote you! In Genesis chapter 41, after Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and advised him to put a wise man in charge of the land of Egypt to manage the seven years of abundance and seven years of famine, the King responded “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders.” If you are wise, people around you will respect and honor you. If you are guided by wisdom, you are not just anyone and you do not do things anyhow. You will be full of grace and will be able to achieve results with little efforts. People will listen when you speak and many will read when you write. No one can push you aside because your suggestions could be more valuable than gold. Ask God for wisdom because when He grants your request, your life will not remain the same. 
God bless Nigeria!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Heaven’s GPS

Heaven’s GPS (Matthew 2:9-11)

But for the GPS, vehicular mobility would have been highly restricted. People would easily give up trips because of the difficulty of finding locations. Sometimes I cannot but wonder how those of us who live in the city survived without it. I remember missing roads a number of times and having to go several kilometers before finding ramps through which to turn back. And, how about inter-city travels? We had to keep asking for directions along the way because, as helpful as the road signs were, you had to get confused in some places. How did we survive?
Well, thank God for the invention of the GPS; now we are able to travel several thousands of kilometers away from home and not be scared of getting lost along the way, or, at least, so we feel. Of course, any invention by man cannot be perfect. There are always things that man hasn’t thought of until devices fail and corrections are made. As near-perfect as the aircraft is, we still have malfunctioning that leave investigators wondering how. I cannot forget the day I drove in a foreign country with a GPS to lead me to a hotel destination and the GPS got to a location in the bush and said “arriving at destination.” I looked left and right and there was no sign of life so I kept driving until I found people who directed me to the hotel. Man has tried, but s/he is not perfect.

There is nothing that scientists can design that God does not know or has not used before. Talk of surgery, God performed the very first one in Genesis. Talk of drones that have now become the weapons of war, God rained hailstones to kill enemies of His children in those days and the stones never missed their targets. Talk of GPS, God used His own GPS to direct the wise men from the east to Bethlehem and the exact location of the birthplace of Jesus. The wise men saw a star and knew that the Messiah had been born. To find the birthplace, they simply followed the star until it stopped over the manger where Christ was born. The star didn’t take them to the bush and stop. They didn’t need to stop on the way to ask for directions. They didn’t have to get lost and travel a long distance before they could find a ramp to turn back. They simply followed the star until they arrived their destination.
Oh, how wonderful will it be if we could all follow God’s directions? He has never been known to mislead anyone. Those who won battles in the Bible always asked God before going to those battles. The most perfect recipe to losing battles is going without God. The arm of flesh will always fail us. God guided Israel on their journey from Egypt with the pillar of cloud during the day and the pillar of fire during the night. God is always willing to guide us with His GPS; if only we can follow Him, we will always avoid the senseless troubles that we sometimes get ourselves into.
In Psalm 119 verse 105, the Bible says “Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” David understood and obeyed God so much that God referred to him as a man after His heart. God is capable of guiding us to all our destinations without stress, if only we would follow His instructions. When last did you read the Bible? Are you familiar with His laws? When last did you pray and wait in Him for His response? Are you always in a hurry to move? Are you always relying on your own knowledge and wisdom to guide you to your destinations? God is the only One that can run through life’s paths without missing a step. Follow His GPS from today and your journeys will become effortless.
God bless you!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Oppression No More

Oppression No More (Obadiah 17)
One of the recent examples of freedom struggle was that of South Africa. When the apartheid regime released Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990, the whole world went jubilating as it was seen as a sign of good things to come. When, in 1994, Mandela became president, the joy of South Africans could not be contained. They had lived for a long period under less than desirable conditions, cowed to submission to the rule of a quasi-dictatorial government which ruled not from the mandate of the people but from the gun-date of the police. Leaders who were very vocal against the government were put in prison indefinitely. Youths who revolted were brutalized or killed. So, when it seemed that all these would become history, South Africans rejoiced indeed. The Word of God in Psalm 126 verse 1 came to live: “when the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.”
In the book of Obadiah, the prophet documented the judgment of God upon Edom (Esau) for doing the devil’s bidding against Jacob their brother. Edom was an enemy of Judah, rejoiced at her downfall, took spoil from Jerusalem when it fell, scorned Judah in the day of her calamity, stood in their way to kill them or deliver those who tried to escape for destruction. No one would believe that Edom and Israel were descendants of the same family. Not only did God not mince words in His rebuke for Edom, God promised deliverance for Israel. In verse 17 of Obadiah, the Bible says: “but upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.”
God hates oppression in any form because those who oppress others are indirectly telling God that they have the power to do and undo and that people can only have freedom at their discretion. Oppressors have arrogated God’s powers to themselves as they grant and deny at their own pleasure. Those who bow down to worship them are spared while those who don’t are ruthlessly dealt with. Oppressors hijack people’s belongings and make themselves extremely rich at the expense of others. Are you oppressed by the devil or some other powerful guys? Have you been living under this condition for many years? Well, brace up for joy because you are coming out in Jesus name. Your oppressors have their cups full and they are going over the cliff this season!
For over 400 years, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. When the day of their deliverance came, it was as though they dreamed. They obtained very precious possessions from Egypt for free. Well, your own freedom is here and you are set to possess your possessions. It doesn’t matter for how long you have been oppressed; your deliverance is at your door! You may have been enslaved up till 2012; this year you are set for a new beginning. I have experienced a change in my life before that made me forget some period of difficulty. It is a sweet experience indeed and, I don’t know about you but I need this experience again. You will not be left out in Jesus name.
Oppressors have many ways of operating: delay, deny, steal, kill, destroy, etc., but God has far more ways of delivering the oppressed. Remember that God speaks about holiness in Obadiah 17. If you are living outside of God’s will, this is the time to come out so the train does not leave you behind. Your oppressors have been annihilated; your years of captivity are finished and you are ripe for deliverance. Your lost or delayed blessings are with the courier and on the way to your address for delivery. They will not be delivered to the wrong address in Jesus name. 
God bless you!


Monday, November 19, 2012

What Are You Sparing? (Judges 1:27-36; 2:1-3)

What Are You Sparing? (Judges 1:27-36; 2:1-3)

Unlike in academics where a pass mark is established and various pass levels, like excellent, very good, fail, etc., are agreed, there is no graduated grading in obedience. There are only two possible outcomes: pass and fail. Though easy to pass if we are determined, there is only one pass mark: 100 percent. Right from Adam, God has never hidden this fact from anyone; there is no such thing as obeying Him 99 percent; the remaining 1 percent is strong enough to wipe off the 99 percent and our score is ‘fail’.

When God sent King Saul to destroy Amalek, He was serious. However, Saul reminded God that he was wiser than Him, so he spared the king of Amalek and spared the good-looking animals for ‘sacrifice’ unto the Lord. Yes, that’s correct – we tell God that we are wiser when we partially obey Him. And, how could anyone compete with God and prevail? God reminded Saul that he was nothing when He elevated him to the top and it was now time to send him back to where he belonged.

God is the greatest project manager in heaven and on earth. He has a plan that cannot be faulted. He knows when action is required and He knows when there is slack time. The critical path for each project is ever before Him, so it pains Him when He allocates a task and you refuse to do it or you partially complete it; that means that His project will fail or be delivered with extra time and extra budget. Now, the most painful failure is one that occurs when you have the capacity to succeed. God has the power to achieve His targets and every failure is a great disappointment and a destiny destroyer for His children.

In Exodus 23:31-33, God told the Israelites: “I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River. I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you. Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.” God is always very clear with His instructions and this is the reason we cannot hold Him faulty when He rebukes us as a result of our sins. Despite His clear instructions regarding what to do to the inhabitants of Canaan, Israel decided to not drive them out completely. In their reasoning, they needed to use some of them as laborers and collect tributes from others, so, in Judges 2:1-3, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and told them that, because of their disobedience, the people they refused to drive out will be thorns to their flesh and their gods will be a snare unto them. Is it any wonder that we have an unending suicide bombing within Israel and a continuous war between Israel and their neighbors?

Friends, we need to be careful how we handle God’s instructions. He is the only one who knows the end from the beginning and His commandments are just and perfect. We hurt ourselves and our futures and destinies when we choose to disobey Him or selectively act on His Words. So, when God says you should completely drop your habits, do you retain some? When God says that you should come out of a group, do you occasionally go there and feel that God will understand? When God says that you should give out 10 items, do you give out nine and expect God to understand that you have tried? The things we decide to spare may become thorns in our flesh in future and we can only have ourselves to blame. God deserves our total obedience and I pray that we will understand this from today. 

Have a wonderful week.
God bless you and God bless Nigeria!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Addicted to Worrying?

Addicted to Worrying? (Matthew 6:25-34)

Several years ago, I listened to a comedian who bought a newspaper in the morning and as he read the headlines, he saw his name in an obituary announcement. He then became very sad, dropped the newspaper and began to weep. Quickly, he called his friends and family and announced to them that he was dead and that his obituary has been announced. He began to assess his properties and started making plans to dispose them. His friends had a hard time convincing him that he was still alive and that the name in the obituary, though the same as his, was another person.

Most of us would easily laugh at this person but I am wondering if we do not mostly behave in the same manner. Many people worry about many things many times. From the first day they left Egypt, most Israelites never ceased to worry about their future and never stopped to complain about their present. It was not surprising that all adults who left Egypt died in the wilderness, except for Joshua and Caleb who stood out by trusting God. A life of worry is a life of fear and torment. Many there are who develop high blood pressures over nothing, because most of the things we worry about end up being nothing. In Luke chapter 12 verses 25 and 26, Jesus asked His disciples: “which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

The dictionary defines worry as allowing one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. The bedrock of worry is found in two simple words: ‘what if…’ so, you have people meditating on negative scenarios like ‘what if I can’t afford to buy food next year?’ ‘What if I go for a test and I am diagnosed with cancer?’ ‘What if my husband loses his job?’ ‘What if my son cannot pass his exams?’ ‘What if my daughter marries the wrong person?’ ‘What if I have an accident on my trip?’ ‘What if our house burns down?’ ‘What if an armed robber knocks at our door at night?’ ‘What if my cousin is involved in a plane crash?’ Some people even worry that they are not worrying enough! Worry throws people into depression and depression make people sick and sickness causes death. Why would anyone continue to meditate on the negative when we have a God that is more powerful than all else? Looking at the comical story of the man who thought he was dead just by seeing his name in the obituary, we see that the things we worry about never occur. The man worried that he was dead, but he was actually alive. A professional degree in worry from the University of Imagination will not prevent a bad thing from happening, only God will, so why not put your faith in Him and avoid the troubles!

Now, don’t get me wrong, it is a good and advisable thing to plan for the future and work hard to achieve your dreams, but worrying about the negative repercussions of an event in the future is completely not recommended. Jesus taught in His ‘sermon on the mount’ that if the birds of the air which do not sow or reap or store away in barns are fed by God, then how much more will God provide for those of us who are much more valuable than birds? Though the present realities in our surroundings look bleak, the worst action we can take is worry. We need to plan and pray for God to grant us wisdom to make things work but our prayers will be permanently blocked if we dwell on the negative rather than continue to act in faith, knowing that our Almighty father is indeed All-Mighty and that He will leave no stone unturned to see that our lives work. If we have to be addicted to anything, let it be faith in our God because this is the one thing that never fails. God bless you and God bless Nigeria!