When Attitude Makes the Difference: FAITH

Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman was a case of evangelism with great result. At the beginning of His conversation with the woman, it was obvious that they were not on the same page, while Jesus was talking about spiritual living water; the woman had natural water in mind. But the fact that she didn’t really understand him didn’t distract Jesus; He just kept on with the conversation as if they perfectly understood each other. Jesus pushed on until the woman caught a revelation. This attitude of Jesus is pure demonstration of faith. When there is no indication that what you’re doing is making impact but you keep pressing ahead in anticipation of your desired result, it shows you believe in what you’re doing, it proves you are full of faith and hope and love.
The Samaritan woman said, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet”. This revelation was enough for the woman, who immediately went to tell as many people as she could about Jesus. The people followed her, met with Jesus and begged Him to stay with them. For two days, they listened to Jesus preach and they all believed that He was the Messiah they have been waiting for all their lives.
Jesus didn’t perform any signs and wonders for these people, He just spoke to them and they believed. The revelation that He was a prophet was enough for them. Nicodemus and his fellow Jewish leaders caught the same revelation but it wasn’t enough for them. Nicodemus said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:2)
Dear FOJ, What is your attitude to the move of God in this time that we’re living in? What is your attitude to the word of God that you hear from the pulpit? How do you respond to the word of God that you read personally in the privacy of your home? Do you believe or do you ask like Nicodemus; “how can these things be? Examine your heart, it is not enough to diligently religious, there is no reward for that.

“But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

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A Pound of Flesh

Sometimes, situations and circumstances that we find ourselves in put us in a vulnerable position. This is a place where others get the opportunity to take advantage of us emotionally, physically, spiritually, materially or sexually. All is not well with us, we have needs that should be met, we feel empty, alone and scared. And worse, we don’t know what to do. We do know what we need; some money, food, clothes, shoes, a spouse, a child, accommodation, a job and or other things that can no longer pass as basic but grandeur! We also know the right way these things should come but they are not forth coming. Only the options are available. We say no to these options because they are ungodly and try to stand our grounds, in the light of the word of God which we have embraced. A few of us are able to pull through, but some of us eventually fall.

It’s not always a case of difficult situations and circumstances; sometimes we are just careless, foolish or vain. And this leads to a fall. After a fall, the guilt-hunt begins. This could linger on for years, especially for those who believe in discipline, excellence and a sincere relationship with God and man. Over and over again we catch ourselves saying, “How could I have done that? I can’t believe I could be that irresponsible!” We ask God for forgiveness but never truly believe that we are forgiven. We shouldn’t have done what we did and it feels like we deserve to live with the guilt for the rest of our lives. At best we try to push “our sin” out of our minds. If we don’t remember it, then we are free. Unfortunately our minds always bring back the pictures.

It’s difficult to accept God’s forgiveness when we believe we don’t deserve it.

We look around and see a few of our brothers and sisters who went through trying periods without falling and we wonder, if they could do it, why couldn’t we? We believe God must love them more than he loves us because they are definitely superior to us. They are the ones that have a right to preach to unsaved souls. We have lost our right to do so. Of course you want to lie low, you don’t want to call any attention to yourself and risk someone finding out about your sins. So you operate in the body of Christ like an invincible spirit, like a mere ghost. Like that, you think you’re safe. But are you free? Jesus said, “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8 vs. 36)

There is no place in scripture where we are told God places more value on the life of someone  who has never committed any sin or made any mistakes over that of someone who has. And there is no place in scripture where we are made to understand that God does not or will not forgive us when we sin or make mistakes. God does not demand from us a pound of flesh the moment we fall, men do. God does not try to blackmail us for as long as we live because we fell, men do. So, what does God demand? It’s something called repentance.

Repentance does not mean the one thing many of us want it to mean which is saying, “Lord I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,” only for us to do it again and again and again. Neither does it mean feeling sorry for ourselves. It means acknowledging our sins, confessing it to the Lord and never returning to our vomit. Now that we are clear on that, the question is, how easy is it to truly repent? The truth is it takes the grace of God.

The first thing we need to do is submit our will to God. It is important for God to know that we are on His side, that we genuinely love and want to please him. If this is the case, no matter how confused, deluded, weak and helpless, we are, God will devise a way to help us. He will provide a way of escape. If we are sensitive, we will discover it, and if we are wise, we will follow it.

One thing is sure, our birth physically and our rebirth spiritually is for a purpose. There is something definite and special that God wants each of us to achieve for mankind and life is too short for us to let guilt or our sinful nature get in the way.  If we fall, we can rise back to our feet, find strength and courage in God’s love and let Christ’s light shine through us again.

 

 

Expressing faith on behalf of others.

Some people took a paralytic man to Jesus for healing; Jesus saw their faith and healed the sick man. The paralytic man didn’t take himself to Jesus, it was not his faith that Jesus saw but he got the healing. Sometimes, people who need help won’t be able to take responsibility for themselves, a group of people who care will have to get up and take charge.  This is the ministry of intercession; the intercessory ministry is a place where every true believer must be willing to go. It is a place of love and compassion, a place of trust and faith in God, a place where the power and anointing of God is encountered. It is a place of victory over demonic powers, a place of deliverance and everlasting release from satanic bondage. It is a place of restoration; restoration of life, peace, health, wealth, lost glory, destiny. It is a place where light triumphs over darkness.

The first thing Jesus said to the paralytic man was not “get up and walk”, rather it was, “son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you.” Jesus first rendered the paralysis paralyzed by taking away its strong reason for grounding the body of that man. What is that strong reason? It is our sinful nature. Our sinful nature opens the door for the devil to step into our lives and afflict us however way he pleases. God is our maker and our heavenly Father, the only one who can protect us from the attack of the devil but unfortunately, sin alienates us from Him and that was why Jesus had to take care of that challenge first.

When Jesus said, “son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven”, He was saying, I hereby acquit you from every offence for which you are serving this jail term. And He was saying, darkness flee, for light has come. After which He said, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” in essence, the Lord was saying, you are released forever, go back home to your loved ones. Let them see you and be happy again. He was saying, go and be useful to yourself, to your community and to your God, once again. And this was made possible because some people felt concerned enough to care for a miserable paralytic man.

Dear FOJ, do you care about others enough to put your faith to work on their behalf?

What would people say?

It is not always easy to do good. Unless of course, if you’re never afraid of being judged wrongly. Sometimes I am. I remember a day I almost tipped a cobbler but didn’t just because it was in the market place and I thought people were watching. I was afraid some of them might start wondering what I was trying to prove if I offered fifty naira to the boy who had taken his time to fix my slippers neatly and charged only twenty naira. I imagined them talking behind my back a good sixty minutes after I’d left. I imagined them saying nasty things like:

“Some people get money to waste o.”

“Which money she get? She get car? No bi trek she trek commot for here?

“The thing wey even pain me pass be say, as she don give the boy fifty naira now, the boy fit start to think say na fifty naira him suppose to dey charge everybody.”

“na wa o, na so trouble go dey sleep, yanga go go wake am.”

But the thing is, it was possible that no one was paying any attention to me in the sense that I thought they were so that whatever I chose to pay the cobbler might have gone unnoticed. But in the end I settled for the surest possible way to avoid unnecessary attention to myself. I paid the cobbler twenty naira. In retrospect, I thought that I should never do that again.

It is not only right but necessary to do good. The good that others receive from us enrich their lives and invariably, ours. Apostle Paul summed up the ministry of Jesus on earth as, “doing good.” (Acts 10:38). Imagine if Jesus had thought, what would people say and because of that shy away from fulfilling His ministry? A Yoruba adage says, “A messenger is only obligated to fear he who sent him and never the person to whom he has been sent.”

Jesus had ample reasons to be reluctant to fulfill His ministry. Firstly, members of His immediate family did not believe in Him, (see john 7: 5). Secondly, the people God sent Him to directly did not believe in Him. Thirdly, when He opens His mouth to speak, it seems to be talking way above the heads of His listeners. And fourthly, He didn’t have the blessings of Israel’s religious leaders.

Jesus went about doing good at the risk of His own life. Many wanted Him to shut up but He cried out on the streets, in the synagogue, everywhere! And it paid up! John 7:40 says, “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying said, “Truly, this is the prophet.” And john 7:46 says, “The officers answered; “No man ever spoke like this man.”

Dear FOJ, do you have a ministry gift that you’ve been shying away from using because you doubt if people will appreciate whatever you do? If your answer is yes, it is time for you to get up and do good.

Romans 12:6a says, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…”

And how do you use your gift? “In proportion to your faith,”-Romans 12:6b. We are to use our gift by starting small and watching whatever we are doing grow.

On the 27th of July, 2010, I watched an interview of gospel singer/producer, Nedine Blom on cable TV; I was blessed by what she had to say about using one’s gift to the glory of God. I will leave you with a few lines from that inspiring interview.

Nedine said:

“When God releases you into your calling then you shouldn’t really worry about the people thing.”

And she added:

“Initially I was worried about standing in front of people to sing. I thought some of them would say, “Nah, she can’t really sing,” while others will say, “well, she’s trying.”

And finally:

“The most important thing is obedience; obeying what God has asked you to do,

The bigger picture.

Greater than the need to attain our deepest desires, passion, or pleasure, is the urgency to have God’s plan and purpose fulfilled in and through our lives. You and I can keep a dairy but we must bear in mind that God is keeping one too. Beyond our personal dreams is His dream, the dream for which he gave us life and to which our lives should therefore conform.

Looking at the life of Jacob, from the moment he set eyes on Rachel, it would seem that he had found his dream. She was his passion and after she died, her children amongst all others, became his passion.

For Jacob, it was love at first sight. The moment he saw Rachel, he knew he wanted to marry the beautiful girl and start a family. He was so sure about this that he spoke with her father and although it took fourteen years before he finally earned full right to her, Jacob felt it was worth it.

If all Jacob ever achieved in life was to love Rachel and her children, it would have been enough for him. But it wouldn’t have been enough for God. God had a plan; you could call it the bigger picture. God’s plan was to raise a nation, a people he could call his own, amongst all the peoples of the earth. Because of that plan, he went in search of Abraham, an old man, with an old wife, both of whom had passed the age of child bearing. That special plan of God brought about the miracle of conception in old age. Sarah gave birth to Isaac at the age of ninety-one.

With the birth of Isaac, God’s plan, like a seed planted in the earth, began to grow. The process of growth continued with the birth of Esau and Jacob; a twin. But only one of the twins was in the programme of God, as far as the development of His plan was concerned. That twin was Jacob. Whether or not Jacob was aware of the promise God made to Abraham, he certainly didn’t know how exactly he was going to fit into that plan. So the young man was living his life, following his own heart desires. When he saw Rachel, he wanted her to be the mother of his children. He didn’t want Leah, he didn’t want Bilhah, Rachel’s maid and he was definitely fine without Zilpah, Leah’s maid. In his eyes, Rachel was all he wanted, all he needed, but in the plan of God, Jacob was going to be the father of twelve princes.

It is very possible for Rachel to give birth to twelve sons for Jacob, if we do some research we will find that at different times, in different parts of the world, there are women who have given birth to twelve, fourteen children; all boys. So it was very possible for Rachel to give birth to the twelve princes of Israel, but it didn’t happen that way.

Leah gave birth to six sons; Reuben, Simon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulon. Rachel had two sons; Joseph and Benjamin. Bilhah, Rachel’s maid had Dan and Naphtali. Zilpah, Leah’s maid had Gad and Asher; all together they made up the twelve princes of Israel.

It would seem that a man’s life is totally his business, that the time he spends here on earth should be about expressing himself, pursuing what he perceives to be his passion, acquiring what he desires and having absolutely nothing to do with what he doesn’t have the slightest spark for. But as we find out through the life of Jacob, it’s not entirely about us, what we want or don’t want, because somebody had a dream that someone like us should be here.

God said, “let us make man in our own image”. Man is the dream of God, and for that dream, there is a plan and purpose, so beyond what any of us want or do not want, there is always a bigger picture. There is always something that God wants to use our lives to achieve within his plan for creation. Sometimes what looks like a mistake or an accident or a shocking event is all part of the bigger picture.

God was not ignorant of the fact that Rachel was the “apple of Jacob’s eyes”, yet he didn’t prevent her from dying prematurely. God was aware of how much Jacob loved Joseph, yet the boy was separated from his doting father much too early in life. Jacob mourned for years, thinking that his dear son was dead. But the boy was in Egypt, busy fitting into his own part of the bigger picture.

If God opens our eyes to see the bigger picture we will see how shallow our dreams are compared to His. To experience true happiness, we need to live each day conscious of the fact that this whole business of being here in the first place was His idea and is therefore, beyond us.