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The Vantage Point

Hey! Thanks once again for stopping by at my blog. During the course of the week, some thoughts were impressed on my heart and I just perceive they are crucial to the times we live in. The thoughts are probably what you are very conversant with. Like one of my mentors aptly puts its “We are not starved of knowledge in the Body of Christ, but I think we are starved of what God really intends that the knowledge should work in us”. I hope you find a word that gives you a healthy perspective about living full lives, full in the fullness of God.

Imagine you are in a lift with the richest man in the world and you have just 30 seconds to convince him to invest in your business idea! Imagine applying for a £3,000,000 grant and you just need the right words in your proposal to convince the review board! Can you also imagine being in a combat with an opponent in a boxing ring and you are just calculating your moves to land that sucker punch that gets you the Technical Knock Out! Maybe you are even a chess player and you are trying to second guess your opponent in order to play a move that checkmates him.

As we journey through life, I think there are some moments that are very crucial to some phases in our life. I think these moments are defining moments that probably sets the course of other areas of our life. I also think at these defining moments, we tend to look for that “magic wand”, “sucker punch”, “Midas touch” (*and any other word that fits the context) that just delivers the amazing results/expectations we desire or guarantees that you’d have what you need regardless of the prevalent situations. I like to think of the “magic wand” as a vantage point that gives you a higher perspective than what’s obtainable at face value. I think when situations and circumstances present themselves, you’d be able to say “none of these things move me” because you have a “Midas touch” that turns everything to gold. You just wave the “magic wand” and voilà, the sea is calm. I think it’s a vantage point – a position from which battle are won or lost.

Let’s hang in that thought there! We’d get back to it a bit later.

So the sisters sent word to Jesus,” Master, the one you love so very much is sick.” John 11:3(MSG)
In John 11, there is an interesting story about three siblings – Martha, Mary and Lazarus. In the passage, Martha and Mary finds themselves in a precarious situation – their brother, Lazarus is very sick unto death. Death had him shackled up with its pangs. Right before their eyes, death was on the verge of taking their beloved brother away.

Mary, Martha and Lazarus were great buddies with Jesus. They needed to get Jesus’ attention to come and heal their brother. They probably needed to send a mail to Jesus with a header that would communicate the urgency of the situation and made him board the next available flight to Bethany. I imagine Jesus as a regular HR officer ‘suffering’ from email overload, all of which are competing for his time and attention. In a fast-paced environment, the subject line should immediately capture the attention, else the body of the mail won’t be looked at. Maybe, a letter would do! I like to imagine they had just one great shot at convincing Jesus. So, the two sisters sat down to compose that powerful text message, the content has to be substantial because their brother’s life depended on it.

I would have probably expected the sisters to write something like: ”Dear Jesus, your faithful, loyal, honest (*sounds like Nigeria’s National Pledge already! Laughs!*), hardworking, large-hearted, holy, friend is sick. So, Lord, based on what he has done, kindly dash down here”. Maybe the adjectives would have done a great job in compelling Jesus to come.

In the heat of the moment, I doubt if they would have been concerned about opening and closing salutation. The appeal had to be airtight. The appeal had to be a good one. The Subject line had to be brief, interesting, invulnerable and unique. The tone of the message had to be convincing. The subject line of the email was probably going to be the first and only shot at connecting to Jesus. What should be the subject line of their mail?

Here is the subject line of the mail – The One whom you Love is Very Sick

I think the statement, “The One whom you love” is the most important part of the message. Notice, it didn’t say, “The One that loves you so much” or “The One that always makes your bed when you come visiting”. If I were the sisters, I’d have probably written a mail that catalogued Lazarus’ good deeds. The sisters couldn’t even be bothered with his ‘works’ neither did they make a long list of his achievements. They could not be bothered with strong adjectives or big vocabulary. They probably could have said, “You know our brother is a good man and he has been instrumental to church planting, made series of financial donations to propagating the work of God”. (I’m in no way against doing those ‘good works’. In fact, you should!). The sisters made the appeal all about Jesus’s love for Him.

It’s not really about how much we love God, it’s about how much He loves us. Our starting point is not “our love FOR GOD (love for God)” but “his love for us (love of God)”. That truth will change our perspective – the way we think, the way we talk, the way we pray. For quite a lot of us, the culmination of life has been about how much we can do for ourselves – our accomplishments, our merits, our good deeds, our plans, our works etc. And trust me, those things are gratifying to the ego, but without a healthy perspective, it becomes an endless loop. When we make life all about us, we tend to lose this perspective.

Maybe sometimes like me, you find yourself stressing over your own inconsistencies and inadequacies, over what could have worked or what you could have done better, over your own love or lack of love for God. I think our vantage point is discovering it’s all about God’s overwhelming love for us. It was God’s love that created our love (1John 4:19). He loved us before we were us. He loved us while we were of no use whatever to him (Rom.5:18MSG). Nothing can get between us and God’s love for us. No one can drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us. His love is consistent. Let the mountains walk away. Let the hills fall into pieces. His unfailing love won’t walk away from you (Isaiah 54:10 MSG)

As I pondered over this thought, it became clearer to me that the best perspective is gotten from a vantage point. Allow me drop this thought – your vantage point is knowing you are the one whom He loves. When “For God so loves THE WORLD…” becomes “For God so loves ME…”.You are the object of his obsession. You are the one He loves. You are his favourite. The revelation of your position and identity in Christ has its source from that vantage point. You should start making confessions with words like “For I know how dearly God loves me”, “None of this fazes me because God loves me” etc.
The dimension of Christ’s love is extravagant. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God (Eph.4:18-19 MSG). Make yourself at home in his love. God loved us first and He loves us best. You are God’s beloved. Believe in his love. Embrace it heart and soul. There is so much power in knowing you are God’s beloved. Feed on his love for you, then you’ll start loving because He first loved you. Our trust shouldn’t be in something that waxes and wanes. Maybe, like me, your love for God is sometimes sinusoidal – high up there today and normal on some days (*I applaud you if yours is ‘ever-increasing’ and ‘steady’ tho’). Our trust should be in God’s love for us that is always constant and consistent regardless.

The next time you pray, the next time you fail at something, the next time you bungle an opportunity, the next time you are facing a difficult situation…from your vantage point, you’d see the situation with a healthy perspective. Just picture God’s love for you. It’s a revelation that revolutionizes everything. Nothing compares to God’s love. Find freedom in His perfect love. Be established in His Unconditional love.

Let me end with this particular portion of the scripture that was impressed on my heart during the course of the week. I hope it blesses you:

“Yes indeed, it won’t be long now.” GOD’s Decree. “Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other. You won’t be able to keep up. Everything will be happening at once–and everywhere you look, blessings! Blessings like wine pouring off the mountains and hills. (Amos 9:13 MSG)

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:
They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. (Rom.8:31-39 MSG)

Thanksgivings will pour out of the windows; laughter will spill through the doors. Things will get better and better. Depression days are over. They’ll thrive, they’ll flourish. The days of contempt will be over. (Jer.30:19 MSG)

Oluwafemi Olukoya (@simokool)

 
6 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2016 in Assurance, Confidence, Faith, Love

 

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The Evidence, My Confidence

Hey! Thanks for stopping by at my blog. This is one of those days I don’t really have a ‘striking’ topic, so just allow me share some random thoughts with you. Like I always say, the thoughts aren’t necessarily deep stuffs but they are simple, sincere and heart-full. I have two different stories to share and I sincerely hope you relate with the thoughts and find a word (assurance, evidence, confidence…) that’s changes your perspective about living life based on the fullness we have received.

At a point in my church service as a worker, I was drafted into the protocol department – a department saddled with the responsibility of providing a hospitable and conducive environment for visiting guest ministers with the sole aim of making them feel at home outside their home. The unit ensures warm reception of guest ministers upon their arrival into the city – monitor them with phone calls till they get to the church, show them where to park their car(s), be on guard/standby to be ready to attend to their needs amongst other things. (*I know I’m actually boring you with my church operational manual for protocol department. Just bear with me. It’s a ‘light affliction’* LAUGHS!).

Around a particular season of the year, we had a run of programs and for a particular Sunday, we invited a renowned music minister. The Sunday morning was top-notch and the protocol department was at its best with clean black suits, sparkling white shirts and a red tie to make the outfit grand. And lest I forget, our black shiny shoes in all its glory completed our elegant look. (*We only needed a Bluetooth earpiece and a walking-talking to pass as your regular SSS/DSS official). We stood regal in front of the church premises waiting to receive this particular minister.

If you’ve ever had to work in the protocol department, you’d know how these guest ministers can be, when it comes to telling you their exact location. You’d call them and you hear words like “We are around your vicinity”, “We’ll be with you shortly”, “We are on our way” and a myriad of such words. The panoply of the variations of such words makes predicting their time of arrival a bit difficult, you just have to make sure you are alert at your duty post.

We eventually got confirmatory words that the guest minister was close, so we moved closer to the main entrance of the church so as not to miss the time of “visitation”, so that ours will not be the tales of “And God was here and we knew it not” (Laughs Out Loud!). While our eyes were fixed steadfastly at the entrance, the host music minister, obviously “surprised”, called our attention to the fact that the guest minister is already at the car park. Did He come with invisible chariots of fire? I said to myself. Our gaze were fixed at the main entrance of the church auditorium that it was practically impossible for us to miss him, yet, the guest drove in and “we knew it not”.

How did we miss him, despite our alertness and preparation? That’s the 64-million dollar question! The answer is: the minister arrived in a way we weren’t expecting. The guest minister and crew drove in a ‘normal’ commuter bus. The kind of regular buses that ply Lagos – Ibadan at garages (nothing special or significant about the bus). But in that “non-spectacular” bus was the “spectacular” man we have been waiting for. Personally, I think I expected a convoy of the “Mercedes E-class-es” of this world or the “Range-Rovers” of this world to announce his arrival. I’m very sure I wouldn’t have missed that.

…And a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper… (1Kings 19:11-13NLT)

This particular scripture has a lot of deep theological meaning but I won’t bother you with that. I think we can all relate to the story in our walk with God. There just comes a point in our lives, where we just want the spectacular. We want God to move in ‘mysterious’ ways…we want to hear his voice thunder and tear the ancient Iroko tree beside your house or you’d want the foundations of your building to vibrate. I think the dramatic appeals to everyone…it catches our attention. I think the dramatic revelation and manifestations are great, but silence does not always mean inactivity.

Elijah had called fire to consume burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench (1Kings 18:38-40). Elijah had also called for a mighty and terrific rainstorm after there had not been rain for three and a half years (1Kings 18:41-45; James 5:17)…Elijah outran Ahab’s chariot (1Kings 18:46 *Ahab would probably have the fastest chariot in the whole kingdom*). I could go on and on. Elijah had seen God in the dramatic but this time around God was not in the wind nor the earthquake nor the fire. But in the sound of a gentle whisper…in the silence…God showed up. In the silent whisper, Elijah rediscovered God and knew He wasn’t alone. In the moment of depression, frustration in the wilderness…a pregnant whisper was all Elijah needed. Elijah had witnessed the spectacular, but it wasn’t enough to sustain him as he took to his heels when he heard Jezebel wanted to hunt him down. Elijah latching his heart to what God said in the silent whisper was all he needed. It’s not about the minister coming in ‘okada’ or convoy of ‘prado jeeps’ – the focus should be the MINISTER.

Now, moving from the sublime to the practical, I see the story holding a lot of truths in it. I think sometimes, just like me, we want the long convoy to be in procession to be persuaded the minister is in it. I think sometimes, we want to build our faith on the spectacular because it makes us feel good…it probably gives us some goose bumps and makes the hair at the back of our head tingle. I think, much more than that, the word in your spirit is all what God needs to do business with. I think this is a clarion call to quit chasing the spectacular – it is more beneficial to see Christ in the word than physically. The universe was created with words – and in those words, the power of God is displayed (Heb.1:3). We don’t have to be subject to what we can see, touch, feel and see…The ‘unseen’ came before the ‘seen’. Our lives and existence should be designed around the revealed word. The culmination of life and the pinnacle of our existence should be the word in our spirit irrespective of the theatrics.

It’s all so easy to get so caught up in the spectacular and lose focus on the person of Christ. Christ is the ULTIMATE miracle of God. The “spectacular” might sometimes be a distraction to the “spiritual”. There are lot of dramas going on around us. A lot of distractions around us trying to shift our focus from what really matters. I think there are a lot of man-made opinions posing as infallible truth. God’s word in your heart and on your lips should be the center of your thoughts. Goliath’s ranting didn’t stop David’s from declaring the counsel of God.

Imagine requesting for an elevator using the call buttons to get you to a preferred destination. The call buttons usually consists of an up and a down button that illuminates to indicate the request has been received and an elevator is on the way. The indicators are the evidence that your request has been received. When people try to talk you out of waiting for the elevator because it doesn’t look forth-coming, you simply tell them you have evidence (illuminated indicator). Your words should be in consonance with the evidence received while you remain expectant. Even if the elevator persists, the illuminated indicators and a beep that you received when you made the request gives you confidence and assurance. This affirmation (illuminated indicator) is the substance of the things hoped for (the elevator). I dare say, the word of God in our spirit man is our confidence. When life hits hard and people expect you to be shattered and broken, just show them your evidence. When besieged and all hell breaks lose, you remain calm not as a result of denying the situation, but because you have an affirmation in your spirit about the end of the matter that is more real and tangible than the boisterous wind.

Another quick story!

I had a transaction with someone recently via email. The terms of the contract were fully signed and sealed. All in my inbox. I also have words of assurance from both parties. At any point, I begin to doubt the deal made, I just go back to the mail because the mail has all the assurance I need, and the signatures of the parties involved reminds me of the potency of the deal. It doesn’t matter whether there was a loud ring when the mail came in or whether it was just a small beep…all that matters is I have an assurance that the deal is guaranteed.
Two important points I meditate on when I think about the infallibility of God’s word.
1. God’s word cuts through EVERYTHING, whether doubts… (Heb.4:12 MSG)
2. NOTHING (thoughts life, attitudes, emotions, will, marital, career, job) and NO ONE (administrations, governments, authorities, rulers etc.) is impervious to God’s word (Heb.4:12 MSG). They ALL respond to God’s word.
3. The consistency of the character and nature of He that has promised is my anchor. I’m not the performer, I’m just the believer. So, all I need do is lay claim on his faithfulness and rest.

Let me end with this:
God has said:
I will never fail you
I will never abandon you
I won’t give up on you
I am striding ahead of you
I won’t leave you
I’ll see the journey to the end
I’ll stick with you until I’ve done everything I promised you
I’m with you every step you take
So, I say with confidence:
The Lord is my helper
I have no fear
He’s my ever-ready help before the need arises.

God’s word revealed to me is my evidence! In that evidence, I find all the confidence and assurance I will ever need.

Oluwafemi Olukoya
(@simokool)

 
10 Comments

Posted by on April 15, 2016 in Assurance, Confidence, Faith, Victory

 

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