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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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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

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

When the servant of the man of God rose early and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was around the city. Elisha’s servant said to him, Alas, my master! What shall we do? 2Kings 6:15
He rose up quite early to put the car in a proper condition while carrying his master’s blazers. His master had told him the previous night that they will be ministering in three different cities the following day. He needed to check the water level in the radiator and probably take some gallons of extra water as the journey promises to be a long one. He wanted to also top the fuel level in the fuel tank to have a full tank. His master had reminded him to check if the tyres needed to be gauged and also carry some spare tyres in the boot of the car should there be any ‘flat tyre’ during the journey. He also needed to clean the car, clear the windscreen, check the headlights and the oil gauge too.
He was dashing out bearing in mind the urgency of the journey and all the things he needed to do because his master was already getting dressed to join him outside. But alas! He saw a terrifying situation that He didn’t know when he threw his master’s blazers to the ground. He saw the Syrian military detachment encamped around the city, he was paralyzed with fear. “No way of escape”, he mutters.
He was a new Personal Assistant who had only been with his master since Mr. Gehazi’s dismissal and consequently had little or no experience of the God of his master. He saw professional snipers take their positions on the rooftops of neighboring houses; the entrance and exit of their compound have been effectively covered by these snipers. The airforce with their fighter jets were hovering over their rooftop, numerous armoured tanks were parading their neighbourhood, and the SWAT with their state-of-the-art rifles were ready to charge in at the command of the major General. The Navy had all the surrounding rivers covered. In his entire career as a Personal Assistant, he had never experienced such.
In the midst of the precarious situation, he gathered all the courage he could muster and said to his master, “What shall we do”. He is well aware of the fact that they might just apprehend both of them. He knows he won’t be spared so he wanted to inquire from the master if there was any part he could play in their escape mission.
[Elisha] answered, Fear not; for those with us are more than those with them. 2Kings 6:16

His master said to him, “Fear not”. The Master acknowledged the fact that the sight of the military detachments is terrifying enough for his new personal assistant. In his master’s few years of doing business with God, he had seen God through him part the Jordan River, increase a widow’s supply of oil so that she could pay her debts and live normally, enable a barren woman to have a child and then bring the child back to life after its dying, multiply loaves and grain to feed 100men and also cause an ax-head to float. His master’s “Fear not” stemmed from the reality that God is dependable and ever-faithful.

“Fear not” was not enough to calm the personal assistant down. He shifted his gaze again to the Syrian Military Detachments. Every sphere has been fully covered – the SWAT, Navy, and Airforce fully on ground. He looked at his master once again to confirm if he actually meant what he just said. Alas! The master compounded his woes by saying, “those that are with us are more than those with them”. But the set of people he could see were against them, so he must have thought his Master was daydreaming.

And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. 2Kings 6:17

The eyes of the young man were opened and he saw. A wonder! The whole mountainside full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha! He saw with the eyes of faith that sees the reality of the divine presence and protection. He saw invisible forces of the mighty angelic hosts. He saw innumerable spiritual armed forces with chariots of fire. With great excitement he shouted for joy, the divine presence that encamped around them had become a reality to him.

Many a times in life, we are faced with situations and circumstances that tend to make light of our faith. You hear the Pastor preach about your vast inheritance in Christ but your bills are staring you in the face. You feel so sick in your body but you look into God’s word and you see how Jesus himself bore your sicknesses and diseases. Your friends are calling you ‘broke-ass nigga’ but you know you are the seed of Abraham. The ‘faith’ business looks like a façade. You are facing the heat of the fire and the waves of the storm and it all looks like God’s word is just a collection of stories and all that the ministers of the gospel do is just to excite you. You see what God says about you in his word but you are feeling something contrary in the world.

Elisha didn’t rule out the fact that he was encamped by the Syrian military detachment. But he said, “Those with us are more than those with them”. His language was, “I know that, but I know something more”. I know the Syrian detachment have mounted heavy ammunitions, but I also know that the mighty hosts of angelic forces are with me. In essence, he was saying, “Greater are they that are with me, than they that are with them.”

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: BECAUSE GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN YOU, THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD. 1Jn 4:4

Elisha boasted about the company of hosts of Angels but greater than the host of angels is the one that indwells you now. You are a carrier of the fullness of God because Christ is in you. Dwelling in you is the sum total of the divine perfection, power and attributes that God has. The fullness of the Godhead dwells in you. You have God’s ability abiding in you. The God who parted the red seas with the blast from his nostrils, who destroyed the power of the flames when those three Hebrew boys were thrown into the fiery furnace is not just with you but in you. He is the God of all ages. All his mighty angelic forces are for you. You are a victor in the face of all your adversaries.

There are two forces – the one in you and the one in the world; and the one in you is greater than the one in this world. Cultivate an awareness of the Greater one in you. This along with communication and fellowship with Him develops a closer relationship with Him.

You have a greater force at work in you. A force greater than the sublime forces of nature put together.
Greater is the solution in you than the situation around you.
Greater is the wisdom in you than the complexities of the task you face every day.
Greater is the love in you than hatred and bitterness that is in the world.
Greater is the Spirit of truth in you than the spirit of deception in the world.
Greater is the victory in you than the failures and setbacks in this world.
Greater is God’s thoughts towards you than what other people think about you.
The one in you is mightier than the conspiracy around you.
Greater is the Spirit of Christ that is in you than the spirit of antichrist that is in the world.
The God in you is mightier than Satan who rules in the hearts of people of this world
The one in you is greater than any problem, difficulty or anything you will ever face.

Resist any contrary thought the enemy might try to place in your thinking. This is the reality, embrace it and live in the light of it. Meditate on it and speak it.

Faith is the affirmation that wins – Tolulope Moody

Have a great week ahead!

@simokool

*Details in this narration represent the fictitious imaginations of the writer

GREATER FORCE

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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