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Principles of true giving

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The issue of giving has become a pertinent issue that confronts God’s church today for several reasons but the most worrying of all is that many so-called ‘ministers’ see church-giving as a tool for enrichment and self-gratification. And sadly, there are many church goers who have come to believe that the ulterior motive for becoming a minster is to make money. So it’s unsurprising then, when church folks get irate when there’s a call for donations, pledges, ‘sacrifices’, ‘seeds’, etc. This widespread culture, often resulting in the reluctance of folks to part with their hard-earned money, results in many Church leaders striving so hard to make the congregation see why they should give: “it’s an instruction”, “ there is a reward,” etc.  Let’s leave common church practice. What does it mean to truly give? What are the principles of true giving? Thankfully, the Holy Scriptures has consistent answers to these questions.

 

  1. It starts with consecration.                                                                                                                                                                                    “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord and unto us by the will of God.” (2 Corinthians 8:5)

Any message of giving without the doctrine of consecration isn’t complete. It must be known that when a person decides to give his life to Christ, they didn’t just come to Christ for forgiveness of sins, but they surrendered their lives; they made a decision to give themselves to God. I readily admit that, in practice, this is not the case with many believers. However, the truth still remains that if we say we belong to Christ, we ought to yield ourselves (including everything we have) to God. We are not holding unto anything as ours anymore. Everything, yes everything now belongs to God. Willful giving, which is often stressed in many church circles, cannot be effectively practiced without consecration. We must come to a point where we truly admit that everything we have is God’s.

David realized this principle. “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.”(1st Chronicles 29:14-KJV). This is not a scripture for just mental comprehension; we must sincerely pray that God will help us see that all we have are his.

 

  1. …The heart must always be upright

“Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.” (1st Chronicles 29v9)

God is pleased to receive our substance when our hearts are upright. We must understand that God is more interested in our heart disposition than in our substance. David rightly conveyed this truth when he said :

“I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.” (1st Chronicles 29:14).

 

  1. …Why are we giving?

Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.(1st Corinthians 16v2)

The truth is that if ministers don’t effectively communicate the need for regular collections, church folks are likely  to show an uncooperative response. And sadly, some pastors worsen the situation by making statements like “God is not a beggar. No one should ever put twenty naira in the offering basket. You are not giving to any man but to God”.  A logical response then might be, “If I’m giving to God, leave me to God. Let Him judge me. It shouldn’t be your concern what I give to God.” But we know that such a response does not make sense, so Pastors and Church leaders should ensure that they make their congregation see what the money is used for. It’s not wrong to do this. For instance, in the book of Exodus 35, we see why the Israelites had to give an offering; in 1st Chronicles 29, the Israelites of David’s day gave for the same purpose. When I was in school, I remember the Pastor would tell us that the offering was for the purpose of rental payment. This usually created a sense of responsibility in us and we joyfully gave our offerings-mostly sacrificially. No one was compelled to give.

 

  1. Willful giving then becomes  a consequence

“Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the Lord: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.” (1st Chronicles 29v9)

Where there are believers who have yielded themselves to God, who are upright in heart and know why they are giving, willful giving is never wanting. Such believers give, not because of what they want to get in return but because their love for God propels them to give selflessly. There would be no need for them to come to the altar for public recognition. God sees them. There would be no need for their leaders to spend quality time hammering on what they’d get in return if they gave ‘sacrificially’. Willful giving has always been God’s way: “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. (Exodus 25v2). It’s not about giving out of an abundance of wealth. Paul speaks of the Macedonian church:“How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” (2nd Corinthians 8v2).

 

  1. God rewards those who truly give

Even though, for true givers ,reward isn’t the primary motive of giving, nevertheless  we must admit that God is always faithful in rewarding believers who truly give. How God does this in His wisdom and manifold grace cannot be explained. But one thing is sure: if we selflessly give to others in their times of need, God will always provide for us in our times of need. I believe this is what Apostle Paul meant when he said:

“But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philipians 4:18-19-KJV)

May the Lord bless His word in our heart.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Religion

 

Who was Obededom really?

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When we hear the name “Obededom”, what comes to mind is the man who received the ark of the Covenant from David; the man whom God eventually blessed to the surprise of many who thought that he would witness God’s fiery judgment. Let’s briefly consider what the bible has to say about this man.

He was a righteous man.

From the texts in 2nd Samuel 6 and 1st Chronicles 13, we see that there was panic after the death of Uzzah because he touched the ark to steady it. Who shall take the ark? David eventually reasoned that there was a Levite named Obededom-a man who had moral authority. David didn’t choose just anyone; he searched for a man who had the fear of God. At that time, the only option was for the ark to rest in the home of a man whom David thought would have God’s approval-and he was right! The bible records that God blessed Obededom and his family after the ark was taken to their home to confirm to them that the ark had come to the home of a righteous man. The opposite (disaster) would have been the case had it been that Obededom and his household walked in iniquity as was the case with the Philistines (1st Samuel4-7).

He was blessed by God

In the book of 1st Chronicles 26v4-5, we see that after the Chronicler listed the eight sons of Obededom, he added that, “for the Lord blessed him (Obededom)”. Obededom wasn’t the first man to have many sons. But there seem to be something deeper in those words which the subsequent verses reveal. “Also unto Shemaiah his son were sons born who ruled throughout the house of their father [Obededom]; for they were mighty men of valor. The sons of Shemaiah: Othni, and Rephael, and Obed, and Elzabad, whose brethren were strong men, Elihu, and Semachiah.All these were of the sons of Obededom; they and their sons and their brethren, able men with strength for the service were threescore and two of Obededom.” So, beyond the numerical count of progeny, we see that God blessed Obededom by giving him valiant sons.

 

He was an active worker

Contrary to what some think about Obededom as just some miserable low-life popper whom David wanted to experiment with by virtue of his authority a the King of Israel, Obededom was a highly respected Levite who served as part of the choir leaders (1st Chronicles 15).

 

The bible records in 2nd Chronicles 16v9 that  “…the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…” God used the life of Obededom to teach the Israelites that if their ways pleased him, he would bless them. And God is saying the same today to us, that if our hearts are drawn towards Him, he would surely bless us with blessings (true blessings) that the disobedient cannot boast of.

May the Lord bless our hearts.

God bless.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Religion

 

The light that shines

 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (Matthew 5:16; Phil2:15)

Lights are known by the very function they serve: illumination. Wherever there is light, it will be seen. God in His infinite mercies has called us, who were once in the thick darkness of ignorance, into His light. Col 1:13 says He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love”. The kingdom of His Son is the kingdom of light. All who have genuinely opened their hearts to the gospel of truth receive this light as the evidence of their ‘conveyance’ into the kingdom of Christ(Light). The bible says “in Him is light and there is no darkness at all”(1st John 1:5). All who have been drawn to Jesus have been drawn to light.

Christ’s call to us in the text above is one of responsibility: we are to shine our light-the one we have received from Him. Those who are yet in the dark are to see us and see something different-light! This light is nothing of man’s origin. It is from its rightful source-Christ. The believer, by his actions, is to make men see that he carries the light of Christ. However, there is a caveat: some believers, in an attempt to try to prove a point to those in the world, put God to the test. For instance, a believer is told  by an unbeliever, “if you are truly a child of God, do this and do that…” and in an attempt to proof their sonship,  they start to do all sorts of foolish things. God is against this. On at least two occasions, Satan tried to tempt Jesus to do this. His first attempt was in the wilderness: If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread…If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.(Matt 4:3-6-NIV). And the second was on the cross: “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”. In the first case, Christ answered Satan “Do not put the Lord your God to the test”; in the second instance, he simply kept silent. In both cases, he knew that he didn’t have to prove a point to the devil that he was God’s Son.

Many of us get into situations where we are tempted to do foolish things just to prove that we are what we say we are-children of light. Scriptures tells us that we are able to silence the ignorance of the foolish by our good works. “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men”.(1st Pet2:15-NKJV). The proof that we are children of God isn’t in our shouting but in our actions. Our actions should reveal light, contrary to the expectation of the unenlightened. For instance, Christ tells us in the same book of Mathew 5 that “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy,But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”(Matt5:43-45-NKJV). Note the emboldened words “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven”.The proof of sonship is in living a life of light. 

May the Lord help us walk in this knowledge.

God bless you!

 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Religion

 

Teach me your grace- a poem

Hi there! I’d like to share a poem that I feel will strengthen those who are embattled with sin and are looking unto Jesus for grace.

 

A feast is prepared, Death closely whispers
With the wages of sin are hasty fingers
Again have I deserted your secret place-
It’s all because I’ve never known your grace.

A pious tree with fruitless branches;
A dazzling raiment with hidden patches
Seeking strength from intellectual might
The ray of faith vanishes from my sight

To be alone: a fleshly hope it seeks
And now it groans but then it’s free
My soul’s freedom is surely slavery
And any uttered prayer is really mockery

My eyes are blurred with muds of shame
Yet this weary soul shall seek your face
For your truth reveals the path of light
And in it I’m sure I’ll win this fight.

Now in child-like faith I pray this way:
Heavenly Father teach me your grace
All fleshly will and like at your feet
And a holy fellowship help me to see. 

(c) Yisa Samuel. 2014 

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2014 in Religion

 

Our sufficiency is God

The book of 1st Kings 17 shows us how God miraculously provided for Elijah. First, he was told to go to a certain ravine where he’d drink from a brook and be fed by the ravens. And the ravens fed him twice daily. Next, he was told to go the home of a certain widow who’d supply his needs. In both instances, God assured Elijah, saying, “I have commanded the ravens to feed you there…I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food” (1st Kings17v4, 9). This is to show that as Moses and Jesus truly said, man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. (Deut8v3; Luke4v4).

Elijah did not have to pray to God before God made these provisions because “our heavenly Father knows that we have need of these things”. If He takes care of the birds of the air, he’ll surely take care of us. The environment may be harsh (as in the case of Israel in the days of Elijah) but we should not be moved by the prevailing external circumstances because our sufficiency is God. No matter how much money we have or could ever have, our sufficiency is God. God’s word says “…the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the earth to show himself strong to all whose heart are perfect towards him.”(2nd Chron 16v9).  

Blessed is the man whose trust is in the LORD.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2014 in Religion

 

The spiritual Laws of God and the free will of man (concluded)

Hi there. We shall be wrapping up our discourse on the issue of the free will of man and the spiritual Laws of God. Today we shall be looking at doing the will of God by examining some commonly misunderstood scriptures. However, one point we’ve been emphasizing is this: Man has a will and he can choose for himself; so God does not force man to do His will. Let’s now examine a few scriptures.

  1.        “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”(Phi2v13-NIV). This is a commonly quoted scripture especially when the topic of grace is discussed. This verse, taken literally would mean that God is working in man to take charge of man’s will. Hence, whatever man does is a product of God’s working. Then it would seem that when we do ‘good’, God is at work but when we sin, the enemy is at work.  But honest believers who have sought understanding know by experience what this verse truly means. The verse that precedes this verse would grant us  better understanding. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”(Phil2v12-13-NIV) It is clear that as believers, we should work out our salvation .i.e. live a life that shows that we are truly saved. The scripture therefore tells us that we ought to live out what God is doing within us-sanctification- with an attitude of humility. It means we have to respond, in the will, to God’s dealings: For instance, When He convicts us of some sin, however ‘normal’ it may seem, we are to confess that sin and repent, and not to act right in our own eyes. Most times when we pray for grace, we often say “Lord help me” as if to say “Lord help me say no to this temptation”. And when we fall, we assume that God wasn’t interested in seeing us overcome. What we forget to consider is that the will to do either good or bad lies with us not with God. God’s grace abound to those who are humble enough to acknowledge their weaknesses and trust him for strength, knowing that they, not God, will have to say “NO” to ungodliness and live moral and godly lives.(Titus2v11). Hence Paul says, “But if you, through the [strength of the]Spirit, mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.(Rom8v13). The Spirit’s work is not to mortify but to provide us with the strength to mortify.
  2.  He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them(John6v65-NIV). This is another        commonly misunderstood scripture. We often say no man can be saved except God brings him to Jesus. Okay. So why should there be any need for  evangelism? Why can’t God just arrest everybody’s heart and turn them to Jesus? Or could it be that God has already selected those who should be    saved? That is, God is turning the hearts of those unbelievers in that preselected group? But we know that this isn’t true. God wouldn’t take over man’s  will and help him decide to go to Jesus. It is against His spiritual laws. The bible makes us to understand that God so loved the world-the WHOLE        world, not some selected people-that He gave His only begotten Son to die for them (John3v16). Also, it is not the will of God that sinners should die but that they should come to repentance. What Jesus meant from the text above is that those who come to him are those who have responded, in the will,to the Father’s call and are thus enabled to come to him. This discouraged many disciples. Many eventually left Jesus. What did he mean by that? Have they been wasting their time all along? But he was striking a salient point which we mustn’t fail to consider: God is knocking at the door of the heart of every man, but only those who are ready to receive him are enabled to come to Jesus to receive life.                                                      

All who are in Christ have this story. Consider Paul. He was on his way to Damascus to persecute believers but was hindered by Christ. He however wasn’t forced to follow Jesus. Paul had a will. We must understand this. He only opened the door for God to enter and God led him to humbly surrender to Jesus. So he said “Lord what will you have me do?” When we preach the word of God to unbelievers, those who eventually give their lives to Christ are those who have responded inwardly to God’s eternal call.  It is not that God dragged them to Christ. They chose to come to Jesus.The message of grace therefore is that: who are we that God is mindful of us? Why should he come knocking at the door of my sinful heart? I wouldn’t have come to Jesus if not for the love of God. Even though we choose to come to Jesus, we truly have nothing to boast of. God called us and we responded. This is the story of every genuine believer. As we relate to God in humble adoration, let’s always keep it in mind that God’s work in us is in opening our spirit to the direction of His will and as we respond, we walk in obedience. This is what it means to live a life that is well-pleasing to God.(Col1v9) Stay blessed!

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in Religion

 

God’s spritual Laws and the free will of man(3): Knowing God’s will

Knowing God’s will

 

“For this cause also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding…Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to do” (Col1v9-KJV;Eph 5v17-TLB)

The popularity of the message of the will of God has made many a believer to think of God’s will in different ways: to some it’s something only ‘prophets’ can know and so they seek such church officers in order to know God’s will; yet to some, it’s something that is often spoken by God to ‘sensitive’ believers which is supposed to guide them in making decisions, even daily decisions; still, some believe God’s will are His instructions stated only in the bible. The purpose of this piece, therefore, is to draw light from scriptures and address this issue objectively.

To save space we shall skip the meaning of the word ‘will’. For this is easily understood. There is nothing mysterious about it. What we are considering is ‘knowing God’s will’. And we shall start by addressing some key issues. First, it is clear from scripture that in this dispensation, God’s will can be known (without a  prophet). See text above. So the idea of constantly seeking prophets in order to know God’s will clearly reveals spiritual immaturity. Also,  if the will of God is only known by ordinarily searching God’s word (bible), then how was Joseph, who did not have a bible, able to know that it was against God’s will to have carnal knowledge with his master’s wife? (Gen 39v8-9). Please don’t get me wrong: I’m not refuting the fact that God’s will is stated in His Word (the bible), my point is that whether there is the bible or not, the will of God can be known. In other words, it is not about searching a book; it’s about how the book is being searched. So how do we recognise the will of God?

To answer this question, let me quickly say that man is tripartite in nature: he has a body, soul and spirit. The soul was formed at the point of union between the spirit and the body. God breathed into man the breath of life and man became a living soul. (Gen2v7). The spirit of man has three faculties (conscience, intuition and fellowship) with which man is able to fellowship with God. God speaks to man through man’s spirit. Hence, an unregenerate man is dead unto God. This does not mean that he doesn’t have a spirit but that his spirit cannot know God.  Paul refers to such people as those who are “spiritually dead in sins”(Eph2v1); Jude refers to such people as “sensual, not having the spirit”(Jude19)meaning that they do not have a regenerate spirit. Hence, it is clear that even if an unregenerate man were to search the scriptures, he’d only have head knowledge of what God’s will is; he really won’t be able to know it (spiritually) or do it.

God guides us and thus enables us to know his will through His Spirit guiding our spirit. The bible says “…no  one mere man has ever seen, heard or even imagined what wonderful things God has ready for those who love the Lord. But we know these things because God has sent his Spirit to tell us…no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.”(1st Cor 2v9-11-TLB).  This truth being applied to our prayer life would produce tremendous results because 1st John 5v14-15 says “And this is the confidence we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will he hears us and if we know he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have  the petitions that we desired of him”. We are able to know what to pray for because our spirit is now guided by God’s Spirit. Prayer is not merely making requests that suit our selfish ends, it is mainly communicating God’s will to Him.

Whenever, we seek God’s face regarding a matter, we are able to know what He desires. It could be through an intuitive perception in our enlivened spirit, through the study of the word of God or even through a person. Whatever the case, there’ll always be a spark of illumination in our spirit. Whenever God uses someone to speak to you , you’ll be able to recognise that God is using that person to speak to you. It may not be pleasant words but you’ll know it is God. Hence, Paul wasn’t sad on receiving Prophet Agabus’s prophesy about him because he (his enlivened spirit) recognized it as God’s will. So he said “why all this weeping?…For I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but also to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus”(Acts21v13).

In summary, God’s will is mainly known through His Spirit guiding our regenerate spirit. Whether it’s through the study of word of God that tells us that “In all things give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you…this is the will of God even your sanctification” (1st Thess 5v18, 4v3) or through a saint of God, we are able to perceive the will of God through our spirit. Even when we do certain things that seem ‘normal’ to the ordinary eye but against God’s will, He’ll convict us through our conscience (a faculty of the spirit). We don’t need to form the habit of always waiting for ‘a-word-from-the-Lord’ through a pastor or seeking some ‘Prophet’ to guide us. Even when ‘prophetic’ words are spoken to us in church meetings, we are able to discern what is of God and what is not. Hence Paul says to the Corinthians “weigh carefully what is said”. We have God’s Spirit to guide us-even from false doctrines and prophecies. (1st John 2v20, 27). This is what makes the wine of the new covenant sweeter than that of the old covenant. Hallelujah!

Stay blessed!

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2014 in Religion

 
 
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