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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)

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6 Comments

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

 

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On The Bills of Grace

“No chance at all, if you think you can pull it off by yourself, but we have every chance in the world if we let God do it” Mark 10:27 (MSG)
“And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16 NKJV)

When making it over the long haul seems impossible
When chaos, uncertainty, doubt and fear seems to be the order of the day
When the voice of reality presents pitched compositions of depression, frustration and confusion
When the rubber meets the road and push comes to shove
When the heats get turned up and the fight of faith looks dead on arrival
When lamentations seems to be in a heated battle with your praise on my lips
May my focus remain fixated on you
May the Father’s love always lead my life
May I always remain careless in the care of God
May I always walk in the reality that I have a heavenly Father that cares for me
May I always remember that I have a present help even before the need arises.
May my heart be filled with the revelation of your ever-abiding presence whispering You are not alone.
I ask this in Jesus’ Name
Amen.

This piece is so personal and means a lot to me (*So, I agree, it may not be relevant to you. But thank you for reading it anyway *big smile*). The everyday travails of life are real. I have been drenched and wet by the torrent of the craziness of life. I have been discouraged, distracted and sometimes frustrated with happenings around me. I have made mistakes, called the wrong shots in grief and desperation. People have been disappointed at me over my decisions and actions. I have made career decisions that almost put my entire ambition on the edge of a cliff and I slacked in God’s assignment for my life. At that point in my life, nowhere looked like a head way – my ‘world’ stood still with nothing tangible to show for it. I was practically living on the edge – was between two extremes, just a little push would make me take a side. Life became a dichotomy between “what is probable” and “what is possible” – permutations and combinations took over trusting in the invisible. At those times, I also realise that Life should be lived on the bills of God’s overwhelming goodness and grace.

In the heat of the fire, people want you to be proactive. By being proactive, they want you to pace more, worry more, call SOS, sweat it out, complain more and move about in circus. People could become so vested in “movement”, that they don’t even mind if “progress” is being made or not. Most times, in order not to appear careless, we are tempted to join the worry gang. But, like a popular cliché on social media, I dare say “who worry don epp?”. Worry is a negative energy, saps you of your strength and changes your focus from “what is true” to “what is real”.

In the face of the storm, I started wallowing in my fears and anxieties, my memories became filled with regretting the past and fearing the future. I made a strong resolve not to repeat the mistake of the past, but on the bill of my effort and strength. I stood up, staggered, walked and made the same mistake over again. I found it difficult to trust God in the moment, while my heart could not fathom the real-time, present-day God. My focus shifted from “who God is” to “who I was” at the moment. I was blinded by my weakness…I schemed, strategized and designed framework to set me back on course, but the output had no “master” in the “piece”, so it wasn’t a masterpiece. (*Haha! I just felt like a wordsmith with that punchline). My life became about what should have happened, what might have happened and what hopefully will happen, not realising that God is in my every moment.

I ‘disconnected’ from every support system – friends, pastors, family, mentors etc. I just wanted to be alone…alone time with me in the murky waters of the travails. Disappointments and Rejections became so overwhelming that the sun that rises each morning became more real than the word of Him that causes the sun to rise. My email box was full with messages starting with “We regret to…, I am afraid, we cannot…, However, I am sorry…, We are sorry…, However, We regret that…” On the outside, I looked all fly like a diamond in the sky, but on the inside, I was falling like a pack of cards. At those times, a lot of voices came to me like the words of the chief priest to Jesus when He was being crucified “He saved others, He cannot save Himself…(Matt.27:41-42)”. I heard words in the same similitude “You know a lotta stuffs about God and His word, let your knowledge save you fah…na head knowledge baba get, baba no get fruits”. I heard so much of such words both implied and direct. I wonder the kind of comments Peter would have been burdened with in my generation when he denied Jesus, but still stood up to preach about that same man he betrayed on the day of Pentecost (Luke 22:54-62, John 18:15-27, Acts 2:14-42). I still get subliminal messages on social media and other platforms because of some mistakes I made but then, I’ve realised there is peace and contentment in finding and owning your ‘subs’ (Another One! Another punchline! *punchlines ti take over*). If I have not made sense or whatever to you, I’m sorry but take this line with you, GOD IS IN YOUR EVERY MOMENT.

I learnt three vital points I’d like to share with you when life hits hard and it seems your head is below water and getting drowned.

1. Focus on Who God Is.
One of the major things, season of travails tends to do is to make you doubt the character of God. It wants to undermine your perspective of God’s character. God is a good and gracious father. God has your best interest at heart and He is more interested in your well-being than you are. God is not just a God of the past or the future; He is God of the present. He is not bounded by time and space. God is present and active on the timeline of humanity.
Moses was interested in knowing why the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. God was more interested in reminding Moses who He is – I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:1-14). Martha needed Jesus to come in time to heal his brother Lazarus of his sickness, but was very perplexed when Jesus came at the late hour. Jesus seemed no longer needed as Lazarus has been dead for days. Mary and Martha needed a Jesus that would heal the sick but Jesus was more interested in revealing who He is, I AM THE RESURRECTION AND LIFE (John 11:17-44). The answer to our travails is not first and foremost focusing on who we are, but focusing on who God is. His “I am” is always greater and more than enough for our “I need”. Relate with God like a friend. He listens. He cares. So, if you are looking for any ‘major key’ in troubled times, grow in your revelation of Jesus (2Pet.1:2-3, 2Pet.3:18).

2. God loves you. And it probably does not matter what you say or do.
I know, right? The second point sounded ridiculous, common knowledge and simple enough, you do not need to be reminded? But then, embedded in those three simple words is all the assurance you need. Each day should be lived with fresh revelations of the Love of God for you. I believe life is a journey of continuous discovery of God’s love.
We think the answer to frustration is more efforts…not more efforts, but the revelation of His abundant grace (Rom.5:17). Your flesh wants to exert more to face frustration. In His love, you find peace and freedom, where you become persuaded of the outcome in God irrespective of the circumstances. In the knowledge of His love for you, you find ammunitions to keep fighting the good fight of faith. One of the most dangerous locations for a believer is not an ISIS infested territory, but anywhere you find yourself doubting the love of God and losing faith in God. I feel there are no deep stuffs in this second point right? (*smiles*).
Always remember, it’s a lie from the pit of hell to believe YOU ARE ALL ALONE or YOU ARE IN THE TRAVAIL ALONE (Heb.13:5). At those moments in life, when you just want to throw in the towel and give up on anything that’s overwhelming at the moment making you feel drained and alone, YOU ARE NEVER ALONE (Rev.3:20, Joshua 1:9). On the timeline of humanity, God is always posting, liking and commenting on your status with full assurance. When you shut the door on everyone and they give up on you, He is still at the door knocking. I may not know how you have started, but one thing I’m persuaded of is this: Keeping ourselves in the love of God is the way to end well. And in the knowledge of His love, we find true life. With His love, he calms all our fears (Zeph.3:16-17). Our lives must start and end with a dependence on God. With Faith and the knowledge of His great love in our hearts, we win always. In His loving arms, you find rest. He has made us accepted in the beloved (Eph. 1:6). That’s the greatest validation and acceptance – approval of the father.

3. Stay Grateful.
At those times, you may want to pray and not find words to utter. You just want to lie in your bed all day and think of how your life has gone from ‘100’ to ‘0’ real quick. One sure thing to do is: remember His faithfulness in some seemingly hopeless situations He has showed up in times past. Let His past faithfulness dominate your mind. Someone once said “If you want to get out of the pit you are in, Start thinking about the goodness of the Lord. Good news has a way of replicating itself”. God still does things that do not add up. Live life on the bill of overwhelming goodness of God.

And if you are thinking, you’ve ‘lost’ things or it’s a little too late, I’d like you to know that God’s best is never in the past (Prov.4:18). Ruth probably thought Mahlon’s death was the final blow, but there was a Boaz in the future.

Back to my story! God is faithful regardless. He will never lie. God’s mercy is greater than my mistakes and He sure fixes situations better than ‘Olivier Pope’. In my dealings, I find myself a toolkit for the journey of life: Life is to be lived on the bills of God’s overwhelming grace and goodness. Stay on course! Know who is in your boat and you aren’t going down. You are called by His Name, It’s on His Bill.

The Infallibility of God’s Word
The dependability of His Faithfulness
The consistency of His Character and Nature
My Sure Anchor

Judah Smith in his book “LIFE IS___” gave four blueprints about life: 1. Life is to be loved and to love 2. Life is to trust God in every moment 3. Life is to be at peace with God and yourself 4. Life is to enjoy God. I think I want to add a fifth blueprint, 5. Life is to be lived on the bill of God’s overwhelming grace and goodness

“Jerusalem will be told:
“Don’t be afraid.
Dear Zion,
don’t despair.
Your God is present among you,
a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love
and delight you with his songs.” (Zeph.3:16-17 MSG)

For every ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘Zion’, I hope this piece ministers hope and faith to you.

Oluwafemi Olukoya
simokool@yahoo.com
@simokool.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on April 1, 2016 in Love

 

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Aside

Adedeji has been doing all he could to get Monisola to say “YES” to his marriage proposal but all to no avail. His convictions, poise, carriage, financial security were not just enough for Monisola. He said to himself, “Is there something I’m not doing well? “What else does she expect of me?” He couldn’t just fathom the reason behind Monisola’s adamancy. Deep down within Monisola, the question that kept ringing was: “Can Adedeji take care of me”? And As long as she couldn’t settle the question in her heart, she wasn’t ready to say ‘YES’.
In a world where there is threat to the security of lives and property; where arrows fly by day and wild wolves hunt by night, where broken promises have left people with broken heart, where a walk during the day is synonymous to a walk in the valley of the shadow of death, where there is no value for human lives, where thousands die by your left and tens of thousands by your right, where strange sickness and diseases are fast becoming a norm, where moral values are thrown out through the window in the name of civilization, and where waiting and trusting on God is fast becoming an illusion. I believe the question God is asking his people at these times is, “Do you think I can’t take care of you”?
Moses said, “I’m standing here surrounded by 600,000 MEN on foot and you say, ‘I’ll give them meat, meat every day for a month.’ So where’s it coming from? Even if all the flocks and herds were butchered, would that be enough? Even if all the fish in the sea were caught, would that be enough?” GOD answered Moses, “SO, DO YOU THINK I CAN’T TAKE CARE OF YOU? You’ll see soon enough whether what I say happens for you or not.” (Num.11:21-23MSG)

Moses had over 600,000 people with him that were complaining about the recurrent manna they have been eating. They wanted to change their diet. They were no longer comfortable with the manna; they wanted to eat meat, like they enjoyed back in Egypt. The atmosphere was becoming unbearable for Moses. I can imagine having over 600,000 families with placards chanting “we want meat”,“We were better off in Egypt”, ” We had fish to eat unlike manna”. “Take us back to Egypt” and singing “solidarity forever”. Moses couldn’t stick it out.
In the midst of all these agitations and complains, God told Moses he would feed them with meat for a month. Moses was dazed because it looked to him like God was biting more than he could chew. It looked as if God just made a promise he would never be able to fulfill. Moses knew that even if all the flocks and herds were butchered including all the fishes of the sea, it would never be enough.
God answered Moses, “So, do you think I can’t take care of you”? Moses was fixing his gaze on what he could see. His whole idea of God’s sovereignty was hinged on just the flocks and herds around. That’s reality in the world’s point of view. Reality according to God’s perspective is however not necessarily what is being seen. God can take care of you much more.
It is understandable that you have just five (5) loaves and two (2) fishes which are not sufficient to feed your 5,000 population. That little jar of oil can never pay your debts. The reality is that the small morsel of flour is all you have left. The truth is that everything you have that you can see isn’t really what you have, but you put your faith in it because that’s all you can see and which limits who you are. Look beyond the little and be rest assured that God cares for you. He can take care of you.
I believe God is asking us some salient questions anytime we tend to make our needs bigger than Him. Have you forgotten I’m the God of all flesh, and nothing is too hard for me to do? Have you forgotten I own the cattle upon a thousand hills and every beast of the forest? Have you forgotten how I parted the red sea with the blast of my nostrils and made you walk on dry ground? Are you quick to forget that the universe is upheld by the mighty word of my power?
“Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore? BUT EVEN IF MOTHERS FORGET, I’D NEVER FORGET YOU–NEVER. LOOK, I’VE WRITTEN YOUR NAMES ON THE BACKS OF MY HANDS. Isaiah 49:1-16

Even after Adam & Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge and evil against God’s instructions. Sending them out of the Garden was an act of love, because the devil could also be successful in tempting them to eat of the fruit of the tree of life which would have made redemption plans impossible. Man would have been forever condemned in the state of sinfulness. God threw them out of the garden and stationed angels-cherubims and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life. (Gen.3)

While Adam and Eve sew figs to cover their nakedness, God gave them something better – leather skins. God made leather clothing for Adam and his wife and dressed them. All was an act of Love. Even in Man’s fallen state, God cared for man. (Gen.3:7, Gen.3:21)

God cares about everything that concerns you. He cared enough to know the number of hair strands on your head (Matt.10:30).

What matters to you matters to God. He’s not just interested in the “big” things; he also has keen interest in the ‘small’ things. It’s not just about the story; God is concerned about every sentence that makes up the story and every alphabet that makes up the sentence. He’s not just with you when you prayed for 5hours uninterrupted and studied the Bible for 3hours non-stop. He’s also with you when you fellowshipped with him for just 10minutes. He is interested in what makes you sob, cry, worry, laugh, chuckle, giggle etc. If it’s important to you, then it’s important to him.

If God could be interested in the lilies of the field and the birds of the air (Matt.10:29), How much more you, an heir of God and joint heir with Christ (Rom.8:17). You are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrow. If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers–most of which are never even seen–don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, and do his best for you? And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you?

Cast ALL your anxiety on him because HE CARES FOR YOU (1Peter 5:7)
Anxiety is a proof that you have cares you’ve not trusted him with. Talk to him about that lady you are interested in…, about the project supervisor that is frustrating you…, about that boss that is making life unbearable for you…, about the pimple that is becoming a nuisance on your smooth face…, about the fears you had this morning…, about your job hunt…, about the new apartment you want to get…, about the blisters you have on your left leg that is making it difficult for you to put on foot wears…, and about the bills that keep staring you in the face.
Everything! I mean everything! Tell it to him for he cares for you. He is interested in the whole story of our life and not just a particular paragraph, page or chapter.
God won’t shut you down. He is interested in every little piece of your story. God can take care of it.

God cares for you and
He can take care of you.
-@simokool

DO YOU THINK I CAN’T TAKE CARE OF YOU?

 
3 Comments

Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Care, Love, Provision