Mission of God

One of the greatest things I have learnt from the scriptures and teachers of the Bible (Especially NT Wright) is the fact that God (YHWH) is The God OF and ON a mission. as believers, we are to share this love of Christ that has been shade in our hearts to everyone alive. but ideally we are asked of the Lord to be committed to participating with God’s people in Gods desire to redeem the whole creation. In other words, He calls us to be partakers of the great commission of reaching out to the unreached but, it is from Him to us. 

Therefore, he beckons us to come and get to know him and he uses prophet Isaiah to unveil his proposal to all of humanity of His intention. the message of Isaiah 54 can be broken down into three aspects in terms of His proposal to us. for the purposes of this discussion, we will be looking at three themes which include;

  1.  God has come to give us hope
  2. God has come to restore us
  3. God has come to establish us in His righteousness.

 we live in a society that has no hope. we are being conditioned to believe what we see and what we can explain through science or otherwise. but in mind of the person whos interaction with civilization doesn’t date back too long, then we always have a conflict because what seems to come our way has explanations that make a lot of sense even if doesn’t look like. Hope, as given by the Lord is not as that given by fellow humans who could be having some ability to manipulate things here or there. this Hope, can’t be understood by mere manipulation and debates but by faith. This is what the Lord tells us through his servant Isaiah. Sin had marred our image of Him and it became detestable before the Lord. He couldn’t stand it but to move away but for a while. Now he is back. he has a solution to that problem that hindered good relations.

the greatest thing that ever happened to humanity is that the God who was offended has a solution to the problem that mad finds himself in. this is a relief! a big one. what if it was left to man to get a solution for Sin, what could have happened? it is important for us to always appreciate that we don’t know how bad we look like in sin. ideally, we may never really know what it means to be restored to the image that we marred.  What I believe we can come close to is the fact that His presence makes a difference even if we may not recognize due to the effect of Sin. He chose not to destroy us nor be angry and rebuke us. This makes my hair stand! Being Who He is, The Bible tells me that He never changes His mind or goes back against His word.

This is like no other. he even promises that even in this change is status, irrespective of what the people around me will do, they will not succeed. My hope is stayed in Him. In life, we always have people that we were having relations with and they wouldn’t be happy when we loose touch or even sworn enemies because of the change that Christ has brought in your life. the good news is that He has already taken care of that too. “they will gather”, He says “but not by Him”. Why should they waste time and energy to plan useless fights? one would ask. Actually, it even makes me wonder why they would gather when they know that the Lord would not listen to them nor heed to their prayers and fastings? this is to say, they may be so close you but they will not succeed, says the Lord.

He establishes us in his righteousness in that we bore what is His. In Him, it doesn’t matter what the opinion of another may be because He gives permanence and recognition of belonging. in belonging means that we have rights and as such the least we can do is to accept the mission of God to us. this is what He wants for us. Will you accept it?

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Boat influence

We have been hearing a lot of sermons and teachings on this text. the main focus has always been launching deeper/further as in the case of the Simon and his crew in the book of  Luke 5:1-10.

There are some issues that we could learn from this text and how it is important for us to consider some things before we begin to think about launching. Just like in an operation of some sort, before any launch is done, some critical things have to be in place. you can not imagine a space shuttle being launched with no fuel! or some radio system not functional. it will not work and as standard practice, the launch will not take place unless these things are fixed.

The life and teachings of Jesus were synched in such a manner. From the text, we realize that he was teaching at the shore of the lake and this attracted some audience. We can safely infer that this audience did not just show up but they had heard of some teacher who was teaching wonderful things and they wanted to be among the pupils. In the course of His teaching, He noticed that for him to be more effective He needed some space that would allow him to project his voice in a more effective manner. Allow me to stop there. Now, Jesus was doing what He normally did as we would read in many places in the holy scripture. His audience wanted to learn from Him and in so doing, He needed to have something to say that would not just entertain their ears but transform their lives. This is not far from what is expected from Christian believers. The mandate that we have as believers from the Lord is to have us be channels that would be used of God to transform peoples lives. Thus the challenge remains, what kind of crowd do we draw to ourselves? What is this thing that makes people want to be associated with us? I also gather that in the leadership strategies available and those to come, what we attract matter if we are to influence. That is, the strength of the leaders is not in the tyranny of numbers as it is often believed, but it is in the course. I believe that numbers will always take care of itself if only our predetermined course is in line with what the goal of our purpose is.

Secondly, it is in purpose that we find opportunities. As Jesus was teaching, He noticed that the crowd was growing. In as much this would have been a good thing, He equally knew his effectiveness would be dampened by the surge that would have ensued thus negating his effectiveness. It is recorded that he “saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.” Many at times as leaders or influencers we would want to see ahead and plan for eventualities. In other words, we plan to be strategic so that we are not found wanting. This is a great leadership trait but it shouldn’t be all that we do. We have to do what we ought to do first as we plan for what we hope to see. Jesus being who he was, knew the timings of the day as it were. Fishermen would have caught fish and laid them out to customers to buy. Ideally, it was a high traffic time and he took this opportunity to teach. This, he knew based on the fact that it was the trend of the fishing village. He lived among them too. What opportunities are we not seeing in our place of calling? It could be the church as a minister, the office as you push papers or business leader as you interact with the markets around you. What is this thing that will increase your effectiveness as a steward of what is in your hands to do?

As one continues on this path as a leader, they should remember that the resources that are in their disposal also are indeed of attention and care. Simon and his crew were not afar off, actually, they were washing their nets as Jesus was teaching the crowd. They were not far off, they were listening to the teachings. As an influencer, who are these people “who are not in while at the same time not out”? These could be your drivers, secretaries, the music director, men/ladies leader, that IT guy, gardener or even the shopkeeper in the club. What is the rippling effect of your influence in their lives? Most often it is not what you give in terms of finance or otherwise, but as they listen to you and look at how you live, they will often risk at your word! These are not people who necessarily expect a paycheque from you but people who admire what you live out vis a vis who you are.

It is often said that you cannot give what you don’t have or teach what you don’t know but I would here add that your legitimacy or moral authority in giving what you have really mattered if you are to be an influencer as Christ was. Many people are frustrated in what they do and they stay put for a number of reasons. Some obvious, some not so obvious. These may include the Sunday churchgoer or the “faithful” volunteer that any church would ever have. They keep trying, hoping that someday they would find the “catch” that would change their lives. They try different jobs, vessels, drugs, business partners and businesses, careers, outlets, girl/boyfriends and in some cases they try out others wives and husbands, and in recent days, they even make speech writers recognize them as partners and so forth. Most people are in places or hold onto things because they think that there is no alternative or probably there isn’t but if or when they find one, will they still hang with you? Can you make them leave their “boats” and follow you? Jesus did and has given you the ability to do so, will you?

 

 

 

 

Leadership within

At times we read scripture looking for inspiration or just to get good words that would comfort us in different moments in life. Well, there couldn’t be anything wrong with that but I also get excited to read some things that really relate well with our times. Actually, I would have thought that the writer lives next door!

The story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding process of Jerusalem is well known in some quarters. I would empathise with him as people complained about their welfare and how they have lost it all because of the people in leadership or big businesses that influence decisions in the society. This never escaped Nehemiah but what amazes me is the direction he took in solving the issue. This we can find in Nehemiah 5:6-13.

  1. Under normal circumstances, we assume that we know what needs to be done in regards to certain things that we oversee or things that are brought our way. There is always a tendency to “know” what people need from our point of view thereby disregard whatever input they might be having in a certain situation. Nehemiah teaches us something that is profound. In as much as he knew the issues that come to the leadership (as he was the cupbearer), he took the time to listen to what the people he was leading were saying. This made him appreciate so much what the people were going thru, in that he understood the impact of what was happening in their lives and what it meant. Ideally, he got in touch with reality. At times I wish that this would happen among our leaders,  especially religious leaders. I have been amazed at the extent to which leaders have “spies” who would inform them of the goings around them. This is sad. Please understand am not saying that leaders shouldn’t be informed of what is happening within their domain, all am saying is that leaders shouldn’t have informers whose agenda is demonic. Our God always listens to us when we pray and I believe that when we listen to others as they speak to us, we make an impact in their lives. There is a sense of hope even if there is nothing much one can do.
  2. Secondly, we often see people who need to make decisions go to “their own” people for advice. Am in agreement with scriptures that, “in a multitude of counsellors there is safety”, but here, knowing the kind of man he was, after hearing what the people had said, he “took counsel with himself”. It is important for any leader to think through issues clearly before they embark on solving. There is great power in taking counsel with oneself. In so doing, we realise that as we have been walking with the Lord, we already have an answer or a lead towards an amicable solution to the issue at hand. “Taking council with self” seldom takes place because we rely on others to give us direction. We often ask, what do you think about this? What should I do about this? Will this go well with our people? Does this situation present a threat to our people? and so forth.  As religious and more so Christian leaders, our walk with the Lord defines who we are and our responsibility towards a certain people is based on the call of God on our lives, not the people. I appreciate the fact that we come from a people but the most important thing is that leaders are called “from” a people and this is not for the interest of the people but it is in the interest of the one who calls! In this case God!  When God gives an assignment, the leader is obliged to perform it knowing that S/he will be answerable to the one who called. He dwells within those He has called and as long as we reach within ourselves in prayer we will find wisdom that comes from Him alone.
  3. Thirdly, leaders should be moved with the pain of the people they are called to serve and do something about it. How often do leaders get moved by the pain of others or the people they lead? We have been seeing in the recent past that when you see a leader do so, there is a political emotion that they want to arouse for their favour. This wasn’t the idea that Nehemiah had. “I was very angry when I heard their outcry” were his words as recorded. It pained him to hear that and he confronted the nobles and the officials. He took issue with the fact that they were exacting interest, each from his brother. He made them see the wrong that they did against their own people. Indeed Jesus alludes to this when he talks of leaders who load it over their subjects. We get to see that they understood and had nothing to say about the cases fronted against them.  We notice from this that he knew the calibre of the people that he confronted. They were well known within the society and he never took sides but rather tacked the issue as it were. I could say that today we have leaders who cannot face people who are doing wrong in society even if they know them. There are several reasons that some would give. It could be because they are their brothers, close family lines, their sponsors, clansmen, their tribesmen etc. ideally, as religious leaders we are confronted by a certain obligation of “belonging” to them. This is sad and will never allow us to handle issues objectively.
  4. Fourthly, we should be aware of our own shortfalls. There is a tendency that we have as leaders to do things for people when we should actually allow them do. When we want to diagnose and prescribe a solution to their problem and end up meddling in their affairs, we do wrong. This is not our mandate. Just as Nehemiah confronted the nobles and leaders of his time to let the people go back to their fields, so should be our attitude as leaders. They are the sheep and we are the shepherds. Nehemiah asked a very stinging question to the leaders and the nobles. and probably the same question would be asked of us, “Ought we not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies?”
  5. Lastly, as a good leader there must always be a way forward. After resolving the issues, he made them make a promise to revert and change from their evil way. It is not just enough to let someone know what they did as wrong, but there should be a direction given after this realization has been made. In this conversation, Nehemiah points them to God in many ways including the final promise. The people that we lead should be confronted with the reality that when they do wrong their point of reference should be God and therefore they should not think of making pacts with God. Truces never work with God but repentance does. When people repent from their evil ways, even the land is blessed. Nehemiah does not forget who he was before them and as one chosen by God, he makes than aware that the decision they have just made has been witnessed by God and consequences will be real should anyone change his mind, and as tradition dictates, he also shook out the fold of his garment and said, “So may God shake out every man from his house and from his labour who does not keep this promise. So may he be shaken out and emptied.” And all the assembly said “Amen” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised. Will you?

Demons Habitat

There lessons that we learn from books or pulpits in regard to demons. We can conclusively say that demons seek places to abode. they fight for space that they could occupy.  There are many references in the bible on the same but there is a place that would make us think, albeit deeper about this matter. this is found in Mathew 12.

One of the ways in which demons would not enter into a man is to have that man dead! Did I just say dead? Yes, I did. Nothing finds pleasure in a dead thing except that which is looking for food and sustenance. Even in life, circumstances that are dead are of no value to the living and the best thing to do is to discard them or have them buried.

This leaves us with another option, the person has to be alive. living beings create an environment that the demons would want to live in and in this case, they possess what they inhabit. they make this their own. They dispossess the living from their bodies! But there is hope in that, Jesus lets us know that the demon can be removed or disposed of the body.

When this happens, the man regains back the body or in other words, we say that the man is free! Free from what? free from the influence of what possessed him. In other words, the man now has influence over the body that he lives in. This influence, we learn that can not be left to man alone to enjoy because there is a “strong one” that seemingly has more power over the immortal human being. ideally, the man by himself cannot be truly free even to handle or manage his own body. He needs help!

This notwithstanding Jesus gives us a clue as to what seems to make the inhabitant wonder. He says that “he goes to the dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.” when the demon is overcome by a higher power, he looks for solace “elsewhere” looking for rest but it is never found and in Jesus’ words, these places are “dry”. Maybe I would but ask,  what environments do people create that is not dry for the demon, that eventually gives him rest? If a man being possessed is said to have given “rest” to the demon, What is this environment are these that make it uncomfortable for the demons when they are cast out?

Now, if there is an environment that can make demons unrested, how can man find it? Is it possible for the man to create places that Jesus refers to as “dry”? without a doubt, this dry place isn’t palatable for the demon and in his absence, there is a freedom that man would enjoy. How can this be achieved?

 

The Way of the Ant and the Sluggard

An idea similar to the Slight Edge is found in the book of Proverbs in the comparison between the ant and the sluggard (Proverbs 6:6-11). In this passage, we are encouraged to avoid the path of the sluggard and instead study the ways of the ant. The ant does the small things that are easy for him to do day after day.

Another similar principle found in the scriptures is the idea of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7-8, Proverbs 11:18, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Luke 19:20-21, Matthew 13:24, 1 Corinthians 3:6-9).

This biblical standard can be summarized in three simple statements:

  • You reap what you sow
  • You reap more than you sow
  • You reap much later than you sow

The farmer doesn’t sow one day and expect to reap a harvest the next. He must continue to work the land throughout the cultivation process before he sees the fruits of his labor.

Hugh Whelchel

Purpose in Prayer

It was once said the tragedy in life is not dying but dying without knowing your purpose. Many respected persons have endeavored to dive into this pool of thought in trying to arrive at making one successful in all that they do in this life in such a manner that they get fulfillment, not because the job is done but because that was what they were meant to do. It is a gut feeling and one that resounds with your purpose on earth. I believe that, “nobody can do what you alone can do”.  People can be trained to do the same thing and they will do it, others can learn from you to do things and they will do it but there are some things that only you can do.

A statement by Karl Marx, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people” is one of the most frequently used statements though paraphrased to read “Religion is the opium of the people” and more often never used in its context. Marx was making a structural functionalism argument about religion, and particularly about organized religion. Amidst many things that man finds himself involved in, the complexities that come with it may never make life easy, at least to the honest individual living across the street or some suburb. Thus, religion has often thought of as a “release” point in life. But religion is a man made thing. Its a function of man and can be used to do greater harm than good or vice versa. If one looked a bit closer to this thought then one would find something albeit, better; that is Spirituality. This is not a function of man.

This thought will certainly not make you run to an “organized” system that form or give frame works to certain opinions but hopefully will open a window into knowing why you doing a certain thing could cement your zeal for your purpose on earth. In doing so,  your getting you in touch with your creator will simply crystallize the “why” you are here for such a time as this. This is Spirituality! Borrowing from the wiki’s definition, Traditionally, spirituality refers to a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man,” oriented at “the image of God” as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. one would then ask, “Should we therefore be running around looking for our purpose?”, mmmhhh No! but we should do our purpose. I believe that it is within us and if we would honestly seek the creator in prayer, He will lead us it.

Prayer is not just mumbling a few words or shouting in confidence but it is in agreeing with God. As a follower of Christ, the bible records in Mathew 18:18 (NIV) that, “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”. This is guarantee to every christian that chooses to pray but it should be in concert with the will of God. The context of the verse is in making peace with an offender but the principle is in whatever you agree more so with God.

Therefore, instead of resigning in systems that may have been created by religious institutions, one would rather rest in the idea that s/he could actually find it easier to know the purpose of his/er existence rather than trying so much and ending with no fruit of the his/er intended purpose on earth. This will be a big waste! The God of the bible encourages us to seek Him and we will find Him (Mathew 6:33).

Just as we find efficiency in using electrical/mechanical products well as laid down in their instruction manual, it would be prudent for us to get in touch with our creator for our purpose to known and made useful. And having known it, do it!

   

 

notes: wikipedia