Songs in the Night

“People cry out under a load of oppression; they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful. But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night, who teaches us more than he teaches the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?’ (Job 35:9‭-‬11, NIV)

The Bible verse above speaks to the struggles that people go through while often ignoring God, the One who is not only able to help them, but who has set them apart from animals by making them capable of higher reasoning. God, by this, already showed His willingness to help us in our times of need.

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Compelled by the Spirit

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. Acts 20:22 (NIV)

Have you ever gone to a place solely on account of God’s will? Or maybe taken a decision only because you were persuaded it was what God wanted? An action without benefit or profit for you, one that you have to take at great risk to your life or possessions – would you ever take that kind of action? This is what we hear Paul say in the verse above. Let’s look a little closer…

Paul was bidding the elders of the Ephesian church farewell. Convinced he would never see them again, he gave them parting words, sharing his commitment to preaching the gospel as he went from place to place. Although he lived with a lot of uncertainties, Paul knew one thing was sure – prison and hardships awaited him as he spread the gospel. Yet he was was unwavering. He was set for the defence of the gospel, willing to complete his God-given task at any cost.

Just like his master Jesus, Paul was headed to Jerusalem, knowing the danger that awaited him there, but convinced that he was being led there by God in fulfillment of purpose. He was ready to embrace pain, hardship or even death, that could become his fate as he headed to Jerusalem. He no longer counted his life dear to himself neither did he strive to preserve it – he only lived to obey the Lord’s command and follow his bidding. Like Jesus, Paul was sold out to God – a willing slave.

The lesson is clear; the application is challenging; the demand, unwavering. God wants our all – a total commitment to obeying his commands and doing his will regardless of the cost to us. Although He works with us at every stage to accomplish his purpose, God always desires for us to become more yielded by the day, letting go of everything until like Paul, we too can say, with full devotion and complete sincerity: “I consider my life worth nothing to me”.

Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 21:13 (NIV)

Further Reading: Acts 20:17-24, 21:10-14

A Requirement for Stewards

Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful (I Cor. 4:2)

The simplicity of the statement above belies its depth. Apostle Paul earlier mentioned that he should be considered a servant of Christ and steward of the mysteries of God. Then he mentions, as a matter of fact, that faithfulness is a requirement for stewards. It is indeed logical, that a steward should be found faithful. The real question is, “What does this mean for us as believers today?”

A quick word on stewardship: it is the bedrock of intentional and meaningful living. Understanding that we have nothing we did not receive, and that we are accountable to God for everything we receive from Him, helps us steer the course of our lives in the most profitable manner. Like Paul, we too are stewards of time, relationships, money, divine mysteries, and many gifts and graces imparted to us by the Lord. We are accountable to Him for what we do with all we have received.

On faithfulness, I am persuaded it is one of the most significant traits the Lord desires in the saints (who are all called to serve). That ability to stay true to what we have been asked to do and to do it with fervor, with or without glamour and fanfare, is priceless. It requires first, that one recognizes what he/she has been called to steward, just like Paul. It also requires that one possesses a commitment to finish the task regardless of how challenging it might appear.

Faithfulness in our lives is often challenged, on the one hand, by distractions, and on the other hand, by difficulty. We may be distracted by the attention we get while serving, or we could get from doing more “exciting” tasks. This requires focus on the task we are called to. We may also be discouraged by the difficulty of completing our assigned tasks, or the trials that come as a result of our service. This requires grit to stay the course as we continue our stewardship.

Both challenges described above require that we draw upon the grace of the God who calls us to serve Him as stewards in various capacities. God gives grace for us to stay faithful to our races. We must recognize our need for Him daily and commit to being faithful to our course – only then would His grace be available for us to stay faithful as stewards to the One who called us. Amen

P.S.: Seeing as this is my first post of the year, Happy New Year to all my dear readers! I wish you a prosperous and fulfilling New Year ahead!! Godspeed!!!

The Lord’s Scales

“Honest weights and scales are the Lord’s…” Prov. 16:11a

It is a wrap! As we crawl through the final hours of this exceptional year, we cannot help but look back with thanksgiving, seeing where we are in spite of the enormous challenges thrown at us as individuals, families, communities, states, and nations. No one has the manual for navigating times like these, and most of us have managed to pull through only with God’s help, arriving at the year-end safely. So regardless of what/who you may have lost through the year or what you may have been through, I’m just thankful to God you’re still alive to read this.

“…and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land” Acts 27: 44

Let me share a thought with you very quickly, hoping it will encourage you as we journey into the New Year. I’ve thinking long and hard about why I do the things I do, or why I want the things I want. Our time on earth is limited, and as 2020 has acutely demonstrated, we will all pass on from this plane someday. So why do I act the way I do? Whose approval or commendation am I seeking? And what is the basis on which I take pride in my actions? While the answers to my questions may be long and winded, God’s word is clear on what the right answers are.

I want to propose that we all act to either please ourselves, other people, or God – that these three categories summarize the motives for our plans and actions. If that is right, then it means we draw confidence that we are doing the right things from self-commendation, people-commendation, or God-commendation (permit my coinages). The trouble with being assessed or commended by others or oneself is that human standards are not even – they are based on limited knowledge and personal biases. We may commend ourselves or be approved by all men but still be wrong by God.

My recommendation instead, is that you focus on seeking to please only God. God is not just good and perfect; He is all-knowing and everlasting. He sees the end of things from the beginnings and understand the complexities of human interactions. If He approves of my actions or leads me to do certain things, I can be certain I am on the right path regardless of whether it feels good or others approve of it. I say this because taking the right decisions will not always be easy or feel good; it may even meet with heavy criticism or disdain from others. But pleasing God daily is the utmost pursuit.

So, join me as I recalibrate my decision-making process, centralizing God’s will and choosing not to be led by my own thoughts and emotions or the opinions of others. Let us determine to live out God’s will revealed in His Holy Word and seek to know His will where we need to make life choices, not driven by popular opinion, common wisdom or trending behaviors. Let us act with respect to the One in whose hands are the scales, who measures the actions and intent of all humanity and rewards each person according to their deeds.

I wish you a wonderful New Year ahead!

“…knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” Col. 3:24

P.S: I wrote an earlier related post about the Lord being the Judge, you can read it here.

Hearts and Treasures

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:21)

The Bible verse above is such a simple but deep and beautiful statement that captures the essence of human priorities. It follows a short discourse from the Lord about laying up treasures in heaven instead of earth. Jesus is teaching his disciples (including us) the importance of keeping their focus on heaven with its permanency rather than on the earth with its transience. His instruction to them is that they should “store” their treasures to the heaven.

The powerful connection between our hearts and treasures is a matter worthy of frequent meditation. Our hearts go where our treasures are, but our treasures also go where our heart is. Jesus directly suggests the first, and subtly implies the second in the passage we have quoted from. As he prepares his followers to be spiritual beings enthroned with him in heaven, he teaches them to take natural steps which help keep their focus where they truly belong.

Reading this as a born-again believer translated to God’s kingdom through Jesus’ death and resurrection, I see “storing” my treasures in heaven as a move to keep my treasures where my heart is. This is necessary because of the divine insight Jesus provided – if my treasures remain only on earth, in places where they can be stolen or destroyed, my heavenly focus would soon be distracted as I worry about what would happen to my earthly treasures.

However, if I lay my treasures in heaven by investing my earthly resources in kingdom efforts – bringing the Word of God to the souls of men, drawing people into God’s kingdom, and building them up in faith so that they stand fast and cannot be moved from the truth – then my heart (emotions, thoughts, desires) will remain focused on heaven, and my resources cannot be stolen or destroyed. To keep your heart focused on heaven, store your treasures there!

The Lord is the Judge

For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one and exalts another. (Psa. 75:6-7)

One of the many ways in which God is described in the Bible is The Judge. This means He has the final authority to give a verdict concerning any matter or any person. While humans may offer opinions and perspectives, or even suggest who is right or wrong in a matter, the final authority rests with God. Similarly, God also reserves the right to pronounce the appropriate sentence or punishment for every misdeed or He can choose to be merciful, as He often does.

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We Shall See Him As He Is

This is one of the greatest promises in the Bible, tied to the appearance of Christ at the end of this age. To see Christ as He is (not as we think or imagine him to be) implies that we will be completely free from the limitations of our human minds, which colour our perception of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It means that our hearts will be completely pure and whole. Even more exciting is the resultant reality that “we shall be like him”. Our ability to see Christ in His true form will result in us being transformed into the same form as He. Exciting!

The Bible is also clear that as we behold the glory of the risen Lord, we are transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory. This is our reality here and now. The challenge we face today is whether our eyes are unveiled as we look on the Lord. Veiled faces do not make for transformed hearts. Every veil must be taken away, and that only happens as we turn to the Lord with sincerity of hearts. Do we still hide from the Lord like Adam and Eve after the fall, or are we honest about our struggles and failures as we seek His mercy and grace?

Scripture References: I John 3:2, II Cor. 3:18

On Repentance towards God

The thing about repentance is: it always has to be backed up by an action or a proof of change. The very word, “repent”, means to turn away from an action, behaviour or way of life, and embrace an opposite or different action, behaviour, or way of life. This is why John asked the Pharisees to produce fruits worthy of repentance – evidence in lifestyle that they have truly changed their ways. They came out in their numbers to hear him preach but his challenge to them was that of a changed lifestyle. You need to show me proof!

The preaching of repentance in the gospel must always be accompanied by the preaching of faith. This is because the natural man, at his best, is not capable of living in a way that pleases God. To be convicted and desire to change is one thing. To truly take practical steps in living differently requires the power that only Jesus can give. In the words of Jesus, “You must be born again”. To be born again or empowered to live differently requires faith in the resurrected Christ. A man turning from his sins must turn to face Jesus Christ.

Scripture References: Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8, Acts 20:21, Hebrews 6:1

Give Thanks!

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (I Thess. 5:18, NIV)

Today, I want to send you a quick reminder for a very important Christian attitude: giving thanks! Giving thanks refers to speaking words of appreciation to someone for something they have done (or will do) – an expression of our gratitude to them. While I will focus on giving thanks to God, I also realize that a thankful heart towards God usually doubles as a thankful heart towards fellow human beings. As simple as it is to give thanks, it is an attitude that many have not cultivated because they have allowed their situation to determine their attitude.

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Through It All

The last few days have been difficult for a lot of Nigerians. The #EndSARS protests which started as a spontaneous reaction to police brutality became a wildfire that spread across several cities of the nation. Hoodlums began to take advantage of the protests to wreak havoc, leading to a worrisome security situation. Sadly, on the same day a curfew was declared in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, armed security forces opened fire on peaceful protesters with an unverified number of dead people and several injured. It was indeed a traumatizing experience for many.

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