How can you say you want to spend eternity with God and do not spend time with God now?
At the beginning of this year 2017, I told my self, I would give God thanks differently with my worship and praise.Often times, I find myself in position where I am asked lead prayers either in a church or small gathering. And when we want to charge people into given thanks and praising God, we do so by reminding them of other people’s misfortune, which in turn is a positive thing for them. Yes true.
Is that true worship?
I want to thank God sorely on the basis of purpose. Worship Him because that’s the reason for my being. I find it bothering, how it seems that when I thank God for life It’s an indirect reference to the death of others. Or when I appreciate God for the food on my table, it’s because I know many are hungry. I think this position of thought is jaundiced. We cannot give God thanks only because we see the opposite around us.
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you – 1Thess 5:18
Giving thanks essential to worship, the later our purpose and that’s the only reason needed. If we need any other reason, it fails to meet the requirements of true worship – in spirit and in truth.
And also, our inability to see that it is not only the things we have must thank God for, but also the things we do not.
Our thanks to God should come from the depths of our being, from the very core of our essesnce. It should not have to be encouraged by the misfortunes of others but sorely on the basis of purpose.
© francis Oluwaseun IGE
The year has started, and I can say things are looking quite brighter than the last. Already there are friends getting engaged; a new career appointments and I have seen movie this year and sense I will be seeing many more. I like the brightness already and I hope the light does not die out.
I gave my first New Year sermon weeks ago. And as is my practise, I always ask to know what the Holy Spirit intends for the flock. So, I was more than glad when very early on the 31st of December I received my daily dose of A Slice of Infinity in my mail titled: A New Year with New Hope written by Ravi Zacharias. As I read through I was happy, it seemed as if he (Ravi) had seen my sermon note (well, since my sermon was already ready by Friday morning,*winks*) and liked what he read. The text for my sermon is quoted above.
As I read the article, I got a better understanding of what the Holy Spirit intended for all. 2016 was dramatic in a lot of ways. I remember sharing on my Facebook page sometime back, how 2016 had surprises in different sectors and for different people. In football for the English premiership fans they saw. Leicester win the League; in Politics, Brexit won the UK memorandum and Hillary Rodham Clinton lost presidential elections, the Allepo crises, and the economic situation of Nigeria, just to mention a few.
It is in spite of these odds and many others that we go into the new year, hoping it to be a happy one. It is with all the heart break that many hope to find love, get a better job, change houses, get healed and maybe even travel outside their countries of residence.
A life without hope is a life without justifiable faith, a life that rests in a hollow, self-aggrandizing reaction to reality.- Ravi Zacharias
Faith is what helps us to hold on when there is nothing in view. We must look beyond the ugly realities and beautiful past, see the promised rainbow. We must have not just the faith in our ability but faith in God who is able to finish that which he begun 2000 years ago.
Faith is a knowledge within the heart beyond the reach of proof – kwoteapp.
Having learnt so many things from the past year, we must take that new level of knowledge, walk in faith, knowing that our hopes would not be disappointed.
The writer of the epistle to the Corinthians shares with us what’s most key to having a better life – a life that embraces, and conquers all odds. He says that Love is the principal thing.
German Philologist, Friedrich Nietzsche says, “Love is not consolation. It is light”. It is light that allows us see through the thick mist that shrouds our reality. It is light that we see in people of a different worldview to ours that helps us take them in, when the world system teaches other wise. But we have this light in us to recognise it in others.
You see, love is our true destiny and we do not find the meaning of life alone, we find it with others. And to have others in our life we must be available to them. Better put, the only way to have a friend in our life, is to first be one.
Let me share this story of a couple a friend related to during a teaching. The husband had shared with his wife his greatest affirmation of his love for her on the wedding night. He said, “for everything you would ever do, I forgive you”. She did not quite get it. Later in the marriage when she would do something or a disagreement would come up, and the husband would say to her, more like a reminder and re-affirmation, “I have already forgiven you”. Here on, it began to dawn on her the meaning of those words on the night they took their marital vows.
You see, I had always thought when we love we must forgive. Yes, because it is not only the right thing to do, it is our duty. However, in light of a new understanding recently received, It is apt to say that forgiveness is impossible simply by the seed of love alone, we need an equal quantity of faith in the mix. To love, we need faith, and faith works by love. That is, the kind of love that protects, that trusts, that hopes and more so, perseveres.
And If we are to have a brighter year, if we are to triumph in 2017, we need to open up, let go of the hurt in exchange for light, so much that we become beacons of hope in our small sectors or units.
Enjoy the rest of the year.
francis Seun IGE
You can read my Lessons from the Road Less Travelled I : Taking a cue from 2016.
francis Oluwaseun IGE is full time minister of the Gospel with The Redeemed Christian Church of God currently serving in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria.
It is the first month of 2017. So Happy New Year is still in order.
Whilst, I was caught up with church planting in December last year, I tried to think what my first post for 2017 should be about. There was a lot I wanted to write down; though there was barely time to punch key pads without being distracted, I like to think it was more to procrastination, I did not write this earlier. Now that my drafts box is full, I am left with either to delete and start clean or see which is worth sharing.
As the year drew to an end and the new one began, I one-two-many personal testaments of what kind of year 2016 was. This reminded me of the beginning of the year, when you read such decrees and proclamations as ” My year of divine favour”, “My of fulfilment”, “My year of next level promotion” just to name a few. So when at the end of the year, and I read things like, “2016 was filled with disappointments”, “thank God 2016 has come and gone”, and many of such comments I can not remember now that expressed emotions as pain, hurt, disappointments, tears and heart break, etc I understood them because I also had my fair share of delays and disappointments. I’m sure everybody has something to say about 2016 being the year of drama. I particularly remember one post from a distant friend where she said “I got hurt the most in 2016”. I was tempted to ask if this statement had to do with her career goals or relationship goals?
I learnt a lot in 2016. It was a year of learning and growing in new dimensions for me. I was stretched in ways I never saw myself doing on my own, and I’m happy I was not allowed to have my way times I insisted to. I largely spent more time by myself with myself. Probably, went out on a date-kind-of-night not more than three times. Hence, as I read through all of those condolence messages and epitaph worthy quotes for 2016 I could not but ask, what did you learn from all these experiences you people had? From the comments I read only few people pointed out what they learnt from their experiences. It was like these folks were interested in burying 2016 they forgot to take the hand over notes for 2017.
I believe that we must take away something from our experiences; it must in a way break us, as well as mould. Our experiences must kick start dead cells in us or purge our excesses.
Apostle Paul said in Romans 5:3-5
we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulations worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope; And Hope makes not ashamed;
We are not allowed to think, believe or expect God would take us through a journey and there would be no lessons. With God there is always purpose.
Like Ravi Zacharias shares with us in His podcast, ‘Lessons from the Road less travelled’, he says “God always takes us through different experiences – trials and tribulations for learning some of life’s most important lessons that would be important for building a strong life”.
He reminds us of a scene in the book of Deuteronomy as aanalogy.
Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. 8:2 NLT
In this Bible verse, Moses reminds the children of Israel how God took them through the wilderness for forty years, a journey that could have been completed in 14 days or less.
That process, as heart rendering, ego humbling, character proving, and faith trying as it might have been had a purpose. If the children of Israel were to get it right with God they had to go through the Long road. There is place we have to be, a time in our life that must come to pass, a person we must become and to get through or attain this height the preparation process is important. What Ravi calls the Long road in some Christian circles is referred to as the wilderness experience.
So, if you want to forget all of 2016, I suggest you don’t forget the lessons you learnt. And if it happens you already left the lessons and took the humour, you probably should do some retrospective pan and see what else is there to glean from last year’s experience. Because your hopes for 2017 will need the foundational lessons of 2016. And Paul, in Romans 5:5 concludes “hope maketh not ashamed (KJV).” Another version renders it, “hope does not disappoint (NIV).”
Happy New Year!
francis Oluwaseun IGE
PS: I figured this is one of the few that should be shared.
This post is a spin off of, and or was inspired by Ravi Zacharias’ Just a Thought serial podcast titled “Lessons from the road less travelled”.
Hopefully, this is the first of the many spin offs that would come from the Just A Thought serial podcasts. You can listen to to other podcasts on the RZIM website.
It’s 4: 45 pm. I’m in church helping the lady decorating. This backdrop had been there for over six month’s. We were talking about her choice of colours. A discussion which seemed unnecessary to me because she had already bought the materials and ribbons needed. We talked anyway. I could not see how the colours would be matched. I needed her to show me. I gave up. I told her to do what she intended, “forget my talk and do as you originally planned”. I heard my stomach grumble. I don’t know if she heard it too. If she did, she did not feel offended.
I looked at the time. We would have to set the work aside. Service starts at five. I was to take the Bible study, so I knew this had to be a quickie. while the one man choir took praise and worship I walked out of the building.
The church had no toilet. They had not thought it necessary to build one when the church was initially planted. I looked around. I knew where I was headed. I had been there before. We were in the middle of Sunday School when I felt my stomach make this same noise. I stayed put, focusing on the teacher hoping it would pass. It got louder. I guess it was piqued by my defiance. Just like today, I walked out and headed for the road.
The houses in the village had one thing in common. No Toilets. When I was looking to rent a house, this was the challenge. The people had found a way to settle the situation. They called it Bush Business.
As I crossed the road today, I did the same thing I did that Sunday. I walked not as one having a cursor hanging over his head. I acted like I did not have anything burning me underneath my dress.
I look over my shoulder, scan around to be sure I am out of view. I take a look once more at the church, I notice again, it’s distance from the next building. The church is in the middle of nowhere, because the community did not want a church so close to them, I think they picked a stone and threw it with all the strength they could muster and this is where the stone must have landed; where the the church is now.
I knew my way around this terrain. The footpath had been created by charcoal farmers who longer plied this route. I starred at the spot where I had been before, a sort of bond existed between me and these trees, the leaves, and everything that made up this bush. It had covered my shame, and was going to do it again.
I looked around, wondering where to settle. I moved closer to a tree stump. The leaves were withered. I did not like this area; I moved on. I settle somewhere without a stump. Plain ground, patched leaves carpeted the area. The way I felt I knew I was there. I went for my buckle, unclasped and zippers down. Squat. I heard the sound of a bike, then a car and another bike. Nothing was coming again. I remembered that verse, “my little children, for whom I travail in birth again… .” I am not sure Paul ever thought a missionary aeons after his letter to the Galatians would remember this verse in the bush, while taking a dump. I wondered how often Paul went into the bush to travail. I did not travail here. I brought out the tissue. I swiped anyway. Got up. Zipper up. Belt buckled.
I did a show of trying to bury it.
I walked away.
I was happy to be myself again. Shaking off minutes ago when I had to submit to the mood swing of my bowels. As I neared the road, I looked back. I wanted to memorise the place I picked.
1. The house was shanty like. One room. Not dirty, but litters of a sort. There were mosquito nets leaning on the walls. Buckets. Pots. Pans. I looked around, no TV, no sound, no decoder, no chair. Only this fair, beautiful, innocent day old baby, a sign of something better in this room. I wondered for how long?
2. My conversations with this particular lady was beginning to tend towards friendship. A colleague. I recognised she knew things I did not know in this work space. Though she hides her awareness under the guise of showing me around, I can still sense it. My friendship with her is too heavy for my ego. She is calling. She says my my conversation with someone earlier today was a bit brash. I should not be so direct next time. I wonder for how long we would be friends.
3. The house is empty. Just me. No friends, no appliances. My phones are the only contact to the outside world. Noise from outside weave with my thought. They are planing a christening. I prayed with the Igbo family yesterday. The mother is happy. Yet, I could sense the heavy heart. The baby is a girl. This is her second. She can only hope.
4. I have been standing at the bus stop almost an hour. I’m beginning to feel older. I feel the heat underneath my shirt. The sweat dripping down my body. I feel naked. Vulnerable. Where are all the cabs in Ilorin this afternoon? I hate to wait. I begin to pace. Not pace, but then pacing. I do not know if my anger is directed at the right entity.
5. It is 7:22am. I am at the park along airport rd. I am going to Ibadan. I’m wondering if taking the drivers word is wisdom. He says when I get to Ojoo, I should enter Iwo Road. The cry “Ejo edakun e fun Mi l’owo” interrupts my thought. The boy followed me here. I feeI like somebody interrupted my sleep on a Saturday morning. I want to think in peace. I look in my hand. I give him the thirty naira, so he can leave. And then I remember that verse in the Bible. The story where Christ teaches on prayer. It’s Luke 11.
I wonder, maybe I’m not praying enough.
“My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (Romans 15:12-13; NIV)
I am not an expert on matters dealing with feelings and concepts. But the idea of love as a concept fascinates me. The above verse when read starting from verse 10 speaks of something beyond the superficial, it a sublime life story of a man, who choose to die for His friends. A man who thought his friends worthy, willingly sacrificed himself for them.
I once heard a story of man who constantly was filled with jealousy and rage over his wife’s beauty the he constantly accused her of infidelity. And daily she would tell him, “I married you, it is you I love”. As the story has it, one day he returns home from work meets his wife and daughter in the living room chatting away. He requests to speak with her in the room. She walks in and he shuts the door, opens his brief case and brings out a small bottle. He empties the contents of the bottle on his wife; her face disfigured for life from that acid bath. And years and years after when the little girl is older, the man who walked out of the house after the act of cruelty sends a letter to the family he hurt and abandoned. He is alone now, dying of cancer, he begs his wife to let him come home, that she might take care of him. His daughter now narrating this story cannot comprehend her mother who is willing to take the man back.
I think this is what love is; Loving those that do not deserve it; loving those who hurt us and spitefully use and abuse us. It’s like we can comfortably say, loving is not what we do when it’s comfortable and acceptable; it’s most powerful when we love those who do not deserve it.
Christ was careful to answer the question of which was the the most important commandment. He said ,”love the Lord the God and the second is like it, love your neighbour as I have loved you. On this two all the other commandments stand”.
Apostle Paul, in his First epistle to the corinthians defines love with this simple everyday words: “love is kind…it is not self seeking, it keeps no record of wrong. (13:4,5; NIV). He further explains the characteristics of love in this verse, “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (7; KJV).
In the reality of it, it is almost impossible to love. Even when you are able to transcend your self, and become effacing, putting the other first (Phil 2:3-4), people will still doubt you, and “perceive” that you as having an ulterior motive
Take this personal situation for instance.
I called a friend and after quick pleasantries, said she was in the middle of something and would call me back in ten -twenty minutes. She called back 10-15 hours later apologising. My, “it’s not a big deal” feed back got her vexed. She was expecting that I’d be crossed at her. Any right thinking person, would have thought, she got so busy and forgot. She thought I took offence and was not happy that I was not saying my mind.
The cruelty that lurks the reality of our daily existence makes it seem so unnatural to be kind. Kindness is rare. Its almost like contrarieties; Human being and kindness. But we cannot allow society define us. Our relationship with God should define how we relate with others, not the other way round. I know people who are loving, people who would go the whole nine yards when you have only asked for a walk across the lawn and they would do it over and over, even when it is most uncomfortable. Friends should love regardless; brothers should give without expectation because that is the example God set, and Jesus followed suit.
This is the conclusion of the matter, quoting Tim LaHaye, “Love cannot simple wait to give”.