CHRISTMAS

CHRISTMAS

At creation, it was the will of God to create man in His image and after His likeness,

But shortly after creation, man fell and was destined to die,

So, from generation to generation there was a need for a savior to redeem man from eternal damnation. The messiah.

Prophet after prophet spoke of the coming of this messiah,

So, it was one of those nights of waiting in the city of Bethlehem,

The prophesy foretold of old is about to be fulfilled:

You, Bethlehem Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah,

Out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel;

His origin goes back to the distant past, to the days of old.

The Lord is therefore going to abandon them till the time when she who is to give birth gives birth – Micah 5:2-3a

She who is to give birth is in labor pains in search of an inn to have the long awaited Messiah,

He came not with thunder flashing,

He came not in chariot along with throng of angels,

He came not with sire blaring,

He came to men in the tabernacle of the womb of a simple, unpopular woman – the Virgin Mary,

He came knocking at the doors of men,

And there was no room for Him in the inn,

But He came in human form that men may become the children of God.

Many of them were ignorant of the moment,

But the heavens watch as their Lord and King is born in the likeness of men,

The heaven is set to break the news in adoration of their King,

So, the heavenly choir was set for the first Carol night,

The bass, the tenure, the soprano, the alto and the orchestra – all set for the greatest moment in history, God assuming human form,

The birds of the night were silent as they stare and await the birth of the King of the universe,

The sheep are awake to behold the true Shepherd,

The heaven breaks into joy as the sound of the baby echo through the gentle breeze of the night,

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests – Luke 2:14

Hark! The herald angels sing

“Glory to the new-born King!

Peace on earth, and mercy mild,

God and sinner reconciled”

Joyful, all ye nation rise

Join the triumph of the of the skies

With thee angelic host proclaim,

“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

Prayer

Lord, thank You for coming to the world to redeem mankind. Help us to recognize You in men and women, young or old, poor or rich, able or disable. Amen

Merry Christmas 🎅🤶

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THE SEASON OF ADVENT 

THE SEASON OF ADVENT

In Christian tradition, advent is often regarded as a season of preparation. The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word “Adventus” which means “the coming” also known in Greek as “Parousia”. Advent is a time when the people of God prepare for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, a fall that sever man’s relationship with his God, the world eagerly awaits the coming of the Messiah. Him who is to redeem and save the entire human race, restoring mankind to his fellowship with God.

Today, here is the good news! Christ has come, Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again. Therefore, the season of advent now goes beyond waiting to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the manger, it is all about preparation to experience His beatific vision at the expiration of our lives here on earth.

The readings of the season echo messages of spiritual preparation, repentance, hope and joyful expectation. The Prophet Isaiah calls everyone – young and old to prepare spiritually for the Lord’s coming:

A voice cries: “Prepare in the wilderness a way of the Lord. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all mankind shall it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken – Isaiah 40:3-5.

The season of advent calls us to forsake our evil ways and to seek righteousness. It is a time of atonement for our sins as we await the coming of our righteous judge. As proclaimed by the Prophet Isaiah:

Thus says the Lord : Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. Happy is the mortal who does this, the one who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbaths not profaning it, and refrains from doing any evil – Isaiah 56:1-2

The season of Advent is a season of hope as Prophet Isaiah puts it:

Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God, He will come with vengeance, and terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” Isaiah 35:4

Advent is also a season of joyful expectation:

Go up on a high mountain, joyful messenger to Zion. Shout with a loud voice, joy messenger Jerusalem. Shout without fear, say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God. ” Here is the Lord coming with power, His arm subduing all things to Him, His trophies all go before Him. He is like a shepherd feeding His flock, gathering lambs in His arms, holding them against His breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes – Isaiah 40:9-11

What are your plans for this year’s advent? What is your expectation? What do you hope for at Christmas and at the expiration of your life on earth? What preparation are you making? It mustn’t be only to welcome Christ at Christmas but also on that day when you will behold Him face to face?

This call for reflection is the essence of the season. But as you ponder over these questions, keep in mind these words: repentance and righteousness. You must be sober and vigilant knowing that our adversary, the devil walks about seeking whom to devour (I Pet 5:8). And never be oblivious that Satan also awaits another coming (Matthew 12:43-45) just as an unclean spirit seeks to return into the minds of men but we must realize that we are to give him no place (Ephesians 4:27).

As we journey into this season of grace, we must remember, there is no vacuum in life or in the world of the spirit, so if we are not waiting and preparing for the coming of Jesus Christ, guess whom we will be inviting by default? – The Devil.

So, beloved, we must take an expectancy inventory of our lives, so that this season will be for us a fruitful adventure and not a failed venture.

Payer

Lord of Hosts bring us back

Let Your face shine us and we shall be save d . Amen

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LORD, TO WHOM SHALL WE GO?

LORD, TO WHOM SHALL WE GO?

There are moments in life when it seems like God has abandoned us, a time when it seems like God is not interested in our worries. There is often that period in our life when we question our faith, the point where we have enticing options popping into our minds compelling us to give up on God and just give Satan a chance so he can help us overcome our troubles.

This is a very difficult point to be in life. Many people are already at this point in life, many are very close to it and many have already accepted the help of Satan to ameliorate their worries. But the questions we must all ask ourselves these; Can Satan really help us? Is Satan really interested in our true happiness?

You may also want to ask a third question; “but why is God not helping us overcome our worries? But first, let us search our hearts if we have really given God a chance, if we have willingly followed his instructions. Most times when we feel let down, God is simply telling us “be patient,” “be still and know that I am God.” (See Psalm 46:10)

When faced with giant obstacles or challenges, what should we do as believers? We must wait on God even in the toughest moments of our lives. We must not lose faith in God for He is a faithful God. (See 2 Timothy 2:13). Stand your ground when the storm rages against your faith. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, we must learn to say:

If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let Him deliver us. But if not, be it know to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up. (3:17-18 NRVS)

Christianity is not about how much I get from God – wealth, health, business success, protection, mansion or daily bread. Christ already told us not to worry about these things (Matthew 6:25). Are these things not necessary to live a happy life on earth? Yes, they are but true peace and joy can only be found in God. Hence, God is calling us to a life of relationship and obedience; love and sacrifice; faith and trust.

If our lives are patterned after worldly or perishable things, therein lies the danger of seeking God just for daily bread. The Israelite once sought Christ for bread shortly after He fed them with five loaves and two fish. They were ignorant of the purpose of Christ’s miracle. Christ wanted to draw them to Himself – to know Him and to lead them to the fountain of living water. But their main concern was the temporal need – the moment.

Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on Him God the Father has set His seal. (John 6:26-27 NRSV)

Jesus is the bread of life and He is calling us to share in His kenosis. To do this, we must be willing to empty ourselves, to be genuine in seeking Him, to abandon ourselves in His care, to journey with Him both in time of famine and harvest, to take up our crosses and walk with Him on the path of life.

For the Israelites as with many people, ‘this is a difficult message, this is not what we expect from a saviour, and this seems contrary to God’s will for us.’ But we must realize that in rejecting this teaching, we will be turning away from the Bread of Life. The one who truly satisfies our daily routine. We must come to a deep realization that there is no other saviour who will meet our expectations. If we walk away from Christ, we walk away from our only hope. Peter knew this when he answered Christ’s fundamental question:
Do you also wish to go away? (See John 6:67)

Christ is asking us this same question on a daily basis especially in the most difficult points in life. Like Apostle Peter, we must always say with faith, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (See John 6:68)

Don’t be oblivious of the truth, when we seek happiness, joy, peace, freedom, growth, health and the most pressing needs of life, the answer is Jesus and in Him you will find the authentic, genuine, undemanding lasting solution. St John Paul II said it finely:

It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you.

  • St. John Paul II

‘Don’t give up on God and He won’t give up you’ sang Deitrick Haddon featuring Darwin Hobbs is his song ‘He’s able’. If you have wandered away like the Israelite and have sought comfort and remedy from spiritualist, drugs, drinks, ritual, occult, adultery, suicidal thoughts and the likes, return to Him like the Prodigal son. Be rest assured that God will embrace you and cloth you with the robe of love, peace and restoration.

I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2 NRSV)

Prayer

“Lord, I know in my mind that you will win in the end. If only my heart would believe that, too! Grant me this grace. Grant that my life will show that kind of optimism at every moment.” Amen

Jesus Christ Speaks

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).

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LIFE IS ABOUT TAKING DECISIONS


LIFE IS ABOUT TAKING DECISIONS

Life is about taking decisions; it is all about making choices. There are countless choices before every man or woman, boy or girl, old or young on a daily basis. We all have a choice to be good or bad; merciful or unforgiving; loving or hateful, joyous or resentful, caring or greedy, godly or ungodly, to be chaste or immoral.

At the dawn of each day, you have a choice to either remain on your bed or to rise and go to work; you have the choice to enter the kitchen and prepare something to eat or visit a “Bukka” or restaurant; you have a choice to dress casual or corporate; to be early to work or to be late; you have a choice to reverence God or to be indifferent toward Him; you have the will to follow God’s command or to pitch your tent with Satan.

Life is about taking decisions. God decided to create the heavens and the earth. It was His decision to create man and woman in His image and likeness. Yes, it is His choice to continuously call man and woman to Himself; to show us the path to life; to show us mercy, compassion and love; it was His decision to allow His Beloved Son to shed His blood for humanity on the cross of Calvary.

Life is a choice. It is also a choice to commit suicide, to abort a baby, to commit adultery, fornication, masturbate, hook up with the pornographic world, to live a life of half or completely nudity, to molest children, to be single, married or divorce, to rob the community resources, to hate, to harm, to kill, to deprive people of their rights, to distort the Good News, to go to war, to become gay, to rape or marry an animal, to be angry and arrogant, to be rebellious, to be proud, to cheat, to trample on the helpless, to be a responsible father, mother, child or shepherd.

Beloved, in your daily decisions, always keep in mind Moses’ statement to the Israelites, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life.” (See Deuteronomy 30:19). You may query the significance of Moses’ statement. The decision you make daily is a choice for life or death; to please God or rebel against Him. You may query the significance of Moses’ statement. The decision you make daily is a choice for life or death; to please God or rebel against Him.

Hence, Christ is saying: do not follow the broad path that leads to damnation but the narrow road that leads to life (See Matthew 7:13), take up your crosses and journey with Me on the path of sacrificial love (See Matthew 16:24-26), for I am the way to the Father (See John 14:6). Our ultimate decision is to heed His call or to reject it. But at the end of the road of life, we will be held accountable for our decisions! So, be wise in your decisions.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12)

Prayer

Lord Jesus, grant me the wisdom to take the right decisions daily, and fill me with Your grace to persevere on the path to life eternal. Amen.

Jesus Christ Speaks

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).

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THE SCALE A SYMBOL OF JUSTICE

THE SCALE A SYMBOL OF JUSTICE

In the judiciary system, we see Lady Justice with a balanced scale and a sword to cut off any injustice that would create imbalance. In truth, the judiciary represents justice. The scale is a symbol of justice. It is used for measurement; to render fair service.

Everyone longs for justice and many are not willing to offer it to others. Hence, Prophet Micah said: “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (See Micah 6:8).

We all long for justice for ourselves. But why do we tamper with the scale or practice injustice? Greed and selfishness summarizes it all. When we want to get more or when we are not content with our genuine wages or natural endowments, when we are not comfortable with the truth and the progress of others, we give in to injustice and a godless life. We are prepared to rob others of their fair wages and rights.

Those who fail to practice justice and tamper with the scale of fairness as we see in the market places, justice departments, local communities, families, work place, board of management, industries, government usage of the community’s revenue and wealth and even in religious ministries are thieves, brigands and godless people. They are godless because they are not acting with a godly heart to fairly treat their fellow brothers and sisters created in the image and likeness of God. They have forgotten the golden rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).

Does it really pay to cheat and rob people of their rights? No! There is always a reward for our actions towards our fellow brothers and sisters. The scripture says, Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you (See Deuteronomy 16:20).

Again and again, God calls His people to practice justice:

Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right (Psalm 106:3).

To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (Proverbs 21:3).

Thus says the Lord: Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my righteousness be revealed (Isaiah 56:1).

For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In My faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them (Isaiah 61:8).

Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24).

Yes, let justice roll on like a river in your family, community, ministry, work place, market place, in your dealing with the young and the old, male and female, friends, competitors or those you label enemies. You are a son or daughter of the righteous judge God Almighty. Imitate Him in your dealings on earth. Reflect Him in your decisions and actions towards the men and women created in His image and likeness.

Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, You have made us for Yourself, O Lord. And our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you. Help us Lord, to practice true justice because in justice alone our hearts will find peace and joy. Amen.

Jesus Christ Speaks
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).

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YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

You are the light of the world. You cannot hide a city that has been built upon a mountain. (Matthew 5:14)

How often do you reflect on this scriptural passage above? Are you really the light of the world? Is the light of Christ handed over to you at baptism or conversion still giving light to the world? When people see you or have an encounter with you do they see the light of Christ in you or do they see a soul tainted with darkness?

As Christians, we are the mirror of Christ to the world. We are expected to reflect His glory, His love, His mercy, His peace, His compassion and comfort to the world around us. But for our mirrors to reflect Christ to the world, we must turn ourselves to God; we must keep ourselves free from sin and at peace with God. It is only then that we can be true Christians mirroring Christ to this world.

We must realize that to be a Christian is not merely a lofty idea rather it is a call to walk in the light of Christ in order to be transformed by His light and then become a light to the world. We must daily reject the life of sin that darkens our lives and dim the reflection of Christ in us. Hence Saint Paul said: So I tell you this, and testify to it in the Lord: You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking (Ephesians 4:17).

To abandon our old life of sin may not happen overnight. It is a process. But we must start now and continue to make conscious effort every day through the grace of God to completely disentangle ourselves from the darkness of sin. Yes, by our own power this is impossible to accomplish but with the help of Christ, we can achieve the life of holiness and sanctity (See Philippians 4:13). Hence, Christ is knocking at the door of our hearts (See Revelation 3:20). He wants to help you overcome that vice and addiction. He wants to take your hands and lead you into the deepest realms of His love for you. Would you give Him a chance today? Kindly let Him in! He will make everything right. He is your friend, your Lord and redeemer.

Reflection
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil (John 3:19). Do you really love the Light? What steps are you taking today to reject darkness because you love the light of Christ?

Prayer
Christ Jesus, You are the light of the world, let Your light shine on us daily to dispel the darkness in us. May I become a witness to Your light and a reflection of Your light to the world. Amen.

Jesus Christ Speaks
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).

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Do You Love Jesus Christ?

Do You Love Jesus Christ?

What will be your answer be if Jesus Christ asks you “do you love Me?” Or has someone ever asked you that question before? Have you ever said to yourself or to someone “I love Jesus Christ!” If you ever did, how do you love Jesus Christ? Now, you might be in a reflective mood, thinking of a convincing answer.

Surely, it is okay to reflect on the ways we can really show how much we love Jesus Christ. But some of the likely answers you might receive from people if you ask them the reason they love Jesus Christ may include: He loves me, He died for me, He cares for me, He protects me, He redeemed me, He is compassionate and merciful, He provides for me, and the likes – These are all beautiful answers portraying the fact that we love Jesus because He loves us first (cf. Romans 5:8).

This question “do you love Me?” was an unexpected question which Jesus Christ put before Peter, His Apostle before His triumphant entry into His heavenly glory. Three times He asked Peter the same question. Just like many of us, Peter said: “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” But Jesus Christ asked this question three times to teach us what it means to love Him.

To each of Peter’s “yes, Lord, You know that I love you” followed a command from Jesus Christ on some key principles of Love: “Feed My lambs,” “Take care of My sheep.” (See John 21:15-17). Jesus Christ was actually reminding Peter and all His followers His teaching before His crucifixion: “If you love Me you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15). “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

Whoa! For many of us this is the last thing we want to hear or be reminded of – “love your neighbours”. You might protest saying: “Why should I love someone who does not appreciate my love?” Once again, I will ask you, do you love Jesus Christ? Most likely, your yes this time might be very faint.

Kindly pray aloud: “Jesus Christ I love You but help me to love my neighbours too. I’m a beneficiary of Your love and mercy. Fill me with the grace to show mercy and love to my neighbours: brothers, sisters, mother, father, colleagues, children, husband, wife, in-laws both friends and enemies”.

To all Christ’s follower, love is everything. It is the hallmark of our Christian Faith. It makes us another Christ to the good and the bad, the young and the old, the able and disabled, men and women, Christians and non-Christians.

St. Augustine puts it this way:
Beg God for the gift to love one another. Love all people, even your enemies, not because they are your brothers and sisters but so they may become such.

Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, I love You. I thank You for Your love and mercy towards me daily. Help me to extend that love and mercy to my neighbours both friends and enemies. Amen.

Jesus Christ Speaks
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).

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​BEHOLD, THE BRIDEGROOM! COME OUT TO MEET HIM!

BEHOLD, THE BRIDEGROOM! COME OUT TO MEET HIM!

Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” (Matthew 25:6 TAB) were the words of Jesus Christ in His parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins. Christ used this parable and many others during the climax of His earthly ministry to bring to our consciousness that we should always be prepared for His coming. Yes, He wants us to live with this consciousness that He will surely return to take home those who are ready for His wedding feast just like the wise virgins.

As Christians and pilgrims on earth, we are on a journey to the wedding feast of the Lamb  Christ Jesus. Today, this parable of the wise and foolish virgins is in effect in our lives. The parable speaks of how prepared we should be as we await Christs kingdom. As observed in the parable, a day will surely come when death will announce to us, Behold, the bridegroom comes! Come out to meet Him!” and the reality is that this day is inevitable. Beloved, those who are prepared for His coming just like the wise virgins will have a place in His kingdom. While those who are not prepared like the foolish virgins will have the door closed against them. 

This message today, reminds us of the reality of life. Life on earth has a beginning and end. No one will live forever on earth. Death or Rapture will visit everyone  the good or the bad some day. But for us Christians, we believe in life afternoon death. Hence, we must evaluate our readiness for that inevitable moment daily. Our awareness of His coming or death should restrain us from ungodly actions like anger, hatred, jealousy, orgies, idolatry, pride, murder (eg abortion), impurity, licentiousness, sorcery, selfishness, rivalry, jealousy, dissension, envy, and all forms of vices or immoralities.  

Beloved, have you ever imagined that God could come at that very time of committing a sin or you might be called home during an act of sin? What explanation will you present before God that will surely justify your ungodly act? Some of us will say, God forbid! Beloved, dont be foolish like the foolish virgins because this parable was told for us to forsake all ungodly lifestyle and escape the consequence of ungodly life  eternal damnation. 

Yes, all who failed to heed this call will receive this verdict at the expiration of their lives on earth: Truly, I tell you, I do not know you  Matthew 25:12 NRSV

Kindly know that no one can appeal or repeal this verdict. Jesus concluded this parable with these words, “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13). And on the same chapter of Matthew 25 verse 31-46 Christ gave another parable of how to stay awake or how to keep our lamps burning in expectation of His coming. The parable is centered on our lives purpose  love for God and neigbours. Beloved, the parable explains that our final judgment will be hinged on this virtue  love.

Therefore, our religiosity, spirituality, “redeemernism”, “born-againism”, holiness or readiness will be of no value or assistance to us if it lacks love for God and our neighbours (See 1 Corinthians 13:1-4). All who stayed awake and kept their lamps burning for the love of God and neighour on their earthly sojourn will be welcomed to the wedding feast of the Lamb: 

Come, you that are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was in prison and you visited Me. (Matthew 25:34-36 NRSV).

Prayer

Lord Jesus, enlighten my heart to appreciate and treasure your teachings and then grant me the grace to stay awake and live a life of genuine love. Amen.

  

Jesus Christ Speaks

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).

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​SHEPHERD: A CHRIST’S FIGURE WITHIN HIS FLOCK

SHEPHERD: A CHRIST’S FIGURE WITHIN HIS FLOCK

Every Sunday and every other day of the week, many people across the globe go to church in reverence to God and to listen to His message through His chosen ministers. These ministers are the representatives of Christ in the midst of His flock. They are chosen to feed and to take care of Christ’s flock – His people (See John 21:15-21). They are called to lead the flock in Christ’s footsteps.

As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you. John 20:21.

Those were the words of Christ to His chosen disciples after His death and resurrection. Long before then, He had informed His kinsmen what His duty entails: The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour (Luke 4:18-19).

It was His mission on earth to search for the lost sheep of the household of God and reunite them to their Maker – God Almighty. He is the good shepherd (See John 10 and Ezekiel 34). Our Lord is the model of how to live a godly life. Hence, ministers of the gospel of Christ must search for the lost sheep of the household of God. They must preach love, forgiveness, and faith. They must tend the flock and feed them with the undiluted message of life. They must not bend the message of God or preach it to please people but God only. They must beam the light of Christ on the world and open their eyes to their Lord, Redeemer, and King.  Their lives must be a sermon to all who see and have an encounter with them. 

When their followers celebrate them as kings because of their ministrations or miracles, they must humble themselves like Paul and Barnabas: “Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings–just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them” (Acts 14:15), because, “No one takes this honour upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was”  (Hebrews 5:4). 
This disposition of Paul and Barnabas must be emulated and maintained by today’s shepherds. Ministers of the Good News must reject the earthly crown and focus on the heavenly crown. They must know that Paul and Barnabas were imitators of Christ: “Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself” (John 6:15).

Ministers of the Good News must let the flock know that they are only tools in the hand of the Creator to turn human hearts to Himself and to bless and keep them. When miracles are worked through them, they must humble themselves like John the Baptist and say, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” “He must increase while I decrease.” (John 1:29; 3:30.)

They must not boast about their affluence or exalt themselves, but emulate Apostle Paul thus, “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 4:14).

Ministers of the Good News must never lose focus of their calling – to feed and tend Christ’s lambs or flock. They must understand that people show up on Sunday or any other day to be fed the word of God and not to be exploited; to be encouraged and not to be burdened; to be healed and not to be crushed; to be loved and not to be discriminated against, especially not based on their financial status or ethnicity; to deepen their spiritual lives and not to be led astray. 

Apostle Paul summed it up: Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

The minister of the Good News must speak what God wants him to speak and not what the people want to hear. He must do the will of God and not his will. He must allow Christ shine through him and then return the glory to God. He must not steal the ovation for himself but keep the spotlight on Jesus whom he represents. He must not let pride rob him of the kingdom of God. He must at all times resist the devil and consciously conquer pride to his last breath. 

We as followers must always keep ministers of the gospel of Christ in our daily prayers. We must not be oblivious to the great susceptibility of these precious shepherds to attacks and criticisms. Their mistakes are easily recognized and condemned without acknowledgement of the fact that they are humans divinely privileged to serve in leadership positions. 

Hence Apostle Paul said:  I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in the struggle by your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the disobedient in Judea, and that my ministry for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the holy ones, so that I may come to you with joy by the will of God and be refreshed together with you. The God of peace be with all of you. Amen (Romans 15:30-33 NAB).

In conclusion, all Christ’s faithful must know that this message does not only apply to priests, pastors, deacons, rabbis, or other ordained ministers. It applies also to us, who by virtue of new birth and baptism are now priests, princes or princesses, and kings or queens in the household of God.

Prayer
Dear Lord, our Chief Shepherd, help your chosen people to take delight in doing Your will. Fill us with grace to overcome pride, bless our ministries, and sustain us to the finish line. Amen. 

Jesus Christ Speaks
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).

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​THE CHURCH MUST NOT LOSE FOCUS BECAUSE OF MONEY 

THE CHURCH MUST NOT LOSE FOCUS BECAUSE OF MONEY 

The Church was established by Christ to reflect the heavenly home on earth. The Church is expected at all times to do the bidding of God on earth. The Church is called to shine as a light to the world, leading people to the truth and portraying the unique culture and eternal life of Gods Kingdom.

The Church and her mission are distinct and contrary to the worldly way of life. It is an embodiment of the virtues God desires from the people He created in His image and likeness. The Churchs desire and purpose is to teach the world morals, to call the world to a godly lifestyle, to correct wrongs, and to put people right with God. 

Today, there is a wind blowing against the Church  the desire to get rich, especially in materials things; the drive for funds for personal and unnecessary projects. In the light of the new wave of evangelism, the Church must at all times depend on Gods wisdom and resources to achieve her mission on earth. A saying goes that God funds His projects or missions on earth. We ought to live with that in mind.

The Church must not be anxious about how to raise funds for the work of God because God has resources stored up for the accomplishment of His purpose. Instead, the Church should ask for Gods guidance on ways to tap into the storeroom of Gods resources. We must not be like Saul who was more concerned and passionate about offering God sacrifice rather than obeying Gods command. Today, the scripture is questioning us, Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? (1 Samuel 15:22a NRSV).

Irrespective of our answers to the question, the scripture informs on what is right to do: Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is no less than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry (1 Samuel 15:22b-23a NRSV). Therefore, there is nothing wrong with rejecting gifts or offerings got from unholy ventures like embezzlement of community funds, drug pushers, fraudsters, and all questionable characters. Even if they offer to erect a church building from their ill-gotten gain, reject them just like God rejected the sacrifice of Saul.   

At no point in time should the Church lose faith in Gods ability to fund His project, the Churchs mission on earth. Whilst the world is desperate to acquire resources, the Church must depend on Gods supply. She must source funds in a morally integrous manner without scandalizing the Church or the Christ she represents. The Church must not lose focus or drift away from her mission because of money. The willingness of the shepherds of the gospel of Christ to serve must not to be hinged on money or the love of it. They must at all times be motivated by the same love Christ has for His flock. They must live simple and humble lives just like our master, Jesus Christ. They must not be flamboyant or extravagant. They must teach and encourage their followers to do the same. 

The Church must not raise funds with a deceptive mind. The Church must not exploit her members for frivolous activities that are not in line with Gods purpose or desire. The Church must obey God principle of giving pleasing and acceptable offerings to God. Funds must not be raised in a coercive, deceptive or misleading manner in the name of God or His mission. 

The true shepherds of the Household of God must not dilute or bend the message of the scripture because of money. The Church must not give honour to those whose sources of income are questionable. The Church must be more concerned about the spiritual states of her members than the money they are willing to offer. Fundraising or contributions must not create avenues for discrimination or for people to seek vainglory.

In our Christian Churches and ministries today, more emphasis is place on scriptural passages promoting seed sowing, tithe sowing and offering. More energy seems to be directed towards fund raising and all attention seems to be focused on structural developments or reconstructions. Meanwhile, the main message of the Gospel- The message of love, repentance and reconciliation has been whittled down in many Churches or ministries.

More songs are rendered during offerings to motivate people to give for a particular purpose which may be genuine or deceptive. More enthusiasm is given to things that will make us comfort in this world while losing sight of the heavenly glory. More energy is directed towards achieving vainglory rather than Gods glorification or approval. More passion is shown for wealth and materialism rather than the expression of love for one another and a desire to be saintly on earth. 

Ministries are unconcerned if the money offered during services come from justifiable sources. That is, if the money are blemished or unblemished. Today the prosperity message seems to be order of the day. We must come to term with the truth, that the problem in the world is not the lack of wealth to sustain the world but the lack of love in the hearts of men and women. Hence the Scripture:

With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow before God most high? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriad streams of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my crime, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:6-8 TAB).  

The Church must not be oblivious of the truth that offering is a show of reverence and thanksgiving to God for His awesomeness and supremacy over all living and non-living things. Offering is a holy sacrifice to honour and glorify the Lord of the harvest for His infinite mercy and love. It is a show of gratitude to God Almighty and must be rendered in humility and with a sincere heart. Offerings must be rendered to God in all humility because the scripture says silver and gold belong to God (See Haggai 2:8). 

The ministers of the gospel of Christ must not focus on how to enrich themselves in material things but to prepare the world for the coming of the Lord. The ministers of the Church must have an utmost goal far more than building mansions on earth. Winning souls for the everlasting mansionHeavenwhere Christ is seated at the right hand of God Almighty must be our overriding concern.

The Church must stand out and beam her light on the world to dispel the darkness in the hearts of men and women. If fraudulent men and women or those who got their money by ungodly means are given honour in our ministries, we would only be institutionalizing evil in the society. We would be telling others it is good to venture into unholy means of getting rich. We must not be shy to rebuke evil. Many are afraid to speak the truth in order not to lose fat pockets or members. Hence, the evil in the world seems untamable.     

It is the duty of the ministers of the gospel to make sinners uncomfortable in sin. It is the responsibility of the pastors and prophets of the Church to tell their members to abandon the way of unrighteousness and to embrace the path of Life. It is the job of the rabbis to rebuke all evil ways of acquiring money and not to honour those who use evil devices to get rich. It is the obligation of the evangelists of the Good News to reject blemished offerings and accept or encourage the offering of unblemished gifts. If you cannot discern between the two, seek Gods wisdom to be able to differentiate between them. As we do this, let us: 

Wait upon the Lord: wait upon Him patiently; wait upon Him by avoiding all sin. He will come; doubt it not. To this firm hope, join the practice of virtue, and even in this life you will begin to taste the ineffable joys of Paradise.   St Bernard.  

Reflection

What kind of offering do you offer to God: blemished or unblemished? Which do you think God prefers: your gifts or a life of holiness? Has God changed His mind on the way to offer Him acceptable offerings, i.e. unblemished offerings? Why are you in ministry: to do Gods bidding or your bidding?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, You are a holy God. Help us who are Your children, created in Your image and likeness, to live holy lives, and to render You holy and acceptable offerings to Your honour and the fulfillment of Your mission on earth. Amen. 

Jesus Christ Speaks

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 NRSV).

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