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(in)SECURED

Hey! Thanks for stopping by at my blog. I was listening to a minister of God preach in a meeting on a particular Sunday afternoon, and while he was performing biblical exegesis to drive home his points, a thought he shared became expounded in my heart and I just needed to write on it. Again, I couldn’t get a catchy topic for this, please bear with me (apologies in advance if the title and content are parallel. Laughs.). I pray that beyond the words, the truth will be expounded upon in your heart by the Holy Spirit. (Amen).

I think the world we live in is rooted and built upon competition and comparison as a performance metric for every facet of life. When you think of the best student in a class, you are basically saying the student did better compared to his mates. When you want to know the richest man in a clan, you compare his net worth with every other rich man in a clan. It’s so interesting most times that our sense of success is measured by how well we are doing compared to our peers or immediate environment. A lot of times, we say we are not competing with anyone, words like “zero competition” “no competition” “the only competition I have is myself…trying to get better and be a better man/woman” proceed out of our mouth, but you know the ‘tug of war’ that goes on in your mind or the flash of incongruent thoughts when you hear of a contemporary doing big things and making great strides. Not that you wish them evil, in fact you are so excited for them. But then, when you are about to sleep, the thoughts comes as a flash, sometimes, maybe as a subtle thought or deep thought, and at that moment you want to start evaluating your life solely because of the news you heard. And most times if we do not nip those thoughts in the bud, we sometimes end up feeling ‘defeated’ and ‘discouraged’ in our mind.

I remember my short stint as a volunteer in a primary school, somewhere in the south western part of Nigeria. It was the end of session, where parents come to school to receive the session performance on behalf of their kids. A particular mother received her son’s report and was devastated. Why? The son had an average of about 80% and had 8th position. I thought that was impressive but I was wrong. I felt the son deserved a pat on the back for hitting the 80% mark, but the mother thought otherwise. “’His mates with first, second and third position, do they have two heads?,’ The mother retorted”. I think for us sometimes as believers, success has been a function of where you are; the prevailing circumstances and measuring ourselves with others. I think at this point, it is imperative to ask ourselves, what is the object that serves as a performance indicator for success? How is success evaluated in the kingdom?

The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a SUCCESSFUL MAN; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. Gen.39:2 NKJV

The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it PROSPER. Gen.39:23 NKJV

How do you explain putting someone in Guantanamo Bay, and yet say he is successful? Sounds ironic right? I agree. How do you call someone being sold into slavery without any glimmer of hope of returning to his native land, a successful man? Was he successful because he was the Chief of Slaves or the Director General of Prisoners? I think this scripture disabuses our mind on the world’s definition of success. You mean to say, even in Prison, Joseph was successful? If then, why did he tell the butler that he wanted to leave (Gen.40:14-16). I think no sane human mind would want to leave a place where he is prospering. I dare say if you had an opportunity of interviewing Joseph in the prison and say to him “You are successful man”, you’ll probably find yourself in the Intensive Care Unit of a renowned hospital after the question. I like to think Joseph didn’t even see himself as successful but God calls him a prosperous man. Joseph was seeing incapacitation; God was seeing progress and advancement. How do you view your circumstances? The way God sees them or the way you see them.

I like to think Joseph was a successful man because every step he took, every situation he found himself in moved him closer to purpose and destiny. From the pit to slavery to prison to palace, God described Joseph as successful because in those precarious situations, he was getting closer to God’s intent for him (the expected end) – the palace. Success is advancing towards your purpose by instructions. Success cannot be determined by any other man except the God of the purpose (For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends 2Cor.10:18 NKJV), not by measuring yourself with others (But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 2Cor.10:12b NKJV). The best person to determine how much progress you are making in your research work isn’t your buddy but your supervisor. One of the things they emphasize in a research institute is that: “Don’t compare your work with what someone else is doing because every project is different. Your supervisors are in the best position to appropriately measure your progress.” You are running a 10,000Meter race but want to measure yourself up with someone in a 4 X 100 relay race? You want to build a skyscraper but you are fixated on the foundation of the one that wants to build a bungalow? (I wish you well in your adventure then. Bon voyage!) .In the competing and comparing game, we quite miss the point of PURPOSE. We leave the location of rest and transport ourselves to a state of anxiety, worry and fear. No matter how pleasing or ‘successful’ what you are doing is, if it’s not in line with purpose, though it may bring momentary satisfaction and euphoria, but trust me, it will result in weariness, frustration, or depression. Every step you take in proceeding towards your purpose is a ‘SUCCESS’ step.

Joseph was loved than all other children. He was his father’s favourite (more like the modern day version of ‘Daddy’s little boy’). His father made him a tunic of many colours (Gen.37:3). In fact, theologians have said that the colourful coat was the type that was won by royalty. Joseph being in his Father’s house seemed to be when he was most successful, but that was when he was farthest away from purpose (palace). Success isn’t about the circumstances (good or bad) or the competing or comparison, it is about progress in purpose. Little wonder you’d hear Paul say stuffs like: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2Tim.4:7NKJV) (Notice the constant use of ‘I’). Like my sister used to say to me while I was growing up, “Destiny is per-head per-head” (*forgive the tautology please. It’s intentional).

The answer to incessant voices of grading, comparison and competition you hear is to know God as your referee, qualifier, and approver (Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, BUT OF GOD. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant Gal.1:10 NLT) (Our PURPOSE is to PLEASE GOD, NOT PEOPLE. He ALONE examines the motives of our hearts.1Thes.2:4NLT). There is no need for comparison and no place for competition. I like to think this is the deathblow to the spirit of insecurity that can shift away our focus from purpose. There is growth in the process. Stay true to your assignment/calling/purpose. Take every ‘baby’ step of faith in response to the instruction received from the God of your purpose. There is freedom and security when God is the God of your purpose – your approver, qualifier. God’s plan for us is huge, and as the Lord was with Joseph, much more than our Emmanuel; God is FOR us; God is IN us; God is working in us to complete what he has started (Phil.1:6); The God on our inside is mighty. You can’t judge the destination based on your present location. A lot of moves will be orchestrated; dramatic turns, maybe even a complete overhaul or change of direction or even a complete change of strategy, but rest in the process trusting the one whose faithfulness has never been in question. Like Pst. Mathew Ashimolowo says, “It’s not over until you win”.

“Lord, please forgive us for forgetting that you are in control” (Jonathan McReynolds)

“Lord you’ve been faithful to plant the seeds. And you’ll be faithful to always send your rain” (Seasons Change – United Pursuit)

God will provide rain for the seeds you sow. The grain that grows will be abundant. Your cattle will range far and wide. Oblivious to war and earthquake, the oxen and donkeys you use for hauling and plowing will be fed well near running brooks that flow freely from mountains and hills. Isaiah 30:23-24(MSG)

Do have a beautiful week ahead, and Happy New Month.

Oluwafemi Olukoya (@simokool)

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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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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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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Aside

Sometime later the Moabites and Ammonites, accompanied by Meunites, joined forces to make war on Jehoshaphat. 2Ch.20:1 (MSG)
The blood-thirsty and marauding armies of Moab, Ammon together with the Meunites joined forces to make war on Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah. King Jehoshaphat received this intelligence report and called for a state of emergency and gathered all of Judah to seek help from the Lord. All the men of Judah, with their wives and their kids, stood before the house of the Lord with gloomy faces, waiting anxiously to hear from their King. They were quite aware of the fact that they can never match the fire power of these three great nations. Their enemies outnumbered them many times over and they stand to lose everything they have. Most of the women cried uncontrollably, fearing for the lives of their husbands in the ensuing battle. The ladies wallowed in deep groaning, being tormented by the fact that they might end up as sex slaves in the hands of the captors. The young men were heaving a deep sigh and the fear of becoming bond servants all the days of their lives crushed their spirits. The children in their midst were wailing, seeing the fear in the faces of their parents and relatives left them downcast and dumbfounded. In the midst of all the aching groans and wordless sighs, everybody just waited with uncharacteristic quietness for King Jehoshaphat to speak.
Have you ever been in a situation like this, where your circumstances seem to be completely hopeless? Where challenges come at you from all sides and you are enveloped in trials of all sorts. Where you are so much under pressure to act but still overwhelmed by the challenges surrounding. Where it looks like you are too young for the kind of challenges you are facing.
This is exactly what happened to the small tribe of Judah when they were besieged on all fronts by three powerful marauding armies forcefully advancing towards them. They knew that their enemies outnumbered them many times over and were hell bent on annihilating them, it was a forlorn and hopeless situation, and it looked like they were bound for a tragic end. The circumstances looked like the end has come for the tribe of Judah and nothing will ever be heard of that tribe again.
There may be seasons in our lives where it seems like our challenges are coming at us in quick successions from all directions and we are completely overwhelmed by the different stages at which they surface. Perhaps the hassles caused by unemployment led to cracks in your relationship as well as the development of a mental oppression. Maybe you even have a demanding job which has been causing some hitches in your home and in a bid to salvage your home and family; you are also at the end of losing a high-paying job coupled with the development of a medical condition as a result of the stress. Perhaps you are very close to being on probation in school, coupled with problems at home and also kissed by the strain of financial challenge. Under the accumulated weight of all of these coming at you, you feel your world is spinning out of control. And if the story of your circumstances can be made into a movie, the title will be ‘Things are falling apart’. Day by Day, your circumstances appear to be progressively worse despite your efforts in trying to hold everything together. It appears as if life is hitting hard with some heavy blow and knock-out punches.
In such times of despair, what do you do? At such desperate times, when you honestly don’t know the next step to take.
And Jehoshaphat FEARED, and set himself to SEEK THE LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 2Ch.20:3 (KJV)

Something very profound happened when Jehoshaphat received the intelligence report that a huge force is on its way to fight him. He feared. King Jehoshaphat’s first reaction was fear. This tells us a lot about his personality. He was a regular guy with blood and water running through his veins. He was not a valiant warrior king whose dexterity at fighting wars is second to none. He was just like us. When he received the bad report that three blood-thirsty nations were teaming us against him, he did what you and I would have done – he panicked!
I want to draw your attention to the fact that even in his fears he sought the Lord. Troubled times are not the times you should run away from God or get bitter, angry, frustrated or waiver in your faith. Challenging times are opportunities to prove that the word works. Even in your fears, don’t take away your gaze from Jesus, and bask in his love because His perfect love casts out all fear.
Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard and said: “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. POWER AND MIGHT ARE IN YOUR HAND, AND NO ONE CAN WITHSTAND YOU. (2Ch.20:5-6)

Instead of telling God about his fears, King Jehoshaphat was telling his fears about God. Instead of relaying his fears to the Lord and lamenting about how their enemies outnumbered them, Jehoshaphat centered his prayer and petitions on how big and powerful his God is. He proclaimed that no one is able to withstand the Lord not even the forces of Moab, Ammon and the Meunites put together. In hopeless situation, Jehoshaphat hoped in the Lord.

You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; JUST STAND FIRM, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch GOD’s saving work for you take shape. Don’t be afraid, don’t waver. March out boldly tomorrow–GOD is with you.” 2Ch.20:17 (MSG)

The best thing to do when you don’t know what to do is to stand firm – stand your ground. Standing firm does not connote inactivity or doing nothing. It is a position of hope anchored on Jesus and a confident expectation that everything is turning around for good. It is a position of unwavering faith declaring boldly that, ‘Faithful is He that has promised, faithful is He who will also do it.’ It is a position where you are established in the faithfulness and ability of God. When the armies of Pharaoh were chasing the Israelites, Moses simply declared to the terrified Israelites, “”Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch GOD do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again. (Exo.14:13 MSG)”

When you are caught in a seemingly hopeless situation, learn to position yourself – stand firm and see the saving power of Jesus at work on your behalf. He will never leave you nor forsake you. And as you center yourself, your thoughts, your beliefs and your hopes on him; He will lead you concerning what to do, just as He led Jehoshaphat to a triumphant victory over his enemies.

No one can withstand our God…not even your medical report, financial strain, family issues, insecurity, fears etc. God, who rebuked the wind and turned a raging storm to a great calm. God, who raised the dead and conquered the grave. God, who made the lame walk, the blind see, and the deaf hear. God, who turned bland water into the finest wine. God, who suspended the heavens above the earth without concrete pillars. God, who multiplied five loaves of bread and two fishes to feed a population of 5000. God, who rained manna from heaven and brought forth water out of dry rock. God, who helped Judah to overcome her enemies without even lifting a finger in the battle. God, who helped the Israelites bring down the walls of Jericho without bulldozers and caterpillars. God, who led His people in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Nothing can withstand our God.

There will be challenges, troubles, trials and issues to deal with in this world. But you can rest in Jesus, be encouraged in Him, continue to hope in Him, and know beyond the shadow of a doubt that He will see you through your adversities. He always leads us in triumph. With Him, it is always a perpetual victory parade. He has already overcome the world! On your part, determine to be of good cheer, rejoice in the Lord always and keep having a confident expectation of good.

Greater years are still ahead!

@simokool

FINDING HOPE WHEN ALL SEEMS HOPELESS

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Aside

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years…Mark 5:25
Let’s take a quick walk into the life of the woman with hemorrhage for twelve years
She was a high profile career woman who had everything at her beck and call. In her garage were fleet of posh cars; her mansion is such an architectural masterpiece that the Society of Engineers had to use it to grace their annual Engineering Innovations’ magazine cover; the exquisite furniture in her living room is second to none. The clothes and jewelries in her wardrobe were always having a ‘confab’ fighting for her attention to be picked. She is well respected by all and sundry. Her husband walks in the streets with his shoulders high for being the hubby of such a successful woman. Her children are known all over the city because of their mother’s profile of upper-class elite. She has so much reserve in foreign bank accounts and every indigenous bank have been looking for that rare privilege to have her bank with them. She seems to have everything all together.
Like every other woman, she had her monthly menstrual cycle which normally lasts for three days. But this particular one had stayed on through the fifth day. She was scared. She immediately picked her phone to call a female family doctor who told her there is no ‘biggie’ about the unusual variation, as hers lasts for seven days. Waoh! What a soothing comfort to her misery! The Doctor convinced her that it must just be one of those unusual variations. But alas! The story is still unfolding. The flow of blood didn’t stop on the seventh day; it became a fountain pumping out ceaseless flow of blood.
Let me take you back to the Law of Moses because that was their operating rule as Christ had not yet died and the law held sway.

The Law of Moses states that, “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, but not at the time of her monthly period, or has a discharge that continues beyond the time of her period, she is unclean the same as during the time of her period. Every bed on which she lies during the time of the discharge and everything on which she sits becomes unclean the same as in her monthly period. Anyone who touches these things becomes unclean and must wash his clothes and bathe in water; he remains unclean until evening (Lev.15:25-27 MSG).

Since the flow of blood remained continuous, it means she can never be clean. She remains ceremonially unclean. If you touch the same door knob she has touched you become unclean too. You must not have any contact with whatever she has come in contact with lest you become unclean. What a dilemma!

She had to resign from her workplace as the Chairman, Board of Directors left her with no choice because nobody wants to relate with an unclean woman. The company was losing clients solely because of her. Her husband can no longer share the same bed with her let alone allow her prepare dinner for the kids. She was in isolation. Her very own immediate family was avoiding having contact with her. The husband could no longer bear it as its obvious she may never be out of the dilemma. The husband vacated the house for her, and took the kids to Granny’s house. The mansion that was the cynosure of all eyes had become the island of desolation. The cooks, cleaners, housemaid and everyone else working in the house had to leave.

She had not been negligent of herself; she had tried every means she had to get her wholeness but, all to no avail. She had sold the posh cars, mansions, jewelries, furniture, clothes and every other valuable she had left to service the best medical attention to herself but all was an effort in futility. She became a laboratory specimen. Respectable Doctors, Consultants and Specialists took all her money leaving her worse. She had exhausted the queue of long succession of Physicians waiting to treat her.

A woman that once had everything all together is now an object of public ridicule and shame. No taxi driver wanted to render their service to her because that’s bad business for them as their taxi becomes unclean till evening. She had to fall in love with a new means of transportation called ‘foot-wagen’. She was dejected, rejected and isolated. She had nothing left on her. She had lost all including relationships.

Then, she overheard neighbours relaying the track record of a new Physician who heals every diseased person that comes to him. But that news didn’t really excite her because of her past dealings with Physicians. Every Physician that had treated her had left an indelible memory on her mind as they caused her enough psychological traumas from the numerous haemostatis and Kleihauer test, the piercing surgical knives, infringements of the syringe and needles, and the uncountable pills consumed but, without a cure. However, she was snapped out of her thinking state when she heard from the ongoing discussions among her neighbours that this new Physician makes people whole without collecting a dime and since she had nothing to lose but everything to gain if the reports were true, she decided to harness this opportunity with every energy she’s got.

I’m sure you know the end of the story.

For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” Mark 5:28

Whatever you are going through, you will see God happening at the same time. At the same time, the dead son of the widow of Nain was being carried out through the city gates; a Jesus that could raise the dead was also passing. When a terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake and the ship was about to capsize, a Jesus that could rebuke the wind and raging waters was also present with the terrified disciples in the boat. While the first wine was running out at the wedding at Cana of Galilee, a Jesus that could produce the best wine was also present at the wedding. When Peter looked at the boisterous wind beneath his feet and started sinking, we saw a Jesus that can help Peter up available too. All you need is to make a choice of what gets your attention. If you look at your circumstances, you will be shut down, if you look at Jesus, you will have a reason to hope. As long as Peter kept his gaze on Jesus, he was walking on water; as soon as the boisterous wind got his attention, he started sinking. When we fix our eyes on Jesus and make him the center of our lives, we will definitely walk above the churning waters of our situations and circumstances. Fixing our gaze on the boisterous waves of our challenges can only make us to begin to sink into the raging tempest of despair.

The woman with the issue of blood was resolute on seeing Jesus. She was so sure that all she needed was to touch Jesus. For the first time, she silenced the voice of her circumstances. She didn’t care about what people would say. She didn’t even bother if her touching of Jesus would make him ‘unclean’. All she wanted was just to touch Jesus. The circumstances had been her master for twelve years, but at the instant she determined to see Jesus, she was full of hope again.

For whatever was thus written in former days was written for our instruction, that by [our steadfast and patient] endurance and the encouragement [drawn] from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hop Rom.15:4(AMP).

Friends! I know your situation and circumstances are very real. In fact as you are reading this, the thought of some of them is flashing across your mind. Storms are good at doing that. They overwhelm you. Wave after waves of relentless battering that knocks you off your feet till every ounce of energy is used up and you feel so weak, abandoned, lonely and dejected. But don’t go by those negative feelings and emotions. Feelings, circumstances and human conjectures can’t be compared to the Father’s goodness. Live by the truth of God’s word, which encourages you to be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid and do not panic.

Live life with confidence and assurance because the one who created the Universe is the shepherd of your life. He is not the Father that goes ahead of you in a separate boat and leaves you in your own sinking boat. He is the Father that comes to you in the midst of the storm and leads you to victory every time.

Things are getting better for you. If it is not good and perfect, then God is not through yet. He that created time isn’t bound by it. Anchor your thoughts and emotions on the unshakable word of God. Let the word of God have your focus and not your problems.

We win always!

@simokool

THE DOOR OF HOPE IN THE VALLEY OF TROUBLE

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Aside

Jericho was the first walled city the Israelites had ever encountered. Jericho was shut up with iron doors and bars of brass because of the children of Israel. Jericho resolved Israel shall not be her Master. It was shut up by the obstinacy and resolution of the inhabitants who agreed never to surrender. Their hearts were hardened in a way that no one could go out – probably to make peace or sign a treaty with the Israelites and no one could come in so the Israelites also would not be able to charge in or possess the land. It was more of an irrevocable decision by the inhabitants of Jericho.
God’s intention was that Israel conquers Jericho along with its King and warriors and He communicated to Joshua how the city should be besieged. God gave them his divine strategy – “March around the city, all your soldiers. Circle the city once. Do it for six days. Have seven priests carry seven ram’s horn trumpets in front of the Chest. On the seventh day march around the city seven times, the priests blowing away on the trumpets. And then, a long blast on the ram’s horn–when you hear that, all the people are to shout at the top of their lungs. The city wall will collapse at once. All the people are to enter, every man straight on in”. (Joshua 6:3-5 MSG)
Ordinarily, priests were excused from war. To the human mind, it may seem foolish to obey and believe a promise which in ordinary sense seemed impossible to be realized. They patiently bore the reproaches of their enemies and patiently waited for God. Thus, by faith not force, the walls of Jericho came down crumbling.
1. March!
Here’s what you are to do: March around the city, all your soldiers. Circle the city once. Repeat this for six days. Joshua 6:3
These were professional soldiers. They are skilled combatants. The only instruction they probably needed was for their leader, Joshua to strategically position them on how to demolish or bring down the wall, and then give the go ahead. They were all waiting for their commander to come out with a military winning strategy to achieve their aim. They were bewildered on hearing the Master say to them all they needed to do is march around the city once and repeat the cycle for 6days.
“Master Joshua, shall we be having a military parade round a city we need to conquer? This is a serious task that needs a winning strategy not a military procession. This is not a swearing-in ceremony or a passing-out ceremony of comrades”, a sergeant mutters. The entire army, which were literally hundreds of thousands of men, should walk around the city wall once a day for six-days – that’s a sheer waste of man-power and underutilization of resources, you may say.
The greatly fortified city of Jericho presented an impossible situation and God gave them winning formula that made light their skill.
God may have positioned you in a divine location and you honestly feel you could have been in a ‘better’ place; you have ‘better’ options. In many scenarios, we try to understand and reason out God’s instructions before carrying them out. They went around the city for six days; it looked like they were walking around in circles with no apparent progress and achievement. They would pass for a skillful boxer punching the air and missing his punches. In situations like this, when we get instructions that tweaks or disabuses our thinking, it’s imperative to just ‘March’ according to his bidding. When God asks you to take steps that makes little sense and seem unrelated to the victory you seek, just follow it through.
The progress may not be visible when carrying it out. Just stick with it. Does it look like a seemingly foolish plan? Just March! Act it out in faith!
2. Shut Up and March!
Joshua had given orders to the people, “Don’t shout. In fact, don’t even speak–not so much as a whisper until you hear me say, ‘Shout!’–then shout away!” Joshua 6:10

Sometimes the best way to carry out God’s instructions is to shut out your voice of reasoning and act it out. Stop whining and moaning around. The earlier you realized that, the better. You keep moaning about God’s instruction, wanting to create a ‘pity-party’ for yourself. Stop the lamentations; quit complaining and just march.
It would interest you to know that not everybody is interested in your convictions. They only want to see the results. So, why keep explaining your convictions to people that are only interested in the results. I feel that’s the number one source of discouragement. They were not there when you saw ‘Moses and Elijah’ on the mount of transfiguration, so you shouldn’t expect them to always gel with the instruction.
When you start hearing words like, “With your educational status, do you honestly feel there is any iota of intelligence in what you are doing? Are you sure this is a viable career path to follow? Those that have experience and are well-grounded in this market have done this business and failed, you honestly don’t have a chance. You are too big for what you are doing, you are under-utilising your skills and capacity”. It’s not the time to get discouraged, just keep marching with diligence
We might want to take a cue from the Shunamite woman, She didn’t speak to Gehazi but she spoke to Elisha. God’s got this!
3. Don’t stop on 6
When the seventh day came, they got up early and marched around the city this same way but seven times–yes, this day they circled the city seven times. Jos.6:15

The priests blew the trumpets. When the people heard the blast of the trumpets, they gave a thunderclap shout. The wall fell at once. The people rushed straight into the city and took it. Jos.6:20
They had gone round the city wall for six days and on the seventh day, they circled it seven times making thirteen times. They marched round the wall of Jericho thirteen times. They did it for six days and nothing visible happened but on the seventh day, the wall of Jericho fell down flat.
You are closer than you think you are. You have been persistent and diligent with the instruction and it all looks like an effort in futility and sheer waste of time; it’s not an excuse to give up, just hold your peace. Don’t stop on the sixth round, go the seventh round. Can you imagine a 600level student of Medicine wanting to quit because he’s spent quite a number of years when he has just one year left to becoming a full-fledge medical doctor? Remember what God told you when you started; reminiscence on why you started. There is more to come! There is a ‘hereafter’!
Don’t worry about how the wall of Jericho would fall flat. Your part of the bargain is to march around it. Leave the outcome to God. While you are working it out, God is working in you to make the victory manifest. It’s still a sure thing!
Just as He gave Joshua his word of assurance, God is saying the same to you; I have given Jericho, its king and mighty men of valor, into your hands.

So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! Heb.10:35 (MSG)

No regrets! Stay assured, it’s an unsinkable ground wherein you stand. It’s still a sure thing!

@simokool

IT’S STILL A SURE THING

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Aside

“This is GOD’s Message to Zerubbabel: ‘You can’t force these things. They only come about through my Spirit,’ says GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies.Zech.4:6 (MSG)
This is an encouragement to a man called Zerubbabel, who was the leader of the people of God during the reign of King Darius, King of Persia and who with Joshua had led the return of the exiles from Babylon. The people had returned to Jerusalem from captivity. They had returned with great expectations. But all the expectations were dashed on the hard rock of reality that they could not budge. Jerusalem was a heap of rubbles, a collection of burnt-out buildings. They set out immediately to clear away the rubbles and rebuild the temple. And they had managed to lay the foundation of the temple. But no sooner had the foundation of the temple been laid that trouble set in. The Samaritans; the neighbours interfered by reporting to the King of Persia that the Jews were guilty of insurrection, that their effort to rebuild Jerusalem was an act of rebellion against the King himself. And so, the King put a decisive end on the building project for 16years.
The people of Jerusalem were downcast and this made many pull away from their work. Their passion, excitement, persistence and ginger were cooled by the harsh ice of reality. Now, staring them in the face was an obstacle that seemed insurmountable. Their euphoria of leaving Babylon was displaced with hopelessness. It was gloomy; the obstacles looked like they would last forever. Their expectation was cut-short and their excitement short-lived. They had excellent manpower and technical know-how and had pooled together all the resources needed to complete the project. They were determined and resolute in their will power; their morale was high. But here comes a harsh reality that didn’t respect their ginger, skills, man-power, determination, resources and will power. How frustrating!
Zerubbabel must have looked clueless, not knowing what to do and where to turn to. And then the word of the Lord came to him. How wonderful it is to know that we have a father that is not clueless! How wonderful it is to know that we have a Father who does not leave nor forsake us in ‘down’ times. It was a wonderful word of hope and encouragement in the days of Zerubbabel. It gave Zerubbabel true confidence. Zerubbabel could have been easily discouraged. The task was too enormous for him to accomplish. Yet, God promised Zerubbabel that the work of God would be accomplished through him by his Spirit.
1. Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit
‘Might’ here refers to the combination of forces, whether of man, means or other resources, an army, wealth, virtue, valour, strength. ‘Power’ here refers to vigour, stamina, persistence, capacity, ability, strength. The word of God says, “Not by the pooling of your resources, not by the resolution of your own will or determination, not by bringing to bare all the forces at your disposal”. But by his Spirit – that is, as the candlestick was supplied with oil ceaselessly, from the two olive trees by the side of it, without the help of any man, to pour in the oil, and trim the lamps; so the temple would be built by Zerubbabel, not through the multitude and strength of men, but through the Spirit of God strengthening and enabling them to go through the work.

I know God has a sea world of assignment for you. You have new goals and targets you want to hit. You have pooled resources together. You have able hands at your beck and call but they shouldn’t get your focus. Yes, God will use men and women to assist but they are only a resource, God remains our only source. We are dependent on the Spirit of God. Therein lies our confidence. Our confidence is in the ability of the Spirit at work in us.

David’s dexterity and prowess in slinging a stone from a catapult couldn’t have brought down Goliath (a man that had been a warrior since his youth and a prince of warriors). Samson’s ‘six-packs’ couldn’t have lifted the gate of a whole city and tore a lion with his bare hands. Elisha couldn’t have outrun the chariots of Ahab with his strength.

It is neither the greatness nor the personality of individuals but the enabling power of the Spirit. Not on the rock of human strength, not by persuasion, not by eloquence, not by power of your money nor persistence but by God’s Spirit. Not by anything of yourself but by the Spirit of Christ in you. Not by effort and endeavor in the kingdom of God, but by my Spirit says the Lord.
When it gets to a point when there is a feeling of hopelessness – “what’s the use? What’s the point? ” We might just as well quit and move on”. When great expectations are dashed; when frustration and weariness of the soul seems to be the order of the day; when your convictions and confessions of faith are wavering, just remember that, “Not by host of men, nor through strength. Not by valour or vigour. Not by force or mighty power. Not by military might or army, but by the Spirit.” Depending on our power and strength will always bring frustration. Resting in the consciousness of His ability at work in us and the victory Christ wrought for us is the antidote for frustration.
2. The mighty mountain will become a level ground
‘So, big mountain, who do you think you are? Next to Zerubbabel you’re nothing but a molehill. Zech.4:7
The assignment is surrounded by a lot of human obstacles and you seem frustrated. The dream that was God-ordained now looks like a product of selfish ambition. The vision looks unrealistic and unachievable. In times like this, giving up seems to be wisdom and trying something else would be common sense. Here’s what God is saying to you: Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.
3. It will come to fruition
David eventually defeated Goliath. Elisha outran the chariots of Ahab. Moses’ rod ended swallowing the rod of Pharaoh’s magicians and astrologers.
The dream will be fulfilled. The vision shall see the light of the day. The purpose will find expression and come to fulfillment.
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. Phil.1:6
[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. Php.2:13

You have come way too far to quit now. Your best years are still ahead. God’s best is never in the past. He helps you run fast like a deer and sets you upon high places. God’s got this!
@simokool

YOU CAN’T FORCE THESE THINGS

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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