“Which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1: 11

Announcement is a noun which is an act of announcing or being announced. It can be a public notification or declaration or a piece of formal stationery designed for a social or business announcement.

An announcement may be heard on the news on radio or from social or business, gatherings at home, school or church. It can also be read from the papers, seen on television or on the internet; just as you are reading this article now.

Imagine a scenario where you are in your home with your family and friends sitting comfortably on the chairs you have just bought for your living room. There you are waiting to eat the special dinner being prepared by your mum and watching an excellent action/thriller movie. Suddenly the programme changes and a ‘Breaking News’ comes up with the following announcement: ‘there is a storm coming within the next 7 hours and it will pass through your city in the middle of your house evacuation required’. The announcement is telling you to leave all and escape for your life…

WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Would you run immediately, or first eat the special dinner your mother has prepared with so much love or would you like to finish your movie with your friends or decide to continue to enjoy your new set of chairs?  The questions are too many to answer within the short time you have got to save your life!

When we are anchored on the things of this world, it just makes it difficult for us to hear that sweet and gentle voice calling us at the right time to be saved. There is something inside of us, a special place in our being that can only be completely satisfied by the presence of God. There are too many people trying to fill this vacuum with drugs and other things but to no avail. Only Jesus can fill that emptiness and He is coming very soon.

The announcement for a concert coming up from a great artist always begins earlier than that of a little artist. When a king from another land is visiting, the information abounds everywhere. There is that greatest Announcement of all, Jesus Christ the Son of God is coming soon, Yes, He is coming back and we are in the preparation period. It will be the greatest event ever because, for some, it is times of starting eternal life while it will be a time of eternal destruction for the others. 

What you should do now is to leave everything you are doing and follow the instructions in the Bible to save your life. You may be comfortable with the life you have now, but is it worth losing your soul forever without making adequate preparation for eternity in heaven?

Would you like to enjoy that Movie, and lose your life?

Would you like to enjoy your mother’s dinner and lose your life?

Would you go contrary to the desires of Jesus Christ in other to please your friends? 

The signs are everywhere for the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is not worth taking this announcement for granted because you will be in danger of eternal damnation if you ignore, scorn or have a nonchalant attitude.

May the Good Lord Save your soul and keep it, purifying you and edify you according to His grace. May these words be a blessing for you wherever you go, and remember that this is the greatest announcement of all the announcements you have ever seen, read or heard:

Jesus Christ is coming soon, to take away the ones who have lived in the real Word of God. Remember that believing on the Lord and living in the Word of God day by day are the ingredients needed to make heaven.

I will tell you this in Spanish:

‘No todo el que me dice: Señor, Señor, entrara en el reino de los cielos, sino el que hace la voluntad de mi Padre que esta en los cielos.” Matheww 7: 21

‘Praise ye the Lord’ Psalm 113:1

In Psalm 113:1-3, Christians are admonished to praise the Lord forevermore. It is our duty as well as our privilege. You are advised to set aside all your conditions, situations, and requests in order to focus on God the Giver and praise Him for who He is.  Praise is different from thanksgiving which is an expression of gratitude for the blessings that we have received from God. May we not be replaced with stones for not performing our duty of praising God.

When we praise God, we acknowledge His glories and the excellence of His personality. We focus on His attributes, His greatness, His goodness, His mighty acts and His sovereignty because praise belongs to God alone and not man. There is nothing in man to be praised. In order to avert the fall of God’s judgment, we should not accept the praises of men. “I am the Lord that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another,” (Isaiah 42: 8). God will never share His glory with any man. The Bible recorded that “upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration [spoke]… and the people gave a shout, saying it is the voice of a god and not of a man.” Acts 12: 21. Herod proudly accepted the praise and he was immediately smitten for thousands and thousands of worms to eat him up. Remember, praise belongs to God alone and not man.

God says in Isaiah 43: 21: “This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise” It is His will, therefore, that we praise Him. We are created to praise, acknowledge and appreciate God for His glory, honour, greatness and majesty. May God forgive us our sins of lack of praise.

How about self-praise? You are like a beast if you have pride in your heart and fail to acknowledge God. If you think that you are somebody, you have something, or you know everything, you have actually died spiritually. But thank God that we can repent and avoid the punishment from God for not acknowledging Him.

The power of praise worked in my life recently. I fell ill with hernia pain when I travelled to Scotland with my wife and brother Baltzell, the Director of Works from Portland Oregon. I could not continue with the sightseeing so I just sat down somewhere praying and beseeching God to heal me. God started dealing with me in such a way that I just had to acknowledge His greatness and His praise filled my mouth so much that the hernia pain departed. If it worked for me, it will work for you if you put everything aside and focus on who God is.

Praise Jesus using His names like, the Most High, the Great Physician, the Commander, the Captain, the Everlasting, the Almighty, the Great I AM, Jehovah, the Living God, the Holy One, the Only Potentate, the King of Kings, the Father of Light, His Excellency, His Highness, the Good Shepherd, the Righteous Judge, the Preserver, El- Shaddai, All-Sufficient, the Creator, the Defender, the Self- Existent, the Alpha and Omega, Love personified. Praise Him for His natural attributes like: Incomparable, Invisible, Inscrutinable, Unchangeable, Unequal, Unsearchable, The Infinite God, the Omnipotent God, the Omnipresent God, the Omniscient God, the Only Wise God; and also for His moral attributes; His Holiness, His Impartiality, His Kindness, His Justice, His Love and Grace, His Mercy, His Truth, His Goodness, His Righteousness and Perfection. In fact, praise Jesus for everything.

‘Let Brotherly Love Continue’ Hebrews 13:1

In John 13:34-35, Jesus laid down a new commandment for all – a commandment for love. It is actually a renewed commandment of the old. Love is an attitude that wins all the time. The boundless love of God is winning attitude. Reading through Matthew 22:36-50, we can see that the love that Jesus was speaking about has two sides as with a coin: loving God is equal to loving your brother.

The Old Testament love demands us to “love thy neighbours as thyself”. But when Jesus came, He improved on this by raising the standard. He renewed the commandment to say that we are to love our neighbours as He (Jesus) loves us. We are to love our brothers even more than ourselves.

To what extent should this love be? Let us look at what the Bible says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” 1 John 3:16.

Do we love the brethren and our neighbours to the extent of laying down our lives for them? Yes! To lay down our lives for our brothers! That is the extent we are to love. God has the power, resources and grace to help us meet this standard.

“Charity never faileth” 1 Corinthians 13: 8

 

Those who claim to love each other sometimes demand proof of that love by asking each other repeatedly ‘Do you love me? Do you really love me? Do you really, really love me?” These legitimate questions are aimed at reaching deep into the heart and getting assurances from the partner.

Love generates genuine commitment to and sometimes concerns the object of one’s attention. It also generates huge controversy! Love is a universal language of life. It is esteemed by people of all ages and creed. It has been the theme of many songs and stories among peoples, young or old, learned or illiterate, civilised or barbaric throughout the ages. Doctrines and creeds have been built, sometimes wrongly, upon its precepts.

Love is a divine virtue. It is the nature of God. All creation responds to love. All love to be loved. None fights or rejects love. We even dare to love our pets and they respond to it (Proverbs 12:10). We are all creatures of love and our children are usually created out of a love union. We love to have something to love, sometimes even if it means loving to hate something! But to do away with love is to do away with life since love is synonymous with life in a true sense. Love knows no bound. Love cannot count its own cost because it is invaluable. It is not limited by physical boundaries of time or space; and as the Vietnamese say, “true love lasts forever”. That is, love does not fail.

Many have killed others and/or themselves in the name of love. There was a recently reported story of Christopher Foster, the bankrupt millionaire who murdered his family, set his estate on fire and killed himself, after attending a friend’s party earlier that evening. Unfortunately, hatred which is an equally powerful emotion can occasionally veil itself as love. However, pure love does not think of evil or plan ill to anyone, let alone kill any. Though he may be killed that loves much, he still loves. Pure love comes from God, and love without him is superficial. Romans 12: 9. Love fulfils all laws. Do you have it?

Practical self-check: Replace Charity or Love first with Jesus Christ in I Corinthians 13: 4- 8 and then with your own name. Rate yourself. What do you think? 

(To be continued)

Our last Sunday school lesson of 2008 was very instructive. It looked at the story of twelve men sent by the Israelites to Canaan to spy out the land and bring back a report. In a way, we could say that the Israelites were looking for a window into the future. What would this new land be like? Would it be fruitful? Are there hidden dangers there? These anxieties came despite the backdrop of God’s promise to give them the land for an inheritance, and His description of Canaan as a land “flowing with milk and honey.”

The spies carried out their assignment and duly came back with a report confirming everything God had promised. They said: “..and surely it flowed with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.” Num. 13:27 However, ten of the twelve went beyond their remit and delivered a frightening and discouraging description of the inhabitants of the land causing commotion and consternation in the camp. This was to have a devastating effect on the future of generations of Israelites who, through this faithless report, were going to miss entry to the Promised Land.

The “facts” were as they reported. There were indeed “giants” living in the land. Their interpretation of the fact was faulty. They were not expected to go against the giants “in their own strength”. God, as always, had planned their victory way ahead of their observation of the “facts”. Please note that two of their number, Caleb and Joshua, refused to be intimidated by the facts. With eyes of faith, they saw beyond the giants to the “possession of the land”. Their rallying cry was “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” Num. 13:30

This lesson made me ponder, as we travel through these early days of 2009, about what we as children of God can see ahead. The “facts” of the credit crunch and global depression of great economies stare us in the face. The predictions of all our economic gurus agree on one inescapable fact. There is trouble ahead! The continuing collapse of many blue-chip companies that have been around for centuries and the failures of banks and other financial institutions testify to the accuracy of their predictions.

Yet, our God is still on the throne! Hallelujah!! He still “rules in the affairs of men!” Praise the Lord!

I know that 2009 will be an eventful year. There is no doubt about that. I am expecting great things that God will do. “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

I know that God will chart our way through the stormy waters ahead. Our Captain is the Master of the waves. With Jesus in the boat with us, we have no cause for alarm. I see great possibilities ahead. New jobs and promotions will come, even in the midst of a shrinking job market. I see great Christians moving into a greater dimension in 2009.

I just wonder what you can see with your eyes of faith this new year.

Life seems fine and exciting when we receive the answers we want to all our requests. This three-lettered word “YES” makes the world around us nice and exciting. When a young man asks a lady for her hand in marriage, he wants to hear this three-lettered word. When a child asks his/her parents for something, he/she wants to hear “YES” you can.

We as Christians put forward various requests to our Father in heaven and of course, we want to hear this word YES. That way, we feel our prayers are answered, and we praise Him and testify to His goodness and we love Him more. We all love positive responses as it feels good and it makes us feel happy and satisfied.

However, have you ever stopped to think of other positive answers that are not usually accepted as positive, for example, wait or what I call the two lettered word “NO”. Like any good parent, YES is not always the best answer all the time, otherwise, you may bring up a spoilt child or run the risk of pampering the child if he/she has his/ her way all the time.

So also our loving Father in heaven loves us and wants us to grow and be spiritually strong. So sometimes He says NO. What do you do then? Will you praise Him and testify and be happy?

In the beginning, when God created the world, we can imagine Adam and Eve saying “Can we eat of all the trees in the garden”, but God said: “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Genesis 3:3

This was the first” NO” from God but they disobeyed Him. We can see what has happened to mankind – sin and sorrow, disease and death and the earth was cursed.

“And unto Adam, He said, because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt, thou eat of it all the days of thy life;” Genesis 3:17

When Jesus prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane He asked God to take this cup from Him. Imagine if God had said “YES”. We would have all perished. But because God said “NO”, Jesus died on that shameful cross; the result was the wonderful grace of salvation offered to you and me.

Another example is when David besought God for the child; David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth but God said NO and the child died. Let us learn from what David did after this. He rose up, washed himself, ate and went to the house of God and worshipped and was happy. Here David accepted the answer NO and submitted to God’s will. It is sometimes difficult but as we begin to know God more and accept that He knows what is best for us, life becomes easier. Later Solomon was born this is what God had to say about him.

“But a son will be born to you; he will be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies, for his name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign.” I Chronicles 22:9

Just as a parent would not allow his child to have things that will harm or hurt him, God, as a loving Father knows what is good for us. God knows that by saying No to some of our requests we would grow up to be better children and that we would learn some good lessons that will prepare us for heaven and make us strong Christians, ready to fight the good fight of faith.

I stopped by a tree the other day as I heard little birds chirping and jumping from one branch to the other; without a care in the world. A song just came into my mind, “He watches over the sparrows, and I know He watches me.”

Wow! Immediately, I remembered a verse in the Bible: “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26).

Can you imagine how we human beings worry and fret; even though we claim to have a heavenly Father who cares for His own? Moreover, we know that worries cannot change our circumstances. May we learn from the birds not to worry.

 

To avoid worry, let us remember today these wonderful promises of care from God: ‘Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear what man shall do unto me’ (Hebrews 13:5-6). So “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

The All-knowing, All-powerful God has the perfect plan for our lives. That plan is better than any deal the devil, cultists, or any man can offer us in this world (John10:10). In it, we are completely and comprehensively insured. It is greater than the greatest insurance cover in the world. It is a master plan that covers every aspect of our existence from day one in our mothers’ wombs to the day we take our last bow from the world stage. (Jeremiah 1:4, 5)

 Our individual role in life is unique and specially designed by God. There is an empty vacuum in history for each one of us to fill. The scripts to act out before this global audience are differently composed by God. It would therefore be disastrous, catastrophic, ruinous and devastating for anyone to ignore their God-given role and try to play out that of another person!

 

Unfortunately, many of us do not understand God’s plans for our lives. Some people spend their entire lives trying to live like the Joneses. What a waste? Many never discovered God’s design for their lives until the 11th hour when they are in the twilight of their lives. How painful?

The adage says: ‘Better late than never!’ Moses was 80 years of age when he discovered God’s perfect plan for his life. Before then, he had spent the first 40 years as a prince in Egypt, and the next 40 as a pauper in Midian. He had made mistakes and had derailed from the path of destiny. Nevertheless, he got re-connected to his destiny. In my own case, I had spent a significant chunk of my life, doing stuff that God had not called me to do, and living a lifestyle that heaven did not design for me. What about you?

Are we at the centre of God’s will for our lives? As we evaluate ourselves in the light of scripture and God’s will, can we honestly say that we are doing exactly what God created us for, and living exactly as we ought to be living at this point in time? 

If we are not living in line with the Divine mandate for our lives, or we are consciously or unconsciously choosing to do things our own way, we are directly or indirectly passing some strong messages to God: that we know better than Him; that we really do not care about His purpose and plan for us and that we are too busy to care about why He created us in the first place.

We need to work out our own salvation as ignorance is no excuse. Our destiny is too important to be left to chance. God will hold us accountable for how we lived our lives (Matthew 25:14-30). It is our solemn responsibility to discover our place in God’s Great Agenda and then go all out to fulfil it. May God help us.

“As the saying goes; there are two important days in one’s life: the day you were born, and the day you find out why you were born.” Soren Kierkegaard

‘Hear My Voice, and …follow Me’ John 10.27

In the office where I work, there are a number of cupboards and fire safes that are locked overnight for security, and each morning, the first one is to open them up. In my first week in the job, the occasion arose for me to open the cupboards. I soon discovered that the fire safes were particularly difficult to open. I was about to give up when a colleague told me the trick. ‘Turn the key slowly and listen for the click’. I listened to the advice, and sure enough, after a few turns I heard a slight ‘click’, and ‘hey presto!’ the door opened.

It made me think about how we Christians feel inclined to give up on certain prayer requests because the doors are not opened. We need to ‘turn slowly’ – spend more time in prayer, and not just ask, but spend time to actually listen to the Lord for a ‘click’.

We find it easy to talk on and on at the Lord, but in fact, prayer is two-way communication. The Lord has many things to say to us too. The ‘click’ on that fire safe door is ever so slight – you can only hear it when you are close to it and there is not much noise around. It is important that we find a quiet time and place to hear from the Lord. Oh, what a challenge in these days of mega-busy schedules! ‘ And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone’ Matthew 14:23. Jesus managed it – so should we!

The first time I opened the fire safe I had to turn a few times before the ‘click’. Sometimes we may not receive a definite answer right away, but we must persevere like the widow with the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8), listening and believing that the Lord will answer. ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.’ Matthew 7:7-8.

Now when I am first into the office and I go to open the fire safe, I have no trouble with it. It has almost become second nature because I have gotten used to listening out for the click. The more time we spend with the Lord, the more we will be familiar with His voice. ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me John 10:27

Don’t give up – listen for the ‘click’!

 

One day my mum told me to iron a skirt. The skirt was very creased, I knew that it was going to be hard to iron, but I still attempted to do it without advice. After several attempts to iron the skirt, the creases were still there and no change was visible. I started to get frustrated and decided to iron the skirt on the floor, as the surface was flat and I thought that it would make the job easier.

The job became easier but the skirt collected the dirt from the floor. My mum was not pleased with me and she told me to go and wash the dirt off the skirt. The following day I was asked to iron the skirt again. This time I cared to ask for advice and I was told that if I made the skirt a bit damp, it would make the ironing much easier. I obeyed this instruction and the skirt was smoothly ironed in less than 10 minutes.

The same way today we are given instructions by God, but instead of asking Him how we should carry out these instructions, we tend to do them ourselves and forget about God. When everything does not go to plan we get frustrated and look for an easy way out. This is not the will of God and he is not happy with us and may sometimes scold us. But if God gives us something to do and we don’t know how to go about it, if we ask Him He will direct us on how to do it.

TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL THINE HEART; AND LEAN NOT UNTO THINE OWN UNDERSTANDING. IN ALL THY WAYS ACKNOWLEDGE HIM, AND HE SHALL DIRECT THY PATHS. (PROVERB 3:5, 6)

‘As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,’ Romans 8:14.

 

‘All things bright and beautiful

All creatures great and small  

All things wise and wonderful

The Lord God made them all.’

 

God made us different and we should celebrate our differences and allow God to sanctify our personality to be used for His glory.

                                       Extrovert=Spiritovert=Introvert

 

Psychologists describe two main personality types as extroverts and introverts depending generally on their abilities to process and respond to different information.

Extroverts are directed to the objective world while introverts are directed towards the subjective world. Extroverts are talkative, open minded and easily adapted to new friends, groups and environment. Introverts, on the other hand, are interested in their own thoughts and feelings. They keep their own territories, enjoy being alone, appear reserved, quiet and thoughtful. They have difficulty making friends and they are like icebergs; what you see on the surface is only a small per cent of their entire selves, you always have to look for the substance underneath. Introverts do not easily like to change decisions but are good listeners and methodical, whereas extroverts are vibrant, warm, emphatic, people-persons, curious and they are almost predictable.

All personality types are good, but they must be given over to the spirit to be used to the glory of God. We make decisions based on our ideas, thoughts and personality types. These decisions must be spirit driven in other to properly qualify us as sons and daughters of God.

I am led to use the term ‘spiritovert’ if we have yielded our personality type, life, actions, deeds, thoughts and all to be controlled and driven by the spirit of God.

We need to become ‘spiritoverts’ in order to please our Father in Heaven. We start with the radical change of the born again experience. The Spirit of God transforms our spirits through Jesus Christ, ‘for without me (Jesus) ye can do nothing.’ John 15: 5

Jesus is the fullness of God in the body. So to be led of the Spirit, we will first need to empty ourselves through repentance, relying on the Blood of Jesus to wash us clean. Then He who is the perfect God and perfect Man will fill us with His own Spirit leading and divine nature. Only then can we be spiritoverts and be fulfilled.

We Christians are sometimes affected by our personality types and these hinder our spiritual growth. We need to continually rely on the Holy Spirit for directions and instructions from the word of God as we pray and exercise our faith in God. May God help you and me to be always led by His Spirit.

“And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren. And he said: Bring me a new cruse and put salt therein. And they brought it to him. And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land. So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake”. II Kings 2: 19 – 22

 

God speaks and things are happening to the tune of the signs of times. In my house lately, we were surrounded by flies akin to those plagues in Egypt and were very distressed. We searched the whole house and the surroundings for the source of these flying insects but to no avail. This went on for a couple of months spending a lot of money on fly sprays and cleaning the house thoroughly looking in all the wrong places.

One blessed day, after a lot of consecration and prayers, the Holy Spirit led me against all oppositions to the source of the problem: a dead squirrel rotting away in the loft. Oh! What a pleasant good-bye as the garbage men took that rubbish away that week.

We oftentimes go around our problems and issues neglecting the source. In II Kings 2:19-22, Elisha went to the source to heal the waters of Jericho. He could have achieved nothing if he had gone to the delta or the downstream of the river. In Joshua chapter 7, Joshua removed the source of shame and defeat in Israel when Achan and his household were exposed and eliminated for their sins of disobedience and covetousness. In Luke 8:26-33, Jesus dealt with the Gadarene demoniac by casting out the legion of evil spirits tormenting him. It is worthy to note that Jesus did not bind and cast out the man but the powers that held him in bondage.

We are hereby admonished to take time to identify our problems and difficulties and once they are identified, to pray to God to deal with them. We are instructed never to avoid or pretend to be unaware of the origin of our problems. If you are confident about the real source, take the giant step by pleading the blood of Jesus that was shed on Calvary for your deliverance.

The Bible says that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers. Our focus, therefore, should be to report the case to Jesus who is above these powers instead of fighting human beings that might have been helplessly possessed by these evil spirits. Prayer will allow us to know if the source is from God like in Job’s case. In such situations God will, if you allow him, deal with the problem in His own way, time and manner but be aware that not all sources of events that happen to us are from God.

Our Christian journey becomes easier if we are connected to Jesus – the source of life. This connection starts with the confession leading to forgiveness of our sins and promising never to return to them again. If after salvation, we have issues, we search for the source using the Bible as our searchlight. If we are the source, we can humbly ask for God’s mercy but if God has permitted anything to come our way as He has the right to draw our attention as He wills, we can genuinely and faithfully ask for His help with the assurance that He is in control and our burdens will definitely become lighter.

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7′

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth’s rite of Passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sunshine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.

He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man!

Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm. We, too, are never alone. Even when we don’t know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him. For we walk by faith, not by sight!

‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.’ Matthew 6:33

This verse says ‘seek first and all these things shall be added’, but it is rather strange that some people, if not all want ‘all these things’ to be added first before they seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  This certainly will not work because it is the wrong formula.

 We in the United Kingdom are familiar with the concept of ‘buy one, get one free’ used in our supermarkets as a result of market competition. Imagine someone going into a supermarket, wanting to get a free item advertised without actually buying the first one.  You would conclude that that individual has a problem! It would be a fruitless effort for that individual to try to get the free item without purchasing the first one. So it is with everyone who comes to God and instead of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, seeks all ‘these things’ such as a job, money, a spouse, children, education, protection, healing, success – the list goes on.

 How do we start to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness?  It begins by seeking reconciliation with God through repentance unto salvation.  When you come to God, you must first acknowledge that you are a sinner, confess your sins, repent of them, and promise God that by His grace you will never go into them again. You pray until you have the assurance in your soul that you have been forgiven of your sins and you confess with your mouth that you have been saved. This salvation is that which will be confirmed by the Spirit of God according to Romans 8:16 ‘The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God’.

 When this experience happens and the Spirit has confirmed your salvation, ‘ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU’.  That would be using the right formula, which will certainly work according to the Lord’s will.  It would be like going to the supermarket and buying an item labelled ‘Buy one get one free’ and then getting the second free. 

 We must seek God first and His righteousness before all these things can be added.

‘And they did not receive Him’ Luke 9:53

Nobody likes to be scorned or shunned when trying to reconcile with an enemy, but Jesus faced this when He visited the people of Samaria. Jesus had enough reasons to avoid passing Samaria because of the long tradition of the Jews despising the Samaritans and the Samaritans hating them in return. They did every possible thing to hinder one another from entering each other’s territory.

The 15 miles journey via Samaria was the shortest route to Jerusalem. Jesus, crossing prejudicial and racial boundaries, passed through Samaria to offer the Samaritans the chance to hear the Good News and receive their salvation. Heaven’s judgment of consuming fire was hanging over them, but the Lord’s unfailing mercy had been prevailing for them. Mercy refused judgment. “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning:” (Lamentation 3:22, 23). Nevertheless, they missed their chance because they did not receive Him.

A cold response to divine goodness has become a natural reaction of fallen mankind. It was recorded that Jesus came to His own people (the Jews) who had longed for a Deliverer, but they received Him not. Here the old saying, ‘familiarity breeds contempt,’ rang true. He, whom angels feared to offend, was despised by men; even His own kinsmen. However, those who received Him by merely believing in His Name received the blessings and the right to be God’s adopted children (John 1:11-13). People all over the world may consider themselves to be God’s children. They may even celebrate that we all are children of God. By creation we are, but by choice, however, we all are sinners and lead sinful lives until we genuinely ask for help from Heaven. We can choose to be God’s children through Jesus Christ alone (Galatians 3:23).

Jesus always looks for the shortest route into our hearts. But many times we show a cold response and give Him no choice but to take a longer route. Thus we delay our deliverance because we deter the Deliverer. Sometimes such delay may eventually lead to denial, death and damnation. These are the sad testimonies of those damned souls in Hell. Many have missed numerous chances of deliverance! In the same country where many rejected the Lord, a penitent woman received Jesus and persuaded others to do the same (John 4:29-30). Where people refuse Jesus, a host of others receive Him. The mission of God is not void nor without profit. If you reject Him others will receive Him. “For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true” (Romans 3:3, 4). “If we believe not, yet he (Jesus) abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2: 13).

We never know when Jesus will pass our way for the very last time. Take a brief moment to look and listen; He passes your way daily. Count the times you have shown cold response to His Spirit and messages. How many times have you turned Jesus away, even in your difficult circumstances, when He offers to help? Let us take every opportunity to receive Him into our hearts, respond positively to Him when He calls, prove we love Him by the way we live, and serve Him with fear and trembling, and maintain our relationship with jealous care (Psalms 2: 11, 12).

We need Him more than ever before especially with the evil happenings of these last days. May we believe and give Him a warm reception in our hearts! Have you a place for Jesus in your life today?

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).