They were sore displeased. Where do you stand?

Mathew 21 vs 15: To say that Jesus was never going to merit a “like” from the chief priests and scribes is an understatement.

I can just imagine a Facebook post where someone tagged them with pictures of what Jesus was doing and they instead of showing support for or liking the post, became enraged and sending out a comment, question Jesus as to know if He couldn’t hear what the people were saying?

I love Jesus’ answer;

Matthew 21:16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

Of course they had read, but blinded by selfishness and pride, they refused to see, hear nor believe the wonderful things that He was doing! I mean how could anyone quarrel with wonderful?

As we attend our various places of worship today, let’s choose to see, hear and understand. Let us choose to erupt in praise and adoration of Jesus our LORD for who He is and for all the wonderful things He has done for us. Even as we believe Him for others.

It is a choice, what do you choose to be?

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Jesus demonstrates

If only we would follow in the footsteps of our LORD, many a – issues we face in our lives may not be present.

The message Pastor Cyril Yerifor, preached from the book of John chapter 13 vs 3 is what I want to share with us, as it blessed me immensely.

John 13:3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;

That, in the above scripture, was the knowledge Jesus had concerning His “status” with God. Yet what did He do next?

He. Served.

He removed, His garments, got down on His hands and knees before His disciples and washed their feet.

What an example!

What do we do with acquired knowledge concerning anything? Especially one we perceive as putting us at an advantage over others?

What do we do with information that sets us apart, keeps us on top or makes us preferred especially in the eyes of men?

This situation brings to mind a Bible passage:

1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

I do not believe we can perform in the way that Jesus demonstrates for us in John 13 vs 3, if we do not have charity to edify both us and those we come in contact with. So we can become a blessing to others with the knowledge that God has given to us.

That for me is point number one.

We have to constantly realize that whatsoever we have, tangible or otherwise, it is God that has given it to us.

We must not allow ourselves to get carried away enough to begin arrogating to ourselves attributes that only God is and deserves.

How we treat others should be a reflection of who we are in Christ and our everyday determination to draw closer to God in spite of ourselves in surrender to His LORDSHIP.

Then we will not respond by being proud, reckless, careless and what have you.

As we all know, to edify means, to build, construct, instruct morally and intellectually.

What blessing and growth we would experience, each time we edify one another especially on acquisition of knowledge or higher status.

We need to rid ourselves of the mentality that we have to carry and behave ourselves in a certain way to show our status or place in society else we will not be treated as we deserve.

Which brings me to another point mentioned by Pastor Cyril;

When we are performing a manual job or work perceived as menial, and people are looking down on us, it is not the job that needs to change but our attitude.

For it is how we behave to people that essentially is mirrored back to us!

Who says you have to be respected or disrespected because of the job you do? Rather, it’s the way we go about the job that makes others put us down or not.

Humbling ourselves to serve, should not in anyway reduce us. Submitting to one another, should not give us a complex, how be it an inferior one.

Our LORD Jesus Christ has demonstrated to us how we need to treat one another, even the Judas we know.

Let us therefore, rid ourselves of whatever “cloak” that keeps us from following in the Master’s step, taking towel, basin and water and get down to work.

Let’s open our hearts to the love of God, redeeming the time, for our LORD Jesus cometh.

Maranatha!

Who are we listening to?

The conversation that transpired between our LORD and His disciples in the book of Mathew 16 is a very loaded one.

To have such profound sayings from our LORD that should inspire faith, strength and give revelation to all who follow Him and give ear to His WORD for everyday living is such a blessing.

In verse 16 of the same chapter, Jesus asked His disciples a question that is followed by Peter’s answer that leads to Jesus’ response.

It is this response and “ands”, that has led to the title question, who are we listening to?

Matthew 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Oh, the blessing that accrue to us when we catch the revelation of Jesus as Christ, the Son of the living God!

What peace, what joy, and reassurance this revelation should give to everyone that names the Name of the LORD and is named by Him. May we all catch this revelation and walk in it in Jesus Name, amen!

In the next verse Jesus says something profound, in addition to Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the living God; “I will give you the keys of the kingdom….”

If I were a preacher dishing this out on a Sunday morning, this would have been a great place to say to the congregation, turn to your neighbor and say “the keys of the kingdom(echo), are for binding and loosing(echo)”

But, I digress.

What that statement says to me is this: we have been given the option to decide!

I “Googled” the word shall and this is the first thing that appeared so I didn’t bother to go further.

shall
Κƒal,Κƒ(Ι™)l/

verb
1.(in the first person) expressing the future tense.

“this time next week I shall be in Scotland”

2. expressing a strong assertion or intention.

  1. “they shall succeed”

Shall is used to indicating a future occurrence and/or, used to make a strong assertion or intention.

We have been given the power to decide.

So I ask the question again, who are we listening to?

The LORD? Or others?

Like the Bible puts it, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the WORD of God. We need to determine what we listen to and what dominates our thoughts.

For essentially what we hear, believe and practice, becomes us.

So, brothers and sisters, who are you listening to?

Decide!

She’s a Jolly good female

I have met a couple of female “keke” drivers, but this particular one captured my fancy.

Talk about enthusiasm and love for one’s job and you were looking at her. She exuded it, and did not lack the confidence and persona needed for that particular job.

The minute I walked up to her and inquired her intended route, from her response, I knew I was talking to an enthusiast.

Right from how she beckoned to passengers, wanting to know if they were going her way, to how she responded to occupants of the vehicle, there was uniqueness that I could not ignore.

She made you feel special even as she collected the required transport fare.

As I sat behind, watching and observing the way she related with “area boys”, I marveled at how effectively she coped with them. Then I couldn’t help but smile to myself when she switched to clear English in response to another passenger, asking her to exchange a thousand naira for two five hundred naira notes.

It was there and then my inner writer decided to celebrate this particular woman even if in my own small way.

At the end of the journey, I asked for permission to take her picture, her response was quick and positive.

My only regret was not asking for her name.

But to all those “nameless” men and women who are happy doing what they do regardless, I say kudos.

There is indeed dignity in labour, and there’s nothing like good, honest pay.

The “If You are” syndrome

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Our lives as individuals can be so plagued by different types of issues; the need to become, the need to acquire, the need to achieve, the need to do, the need to sustain etc. This happens so often that if and when we are not careful, such needs and how we go about fulfilling them can become devastating to our existence as human beings. We always have the urge to satisfy one thing from/or with another and should be careful in the choices we make in the process.Β 

Jesus at the start of His ministry was, like everyone else, faced with a challenge. He was tempted of the devil. The the Holy Spirit wasted no time in leading Him to the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. The idea that the Holy Spirit led Him to the wilderness be tempted by the devil just as the popular Psalmist prayer “He leads me in the paths of righteousness”, is something worth pausing to examine.

There are certain trials and temptations that whether we like it or not, we just have to face in our paths of righteousness for us to be adequately prepared for the work that God Almighty has ordained before hand that we should do. There has to be prunnings, cuttings etc, that has to happen and continues to happen, if we are to successfully please our Master. The likeness of these temptations faced by Jesus, are everyday dealings that we as humans are faced with and will continue to be faced with and must overcome! Jesus has become our example! We can overcome and are more than conquerors if we believe.

The “if you are” syndrome as I would like to call it, in Jesus’ case started in the first temptation, with the enemy challenging him in subtle terms concerning what he believes and stands for. Not just that alone, trying to make Him sabotage His person, to do deeds that would offend God and misrepresent situations!

How many times as children of God have we met situations that subtly required us to compromise? Quietly deny who we are? Or walk/work between the grey areas, just because we are after what to eat, drink and wear?

Even if you are a child of God, would it really stop you from doing so and so to feed yourself and your family? To the ordinary onlooker, what is truly wrong with turning stone to bread after forty days of fasting? Especially since there was no fast food delivery service to turn to at the moment or a “mama put” joint to quickly access and satisfy the hunger pangs.

But you see, the technicalities of what the devil was asking Jesus to do was wrong and incriminating, and the hunger-blind Christian may not perceive the subtleties of the situation until he delves in and is entrapped! Others may not get to see the bad at all even if someone comes along to point it out. They would just chunk it aside as jealousy or the like and move on with their lives.

The second thing we should point out in this very temptation of Jesus by the devil, is that our desire to “prove” ourselves to others is constantly being tried. It tries our silent need to be validated.

The devil knows that Jesus is the Son of God, Jesus was not in conflict with who He is, so why the “if you are” phrasing? Show your strength, ability, etc. There was even “no one” per se in attendance. But the devil would know and most importantly God would know when we decide to do something with the intent to show or prove ourselves. So whether others can read our thoughts or not, God can! We should be wary of falling into the temptation to massage our ego in the name of doing “the necessary” to achieve. Once it has to feed our ego/pride, we are in the wrong lane and would have ourselves to blame if we fail.

I still want to dwell on the point that we shapen ourselves or who we are more often than not with the decisions we make when none else is in attendance. Our thoughts, are inner decisions, what we consistently choose to do and say when we think we have no audience or the audience is of no immediate or substantial consequence, has defining, longer lasting qualifications on who we become.

So while your brother or sister may not be there to take note of your current happenings and access your heart’s intent, God can and the host of heaven bear record while the enemy is present to use it as foothold or evidence against you when the time is required.
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As the year unfolds, let’s see to it that our lives are not hijacked by the enemy and we do not succumb to the desire to meet the three fold ministry of the flesh. When we are controlled by our flesh, we stifle the sensitivity of our spirit to the things of God and to God Himself.

This is a New year, let’s begin well. For some, let’s continue well and if nothing, let’s not sabotage the ministry of Angels by the wrong choices that we make. This among other things, is what we stand to loose when the choice is “if you are” pleasing.

Happy New year!
πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚

Live, Love, Learn, and Grow!

Battle For the Mind

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The book of 2 Chronicles chapter 32 is a passage of Scripture I have come to love. Each time I get to read it, I always find lessons to take home. Not just because it tells of how not to rest on your oars when we have accomplished something spectacular, but it also exposes the enemy and some of the strategies he is willing to employ just to ensure he does not loose any battle for our soul.

Here we see Hezekiah, the then king of Israel who had just successfully carried out a religious reform including a centralized celebration of the Passover of the Lord God of Israel in Jerusalem amongst other things.

He had so succeeded where his father Ahaz had failed that the final verse of chapter 31 closed with these words:

In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s law and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful-NLT.

Then begins chapter 32.

“After Hezekiah had faithfully carried out his work, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah”.

The devil’s first strategy against Hezekiah and the israelites:

1. THE TRIAL THAT COMES WITH-“AFTER HEZEKIAH HAD FAITHFULLY CARRIED. OUT HIS WORK”:
This is where we get really comfortable with ourselves and the environment. We somehow remain in the euphoria of the victory we have just won that the tendency to let down our guards and thereby fall prey to the enemy of our souls is peak.

We have faithfully carried out the work and this should qualify us for a “timeout” from trials. Well; ask Hezekiah, he experienced differently. First thing the devil employed to destabilize the children of Israel was to attack them physically after they had successfully returned to general assembly of praise and worship of God and the destruction of idolatry, purifying themselves before God.

After they had fully carried out the work probably needing rest and doing more of reflection than projection, all of which are okay in its self, the enemy pounced.

This goes to say that we should not allow ourselves be detracted at any time. The business of watching and praying is an all-time event not to be trifled with in the least. May the glory of our latter be more than the former always.

Hezekiah’s response: Hezekiah cut off water supply that could have served the enemy even if it was going to affect them as well. But not before STRENGTHENING HIMSELF-KJV. This for me is very key given the obvious-“how do you fight a battle you have not prepared for?” How do you play lead role, when the script is foreign to you? You clearly can not give what you don’t have, so leaders, we should make out time to “strengthen ourselves” adequately in the Word and knowledge of God so as not to appear before the enemy clueless and tactless regarding the situation were in. It is then we can draw from the storehouse we have built inside and can be instant to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

This must have resulted in the comfortable way in which he delivered the encouragement speech he gave to the people.

They were clearly determination to do away with whatever physical things that would enable the enemy in its fight against them, they were prepared to make that sacrifice. They went ahead to carry out massive repairs of broken walls, erecting towers, even constructing a second wall around the already existing wall.

From all indication, Hezekia did not go to bed just because he had concluded a successful religious reform. He had a “watch and pray” mentality. This is the kind of attitude we all should have, not withstanding a current victory or otherwise.

Something that is also worthy of point-out is that Hezekiah took counsel with his Princes and mighty men. Some of us in leadership at times find it as time-wasting and maybe beneath us and probably a sign of weakness to take counsel with the immediate surround of leadership, or even father down the line,Β  preferring rather to display our wisdom and abilities to the people and further cement the superiority we think we possess in handling issues. Imagine the wisdom of waking up to a shutdown existing waterways and the reaction this would present in a time as critical as the one the children of Israel were in. I get that there are times when you have to step up as the leader, but how the children of Israel could have responded to the rude shock of having something as vital as water taken so abruptly from them without the prior knowledge of their immediate leaders is better left to the imagination.Β So Let’s learn to “step up” as the Spirit directs us and not as our canal selves dictates.

2. EVIL REPORT:
We all know that the devil will always twist what God says with the intent to deceive and derail us from His original desire and destination for us. Eve and the serpent in the garden of Eden is a case in point. Yet, we run helter-skelter when the devil approaches with his lies.

We need to be thoroughly grounded in God’s Word so as not to be so deceived but be apt to recognise the devil when he surges and deal with the situation promptly without relent or fear.

3. COMMON GROUND:
Once we allow the enemy a foothold, he tries to capture the entire arena. The devil can only have access in our lives and situation to the extent to which we invite him. Let us all be vigilant and wise. Is there a broken hedge in our lives that the enemy uses to find his way into our business? A weakness? A habit, say of “prayerlessness”? As we turn to the Holy Spirit, we will be empowered by His Spirit in our inner man and be quickened to perform as children of the Most High.

4. MISPLACED PRIORITY: Maybe it’s just me, but I could not keep from wandering what these “people” where doing at the place and time on the top of the city wall, to now become available to the spectacle the enemy was putting up! They couldn’t have been sentry or lookout, for how many “people” do you need per time, per area, to do the subtle work of a lookout?

The enemy so made it worth their while that they spoke to God’s people in their own language. The enemy of God’s children could speak “christianese” and this quickly led to despair and tears all around the camp.

What familiar place, issue, possession etc, is the enemy using to gain access to our peace of mind? Cut lose now and regain your sanity. Step up and say no to his tricks, regain your freedom today!

The KJV version in verse 18 of the chapter says that the reason the enemy spoke to those on the wall in the Jews speech was “to affright them, and to trouble them, that they might take the city”

Is there fear and trouble involved? The enemy is probably speaking a familiar language to distract, distraught, and disarm you with the intent to take the city. We must not allow him!

The enemy will use everything in his arsenal, including past achievement or the lack of it, twist it and make you look bad and feel guilty. But if you will cry out to God like Hezekiah did, He will do what only He can.

God sent an angel. Just one and that was it!

God knows how to take care of His own, He knows how to magnify His own like He did for Hezekiah. We just have to look to Him and wait patiently for Him.

Let’s not allow the devil toy with our minds and displace us from what and where God is taking us to.

Let us consciously and continously cast down every high think that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ!

The battle is already won!

Hallelujah!!!

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Live, Love, Learn, and Grow!

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