Break Free from Religion

Break Free from Religion

I remember growing up, I was taught how to pray in our children’s church as it was called. We were actually given a formula on how to pray. Our Teacher’s said when you pray,
1. Start with thanksgiving    
2. Ask for forgiveness of your sins

We had to ask for forgiveness every-time we pray, even if we knew what our sins were or not. The explanation they gave was that there was no way we could live without sin. Now, I know that’s wrong, If we can’t live above sin, why did Jesus die? But that’s a discussion for another day.

Read Romans 6 Selah.

3. Ask God for our needs, petitions and all
4. We should always end with thanks.

All these were backed up with scriptures, a good reference for such a sermon was always “The Lord’s Prayer”, so there was no way I could have questioned that then. Anytime, our teachers asked us to pray, and I used this formula, I was greatly applauded as a good student of prayer.

Things were fine, and I had strongly believed God must have been listening to me because I was using the “Prayer Outline Formula” until I started reading the book of Psalms.I am a lover of the book of Psalms. If an estimate is made, it might end up being my most frequent book of the bible. I noticed that David wasn’t using the formula. What? David, the king, the man after God’s heart, the prophet was bumping into God in prayers (many of the psalms were actually David’s prayers) without thanking and praising him first, then ask for your forgiveness. I had thought that no matter how urgent our need or situation was, one had got to stick with the formula. As a Mathematician, I understand the place of formulas, and I know it takes years of labor of some people to dig it out. And it always works, until proven otherwise. Without the formula, no going anywhere.

That was rude, I thought, for David didn’t just “bump” into God once or twice but almost every-time he prayed. Although there were times when all he did was to thank God and times when he asked for forgiveness. I noticed he prayed as it “flowed from the inside of him” and not as “our formula states”. Then I asked, does he actually know my formula? I have so much respect for David, and I knew he shouldn’t just be “ignoring the formula”. Something was wrong somewhere, I thought.

As I grew, the Holy Spirit taught me, “Prayer wasn’t supposed to be coordinated with a formula”. It should flow freely, directed by your Spirit. If God was my father I shouldn’t be making rituals and observing a formula before talking with him. Even my earthly father, I don’t have to observe rituals before talking with him. Even though we are thousands of kilometers apart now, if I need to speak with him, I will just pick up my phone, call him and tell him my concerns. Maybe I would want to say “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” first, or call him “Baba ooo” (meaning father in Yoruba language) and we would both laugh and I tell him why I called. And when I miss him, or he misses me, we make a video call. If my earthly father being evil could be like that, how much more my father in heaven? (Matt. 7:11)

I also noticed David’s prayers were in the old covenant. If the prayers in the old covenant were this liberal, how much more in the new covenant? God said:

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16)

He actually not just said this but showed it when he the veil tore in the temple when Jesus died. A stop came to all the rituals to be observed before coming into the most holy place. God is saying come boldly, Come and present your requests, no need for prayer formulas!. Just pray and pray as you are led. Freedom comes when we don’t have to observe a formula in prayers. Enjoy the liberty of the Spirit.

Over-time, I have noticed that just like me a lot of Christians are still caught in the web of Religion; a dogged practice of what we have been taught from child-hood that doesn’t conform in what way ever with the truth, just like in the prayer example I gave above.

Freedom comes when we break the cords of Religion. Anything could become religious. Going to church without the understanding of why we go, why we give, fasting could also become religious,giving etc.  When John the Baptist was given birth to, Zacharias his father was mute because he didn’t believe the prophecy of John’s birth. When he was given birth to, according to the words of the angel, the mother of the baby, Elizabeth requested the child be called John. The family members and neighbors who came for the circumcision said,

Luke 1:59 – 64
So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias (vs 59)
His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John (vs 60)
But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name” (vs 61)
So they made signs to his father – what he would have him called (vs 62)
And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote saying, “His name is John”. So they marveled. (Vs 63)
Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God (vs 64)

The Custom was that John be named Zacharias. It was a norm. But God said he is to be called John which was against the custom. Just like Zacharias, a lot of us are caught in the web of religion, doing things the way we do them because that’s the way we’ve been told to them from our childhood, or the way accepted by the society. We oftentimes don’t ask why we do them the way we do them. Zacharias obedience to breaking the cords of Religion brought his freedom from being dumb. I believe the Holy-spirit is trying to paint an example for us from this scenario of how we can also be free if we dared to break the bonds of Religion. One way to do that is to always ask “why”. Why do you do what you do? Why do you have to do what people do?

I have had to ask, this kind of questions, like why should I be married?, why should I have a wedding ceremony, and even why should I have a reception afterward?. Interestingly I found many of my answers in scriptures and I am holding on to them. That’s the true test of spirituality. This would open the eyes of your understanding, and bring freedom your way swiftly from what bounds others. You would also have a good conviction of what you do.

Again let me say Freedom comes when we break the cords of Religion and also add that Christianity is not a Religion it’s a Life.

I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi

Having a World Perspective of Christianity

Having a World Perspective of Christianity

This week I will like to bring us to awareness of something I believe is quite important for us to have at the back of our minds as Christians. The lesson is simple, and it is we should have a world perspective of Christianity. What do I mean? I mean God has the whole world in mind. He is interested in the affairs of the whole world, and most especially he wants the whole world saved.

“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” 1 Timothy 2:4

Yes. All men means all men. All men every-where in the world. Every men in all nations in the seven continents of the world. See here also

“And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father”    (Philippians 2:11)

All through the scriptures, both from the old and new testaments, especially in the book of Psalms we see phrases such as “clap your hands all ye people (Ps. 47:1)”, “Praise him all peoples (Ps. 117:1)” and many similar phrases. If it says all nations, it means all countries, all nations. He wants all people to declare his praise. We must also have this destination in mind. We have been called to save all nations. God isn’t just interested in Nigeria, or some streets in Africa, he is interested in everyone around the world.

Every tongue means every person from all nations of the earth. Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, Germany, India, Malaysia and everyone. We are to start from our streets, neighbours, friends, but we must know that getting the whole world saved is our destination. Jesus speaking with the apostles about the great commission gave this same insight, he told them start from Jerusalem then to Judea and then to the ends of the world. Simply interpreted, start from your friends, neighbours, streets, states and then to the ends of the world.

“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” Luke 24:47

Now, as His ambassadors here on Earth, we should have the same mind set, so that we can walk in agreement with God. See this:

“Can two walk together except they agree” (Amos 3:3)

Having a world perspective of our mission starts first about having a concern for happenings to other Christians in many other countries of the earth. We must know that God is not just working things in our environments alone, he is at work in every country. We should learn to pray for missions work all around the world.

I presently attend International Baptist Church, and what a beauty to see people from different nations, backgrounds, cultural beliefs and ways of life come gather in a room in unity in the name of Jesus. We must learn that as a Christian, we are a part of a body. A part of a whole. And the body comprises of all Christians on earth.

Brethren, Christianity is a world issue, a global issue. And we should see it as such.

I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi
Edited by Omotayo Abraham

God and Time

God and Time

God dwells in eternity, where time is not a factor. There are no days and nights, in-fact we notice from the account of creation in Genesis 1 – 2. that time (Day and Night, Seasons) were introduced at creation, when Man was created as such we serve a God that created time but is not time bound. In-fact the Psalmist exclaimed that

“For a thousand years in sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” Ps 90:4

So we wonder that when God makes a promise to us today, in 5 years when we are already making complaints that it’s already taking too long, to God it’s like “I just promised you some hours ago”. We must know that God is never in a Hurry to do anything. He does it at the “Right time”. Often times, we as humans don’t get into sync that word. We always want our things done fast and quick, as such at those times when it seems like God is taking too much time, we lose our agreement with God.

Here one example I believe explains it. God Created Man, loved him so much, this man he loved so much committed treason, and couldn’t come into God’s presence anymore. God desired to redeem this Man he loved and created, so he decided to send a savior to pay for the sins of Man. See this prophecy about the savior;

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 KJV)

“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:7 KJV)

Am sure a lot of us must have encountered this prophecy a lot of times. The most interesting for me is the last statement “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this”. The word “zeal” reads to me like God will do this now and now-now. Note that things were really bad, Man had completely taken up the nature of the devil, doing abominable things, up until the time when God was sorry that he had created Man. In-fact he had destroyed the whole earth with water sparing Noah and his family, yet that didn’t stop going evil, So if God needed anything he needed to do it fast! And this was an issue that involved God himself!

Despite that God wasn’t in a hurry, he sent his Son as a Saviour at the RIGHT TIME.

“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, who was born from a woman and lived under the law (Gal. 4:4 ERV)

“But when the right time finally came, God sent his own Son. He came as the son of a human mother and lived under the Jewish Law” (Gal. 4:4 GNB)

Yes, the Right time. That explains it for me. Often times the delay in our prayers, is not because God is slack or not powerful but because the time is not Right. It’s as though, a pregnant woman requesting to give birth at 2 or 3 months of Pregnancy, it’s not the Right time. She must wait.

I had always wanted to travel abroad for my masters, for years I filled so many applications, all ending in rejections, or financial problems. It was a sad time for me. I remember I used to be worried about it a lot that my friends and Sisters during my one year compulsory One year service to the government in Sokoto State used to call me “Worrying Machine”. But at last, God worked it out in-fact it was a miracle. Here am I writing this from Germany where am studying. Seeing all that God did during the process of coming here and even at my arrival made me know he was preparing this place for me, and that I needed to wait for the Right time, when it was ready. The wait was Necessary. Although, it doesn’t mean I have learned patience completely but I am always trusting God for my heart.

What do we do during the Process of Waiting? Keep Believing. Don’t break the circuit by your unbelief. Once you asked, He heard and he is committed to doing it. Just keep believing and keep your confessions Right. He is with you and he is for you. And like my brother, Abraham Omotayo would always say “We always win”.

I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi

New Year… New Prophecies…  New Beginnings

New Year… New Prophecies… New Beginnings

At the beginning of each year, there are always prophecies in almost every congregation, given by God to the shepherd in charge. It’s always beautiful to hear the promises of God for a new year as it always serves as a source of direction as we chart our course for the year, without which we would have been full of uncertainty and apprehension. With knowledge of the prophecies for the year, we can run with them and ensure their actualization by fulfilling our side of the promises. True prophecies never contradict the scriptures and the Bible make us understand that God always confirms the words that come through His prophets, and if we believe we will be established.

So they got up early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe and trust in the Lord your God and you will be established (secure). Believe and trust in His prophets and succeed.” 2 Chronicles 20:20

Reading through the Bible, we see that God never did anything without revealing to His children ahead of time, including the birth of Jesus and the surrounding events. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others foretold the future, as we see from scriptures:

All this happened in order to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet [Isaiah]: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel”—which, when translated, means, “God with us.” Matthew 1: 22-23:

They replied to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what has been written by the prophet [Micah]:‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not in any way least among the leaders of Judah; For from you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ Matthew 2:5-6

Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; She refused to be comforted, Because they were no more.” Matthew 2:17-18

When Jesus was born, the wise men saw a star in the east and it went ahead of them all the way to the place the child was. How did the wise men know what the star meant? So many commentaries have tried to explain this, but I believe the wise men by some means knew about prophecies concerning the Messiah in the first place, and that’s why they could identify the star. Also, in the account of Matthew, Herod asked for the place the child was to be born and sent the wise men there. The answer was also from prophecy.

Matthew 2:4-8
4 So he called together all the chief priests and scribes of the people and [anxiously] asked them where the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) was to be born.
5 They replied to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what has been written by the prophet [Micah]:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not in any way least among the leaders of Judah; For from you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod secretly sent for the magicians and learned from them the [exact] time the star [had first] appeared.
8 Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”

God has always revealed his mind to man. It is not His style to keep his children in the dark. In this dispensation, God hasn’t changed. He still tells his children about the future. The good news is that we don’t have to wait for the beginning of the year to know about the future, or our pastor because we have the word of God, our certain and sure word of prophecy. Prophetic revelations aren’t meant to be a one-off.

So we have the prophetic word made more certain. You do well to pay [close] attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and light breaks through the gloom and the morning star arises in your hearts. 1 Peter 2:19

The Bible is all the prophecy we will ever need. It tells us everything we need to know, and every child of God has access to this revelation-it is not hidden. God has given us His Spirit to help us understand it, interpret it and appropriate it in our lives.

1 Corinthians 2:9-13
9 but just as it is written [in Scripture] Things which the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him [who hold Him in affectionate reverence, who obey Him, and who gratefully recognize the benefits that He has bestowed].”
10 For God has unveiled them and revealed them to us through the [Holy] Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things [diligently], even [sounding and measuring] the [profound] depths of God [the divine counsels and things far beyond human understanding].
11 For what person knows the thoughts and motives of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So also no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the [Holy] Spirit who is from God, so that we may know and understand the [wonderful] things freely given to us by God.
13 We also speak of these things, not in words taught or supplied by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual thoughts with spiritual words [for those being guided by the Holy Spirit].

This prophecy doesn’t come once in a year; it comes as many times as we study the scriptures and fellowship in the Spirit. This means that every day of the new year and beyond, we can receive prophecies and see prophecies fulfilled.

In conclusion, the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelations is our sure word of prophecy. We cannot walk in the light of what we do not know, and prophecies cannot be fulfilled if we don’t fulfill the requirements. Therefore, we must read, believe, speak and do the Word. The Bible wasn’t given to increase our knowledge, but to change our lives. If we do this, we will see prophecies fulfilled because God’s Word can never fail and we will be able to say like Joshua after all is said and done, “and I know in all my heart and in all my soul that not one word of all the good words which the Lord my God has promised concerning me has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed”.

Written by Iyinoluwa Onobote

The “No” of God

The “No” of God

I remember those days we would pester my mum, ”mummy can I go to John’ s house?” Sometimes she would say no and at other times she would give her assent. The Yes answer always excited us as we would rush out to either play football together or squat on the floor for a game of ‘lego’ soccer. We were free to express ourselves, we were free to explore once we got the Yes answer. But no one liked to be given a No. No meant sorrow, restrain and sometimes confusion as it seemed you had nothing else to do except that for which you had just been denied permission. It was most painful when we had already dreamed big and fantasized about the prospects of fun, only to be denied permission to fulfill our ‘dreams’. We would sulk and become irritable, wasting the opportunity for better endeavors. But we were kids, we knew not much.

As I think on this I am reminded that God says No. God stops his children from embarking on purposes already planned out. Be it at the onset or right in the middle of proceedings, God still speaks to conquer our desires. God still speaks to stop our rational processions. Yes, God still speaks to redirect our spiritual passions and fiery enthusiasms. Even when it is logical, spiritual or sensible, God still speaks and it could be a No.

The Holy Ghost stopped Paul preaching in Bithynia, stopped him in Asia too (Act 16:7). The Lord stopped Amaziah from going to war with Israeli soldiers he had hired with a lot of money (2Chronicles 25:7). I mean, he had paid for them already. Yet the Lord said, ‘let not the army of Israel go with you.’ And then he got worried and voiced out his trouble having to see all the money he used for hire waste away. The Lord answered, ‘I am able to give thee much more than this.’ (2 Chronicles 25:9) So, friend, thy investment no matter how bounteous, thy journey no matter how far and thy race no matter how extended, if the Lord says no, it is a No.

But remind thy heart, that God’s No is for thy good. He – God – will eventually bring you into the, Yes you need. He is very intentional about your life to bring you into the best. His No is definitely for something better that has not entered thy sphere of thought. His No might bring a present pain but it is for a future gain. He is working something out, yes He is. If God says No, weep not, but rejoice that God is thinking about you and leading you with His mighty hands. If the Almighty has decided to be deliberate with my life then I shall instead rejoice. For is it not true that not everything we desire is the best for us? The Shepherd knows better, He shall lead us well and we shall find pasture.

Hence, we must be in constant inquiry as we travel. Let us not make the Lord look like ‘the sense of Logic.’ God is not logic and He is not always logical. Before we dream dreams and build castles in the clouds of uncertainty, let us make sure our desires are founded upon the word from God. Let ‘thus saith the Lord’ always be our watchword.

Written By Rotimi Alao