Whose Culture?

by Omolola Oriogun

I recently attended a traditional wedding ceremony in the Eastern part of Nigeria – Aba to be precise. The program was scheduled to start at 2 p.m. in the afternoon but it was delayed because of some traditional rites that had to be done, cultures that had to be followed. As a Christian I thought and said to myself, “this is not right,” and asked the bride-to-be, “must you do this?” She replied saying, “if I don’t do all this, I won’t be considered married.” I couldn’t say anything but just had to shut my mouth because her response startled me.

While seated somewhere waiting for the traditional wedding to start, I thought back to 2006 when my elder sister had her traditional wedding in the Western way i.e. the Yoruba way. The program was billed to start at 8a.m but it didn’t officially start until 10a.m because some items were yet to be brought. After all the seeming commotion, it started and ended at 12p.m in a rush because the white wedding was slated for the same day.

I put all the different cultures, traditions, and customs that I know of together in my mind and tried to of course, juxtapose them with what the Bible refers to as ‘cultures, traditions and customs.’

I’ve discovered over the years that we are living in an environment that challenges us to continually evaluate what it means to live the Christian life. So how do we respond? The answer begins with the Bible. Our view of culture, tradition and custom must include biblical insights. In doing this, we will investigate selected passages of Scripture pertaining to culture, tradition and custom.

From Mark 7:1-9 which says “Then came together unto HIM the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of HIS disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked HIM, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? HE answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of GOD, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And HE said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of GOD, that ye may keep your own tradition.”

In the scripture above, JESUS made us understand that we humans love to obey traditions of men more than that of GOD, we rather prefer to hear man’s opinion than GOD’s own. Most times, we please ourselves instead of pleasing GOD and in doing this, we separate ourselves away from GOD.

Proverbs 22:1 says  “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” A man of GOD once said: It’s “cool” to be “bad” in our postmodern society. A “bad rep” has more “street value” than a good one. Glorification of a bad reputation is the standard in pop tunes. “Bad is good”, culture has even invaded the fringe of the church and majority of GOD’s children have embraced it. So what is a CHRIST-follower to do?

The writer of Proverbs gave us some tried and true advice. His pointed one-liners have withstood the test of time. ‘Reputation was, and still is, a reflection of character. Riches, or lack thereof, still try our prejudice. Prudence is still the mark of a successful person. Humility still trumps pride. The fear of the LORD is still the starting place for the most wonderful journey any human can take. Thorns and snares are still on the daily route for all.’

We are wise to heed the advice of the ancient sage. If we are to confront, with the truths of Proverbs, the upside-down, downward-moving, immoral, mainstream culture we inhabit, we must possess courage and really make full use of the grace of GOD. In so doing we mirror and exalt the life of the Galilean (JESUS) we profess to follow.

Follow me so as to check some Bible verses that talk about GOD’s culture, tradition and custom:

1. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” This verse shows that GOD has HIS own traditions that HE gave to HIS servants to teach in words and live as a lifestyle. So, HE expects us to inhabit that and not that of the world.

2. 1 Cor. 11:1-2 says “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of CHRIST. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances (cultures, traditions and customs), as I delivered them to you. Apostle Paul was able to affirmatively say ‘follow me as I follow CHRIST’ because, he upheld only GOD’s culture from the day he gave his life to CHRIST till his final breath on earth.  

3. Gal.3:28-29 says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in CHRIST JESUS. And if ye be CHRIST’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” These means that, in CHRIST, our culture, tradition and custom do not hold water.

4. Col. 3:11-13 says “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but CHRIST is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of GOD, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as CHRIST forgave you, so also do ye.” What these means is that, in the culture, tradition and custom of man, wickedness, hatred etc are the order of the day but in that of GOD, CHRIST is the head where peace, love and mercy reign.

5. Matt. 15:1-9 says “Then came to JESUS scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But HE answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of GOD by your tradition? For GOD commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of GOD of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” It’s obvious in this verse that man will always be man as JESUS pointed out, always taking to their own culture, tradition and custom, forgetting that such will always strife with that of GOD.

From these five scriptures, we can see that JESUS clearly stated the culture, tradition and custom of GOD and it is totally different from that of man. This means that, for you and I to live the life of CHRIST, we can’t live by the culture, tradition and custom of man which is sensual and devilish. We have to live by GOD’s own which is pure, holy and righteous.

In conclusion, on a daily basis, we need to pray to the Father, so that HE can give us courage to reflect HIS life in our culture. Amen!!!

Bondage Unlimited

adapted from a message by Pastor Dele Oyeleru of TCBC, Ejigbo

God’s commandments are not irksome, burdensome, oppressive, troublesome or grievous (1 John 5:3b).

Sometimes we view God’s commandments as killjoys or restraints to be cast off. A dour faced matron who looks like she’s sucked on too many lemons, holding a cane over our heads, preventing us from enjoying a good life.

Not believing that God’s commandments are because He loves us will surely lead you into sin, just like Eve did when she believed the Serpent’s lie that God’s law was just holding her back from being all she could be.

The book of Jude speaks of different groups of people who cast of restraint and did not stay within God’s laid down boundaries. These men stepped over the guard rails of protection of God’s word because they believed God’s law was cramping their style.

1) angels who abandoned their proper dwelling places (Jude verse 6) And angels who did not keep (care for, guard, and hold to) their own first place of power but abandoned their proper dwelling place—these He has reserved in custody in eternal chains (bonds) under the thick gloom of utter darkness until the judgment and doom of the great day.

2) the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent towns who indulged in unnatural vice and sensual perversity (Jude verse 7) [The wicked are sentenced to suffer] just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent towns—which likewise gave themselves over to impurity and indulged in unnatural vice and sensual perversity—are laid out [in plain sight] as an exhibit of perpetual punishment [to warn] of everlasting fire

3) Israelites who refused to trust and adhere to God (Jude verse 5) Now I want to remind you, though you were fully informed once for all, that though the Lord [at one time] delivered a people out of the land of Egypt, He subsequently destroyed those [of them] who did not believe [who refused to adhere to, trust in, and rely upon Him].

Other examples of people who stepped over the guard rails of God’s love include:

4) Lot’s wife
Lot and his family were given clearly stated boundaries, when the angels said, “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the  plain; escape to the mountain lest thou be consumed,” (Gen 19:17) but Lot’s wife broke free from this protective hedge when she looked back (whatever the reason) and turned into a pillar of salt.

5) Solomon
Solomon broke every single one of the laws guiding a king given in Deut 17: 14-20 and the result was that his heart was turned away from God (1 Kings 10:26-29; 1 Kings 11:1-10)

6) Korah and his 250 cohorts also learned the hard way that God’s laws were given for their own good (Num 16).

All thy commandments are faithful…Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction. I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me…I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad…Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts…Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart…My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness (Psalm 119:86,92-93,96,98-100,111,172)

In conclusion

1) remember that God’s grace is not a license for sin Don’t think you can continuing sinning willfully and all you have to do is just wave the magic wand of the blood of Jesus ( Heb 10:26)

2) Liberty unlimited is bondage. Avoid sermons (that are actually doctrines of devils) that tell you that “you’re too holy” or “take it easy, it’s not all that hard.” For certain men have crept in stealthily [gaining entrance secretly by a side door]. Their doom was predicted long ago, ungodly (impious, profane) persons who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favor) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality, and disown and deny our sole Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) (Jude 4).

3) Stay within God-given boundaries, it’s for your own good. His commandments are not grievous.

4) Look for Jesus not for leeways to sin (Phil 3:20)

My Neighbour

by Omolola Oriogun

I once asked my mentor the question “who exactly is my neighhbour?” Is it my own family members or the next door families to my right and to my left, the next person beside me in the public bus or the driver to a taxi that picked me up or my hired driver that gets paid monthly?

Her response stunned me when she said..”The entire human race GOD created is your neighbour.” In shock I said, “no way.Are you telling me to love a hired assassin, a robber, a rapist, a fraud, the killers in the Northern part of my country? No way!!!” She didn’t argue with me but took me down Bible lane.

Stripped of all the theological debates and boiled down to its raw essence, Christianity and Christians will be judged by two actions: how much we love GOD and how well we demonstrate this by loving our neighbour.

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might (Deut 6:5).

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matt.22:36-40).

This is Christianity in a nutshell. But pushing these two great commands to the back pages of our practical theology has allowed Christians to join in with the world in separating along racial lines.

A clearer understanding of the priority these two commandments deserve should have us scrambling to figure out creative ways to demonstrate our love for one another. Understanding JESUS definition of “neighbour” should motivate us to show special love to those who don’t love us. Until Christians can admit to the importance JESUS put on loving our neighbour; until we can admit that not to do so weakens our gospel; it’s unlikely that we will go out of our way to “prove neighbour.” Instead, we will continue to pass by on the other side just like JESUS described in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-32.

Christians have used a strategy similar to this in our attempts to deal with the hard teachings of JESUS. We have separated basic principles of Scripture that GOD never intended to be separated, consequently robbing them of their intended power. The Bible is divided into two broad categories: “people and their relationship to GOD, and people and their relationships to other people.” Everything in Scripture falls under one or the other of these broad categories. In the third chapter of Genesis, man and woman broke their relationship with GOD by disobeying HIM and eating the fruit. In Genesis 4 Cain broke his relationship with his brother, Abel, when he killed him .The rest of the Bible is a record of GOD’s attempts to reconcile the human race back to Himself and to reconcile man back to man.

There’s a particular word GOD has being communicating to the world of Christians, even to the entire human race from the Bible and that word is Reconciliation. Apostle Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:18-19, “And all things are of GOD, who hath reconciled us to Himself by JESUS CHRIST, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that GOD was in CHRIST, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

JESUS in all HIS teachings about the greatest commandment never separated “loving GOD and loving your neighbour as yourself” from each other. Check throughout the old and new testaments, the two commandments are always together. Even when the Lawyer in Matt. 22 came to tempt HIM, JESUS responded with the two commandments, “Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, for this is the first and greatest commandment and Love your neighbour as yourself.” If we were the one responding, we would have stopped at the first one but JESUS didn’t because HE knows the heart of GOD concerning loving GOD and loving ourselves. Also, JESUS revealed to us what must be one of the most overlooked statements in Scripture: “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Under these two categories falls everything that was taught by Moses and the prophets, and everything that JESUS taught, and everything that was taught by HIS disciples. Boiling it all down to its raw essence, “what GOD wants is for us to Love HIM and love our neighbour.”

We might think, how easy it is to quote the Bible verses that speak on love to GOD and to man but how it’s not easy to carry it out. Yes, it’s usually not easy to carry out or live the word of GOD that we read or hear from the pulpit because we’re humans. But GOD expects us to ask for HIS grace to enable us to love HIM and our fellowmen irrespective of culture, colour and character.

Separating loving GOD from loving your neighbour has cost many Christians a valuable witness to the power of GOD.

When JESUS was asked, “Who is the neighbour I’m supposed to love like myself?.” HE didn’t say “Your family,” or “the people of your neighborhood, people who are like you.”

For all practical purposes, JESUS turned the question into a racial issue. It was no coincidence that HE picked a Samaritan to demonstrate the meaning of neighbour to a Jewish expert in the law.

Jews didn’t see the Samaritans as their neighbours. “Samaritans were half-breeds, the scum of the earth, the outcasts.” The Jews believed that if a Jewish person’s shadow happened to touch a Samaritan’s shadow, it would contaminate the Jew and if a Samaritan woman entered a Jewish village, the entire village became unclean.

But in this story JESUS says that our neighbours are especially those people who ignore us, those people who separate themselves from us, those people who are afraid of us, those people we have the most difficulty loving and those people we feel don’t love us. These are our neighbours. In Matthew 5:46 JESUS says, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” Anybody can do that.

Christianity doesn’t require any power when its only challenge is to do something that already comes naturally. But it will take a powerful gospel, a gospel with guts to enable us to love across all the barriers we erect to edify our own kind and protect us from our insecurities.

Sometimes, in my weak moments, I wish the lawyer who asked that question over two thousand years ago had never opened his mouth. But now, because he did, I am without excuse. I cannot plead ignorance to the question of race. Now, because of JESUS answer, I have to go beyond my comfort zone and embrace neighbours I would rather do without.

The answer to the question “And who is my neighbour?” has much to say about the priority we place on loving people who are different from ourselves, especially as it relates to our eternal future. Hidden behind JESUS simple lesson on helping others is an intense spotlight aimed right at one of our most serious blind spots – race.

It doesn’t take much imagination for each of us to figure out who JESUS would use as an example of “neighbour” in our own towns and cities.

1. For an Israeli, how about a Palestinian?
2. For a Jew, how about an Arab?
3. For a rich white, how about a black mother on welfare?
4. For a poor white, how about a middle-class black who got where he is through affirmative action?
5. For a black male, how about a white male; better yet, a pickup-driving, gun-toting, tobacco-chewing, baseball-cap-wearing white man who still refers to a black man as “boy”?
6. For a feminist, how about an insensitive, domineering male chauvinist?
7. For a suburban white family, how about the new black or Hispanic family that moved in down the street?
8. For a Nigerian, how about the Northerners that kill your country people everyday?
9. For all of us, how about the unmotivated, undisciplined, uneducated poor? Or an AIDS victim who contracted AIDS not through a transfusion but through homosexual activity or intravenous drug use?

Who would JESUS use as the neighbour if HE were speaking to you?

My beloved, it’s certain to me that one day you will be asked this question. How are you going to answer this question to your children and to the world at large?

Maybe the question is not being asked in words, but believe me, it’s being asked. Maybe you are not answering in words, but you are answering; if not in words, then surely in deeds. As the old saying goes, “Our lives speak so loudly that the world can’t hear what our mouth is saying.”

The Bible says: “If anyone says, ‘I love GOD,’ yet hates his brother (neighbour), he is a liar” (1 Jn 4:20).

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother (neighbour) in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of GOD be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth”- (1 ]n 3:17-18).

A world confused about race needs to see a gospel with guts enough to break the idols of race, not only through our words but also through our deeds.

Love and pray for your neighbour!!!

Things to Seek

by Miss Mo

1. Contentment – God, teach me contentment in all aspects of my life – Hebrews 13:5; Psalms 37:16; Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:6 and 8 Matt 6:28-34 -32 Philip 4:12 Prov 30: 7-9; Ecc5:10; Prov 19:23

2. Wisdom – God, teach me wisdom in the management of all resources You have provided me with – Proverbs 4:7; Proverbs 3:13; Proverbs 8:10-11; Proverbs 24:14

3. God’s Spirit – Cause Your spirit to dwell within me – Eze 36:26-31

4. God’s restoration – God, help me make up for lost time and restore lost things – Eze 36; Ps 92

5. Boldness to come before the throne of grace –  No one can plead my case before God but me – Ps 142:2; 1 Sam 1: 9-17; Ish 38

6. Good works – Learning to do what’s right when we don’t feel like. It’s not about how we feel but how we choose to behave despite those feelings – you can’t help how you feel but you can help how you behave. Galatians 6:9-10; Matthew 5:38-48 ; Luke 6:27-36 ; Hebrews 13:16 ; Luke 6:35

7. Patience and Endurance – It is in the overcoming of a thing that one prepares for promotion; go through the process. Even at work, you need to be innovative and do something exceptional to be promoted. So if we never tackle our fears, trials, challenges, we cannot be promoted. Without the necessary action and willingness to overcome our issue we can’t be promoted.

8. Trust – Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28 & Isaiah 55:8-9 truths to live by – He knows the plans He has towards me, plans to prosper me. Because of that; all things will work together for my good because I am called according to His purpose. I will trust Him because He is God and He first loved me even when I may not necessarily understand why things in my life are working as they are (because my ways are not His ways neither are my thoughts His thoughts). Hebrews 12:1, Psalms 40:1; James 1:4; James 1:3; Romans 5:4; 1 Peter 2:20

9. Rest – the patience that love demands; to speak when words are needed and to share the silence when they are not… I need to learn to share the silence with God and rest in the assurance of His love – Psalms 37:7; Matthew 11:28-30; Exodus 33:14; Isaiah 26:3-4; John 14:27; Psalms 119:165

May God grant us His mercies as we earnestly seek Him for these things; that they may abound in us so that we will continue to abide in Him.

Errors We Hold On To

For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold (2 Tim 4:3 AMP).

Today in christendom there are a lot of errors we hold on to either in ignorance or willfully.

A few of such errors are:

1)      Name it and claim it

Some of us, children of God think and believe that we can just name it-and-claim-it and get whatever we want, or that because God did it for so-and-so therefore He must do the same for us. This kind of thinking is based on thinking that our faith is to control God. The Almighty is not our errand boy or a genie granting our 3-wishes or our every wish.

The Israelites named-it-and-claimed-it and got what they wanted but God sent leanness into their souls (Psa 106:15).

Find out what God has said in His word about your situation, because for faith to be faith it must be anchored on the word of God (Rom 10:17).

 

2)      Get rich quick schemes

We’re in church only because we want our businesses to prosper.

Our library is limited to titles such as 7 Steps To Success, How To Sack Your Boss and other such folly.

An inheritance claimed too soon will not be blessed at the end (Prov 20:21).

But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Tim 6:9-10).

Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom (Pro 23:4).

 

3)      Microwave services

We can’t sit through sermons longer than 30minutes but can attend business seminars that run for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. We can spend time hours watching Season 1 through Season 5 of our favorite TV shows but don’t have time for God.

Our prayer time in the morning is a mad dash for the finish line and then we’re off to a busy schedule that drains us of our energy. God is just another item to check on our to-do-list and sadly, He’s a tiny footnote at the bottom of the list, way done on our list of priorities

Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best (Prov 3:9 MSG).

Endure good doctrine, spend time at the foot of Jesus like Mary did (Luke 10:38-42).

 

4)      Entertainment services

We invite comedians, who poke fun at the gifts and workings of the Holy Spirit to the altar of God, to be MCs at our church services.

 

5)      Not confirming if what we hear in church is what God has said

Just because the pastor said it does not mean it’s a thus-saith-the-Lord. Be like the Bereans who checked, according to the Scriptures, daily if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Cor 11:13-15).

Test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast. Abstain from evil [shrink from it and keep aloof from it] in whatever form or whatever kind it may be. (1 Thess 5:20-22 AMP).

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:8-9).

Some men of God are quick to quote that 70% of Jesus’ sermons was about money, especially when they want to fleece people. Sadly, too many people believe that because Jesus spoke about riches, treasures and sometimes used financial terms in His parables therefore He meant that they should spend 70% of their lives getting money.

Why don’t you find out exactly what Jesus said about money?

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt 6:33).

 

6)      Sowing a seed

We’re quick to open our wallets to sow a seed into a man of God’s life we are meeting for the first time without understanding the principle of seed time and harvest. Sometimes people are quick to give and sow to appease their guilty consciences. What harvest are we expecting from such seeding or sowing?

Yes, Jesus said whoever gives a drink of water to a prophet would not lose a prophet’s reward but ask yourself, Am I fulfilling this scripture?

Some people are quick to give and sow to appease their guilty consciences.

These are the kind of people who smooth-talk themselves into the homes of unstable and needy women and take advantage of them; women who, depressed by their sinfulness, take up with every new religious fad that calls itself “truth.” They get exploited every time and never really learn (2 Tim 3:6-7 MSG).

 

7)      Me-I-no-go-suffer mentality

We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22).

all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12).

if we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us (2 Tim 2:12).

 

8)      Fall-and-die prayers.

Jesus said pray for your enemies. Love your enemies.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:43-48).

 

9)      Wanting to be like the world

On more than one occasion Jesus said that we will be rejected because we belong to Him and that the world would hate us because we are His followers.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15).

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake (Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:9; Luke 21:17; John 15:18).

See also (James 4:4; Rom 9:7-8; Rom 12:1; 1Cor 15:33).

 

10)   Not waking our talk and giving the excuse that God sees the heart.

Jesus said your actions come out of the heart and “by their fruit you shall know them.”

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: (Matt 15:19).

And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man
(Mark 7:20-23).

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10 NIV).

 

11)   Giving the excuse “God will understand.” “Na me kill Jesus? Your own too much.”

We play this card when we give in to our lusts and fall into temptation.

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them (James 4:17 NIV)

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Cor 10:13 NIV)

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matt 7:21 NIV).

Once the sermon is too close for comfort, we roll our eyes and our response is “Them don come again. Here we go again…old school message.” We say this when we are not ready to let go of dark corners in our lives where the spotlight of the word of God has shined.

People correct us and we retort, “Na me kill Jesus? Your own too much.”

See Prov 29:1; John 16:8-10; John 16:13

 

12)   Not being dependent on the Holy Spirit.

God does not give us gifts that we don’t need or require. To think a gift of God is not necessary is folly. God gave us the Holy Spirit for guidance, comfort, teaching and revealing the will of God to us. If you are not led of the Holy Spirit you are not a child of God (Rom 8:16).

 

13)   Equating being active-in-church to being in a relationship with God or knowing God.

Going to a strong, bible-believing church does not make you a strong Christian. As long as all you do is church attendance then you’re like the foolish man who heard the words of God and did not obey it (Matt 7:26-27).

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt 7:22-23 NIV)

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her (Luk 10:38-42)
14) Man of God pray for me

Are we like Pharaoh or Jerobaom (1Kings 13:6) who said, “pray to the Lord your God?” Is he not your God too? There is no mediator between you and God but Jesus (1 Tim 2:5). What is keeping you from talking to God?

Jesus says come boldly to the throne of grace (Heb 4:16).
Hannah, Samuel’s mother, spoke to God in prayer (1 Sam 1:10).

 

15) Prayer Contractor

Are you quick to lay hands on people to make a quick buck?
eager to pronounce blessings on people who do not fear God? Have you customised your sermons so sinners can continue in sins, just as long as they keep bringing in their tithes and offerings?

Phil 3:18-19 says that destruction is the end of such people whose god is their belly.

Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure (1 Tim 5:22)

In conclusion, our prayers should be:

Lord, keep me from presumptuous sins, Clear me from hidden and unconscious faults” (Psa 19:12-13).

 

 

 

Conviction or Condemnation

By Miss Mo

For the past few month, I had been hearing some messages from church that have really been hammering on the soon coming of Jesus Christ and even the news just piles on the impending doom of the end. This impending doom and the messages from children of God that I had been hearing really started to point out my errors to me and I was in a conundrum, I was wondering why the word of God was coming to me when it seemed as though there was so little time to make the changes I needed to make so I asked God why His word was coming to me if He knew the time was so near, was it just to condemn me? And if I was going to hell anyway, would it not be better for me if I “quit while I was ahead”? I mean, why not keep sinning if I have already missed the mark? Thoughts floated in my mind for weeks.

 Revelation from the dictionary

Conviction

a:  the act of convincing a person of error or of compelling the admission of a truth

b:  the state of being convinced of error or compelled to admit the truth

Condemnation -

a:  to pronounce guilty :  convict

b:  sentence, doom<condemn a prisoner to die>

From the definitions we can see that conviction is supposed to lead to condemnation. But with God, this is not the case. Once a person is condemned, that’s it for them.

Fast-forward to one Sunday school morning, we were discussing about Jeroboam, the old prophet and the young prophet and it was mentioned that Jeroboam did not know the word of God, that was why he did not repent.  I disagreed with this because I could relate with Jeroboam, we were in the same shoes. The word of God had come but he wasn’t so sure if there would be time to repent. He had taken the children of God away from where God commanded them to worship, he had built graven images, burnt incense on the altar which he was not supposed to do (you can find the story in 1 Kings 13, but for more information, read from chapters 11 – 15). He had wandered far off from being the person God gave his beloved kingdom to and didn’t really know if there was time to make amends. The truth is that we all feel this way when the word of God comes to meet us. We can see this play over and over in the book of Jeremiah 2:25; 3:25 and hopelessness seemed to reign. The truth is that when the word of God comes to us even in condemnation as seen in Jeremiah and the book of Jonah, it is always because God loves us and there is still time for us to come back to Him (Heb 12:6, Prov 3:12; Rev 3:19) But we must be willing to understand where we went wrong and not go back to it. It’s often saddening when you know you’ve missed it , but do not wallow in self-pity, ask God for mercy and Grace to repent. The thing is that when condemnation/judgment has really come, it just appears, there are no warnings like with Sodom and Gomorrah in the Book of Genesis or when the children of Israel sinned in the wilderness as found in the Book of Exodus.

Bottom line: When the word of God is revealed to you, it’s because He loves you and wants you to work on it by submitting it to Him and receiving His strength to make the necessary change. So don’t ever let the devil lie to you that you are being condemned and even when those thoughts come, remind yourself that it’s his love that is disciplining to bring you a step closer to perfection in him! It’s always conviction and not condemnation.

Dealing with the Consequences

by Yewande Olamiju

Are you sitting in gloom, wondering, “How long, Lord, till I get out of this? I made a mistake, but will I pay for it for ever? Is there no way out? no end in sight? Is this unreedemable? Lord, are You no longer concerned about what I’ m going through?”

Are you going through some dark days because of the wrong choices you made? Like David, repent and receive God’s forgiveness. Trust and believe God when He says that : Continue reading

Truth: A Person, a Word or both?

By Omolola Oriogun

I often heard statements like this: “I’m telling you the truth; the truth of the matter is; GOD knows I’m saying the truth.” When I hear such, I wonder what truth is?!!!

Ask anyone today, “What is truth?”, and you’re sure to start an interesting conversation. Try it on a university campus and you’re likely to receive laughter, scorn, and derision. The concept of truth has clearly fallen on hard times, and the consequences of rejecting it are ravaging human society. So let’s go back to the starting point and answer the question: What is truth? Continue reading

Prepare for the Life Which is To Come

by Yewande Olamiju

There’s this life and there’s the life to come. This life is the one we’re currently living here and now on Planet Earth while the life which is to come is the one we’ll live forever and ever, in Heaven or in Hell. The life which is to come  lasts forever and ever and ever. This eternal destination has no end.

Where do you want to spend eternity? Continue reading

God-substitute

Put God first He’ll put you first. Put Him second, He’ll put you last.

I heard these words in a service in church and have never been able to forget them. I was expecting that the end of the sentence would read put Him second He’ll put you second. But after some bible study I realised that if I didn’t give God first place in my life, then things would quickly unravel and I’ll end up flat on my face. If God is not on the throne of my heart and first in my life then whoever or whatever was the usurper, seating in God’s place would keep me separated from God. Continue reading

When I don’t know which way to go… The bible is my wisdom

by Miss Mo

Late last year, I saw a video of Tyler Perry laying hands on Bishop T.D. Jakes. This video rattled my beliefs because it seemed unnatural that a Christian (and I use this word loosely) actor/movie producer will have the spiritual audacity to lay hands on someone that is so renowned in christendom. So I set out to do the research as to why this might be okay according to the scriptures.

Here’s what I found: Continue reading

Hearing the Truth

by Yewande Olamiju

A man of God sharing what God told him regarding receiving correction said – If you are waiting for a perfect man to correct you before you can accept correction from a mortal you will not be corrected, neither will you get to where God is taking you. Is the correction scriptural? If the correction given is according to the Scriptures then accept it. Though the bearer is not perfect, God’s word is perfect.

Sometimes when  corrected or criticised, we are quick to quote the scripture “speak the truth in love”, Continue reading

God’s Answers to Your requests

Adapted from a sermon by Pastor Dele Oyeleru of TCBC, Ejigbo

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives…….That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (Jer 29:4, 10-11).

The Israelites were asking God for liberation from captivity in Babylon yet God’s response was Continue reading

JESUS, our Comforter

by Omolola Oriogun

It was 23:04pm Sunday night and I was already tucked in bed, I whispered some words of prayer, thanking GOD for the whole day. While I was praying, my thoughts ran through the whole day, “went to church; went for my girlfriend’s engagement party that same day, had a wonderful time out with my family when we had dinner together, watched some comedies, and then, going to bed,” therefore, I was praying with a very big smile.

My phone beeped while praying Continue reading

Help! My Doubt Scares Me

by Omolola Oriogun

Have you ever doubted your faith? Ever imagined “can GOD do this? We all have doubts from time to time. We may doubt that our boss really hit a hole-in-one at the golf course last weekend, or that our best friend really caught a fish as big as the one he claimed to catch, or that the strange looking guy on that light night TV show was really abducted by alien beings from a distant galaxy.  

Sometimes the things we doubt aren’t really that important, but other times they are. And the more important something is to us, the more personally invested we are in it, the scarier it can be to start having doubts about it. So when Christians begin to have doubts about something as significant as the truth of their Christian faith, it’s quite understandable that this might worry or even frighten them.   Continue reading

I Want to go to Heaven!!!

by Yewande Olamiju  

I haven’t been to Heaven…yet, bit I’m looking forward to  living there with Jesus. I want to know what Heaven would be like. What would fill my days? What would I be doing for ever and ever and ever?

God’s roadmap to Heaven
A man who has never been to Abeokuta, needs to know the route to take to get to Abeokuta if he does not want to end up in Lokoja or Liberia. Continue reading