Over-time I have discovered as a writer that my readers relate most when I explain scripture as I have applied them to my personal experiences. This approach brings more light to the bible, those stories tend to stick more to the mind, and they are always enticing to read.
People enjoy reading stories. As such, I have always trusted the Holy Spirit to remind me of specific experiences which I can use to understand the scriptures. Once the Holy-Spirit told me, “I am always speaking to you, sometimes directly to your spirit and sometimes through the experiences around you. If you would learn to open your minds and take careful note of your experiences, you would discover my wisdom expressly shared and demonstrated to you’’
So I decided to add this to my prayers: “Dear Holy Spirit, I know you are not an illusion or a mirage, neither are you a mere belief or a thing. You are a Person, the third person of the Trinity. You are the power of the Godhead and you have been given to me to be a comforter and a partner. Help me to stay conscious of your presence and help me STAY CONNECTED to you”
Let me give you an illustration. I have noticed that when two people are in love, they have an overwhelming desire to share moments together but if they are not talking for quite some hours or – even worse a full day- , there must be a problem.
The same relationship can be seen between a Christian and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has emotions, He can be grieved (Eph. 4:30) and He loves. Many of us often forget that the Holy-spirit always wants our company, he doesn’t like to be ignored, he has been given to always be with you when you sleep, when you walk the streets, when you eat, when you drink.Every-time, every second, he wants us to talk with him, he wants our attention. He wants us to tell him our challenges, and he wants to also talk with us, he wants to give us wisdom on how to make decisions, he wants to tell us more about God’s kingdom. He wants our fellowship. He wants us to STAY CONNECTED. He doesn’t just want 10 minutes out of the 24 hours of our day. He is not an errand boy. He is our love.
If we will be diligent enough to stay connected and be careful we will learn a lot from our day to day experiences.Let me share two lessons which I learned in the past weeks. I hope it encourages our heart.
After my exams, my plan was to immediately take a vacation. I wanted to visit some nearby countries to give my brain a good break . I was so tired from studying. I planned the trip with two of my friends.
They planned the flights, the buses and the accommodations, and we shared the bill. The trip was really beautiful -peaceful flights, nice discussions, sweet meals, interesting places.It was fun! In Amsterdam, my friends had planned that all night we would keep walking around and to see places , so they didn’t bother to book a room that night. Since I didn’t plan with them, I didn’t know this,. Unfortunately, our planned night tour in city was far below expectations. We had already seen all the interesting places that day and by night-time we were all really tired.
We couldn’t leave the city because our bus was booked for the next morning according to the plan. The night wasn’t comfortable at all. We were visitors with no place to sleep. The only place available was the concrete seats at the Central Train Station. And even though we were tired and weak, the security men allowed us to only sit and not sleep. And we were like that all night! In the midst of this, the Holy Spirit said to me that this is an illustration of Christians on earth.
Christians are sojourners, we are travellers.We shouldn’t expect luxurious comfort here on earth. Our comfort comes when we remember our home, the place where we can finally be with God in body. Many Christians get distracted by seeking comfort here on earth.
“And if you call on Father, who without respect of persons judge according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” (1 Pet. 1:17)
Paul speaking, said when we are pressed on all sides, we must keep moving. Our encouragement is that one day we will be home. Every traveller is encouraged at the thought of the word HOME. It’s always an encouragement. It always gives strength and hope. Likewise we are supposed to be encouraged as Christians. Our consolation shouldn’t be from the things here.
To continue the story, we survived the night, travelled to Belgium where we had booked a room. We were all tired resulting from a sleepless night. We just wanted to check into the room and rest before going around to see that city. Then we encountered another problem. We couldn’t check into our room. We felt like dying. Just then I remembered that a day before I travelled, I was sharing with a friend about my trip. Then he said “hey, my parents live in Belgium have their contact in-case you need a place to stay”. I never asked for their contact, in-fact I was merely sharing it with him, so we could pray together about it. I never saw the need to have their contact, because I believed all had been settled by my friends. I reluctantly collected their contact. It was when we were denied entry into the room that I remembered my friend’s parent. They were very kind and hospitable to us. We had a nice dinner together with them, with very soft and cosy beds and they even drove us again to the airport the next morning, to catch our flight.. We lost a room and got a house. We wished we had planned to stay longer with them.
Out of this experience, Psalms 46:1 made more meaning to me.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1)
God had seen that we were going to be in need of a place to be, and he made adequate preparation for us. The help was suited and crafted to perfectly suit the trouble we had. It was timely. This once again made me learn to trust God. Now, I know even better “He’s got my back”. Many of us are worried about the future not knowing that God has made adequate preparation for it without Him informing us, He only wants us to cast our cares upon him.
It’s like when parents are expecting a baby, they make ready everything for the baby, the baby doesn’t have to worry about what to eat, what to wear, or how to live. It’s made ready, the baby just comes to enjoy it. We are also “God’s Baby”. Let’s learn to trust in the provisions already made by our father.
I Call You Blessed
Written by Samson Afolabi
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Pet. 3:18)
I opened the Facebook App on my phone just to take a sneak peep as a short break from my mathematics books, then I saw my one of my very close friend wishing is Pastor’s wife happy birthday and he added “grow in grace”. This 3 words jumped at me, and I asked what does it mean to grow in grace? I had also used the phrase as a prayer for many of my friends and this time I wanted to find out what it really meant. My search led to writing this.
This phrase is contained only in Peter’s last words in his epistle in 2 pet 3:18. Now what did Peter mean by grow in grace? This was what I saw;
1. A deliberate Action
The use of the word “grow” informs us of the deliberate, intentional aspect of the statement. Every believer is responsible for their “grace level”. We have to make the choice to grow up spiritually. Yes, do the work to grow. Paul speaking in Ephesians 4:14 encourages us not to be children tossed to and fro. So it means it lies in our capacity to choose either to be children (babies) or matured men and women of faith. And how can we be matured, by learning grace. Grace speaks of the Person of Jesus. So the next time someone tells you to grow in grace, know it’s more than a prayer, it’s a charge. Luke 1:80, and Luke 2:40 points out to us that our Lord Jesus also choose to grow. He grew and increased in favour before God and Man.
Spiritual growth is not measured by how many years you’ve been in church, it is measured by how much deliberate effort you’ve put into growth. Growth doesn’t fall on people, people put in effort to grow spiritually.
2. Learning Grace to Stand
Another question to ask would be why did Peter tell this men to grow in grace? The answer is found in reading some earlier verses. You will discover that they were to grow in grace to be able to stand against people who were misinterpreting Paul’s epistles. The Message translation from 2 Peter 3: 16 -18 makes it clearer. It reads,
“Some things Paul writes are difficult to understand. Irresponsible people who don’t know what they are talking about twist them every which way. They do it to the rest of the scriptures, too, destroying themselves as they do it.
But you, friends, are well warned. Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet by these lawless and loose talking teachers. Grow in grace and understanding of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 3:16 – 18] MSG
Many People have thought that when grace is taught, we give people the ticket to sin, NO! Peter says here “Learn Grace to Stand!”
3. Expand Your Capacity
“Enlarge the site of your tent [to make room for more children]; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, do not spare them; Lengthen your tent ropes and make your pegs (stakes) firm [in the ground]” Isaiah 54:2 [NLT]
To grow in grace is to increase in capacity. You will be able to do more as your capacity increases. Expand your inner capacity to do more. A 10 year old child would do more than a 2 year old child. If you want God to use you the more than you are doing now, then you have to grow, you have to enlarge your capacity. You need to train your spirit more, set yourself more to the tune of the spirit. Take away those things that distract you. Focus more on Grace (the person of Jesus). As we look steadfastly on Jesus, we are changed to the same level of grace as Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18). Let me scream it out once again, GROW IN GRACE!
How do I then grow in grace? Study the scriptures and pray especially in the holy-ghost, listen to more edifying songs, listen to preaching’s that edifying your spirit, read spiritual books, fellowship with other brethren, have a spiritual company and every-other spiritual exercise that energizes your spirit man. As a final note, let’s know that it is God’s delight that we grow just as it is delight of every father to see his children grow. He delights to give us grace as we decide to grow in grace.
I Call You Blessed!
Written by Samson Afolabi
Bible trends reveal that God often pairs or groups people together. One may wonder, why is it that after making a perfect man, one that God looked at and called ‘good!’, He said, “it is not good for man to be alone”? Why did Jesus ask the disciples (day of ascension) to gather together in the upper room? When He sent out His disciples to heal the sick, why did He instruct them to go in twos? These are merely a few pointers to the fact that when doing the Master’s work, a one-man army is not better than a “mature body”.
Here are a few reasons why gathering together with other Christians regularly is important.
The Psalmist in Ps 133 talks about the blessedness of brothers and sisters dwelling in unity. The easy-to-read version says “Oh, how wonderful, how pleasing it is when God’s people all come together as one!” This seems to be a declaration of a truth that had been experienced. One can almost picture him reminiscing on past gatherings where he had glorious experiences of sweet fellowship, liberation, and beholding the beauty of the Lord’s holiness; hence he utters “Oh!”, revealing his longing. There are certain indescribable pleasures obtained when we fellowship together. Usually, an experience of awesomeness makes you hunger for more.
It will be appropriate at this juncture to answer this question: What happens when saints gather together?
God is pleased! Just like it will please any parent to have his children and grand-children gathered around him, so it is with God. And what does God do in response to that? He blesses the gathering with his presence. Jesus said in Matt 18:20, “For where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them”.
And this is where the fun starts.
God being among us
Naturally, some would wonder, “but God already lives in me through His Spirit”. Yes, that is very true. Nonetheless, just the way God is 3 and God is 1, there is a place for God in you and a separate place for God in our midst. They both have different yet interwoven roles and expressions.
It is important to remember that Matt 18:20 is referring to a gathering unto God. NLT says “when 2 or more are gathered as my followers, I am among them”. It is refers to ambassadors of Christ coming together to establish wishes of the One that sent them. Although the verse was used in the context of how an assembly should manage a misbehaving member, it was mentioned as a fact and used to support a specific context; hence it is not restricted to this case alone.
So when we gather together as believers, God comes to be in our midst and fellowships with us as a group. An atmosphere is created for amazing things to happen.
When God is among us, Warmth is generated. Though physical warmth is not totally ruled out, warmth here means tenderness of heart causing genial disposition towards others which helps to build/foster cordial relationships. This will eventually lead to agreement. The hearts and desires of the members are unified by the same Spirit and the group develops what I like to call it the “tower of babel potential”. Of course this does not mean it is a sin for Christians to disagree on certain issues. Nevertheless, the Spirit of God should be given headship, so he works out peace and unity. Eph 4:3 reveals that members have to “ensure” that it happens this way. The fruit of the spirit in the form of patience and love plays out and in time, the truth will prevail. Sometimes both parties are wrong and sometimes both parties are right. Tommy Tenny in his book, Secret Sources of Power said: “An atmosphere of disunity is especially attractive to the enemy because it empowers him. … His kingdom is secure for a moment, because just as unity brings revival, disunity dispels it!”
Coming together will cause us to be united in faith and united in the knowledge of Christ Eph 4:13. As a result, we can do things in one accord and come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Such a unified group easily defeats others, but cannot be defeated easily.Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (please read!). Other
Prayer is simply communication with God, ideally a bi-directional one. As important as it is to separate yourself from others to pray, it should not replace the corporate prayer and agreement. Many times, corporate gatherings help to fuel your private worship. Nonetheless, this is not an attempt to prove which is more important.
A noteworthy occurrence was when God told the 120 disciples to stay in one place/room and pray, until the Spirit came upon them. I must confess that such is no more common. Are people ready to commit? I believe the Christians realized the power of praying together and they applied the same principle and got Peter delivered from prison in Acts 12.
An opportunity to build, help and strengthen each other though:
- Wise counsel. Matt 18:15-20. In the church, one has the privilege of getting a combination of “brains” controlled by the Lordship of Jesus. Where else can this be found? There are people in your gathering that can easily judge that problem you are going through often because they have more experience in walking with God than you. Prov 11:4, 15:22, 24:6; Luke 14:21.
- Pooling resources (both spiritual and material). As a church we can pool our resources to help our brother who is in need, instead of letting him bear the burden alone. We can also pool resources to achieve set goals! What do you have to offer?
Ephesians 4 reveals the “capital investments” the Holy Spirit made in the church (vs 7, 11) and the purpose for them: for perfecting the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for edifying the body of Christ (vs11-12). Did you notice the transition? In vs 11, it says “He gave to some…”, but goal in vs 13 is “Till we all …” I believe God is an advocate for division of labour, because the gifts are meant for duties. The gifts you’ve been given are not for you alone, but for the benefit of the whole group as well. Team work! It is better, faster, more efficient and more fun when like-minded people work as a team than when either of them works alone.
The proper working of each part contributes to the growth of the whole body (Eph4:16). Once you play your role as an individual, the whole church will grow a little more. Everyone is encouraged to take responsibility for their duty. Passionately steward it! Care a little less about the person who isn’t doing his part correctly. The body of Christ depends on it. You are more significant and influential. (Heb 10:25) Let’s come together to form a mature body, striving towards attaining the fullness of Christ.
Be present! Be available!
Written by Boluwatife Falaye
Blessed is the man that trust in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. (Jer. 17:7)
It will be an ignorant thought or speech to say or think that all of our “spiritual exercises” are just mere activities to make us feel like we are Christians. The act of meditating, studying the scriptures, praying , listening to sermon’s or perhaps your taking time to read this article now, and every other related activities all work together to help improve our response to God.
“It is the Spirit that quickens, the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63)
The state of being dead, means not being able to respond again. For-example, if someone calls your name, you immediately respond, either by saying Hello, or giving some other reply to inform the person, he has your attention. That is called RESPONSE. We all know, dead people can’t do that. Many times, God is also seeking our attention about several issues of our lives, He is calling us, but because we seem to lack God’s word, we tend not to respond to him. But as we read (listen to) God’s word, and as we exercise our spirit man through prayers, every part of us is quickened to life to give God the response He deserves, when he calls. IT IS THE SPIRIT THAT QUICKENS.
I pray that as you read this article, may your spirit be quickened again, and may we all be able to RESPOND to God when He calls.
Writing this article, is for me trying to give a little account on what God has been teaching me for quite some-time now through the scriptures and through my experiences.
My first Air-travel was a great experience. The holy-spirit pointed my attention to the behaviour of people in the aeroplane. Though flying in an air-plane was something that posed a little risk because aeroplanes don’t have accidents they CRASH. And just a little error from the pilot, or the team who manage the flight, and all the lives on board will be lost. Yet, people as I noticed weren’t even scared, everyone was just happy, taking pictures and some even slept. No one cared to ask questions like is the pilot good? Hope he isn’t drunk? Hope the plane is in good condition? We all just TRUSTED our lives into the hands of the pilot and his team.
I have also been privileged to be on large cruise ships, conveying about 3000 passengers and about 1000 crew members. As dangerous as water travel looks, the experience is just pretty the same as the air-travel. They are all just simply TRUST their life into the hands of the captain and his crew.
After I noticed all this and I know that “Life is Just basically a Ride”, I asked “Why Can’t we Just Simply Trust God with our lives like we trust all this Human’s?”
One thing I also discovered is that “it is possible we trust God, as to be our Saviour, we believe His promise of eternal life, heaven and all that BUT not trust him with some other areas of our lives like our finances, marriage etc.” We try to work out those areas ourselves.
We have to know that Rest only comes to us, when we trust. That is why the world today is full of sad people. People strive so hard, and never get the desires of their heart, because they have refused to come to the REST the master has provided for their hearts. Trusting God is not weakness or laziness as the world as made us to believe. It is clinging to the master’s saving grace, knowing that we can’t help ourselves and He alone can help us. Trusting God is actually being STRONG.
“Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength” Isaiah 26:4
Faith and Trust are close brothers. When we believe in God’s word, and know that He means every word He says, and He says what He means, we will be able to trust Him easily. Trust builds up just as faith comes. How well we trust depends largely on how well we believe Him (and His word). How well we trust, really affects the amount of quietness and stillness we get in our hearts.
We will only be able to agree with the lord if we can trust Him completely. And we can only journey with Him in this Christian faith if we agree with Him (Amos 3:3). This is important, because many things will come our way that we won’t be able to explain by our minds. At such junctions, all we need to do is just trust God, and know He is in perfect control of the situation of our lives.
We must also emphasize the importance of the new-birth in the topic being addressed. God is the God of all as a creator, but He is our Father as to why we can cry Abba Father. We have a more intimate relationship with Him. Children trust their parents and siblings so much because of the love and the family bond between them.
To develop our potency to trust God, we need to build a deeper consciousness of the spiritual, through prayers and study of the word, and every other thing that makesthe spiritual more real and tangible to us. Trust is birth by intimacy which is built on love. As we fellowship with the spirit the focus turns from us and turns to HIM and we continue to see His Awesomeness and His ability to help us with our challenges and we gradually learn to trust and submit to HIM. There-in lies true REST for our souls.
I CALL YOU BLESSED!
Written by Afolabi Samson
I left others behind, and followed him as he led. I had to wait and watch with him, as he moved ahead to pray. He fell upon his face and began to pray. The way he prayed surprised me. “Is he not the son of God?” I reasoned. “How is it that he’s praying in this manner? Groaning in prayer? Why exert so much energy” Those were questions I tried to answer within myself. I tried to watch him for some minutes, but it didn’t take long for me to sleep off. Suddenly I woke up from my sleep. It was him tapping me. I checked my time, and discovered that one hour had passed already. “One hour?” I reasoned! “What’s he praying about? Has he forgotten that he’s the son of God? And now he’s even sweating profusely. Is God no longer his father?” I thought he came to wake me so we can start leaving, but I was wrong. He came to wake me to join him in prayer as he went to pray the same way two more times. I couldn’t just stand it and had to fall asleep again and again.
As we left that place, I kept thinking about the prayer scenario. And really, I shouldn’t have been so surprised. That has been his attitude from the onset. He had always kept times of prayers. I remember after one meeting we had, where there were so much miracles, he still went somewhere to pray till midnight. I had thought he would just go somewhere to relax, but I was wrong. At another time, he prayed from evening till morning; which was around 12 hours. “Why that long?” I asked in my heart. At some other times, he rose so early to a very quiet place to pray. I had been wrong in my thoughts that he wouldn’t have to pray if he was the son of God. I came to understand many of these things later.
When Jesus left us with the ministry and we had to continue preaching the gospel, we had to devote ourselves also to prayer and the word. It was as if there was something in us that just pushed us to pray. Same way he did during his time, we made prayer a priority; we had daily times of prayers, even though we pray without ceasing. We didn’t miss our prayer times for anything. And we saw so much healing and miracles just as when he was with us. We devoted ourselves fully to prayer. I remember praying somewhere one day, and even when I became so hungry, I still continued to pray. It was already the sixth hour and food was being prepared for me, but I continued in prayer. Even when we faced problems with the governing authority, that didn’t stop us from praying; it was like breathing to us. It is just our nature to pray.
Now I know why our master would always pray. That was his nature. As he was always in constant communion with the heavenly father, we were also in constant communion with the father. Some from among us even while they were remanded in prison couldn’t resist the urge to pray. They prayed, they sang praises to God. No situation was too big to stop prayers. At a time when I was also arrested and put in the prison, what the other brethren did was to pray. It was as if what God would do is dependent on our prayers. We cooperated with God in prayer to see his will established here on earth. Every one of us in the group was a man and woman of prayer. Prayer was not left for some certain group; everybody prayed. What was He praying for? He prayed that God’s will be done and His Kingdom Come.
He taught His disciples the same in what we call the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6: 9 – 13).
One Common act practised by our Patriarchs of Old is Prayer. Yes, they prayed. Elisha prayed earnestly, Elijah Prayed, the prophets prayed, Paul Prayed in Ephesians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Peter Prayed, the Apostles Prayed they prayed and prayed until they were able to reveal and establish the kingdom of God on earth. The 120 people who gathered in the upper room prayed until God’s Promise of the Holy-Spirit was released to the Church. Paul encouraged us to Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Pray without STOPING. The Apostles said we “would give ourselves to the ministry of the word and Prayer (Acts 6:4). Prayer get things done. The Holy-Spirit came on the wings of Prayer. Our Father in Heaven is ready to hear us,
“And this is the Confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14)
“If you shall ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).
Now the Baton has been passed unto us, the Church. It is time for the Church to rise-up to pray and not just pray, but Pray for God’s will to be done and His kingdom Come. Prayer aligns us with God’s will for corporate turning that can activate our journey towards God. Prayer opens the eyes of our understanding just as Paul prayed in Ephesians, Colossians etc. for the Church. Prayer can create in our spirit a Hunger for the Lord. Prayers is Praying the Scriptures. God’s will is specifically declared in the Bible. That is a very safe way to pray the will of God.
The whole region knew us. We were accused of turning the world upside down. We did it through the word and prayer. As for the sick people, it didn’t matter if we touched them, or used handkerchief from our bodies, or our shadows, or just our words, they always got healed. Dead people were raised back to life too. There was no room for laziness. We were so fervent in prayer. And it was glaring that we took over the whole world, filling it with the wonderful name of the savior Jesus. Prayer to us is like breathing.
And yes we are the new creature; created in Christ Jesus for every good work. Yes we are! We pray because that is who we are. Our call was not to irresponsibility and laziness; it is a call to take over the world with his name. We are taking over. Not just by mouth; we will yet pray, and pray more, and pray. We will act too. Yes we will! Pray! Men that took over prayed, so pray now. Pray! Pray now! Have you started praying already? What are you waiting for? When you are weak, pray. When you are strong, pray.
Our Generation may never witness the Power and wonderful acts of God as we see in the bible, if we don’t learn to Pray. The effective and fervent prayer of the righteous makes tremendous power available, dynamic in its working.
The church will keep being insensitive, and Babes if we don’t Pray. We must arise. This is a wake-up Call, Pray. Pray for your Family, Pray for your country, Pray for the Church, Pray for yourself. Pray and Pray and Pray. Pray until something Happens.
Don’t waste time, pray. Pray and Pray and Pray. Shut down the Television, Shut down the Radio, Shut down that Laptop instead PRAY. Yes, I said PRAY.
Written by Ajayi Samuel and Afolabi Samson