The child in me wishes that this festive season lasts forever – I believe many other people share my sentiments, especially if you got gifts like I did. My $20 Macy’s gift card from secret Santa brought me so much joy. As a bargain hunter, I could at least get myself a gift from the clearance section. It is breath taking to see streets beautified and made aglow with resplendent lightening. Joy fills the air as families and friends commune. Generally, people celebrate the year-end with so much pomp and anticipate the New Year with a lot of enthusiasm.
Beyond the flurry of activities that engulf the season and the busyness of enjoyment, I wonder why humans cannot just live ‘happily ever after’, like in the Cinderella story. Sadly, that is a fantasy for most people. For instance, just as some are celebrating and exchanging gifts in “peaceful” parts of the world, other people are experiencing the pangs of war and terror in “turbulent” parts of the world. It is a tough world we live in. The rich today can easily be poor tomorrow, the healthy today can be sick tomorrow. As Job says “We’re all adrift in the same boat: too few days, too many troubles.” (Job 14. 1 MSG).
However, it is not all doom and gloom. In truth, happy times are always here. These happy times are not defined by environmental circumstances and social experiences, but by a singular event that has redefined the entire course of history – Jesus Christ was born, he lived, he died and he rose again (Isaiah 9: 2-7, Matthew 1:21, Matthew 28.5-7, Acts 1:1-3)! Zachariah’s jubilant song in Luke chapter 1, affirms the importance of Jesus’ birth. Luke 1.73-75 is particularly insightful and uplifting “What he swore to our father Abraham—a clean rescue from the enemy camp, So we can worship him without a care in the world, made holy before him as long as we live” (MSG).
Jesus’ solution was eternal in nature (John 10:10, Hebrews 2:10-13). He did not only pay for our sins, but he also gave us the full citizenship rights of heaven and he went further to make a home for us (John 14:2). Though events in this world could be very unpredictable and unsavory, we are not left without a guide, a hope and an assurance of victory (Romans 5: 1-5). Nothing can be done against us and nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8: 31-39). On this basis we can be happy continually. “Be cheerful no matter what” (1 Thessalonians 5:16 MSG).
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.] (John 16:33 AMP). As we go through this festive season and embrace the New Year, I charge us to embrace this statement of Jesus and run with it at all times.
PNEUMATOLOGY – THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
INTRODUCTION: The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He has been sent by the Father and the Son to indwell and guide believers. Many Christians think that the Holy Spirit is a force which is powerful but is not a living person. This is a wrong belief. In this study, we shall examine the personality, the deity and the work of the Holy Spirit.
THE PERSONALITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is a living person, the Holy God, equal to the Father and the Son therefore He ought to be worshipped as other persons of the trinity. The scriptural evidences that He is a person are listed below:
- Proper names and pronouns are given to Him. John 15:26, 16:8, 13, 14 when Christ said ―I will send you another comforter, it means that He whom is a comforter was about to depart but another comforter would come to continue His ministry.
- The characteristics of a person are ascribed to Him: These include:
- Intelligence – John 14:26, 15:26, Romans 8:16, 27
- Will – Acts 16:7, I Corinthians 12:11
- Affections – Isaiah 63:10, Ephesians 4:30.
Moreover, He performs acts that a person can do. He searches, speaks, testifies, commands, reveals, strives, creates, makes intercession, raises the dead, etc. Whoever is able to do all these cannot be a mere power or influence, but a person.
THE DEITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit is God. He is just as much a member of the Trinity as are the Father and the Son. He is equal to the Father and the Son in every respect. He is divine because:
- Divine names are given to Him. Exodus 17:7; Hebrews 3:7-9; Acts.5:3-4, II Timothy 3:16.
- Divine perfections are ascribed to Him such as Omnipresence, Psalms 139:7-9; Omniscience, Isaiah 40:13-14, 1 Corinthians 2:10-11; Omnipotence, Luke 1:35, Genesis 1:2; Eternal, Hebrews 9:14.
- Divine works are performed by Him such as Creation, Job 33:4, Psalms 104:30; Salvation, 1 Corinthians 6:10; Conviction, John 16:8-11; Regeneration, John 3:5-8, Titus 3:5; Quickening, 1 Peter 3:18, Romans 8: 11, John 6:63.
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
There are certain works which are more particularly ascribed to the Holy Spirit. Just as He Himself is the one who completes the Trinity, so His works are the completion of God‘s contact with His creatures, and the completion of the work of God in every sphere.
- Conviction: John 16:7-8. He convicts both believers and unbelievers of sin. When believers backslide or stray away from the path of righteousness, He does the work of conviction and restoration.
- Regeneration: Every believer is given a new nature and life at conversion. 2 Corinthians 5:17, John 3:6.
- Baptizing: The baptizing work of the Holy Spirit places believers into the spiritual body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12. By this work, believers are united with Christ, the Head of the Body. Ephesians 1:22-23, Colossians 1:18.
- Indwelling: John 14:16-17. Prior to the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was a visitor to believers; but now He is resident. He lives within forever. His indwelling is the motive and source of power for a holy life; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20. He aids us in our prayer life; Romans 8:26-27 and makes it possible for us to understand the scriptures; 1 Corinthians 2:9-13, John 16:12-15.
- Sealing: Ephesians 1:13-14. This passage tells us that God the Father seals with the Holy Spirit those who trust in His Son, Jesus Christ. It means He safely keeps us until we receive the purchased possession – our glorified bodies; Ephesians 4:30, 1 Peter 1:15. We will receive our glorified bodies at the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ; Philippians 3:20-21.
- Filling: All believers are commanded to be filled with the Holy Ghost. Ephesians 5:18. This indicates a continuing experience. It is when we are controlled by, or walk in, the spirit that we bear the fruit of the spirit; Galatians 5:22-23. We can then witness with power concerning our wonderful Lord, Jesus Christ; Acts 1:8, 4:31-33.
Blindness is very challenging. I have played games blindfolded and it was difficult to get anything done without the normal visual cues. I staggered around, missed my way, hit objects and stumbled as one groping in darkness in need for guidance. How much more a physically blind person who constantly needs an aid to perceive the details of the immediate environment in order to efficiently move around. Reading and writing aids are also required in order to facilitate studying and written communication.
The challenges of physical blindness were experienced by the man in chapter 9 of the book of John. He was blind from birth and obviously lived in a state of abject dejection and self-pity. Therefore he became a professional beggar. However, Jesus stepped in and healed the man of his blindness – he fully restored the sight he never had. The frenzy of events that followed were both enlightening and befuddling. The family and friends of the healed man were both bewildered and excited, whilst the religious leaders were miffed and derogatory. (See John 9:1-34). Jesus’ final response to the disgruntled religious leaders sticks out— “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (John 9: 41 NIV). In hindsight, the implication of this scathing remark was not exclusively for the religious leaders as Jesus earlier said “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind” (John 9: 39 NIV). Jesus’ responses addressed “spiritual blindness” rather than physical blindness. Jesus was invariably saying that a sinner is blind and he needs to be healed of it. In other words every person born of a woman, is born blind. As the psalmist puts it “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5 NIV). Therefore, without salvation in Christ we are as one groping in darkness in need for guidance (John 15:5).
John Newton’s 1779 classic ‘Amazing Grace’ succinctly puts Jesus’ message into perspective in stanza 1 where it says; “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.”
I am eternally grateful for the consequences of this spiritual healing, as it affects the lens through which I view life. My perspective to life is constantly honed by my fixation on Jesus and the consequences of his finished work on the cross (Colossians 3:1-3, Hebrews 12: 1-3).
Jesus did not only heal us of our spiritual blindness, but he also made us light. Jesus remarked in John 9:5 (NIV) “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” This is the harbinger of Paul’s remark in Ephesians 5:8 (NIV) “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light”. We are an encapsulation of hope, decency, love, joy, patience, wisdom and power. It is such that even a physically blind Christian can walk in the illumination of divine understanding to see the unseen and transform the world. Now that we can see, we are the light of the world. Let us live as children of light so our Father in heaven may be glorified.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV).
Profitable businesses today, constantly desire to meet and exceed customer expectations. They want to provide the best possible services to customers, all the time. With the increased usage of e-commerce and social media, it is almost seamless for people to people transactions to be done globally. Round the clock, there is business as usual.
With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), the websites you frequently visit can be tracked to know your tastes and preference. This helps corporations predict what their prospective clients want by understanding their online behaviour. The corporations want to provide goods and services in the best possible way, so they are always in a vantage position. Government services are not left out from this trend. In USA for instance, automated tracking systems are used to provide improved health and security systems to better serve the populace.
I am intrigued at how human systems are constantly making efforts to build an improved globally integrated system to serve one another better. However, I am overwhelmed that I have a father who knows the beginning, the end and everything in between. I like the way apostle Paul salutes Him in 1 Timothy 1:17 “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (KJV), this echoes his adulation for Jesus in Colossians 1:16 where he says “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” (KJV).
It is not just the fact that all accounts show that Jesus is the master of the universe that overwhelms me, but the fact that He went the extra mile to give himself for me, so I can be called his brother and he is proud of me (Hebrews 2:10-14) – awesome wonder! On the basis of this reality, scripture says “God is always on the alert, constantly on the lookout for people who are totally committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9a MSG). For God, this is business as usual. His ceaseless and matchless performance exceed and transcend what any human socio-economic community can anticipate or provide at their best.
We have the mind of Christ and if we continually align our thoughts to His, we will constantly be in business as usual – being kingdom ambassadors, who constantly meet and exceed expectations in both physical and spiritual matters.
“Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah’s question, “Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?” has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:15-16 MSG)
“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am” (Philippians 4:13 MSG).
A female UBER driver gave me a ride recently and we had a wonderful conversation, which dovetailed into her sharing how she loved to spend time on YouTube. She told me how YouTube videos served as a major resource platform to help sort out her domestic chores or repairs. She especially told me that by simply spending time with YouTube, she learnt how to do some plumbing repairs in her bathroom. I had taken the chat rather lightly, as her disposition seemed to be consistent with her desire to cut the costs of hiring a repair person. However, when I recently went to the Billy Graham Center at the Wheaton College, Illinois, USA, an old animated poster of Evangelist Billy Graham caught my attention with the caption “the repair man is here”.
This caption put the UBER driver’s story into very clear perspectives for me. She became a repair person by paying close attention to what she saw and learnt through a YouTube video, the same way Evangelist Billy Graham was tagged a repair man in the animated poster, by the things he saw and learnt in the Bible.
The apostle Paul magnificently echoes this theme to the Church in Corinth when he says “Such is the confidence and steadfast reliance and absolute trust that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficiently qualified in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency and qualifications come from God. He has qualified us [making us sufficient] as ministers of a new covenant [of salvation through Christ], not of the letter [of a written code] but of the Spirit; for the letter [of the Law] kills [by revealing sin and demanding obedience], but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 2:4-6 AMP). This statement buttresses Jesus’ first cardinal statement to his disciples when he said “Come, Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19, Mark 1:17). In other words, fellowship with Jesus automatically capacitates us to be repair people – people who are hard wired to love, save, build and cherish all that God has made and loves (1John 4:17)!
I really love the way Emmanuel Oyelade’s song ‘Emmanuel’ accentuates these concepts. The lyrics in the second stanza particularly gets my attention. It says:
The Lion of the tribe of Judah lives in me
He’s working inside of me
God is working from my inside
To the outside Reaching everywhere
All over the world (He’s working inside of me)
God is working from my inside
To the outside Reaching everywhere
All over the world
These lyrics are simply breathtaking. It is so refreshing to know that our Father lives in us and is working through us to reach the entire world. We are his repair people – His business associates (1 Corinthians 3:9, 2 Corinthians 6:1). Jesus lives and works through us (Hebrews 2:10-12)! Please let us always keep this in mind and we will always be at our best (Romans 12:1-2). Every believer in Jesus Christ is a repair person sent into a dying world (Matthew 5:13-16)!
“Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP).
I recently bought a new travel cologne and I have gotten rave reviews from friends about it. The fragrance is so distinct and lasting, that friends have asked for the brand, so they can purchase the cologne for themselves. I initially thought the cologne was an exorbitant purchase, as the purchase cost me “a fortune”. However, today, I am so glad paid the price. Its fragrance makes me smell distinct and stand out on my many travels. It has served as a catalyst to my self-confidence, hence accentuating my ability to engage and influence people I have interacted with on my travels.
As I pondered the rave reviews I have gotten, based on the distinct fragrance of my cologne, these verses popped in my mind “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us spreads and makes evident everywhere the sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ [which ascends] to God, [discernible both] among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the latter one an aroma from death to death [a fatal, offensive odor], but to the other an aroma from life to life [a vital fragrance, living and fresh]. And who is adequate and sufficiently qualified for these things? For we are not like many, [acting like merchants] peddling God’s word [shortchanging and adulterating God’s message]; but from pure [uncompromised] motives, as [commissioned and sent] from God, we speak [His message] in Christ in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17 AMP).
These verses are so remarkable. It clearly defines us (the children of God) as fragrances of hope! Only those doomed for destruction spitefully reject this fragrance of hope. It is such a privilege that our Father who commissioned us to model the message of hope, both in our conduct and speech, also continually leads us in triumph in Christ. This is mind blowing!
To this end, we should brace up and have our understanding continually enlightened by the word of truth (Ephesians 6:14), so we can consistently carry ourselves in line with the reality of who we are and the commission our Father has given to us. I cannot emphasise this enough – God continually leads us in triumph in Christ and we are the “Fragrances of hope”.
ANTHROPOLOGY – THE DOCTRINE OF MAN
Introduction: ―What is man? Asked the psalmist centuries ago. This is one of the questions that bother the mind of men especially those who do not know the teachings of the Bible concerning man‘s origin, man‘s nature, his fall and the consequences of the fall. These are the aspects we shall examine in this study.
A. MAN’S ORIGIN:
The Biblical view of man‘s origin is that he is the product of God‘s direct and special creation, Genesis 1:26-27. Man is the result of careful and purposeful deliberation on the part of the Trinity. Man was distinct and unique from the rest of creation. He was to subdue it and have domination over it.
B. MAN’S NATURE: From Genesis 2:7, we see that man comprises three parts
- The body i.e. flesh, bone, blood which were made from the dust.
- The spirit which was breathed by God into man‘s nostrils.
- The soul. Man became a living soul. This is the part which connects the body with the spirit.
This will he treated in greater detail later.
C. THE FALL OF MAN:
Genesis chapter 3 gives us the full account of the awful tragedy of the fall of man. Though the story does not tell us how sin entered the universe, for Satan had already sinned and cast out of heaven. Ezekiel 28:1-15, Isaiah 14:9-14, it tells us how sin entered the human race. Man, created by God and placed in the Garden of Eden fell from his sinless condition.
Six downward steps are very clear about the fall of man.
- Eve listened to Satan Genesis 3:1
- She talked with Satan verses 2, 3
- She listened to Satan‘s denial of the word of God verses 4,5
- She believed Satan‘s lies verse 6
- Adam and Eve agreed with Satan‘s suggestions verse 6
- They both tried to cover their sin verse 7.
D. THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE FALL:
As a result of the fall, man lost his original inclination toward God and became a perverted creature, inclined away from God. The tragedy of the fall went far beyond Adam and Eve. It extended to the whole human race. Romans 5:12. This has brought the whole world under the judgment of God. Romans 3:19, and because all men are apart from Christ, they are rebels against God – children of disobedience, subject to His wrath. Adam was our representative when he sinned therefore each of us, by doing as Adam did, agreed with decision to rebel and disobey God.
E. MAN AS A TRIPARTITE BEING
Just as the Bible teaches that man comprises three parts, psychologists also believe that man is made up of the conscious mind, the subconscious mind and the unconscious mind, (the id, the ego and the supper-ego). Two of the passages that clearly teach this are I Thessalonians 5:23, Hebrews 4:12.
- THE BODY OF MAN
This is the physical part of man and it can be easily identified by the five senses, sight, (eyes) hearing, (ears) smelling, (nose) talking, (mouth) touch. The body has no power of its own to decide what to do or not, it only carries out the instruction received from inside. This may explain why the body will not be judged by God. Ecclesiastics 12:7.
- THE SOUL OF MAN
The soul gives man self-consciousness. It is the part of man between the body and the spirit yet it is not a mixture of two. The soul is the seat of Emotions, Intellect and Volition (will). It is the battle field between God and the devil. The Lord died on the cross to redeem souls. It is the main obstacle to Christian growth that is why the Bible says we have to gain and exercise authority over it Luke 2 1:19, I Peter 1:9. It must be forced to bow and yield to the spirit. It is the soul that rules the lives of unbelievers and immature Christians.
Characteristics Of Soulish Christians
- They always show their superiority in clothing (I Timothy 2:9-10, I Peter 3:3-4; speech (James 3:13, II Corinthians 10:7); Deeds (Philippians 1:12-19).
- Look for understanding in their minds instead of experience with God.
- Self-righteousness II Corinthians 10:12-13, 17-18.
- Are easily moved because they are governed by emotions.
- Holding tenaciously to their own opinion. I Timothy 4:1-3; Colossians 2:16-19.
- Not rooted and grounded in truth Ephesians 4:4, 3:17; Colossians 2:6-7.
- Unable to grow on spiritual things. Ephesians 4:15; I Peter 3:18.
3. THE SPIRIT OF MAN
The spirit gives man God-consciousness, the ability to communicate with God. It is the seat of Conscience, Intuition and Communion therefore it is the part of man which resembles God most. God‘s plan is the Holy Spirit, making a union with the human spirit, to govern the soul, and both would use the body as the means of expression (John 12). But in many lives, the spirit is unable to function; it is imprisoned by the soul. The more the spirit is allowed to rule the soul, the more spiritual and responsive to God we will be as Christians. This is why the soul must be completely subdued and compelled to yield to the spirit. The agency for dividing soul and spirit is the word of God. Hebrews 4:12.
I love the Lord deeply and in all I do, there is a strong consciousness within me that says I am Christ’s and I have to live up to my status. But there is a conflict in my mind. I want to be youthful, enjoy the bliss of being a youth, scream with crazy friends, dance away my worries in a club with the loud music joining the speedy rhythm of my heart. Yet, I cannot…why? The consciousness within will not allow me. There is a new lifestyle I am getting to embrace. It is peaceful, insightful, somewhat adventurous and I can tell you I am loving it.
My name is Priscilla Coker alias Media Girl That Loves Jesus and you are welcome to Youth Today. This is our very first encounter and I am glad to meet you. I can strongly sense it is going to be an interesting journey all the way. So the gist on this column would basically be guiding tips and godly counsels for young people. Trust me, I know as young people, there are so many challenges we are confronted with and the old folks just do not understand. They seem to forget that society is changing and that they are analogue and we are digital…they just do not get it! Therefore, on this platform, we will talk about our challenges as young people living in the 21st century and how we can solve them like the Christians that we are.
Today, our topic for discussion would be how young Christians should socialise. What does it mean to socialise? Well, according to my dictionary, that is Priscilla’s Dictionary, it simply means ‘talking, smiling, gisting with just about anybody at any given time in a very friendly manner’. Why do we need to socialise? Spontaneously, I will say, we need to socialise because no man is an island. But purposefully, I will say we need to socialise because there is something we have that we have been instructed to share.
I hear somebody say, I am an introvert, and talking to people does not come to me naturally. I hear somebody else say, I am an extrovert but I do not understand what I have that was instructed to be shared. At this point, I would like to remind you, in case you forgot, that WE ARE CHRISTIANS- Carriers of Christ and Kingdom Ambassadors. It is important to note that whenever we see ourselves in the lenses of temperaments, we often miss out on the big picture.
Was Jesus Christ an introvert or extrovert? I will say he displayed the features of both but was not limited to any. He was quiet when he had to and outspoken when he had to. Jesus did all he did as he was led by God, his Father. From this statement, we can denote that he understood his life was purposeful, so every interaction he had was a deliberate attempt to share the good news of the Kingdom of God.
So you may ask, who am I allowed to purposefully socialise with? You can socialise purposefully with just about anybody at anytime and anywhere. One story that readily comes to my mind now is the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Jesus met her at the well and a conversation ensued. I can imagine the look on the faces of the disciples when they saw him talking to her! But because they knew how he comported himself; given that he did not just do things if it did not make eternal sense, none of them dared asked why he was talking to her.
So how do we not get distracted when socialising?
Romans 12: 2 says: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… Therefore, our transformation and sustainability lays solely on the help of the Holy Spirit and our deliberate effort to renew our minds daily by God’s word.
Just remember what Jesus said in John 17: 16,”They (You) are not of the world just as I am not of the world.”
Till next time, keep socialising.
Priscilla Coker, popularly known as Media Girl That Loves Jesus is a freelance broadcast journalist. She is also, the founder of The Visionaires’Hub an online/onsite platform that promotes entrepreneurship, encourages mentorship through capacity development programs for secondary school students and internship opportunities for undergraduates. Priscilla loves singing and traveling. She blogs at priscillacokertalks.blogspot.com.ng
Sustaining Your Motivation
Have you ever started a great plan or a new resolution and somehow, one morning, it all didn’t make sense to you anymore to continue in that direction. Your energy dropped. You got demotivated. But when you first got a flash of the idea, it was so real you could almost touch the end result. It burned in your heart. You penned it down. You talked about it. You started out well in the beginning, but you had no trigger to fire you up and keep propelling you forward and upward. Or worse, a trigger brought you down.
Procrastination set in and then—its next of kin—laziness. A little distraction here and there. Somehow, as you walk the day, you carry that idea in your head. You know it’s still worth doing, but no more zest to pick up where you left off. Maybe you run into something that reminds you of that original intention and your heart skip a bit. As you postpone, the reality of the dream begins to wane until it’s totally gone.
On your journey to fulfilling purpose, in order to maintain consistency, you need to identify triggers that fire you up and address triggers that bring you down. This will help you sustain your motivation to carry on with your set goals. Ideally, we should all grow to the point where we are self-motivated by God and the Word. But not everyone has that level of maturity. Every now and then, you may need some kind of push to make progress. It may come from the right friends, powerful conversations, listening to audio CDs, listening to the man of God or merely observing the progress and impact of a certain Christian. Never underestimate the power of the encouragement such a trigger may produce. On the other hand, negative triggers such as jesting with the wrong friends, addictions, wrong movies, etc can bring down your motivation.
Assuming Jesus appeared to you tonight and just smiled at you and said, “I love you,” and left, you may almost quit your job tomorrow and go into ministry full-time because of the trigger of that brief encounter. It is unlikely that each of us will have such a supernatural encounter this year, but we do have a powerful trigger with us—the Word of God. Saturate your life and environment with the Word. Get an audio Bible; play it at home, on your phone, in your car. Read it at every opportunity. It will edit your life to press on in the right path unconsciously. Don’t rely on willpower to fulfill purpose. Willpower will take you somewhere, but God’s power will take you all the way. You will always maintain a focus on your essential purpose in life and your results will be clear for all to see.
-Tope S. Aladenusi
The Mirror Principle
When Paul said in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves …” he had the concept of what we now call a “Self-Audit” in mind. By self-audit, we mean an assessment of self to know one’s current stand or position based on specific criteria.
Proper audits entail not just coming up with findings, but following through to ensure recommendations are implemented. Many raise and know findings, but they don’t remediate. Conducting a self-audit is like standing in front of a mirror. The mirror doesn’t show you how you looked yesterday; it shows you your current look, now. When you stand in front of the mirror and find that your collar is not properly done, you set it right immediately. Or you find that your make-up is weird, you rub off or blend it in. It is how you look today that matters.
In the Olympic Games, if an athlete finishes first during the preliminary selections but comes in last on the day of the final selections, he will not get the opportunity to contest for the medal. Nobody remembers his former performance.Most times, our last performance has the greatest significance and may even rubbish all the other good performances of the past. Even if you raised the dead last Sunday in church, and a member of your church sees you driving into a night club the next Friday night, it is finished in their mind, even if you repent from it. Your relevance to your employer is not too much of how well you used to deliver, but how you handle your current assignment. A football coach who won the league last season can lose his job this season. In marriage, your best show of love is not what you did during the honeymoon. The honeymoon was sweet, but it’s long gone and forgotten. Your best show of love is what you display today. You are the best pilot in the world—that’s fine—but please, land this particular plane that I am on board safely.
Here’s how to audit yourself. One, have the right goals for every area of your life—family, relationship, devotion, ministry, profession, investment, training and development, health, etc. Two, set timelines for your goals—daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly. Three, review progress and identify impediments. Four, reset timelines and celebrate your success.
Take some time this week to set/reset/review your life’s goals and also do a proper self-audit.
To be continued next week.
-Tope S. Aladenusi
Demas Was Here
“Demas loves the things of this world so much that he left me and went to Thessalonica.” 2 Timothy 4:10.
Not much was said of the man, Demas. But he was obviously a colleague of Apostle Paul for a period of time. But the brief remark Paul made of him is not to be emulated. Let’s try to paint the whole picture in just one likely possibility.
Let’s assume Demas was an ambitious young man who had always desired to serve in the Roman army. He was on the path to being recruited when he witnessed Paul’s teaching about Jesus and healing the sick in one of the gentile communities. He was touched and had a rethink on what to do with his life. He accepted Jesus and soon volunteered to work alongside Paul in the ministry. Working in the field for Christ and yet reminiscing about the power and opportunities he could have been enjoying had he joined the army and risen through the ranks was his undoing. The pride, the power, the women, the booze and the seeming lush life. Then one afternoon, when Paul and his team didn’t have enough food to eat and being beaten by the sun on their way to Jerusalem, Demas saw an old friend who had become a high-rank soldier. He looked down on himself and considered himself a failure. His friend was headed for Thessalonica and offered an opportunity. Demas dumped the parchments and abandoned the work of the ministry and headed for Thessalonica. Maybe he didn’t renounce Jesus, but he now had a different priority.
Demas was here!
The devil has a lot of tricks to sweep believers off their feet. His tricks are subtle because what he uses does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. The phrase, “things of this world” does not necessarily refer to sinful indulgences. It encompasses an obsession about the needful things of life and also an indulgence in the world’s sinful ways. We know that pornography, drugs, sexual immorality, fraud, corruption, drunkenness, etc are outright world’s sinful ways of living, but there are other negative habits like addictions to games, sports and social media, undue attention to academic and professional pursuit, consumption of wrong Christian materials, teachings and doctrines, unhealthy spiritual information, or even an extreme attitude of focusing too much on the right things but allowing other vital aspects of one’s life to suffer.
Paying too much attention to worldly affairs that are not sinful in themselves can be tricky. They sap you of your energy to stay consistent in pursuit of goals that are of greater relevance both to the kingdom of God and your ultimate purpose in life. Sometimes you may need to take a break and evaluate your priorities and see whether they have become skewed towards earthly pursuits at the expense of your greater calling. Ask yourself how each activity you find yourself doing contribute to your purpose.
To be continued next week.
-Tope S. Aladenusi