OUR LIGHT AFFLICTION


When the Bible talks about our light affliction, what is it saying? Is it talking about every bad thing we experience as humans? Is it talking about the after-effects of our wrong choices? Sometimes, Christians who are poor think poverty is their light afflictions but we must define what light affliction is in the context of what the Bible is talking about. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:17

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Light affliction is not the general problems that humans go through; it is the discipline, discomfort and contentment that we are willing to endure for the sake of Christ. Light affliction is not a misfortune but the sacrifice of self for the sake of our faith. The Bible says in the previous verses in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

“We are pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

There are times we are pressed on every side, this pressing might be an experience of discomfort and even lack; not because we lack ideas but because we have prioritized Jesus over every other thing. There are times we might get confused because we left so many things behind just to live and walk with Jesus and it seems we aren’t being rewarded, there are times we get persecuted and rejected because we decide to stand on God’s word rather than subscribe to the world’s unhelpful philosophies and there are times we get struck down and beaten! This is what the Bible refers to as light affliction. Not all afflictions you experience as a believer is a light affliction.

For example, the believer may be poor not because he is a believer but because he didn’t work on the ideas he had. The believer may not give birth to children, not because she is a believer but because she isn’t medically fit to have a baby. A Christian may fail exams and not do well in school, not because of their faith but because they didn’t study hard. These things are general human problems they are afflictions but not the “light affliction” that God’s word talks about. 

Let’s see it this way: It is painful to be pregnant for nine months but these pains can never surpass the joy of carrying your baby and watching the baby grow! It is a kind of light affliction in the human sense because it is not something you are perpetually going to experience for the rest of your life. Your baby will outlive the nine months of pain and the travails of motherhood become a shout of joy. A student must be willing to go through years of discipline and commitment but if you can pull through to the end, the glory of being skilful in your area of study can’t be compared with what you went through.

Now, let’s bring it to the Christian context. Light afflictions aren’t truly your unfortunate experiences of life which every other person goes through regardless of who they are. Being wealthy or being poor has nothing to do with religion or race. Your light affliction as a believer is the carrying of your cross and following Jesus. For example, friends may leave you because of your faith in Christ, families may reject you because of your faith and you may deny yourself certain pleasures and opportunities just because it is a compromise of what you believe. However, the promise we have is that they are light afflictions as long as they are for the sake of Christ and it is an introduction to an eternal weight of glory.

The Bible says that we should present our bodies as living sacrifices. Sacrifices are normally dead for them to be used but we are living sacrifices in the sense that we have a choice, we can decide to walk away but then we willingly give up our rights, pleasure and time for the sake of Christ and for the sake of others whom Christ has committed to us. This means we may have opportunities for revenge but because our life isn’t our own anymore we stay clear of vengeance! This means we may get opportunities to engage in illegal means of living a wealthy life but because we have been laid on the altar of Christ, we give up such opportunities.

Sometimes, we are too afraid to go through our light affliction, but for every glory, there must be willingness to endure something! For every fame, there is a shame attached to it. Just like you must go through pains to bear a child and go through the stress of schooling just to obtain certain knowledge, skills and get certified; you must also go through certain light afflictions as a Christian but these things don’t last forever! It is just for a time. This may never sound like what you want to hear but if you desire the glory, you must be willing to bear the shame! You must be willing to get rejected by friends, to be laughed at because of what you believe and be criticized! Jesus never promised that it would be easy, He said in Matthew 16:24

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your way, take up your cross, and follow me.”

Picking up the cross doesn’t mean the burdens of life. It would be pride to say that the problems you are going through which is common to everybody are a “cross” that you are carrying for the sake of Christ. The cross isn’t the natural burdens of life but the willingness to lay down your own life for the sake of Christ. This doesn’t mean you must experience extreme consequences of following Christ but it means that you “must be willing” to experience these things if they come. Jesus passed through His light affliction but each time He looked ahead to see the weight of glory waiting for Him, He kept enduring.

For everything you go through for the sake of Christ, there is a weight of glory waiting for you! I don’t know what that glory is, I don’t know when it is going to come but one thing I know is that even this entire life will not be enough to contain it.  You are meant to endure your light affliction, you are meant to stay through it and your light affliction is your capital for glory! You cannot evade the process of glory and the path to glory is filled with ups and downs, it isn’t smooth. Greatness becomes a curse for anyone who skipped through all the process to the top. It is these processes that train us for greatness.

Your light affliction is the journey to destiny. Abraham had a promise but he lived all his life without seeing that promise manifest the way he might have envisioned it but he trusted God and kept walking! Today, we are called the Children of Abraham. As a believer, you outlive this earth and even if you have to endure these afflictions all through your stay on earth, there is always a greater hope! The Apostles went through all manner of persecutions but they were looking at the weight of glory ahead of them, they were seeing these glories in Jesus!

No wonder Paul said “to die is gain but to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21) and no wonder Stephen saw Jesus when he was being stoned to death (Act 7:56). Their eyes were all on Jesus and not on the afflictions. People’s rejection of you because of your faith isn’t an indication that you are doing something wrong, it is a sign that you are on your way to being crowned with glory. How to live through the light afflictions is to fix our gaze on Jesus. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:2

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne”

There is a joy awaiting you after the afflictions, some of these joy starts from this earth but it doesn’t end on earth because the glory is eternal! Some of us live in the parts of the world where we may have to die for the sake of Jesus while some live in the part of the world where the worst they would experience is to be rejected by friends and families but whatever class you fall into, Jesus said in Luke 18:29-30

“no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30will fail to receive many times more in this age—and in the age to come, eternal life.”

Take a look at Joseph, he had a dream and all the while he was dreaming, he never knew there was a price to pay for that kind of glory but we know the end of the story for Joseph, we know what became of him later and we know that whatever he went through was a means to glory. Sometimes, your light affliction is experienced in service too! There are times it is not so interesting to serve, there are times telling people about Jesus becomes dangerous to the flesh, there are times we have to make sacrifices and do something the flesh doesn’t want. But because we know where we are going, we can endure that light affliction. If we can’t endure it, we wouldn’t have been asked to do so.

Your light affliction may be staying hungry because you had to give to the poor, it may be getting rejected by friends and family, it may be getting persecuted in your workplace or by the government because you stand firm in Jesus, it may those times people laugh at you and call you a coward because you have chosen to love your enemies… Whatever your light affliction is, you can walk through it and always remember, after the night comes the morning. The affliction is light because the weight of glory attached to it is nothing to be compared!

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:10

“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory through Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.”

God bless you!

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LOVE IS LABOUR, NOT PLEASURE


Again and again, I habitually sit back to ponder on certain things, I try to look from varying perspectives to gain better insight and know better. I was reflecting on that word “love” again and a Bible verse stroke a chord in my heart. It made the distinction! I’d like the words of Jesus to re-echo in our hearts; He said

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:34-35

When we love, people will know that we are His disciples. You must understand that being a disciple means being a learner and this connotes that when we love, people will know that we are learning of Christ. This means that love is the only way to truly be Christ-like in a practical sense. Love is the only way to show Jesus.

When we discuss love, we aren’t talking about what a boy feels for a girl, we aren’t talking about the gifts a boy buys for a girl because of how he feels. We also aren’t talking about the feeling a girl has for a boy as a compensation for all the gifts she has been receiving. Love exceeds all of those. The Bible says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. This is what love means! Love covers a multitude of offence, love doesn’t fade away because we couldn’t get what we want! Love is that ability to be wronged, offended and even despised but still choose to admire, respect and stand for the offender. It is in this interest that the Bible says “love is the greatest…” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Many times, we want to feel that it is impracticable to love and while I admit that it is not natural to the flesh to live like Christ, we can truly love like Him because the nature of Christ has been made available in our Spirit and we can superimpose Christ’s nature of love on our mind by learning of Him every day and functioning in the reality of what we learn of Him. Jesus wasn’t suggesting that we love, He wasn’t advising us to love, and He wasn’t trying to inspire us or motivate us to love! He rather charged us and gave us a command to love one and another. He didn’t just leave us with a command, He also empowered us to be able to live up to it if we so desire it. However, it isn’t negotiable; it is a way of life that we must follow.

In light of this truth, we see something astounding. Love isn’t a choice, it is not an advice or an appeal; it is a commandment from our Lord, Jesus Christ. This is how He expects us to live, His love was made complete in us (1 John 4:12) so that we can give out to others in full measure. The problem is that a lot of us are too carnal that we are afraid to exercise our Spiritual qualities. The only way to express a better understanding of God is not to preach but to love! Love should be the reason why we teach, preach and reach out to people. We can’t prove we know God if we do not walk in genuine love. The Bible says in 1 John 4:8

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

The knowledge of God in us propels us to bear good fruits. What serves as fruit in us is our character and our attitudes towards others. The fruit of the Spirit isn’t something we wait for the Holy Spirit to gift to us. As believers, we have a regenerated spirit, our spirit is perfect (1 Peter 1:23) and our spirit is bearing good fruits. The Bible says in Galatians 5:22-23

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.”

Love is one of the fruits of the Spirit, all other fruits are also made possible by love. The fruit of the Spirit isn’t the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the context of that reference, it is the fruit of our born again Spirit. The bible says that we should walk in the Spirit, it didn’t say we should pray for the ability because as believers we already possess the ability to walk in the Spirit.

If we wouldn’t be able to walk in the Spirit, we wouldn’t have been instructed to do so. To walk in the Spirit means to live out in our flesh the fruits of our Spirit. Jesus said that we are known by our fruits (Matthew 7:16) and He said people will know that we are His disciples if we love. Note this please, He didn’t say people will know we are His disciples if we preach for it is by evidence that people are convinced about our identity. Let’s see that verse briefly,

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” – John 13:34-35

The reason Jesus commanded us to love each other just the same way He has loved us is that this is the only way to prove our identity to the world. Technically, when we don’t love just like Jesus, we are living out a mistaken identity. Jesus didn’t just ask us to love, He asked us to love just as we have been loved by Him. We don’t just love, we love like Jesus. It is not a suggestion but a commandment.

Commandment despises reasons; it entertains no respect for any kind of excuse. When you are in the army, you are obliged to obey the last order! The last order might be to open fire, it might be to slap your brother as a sign of discipline and because you are accountable to the senior officer, you must obey the last order. In the same fashion, Jesus, who is our Lord, saviour and owner have given us an instruction, a command and the greatest of it all at that. He said, “love one and another!” We don’t have a choice but to love, we don’t need any reason to love and we don’t have to feel like it, to love.

Love in this context is simply “love!” We don’t need to start defining any Greek theory! I said earlier that the kind of love Christ necessitates from us is that which respects, admire and care for others even when they are our enemies. It may seem ridiculous and cowardice but this is the kind of love God demands from us. It doesn’t mean that we see gangsters and lay our heads for them. It rather means that even when we have to seek for legal protections from wicked people, we are still concerned about them and groaning for them in prayers. We must never let our flesh proceed to rule our mind perpetually. We can learn to forgive people and let go of the hurt. Love can’t function without a forgiving heart.

Unfortunately, we talk about love so much but end up doing little. Our love for others is manifested first of all in our desire and passion to see them saved but it also continues being expressed in caring for others, in protecting the vulnerable, in assisting the needy and in seeing people just like Jesus would see them. The same way a woman in labour has no other choice than to push, we are compelled to love! Some women keep pushing out the baby and even die in the process but notwithstanding of what happens to them, they had to push, they’ve got no reason not to! Even if pushing would be impossible, they must still undergo surgical operation; this is because they have no option than to deliver that baby! It doesn’t matter the pain, you’ve still got to love.

The weakness of love is stronger than all the powers of hate in this world put together. The power of love is intoxicating to the point that when you show any man, genuine love, God Himself is triggered! I like to think that how to move God is to love, how to call for God’s attention is to love. I may not sound theologically accurate to some people here but it is true; our love for others triggers God’s attention. When you love others and show it, God is likely to say “wow! Someone just loved on me now.” Jesus made this very clear in Matthew 25:40, we saw that how to love God is to love the men God made in His image.

God has made Himself the primary beneficiary of our love to others. Love is a labour, it is not a pleasure. God wants us to labour this way, He regards us as faithful servants when we love others. Jesus didn’t say we should love people who love us, He didn’t say we should appreciate good deeds with love, He didn’t say we should love people we are attracted to. He rather commanded us to love even the least person. The smallest and insignificant person doesn’t suggest the least person in Church, God’s kingdom extends to the earth because the sphere of God’s authority is without defect. Who is the most unimportant person in your life? Who is that enemy that you have sworn to have nothing to do with? Who is that person that has so wronged you that you never want to set your eyes on them again? That is where love should begin!

As much as your child did nothing to obtain your love, this is how others should be loved. There shouldn’t be any such thing as hate at first sight. Whether they look mean, angry and unattractive, always find a means to show love. If your child destroys your certificate and valuable appliances, you may get so angry but in the end, he or she is still your child and you don’t keep being angry with them. This is also how we should treat others. The same way you believe that your child will grow out of being childish, you should also give other people that benefit of the doubt, they can grow out of their hate when they learn how to love from you! When there is a need to discipline people, love should still be the motivation! Channel your desire towards how you can make the other person better!

It is very easy to say that we can handle every offence; it is very easy to say that we can’t get bitter until we are hurt and betrayed by someone we’ve so much trusted. It is easy to say that we can love unconditionally until the person we thought we love turns against us. If love should rule above offence, then we are to labour for it. Judas betrayed Jesus but Jesus didn’t come back talking about it, the same happened with Peter. It was painful but love despises reasons. We will not always get it perfectly right but we can always try, we can always come out of hate when we remember that this isn’t where we are supposed to be. I will summarize with this story.

A man noticed a snake ensnared in something while the fire in a nearby burning bush was expanding towards the place the snake was trapped. Out of compassion the man picked the snake off its trap and started hiking down towards another part of the bush to put it to safety. The snake bit the man who out of pain threw it down immediately but quickly picked it up again and threw it to the other side of the bush. A young girl who was observing him asked: “why did you help that snake even after it bit you?” The man grinned and said “the snake will always be a snake and I will always be me. The snake won’t allow your kindness to change its nature; it is simply exhibiting its nature. In the same manner, I won’t allow the aggressiveness of the snake to change my nature that is why I still had to help even when it treated me badly.”

To love is not to see danger and fix your head in it. To love is to care for another person even when he or she is isolated for your safety. Never forget, love seeks for reconciliation, love is compassionate about getting others saved and love is revealed in care. People may hurt you while loving them but what do you do? Love again! Why? Because we are obeying the last order!

This is our last order, to love!

~ George O.N

PODCAST: YOUR SCARS | Your Defining Moment


Sometimes, we look back at our scars and we murmur in regrets. Some scars heal and some never get to heal but these scars are meant to be treasures just that we do not notice this on time.

In this fresh and inspiring release based on our previous article, we discussed why you should treasure your scars and how amazing those scars you despise would be. In simple words and with clarity, this will not just appeal to your heart, it will bring healing to those long moments of regrets that you have nursed for a long time.

Listen & Download the MP3 Audio for free!

WHAT IS KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING AND WISDOM?


What is knowledge, understanding and wisdom?

When I was little, I would come across certain quotes titled “Quotes from wise men” and I was always left to wonder why these men were called wise! It was difficult for me to really understand why they were called wise and till date, I still feel the criteria with which we measure wisdom is flawed. When we understand what wisdom is, it may also change how we rate it. Sounding wise doesn’t mean we are wise. I would like to also present my perspective of what wisdom is and how it also relates to knowledge and understanding.

On many occasions, people have called us wise because we know just so much and sometimes we have also allowed ourselves to get swayed on the premise of what some people say about us. Oh well, when they come close, they realize that there is more to wisdom than being and sounding knowledgeable. Knowing so much doesn’t equate to being wise. The Bible says in Proverbs 4:7

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

“Knowing so much doesn’t equate to being wise.”

  • WHAT IS KNOWLEDGE?

Knowledge is not wisdom, people tend to use both words interchangeably and being knowledgeable doesn’t also mean that one is understandable. Knowledge is the information and facts that we have acquired through our various experiences or other diverse channels of education. To be educated doesn’t mean to be wise or understandable, it simply means to be aware and in possession of certain information. We hear people say that knowledge is power, it doesn’t indicate that possessing knowledge means being powerful. When we know, it means that power is available to us but knowing isn’t enough to wield power! This is why we must understand other aspects that include wisdom and understanding.

“To be educated doesn’t mean to be wise or understandable, it simply means to be aware and in possession of certain information.”

  • WHAT IS UNDERSTANDING?

Understanding is what bridges wisdom and knowledge. Some people believe that wisdom bridges knowledge and understanding but I think otherwise. To understand means to discern, it is the ability to filter knowledge and make it ready for application where relevant. Knowledge is power but when we don’t know how and where to apply this power, we may remain failures. Nigerian police cannot function in America as police and therefore can’t board a flight, get to America and start making an arrest! He is a police, the awareness of being police is knowledge but discerning where to function and how to function is understanding. We can say that someone is understanding when he or she displays a sense of good judgment based on the knowledge they possess.

In the court of law, you may know a certain case and also know the constitution but you may not understand how and where each law applies but a lawyer knows this and knows where exactly to apply certain laws and where it would be wrong to also apply certain laws. This is understanding. To know what the book says doesn’t indicate you have common sense as common sense is expressed when you discern where and how the sayings of that book become applicable.

While knowledge would be about acquiring knowledge, understanding is the processing of that knowledge.

“Knowledge is power but when we don’t know how and where to apply this power, we may remain failures.”

  • WHAT IS WISDOM?

In a very simply word, we would say knowledge is a raw material, understanding is the processed material and wisdom is the usage of the refined product. Knowledge is like the unattractive raw unprocessed gold! Understanding is like the processing of gold and wisdom is the finished product that can be seen, used and appreciated. The Bible calls wisdom “the principal thing”, which means the most important or the first among other important things! Without wisdom, knowledge cannot be properly applied.

Wisdom is the active practical display of both knowledge and understanding. It doesn’t just have to do with speaking, it also has to do with showing knowledge and common sense. Wisdom doesn’t work independently of understanding because it is discernment that leads to the correct application of knowledge. I believe we now understand what knowledge, understanding and wisdom are. We can now know how to put these definitions into our everyday use but I will digress a little and get more spiritual.

There is the wisdom of men and there is the wisdom of God. I believe in God because even common sense suggests to me that someone is behind the formation of this earth, someone is behind our intelligence. All of the complex things about this earth, us and animals just didn’t happen by accident! It couldn’t have been as a result of a big bang! There could have been more.

Now, if I believe in God who made us, I should also be able to believe that He is wise and His wisdom surpasses that of mere men. The Bible has been the only information that has brought the understanding of God to me in a way that I feel God personally. I have also had some personal experiences with God in Jesus Christ and therefore I believe the Bible and I believe the truth contained therein.

“Knowledge is like the unattractive raw unprocessed gold! Understanding is like the processing of gold and wisdom is the finished product that can be seen, used and appreciated.”

MEN AND GOD’S WISDOM

It is not wrong to be humanly wise, it is not wrong to be humanly intelligent but our wisdom can’t be trusted and therefore depending on it is wrong. The wisdom of men flows with the negativity and flawed perceptions of this world. The world is full of greed, envy, anger, immoralities and so on, it is driven by self. People can still gather knowledge on how to be powerful on earth to suppress the opposition, they can understand the whole concept and apply it in real life! The Bible refers to this kind of wisdom as men’s wisdom. The wisdom of men is selfish, wicked, arrogant and full of lust. The Bible says in James 3:15-16

“For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there are jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”

Men use their wisdom to satisfy their lust for power, fame and material things but the Bible calls it earthly, carnal and demonic! The reason why the Bible says it is demonic is that God gave man intelligence and the ability to develop it and become wise but after the fall, man became influenced by the demonic forces. Today, some men use their wisdom to traffic women and the girl child but still never get caught! Some men use their wisdom to traffic harmful substances and human parts and never get caught! People use their wisdom to develop dangerous weapons of war! They know their way around what they do and they know what to do to escape certain justice, yet it is said that they are wise. This is the flaws of men’s wisdom.

“Men use their wisdom to satisfy their lust for power, fame and material things but the Bible calls it earthly, carnal and demonic!”

But there is also God’s wisdom or Godly wisdom, this is the wisdom of God Himself or the wisdom that is based on the knowledge, understanding and love of and for God. For instance, one of the clear indications that wisdom is godly is when it is founded on love. The Bible says in James 3:17

“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace-loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favouritism and is always sincere.”

Godly wisdom is crowned with love, it functions within the boundaries of peace and is expressed in humility and respect for others. Because Godly wisdom flows with humility, love and peace, the world always sees it as foolishness or cowardice. Where men’s wisdom would want to fight, Godly wisdom would be calm and calculated. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1:25

“This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.”

It is very obvious that love is stronger than hate, peace is stronger than war and humility is stronger than pride. It takes great strength to be powerful and yet humble, to be agitated in the mind and yet remain calm, to be offended and yet remain loving! Natural minds will not understand this, they will not understand the strength of being calm in the midst of the noise. The least of God’s wisdom is greater than the much of men’s wisdom.

Because God’s word reveals the mind of Christ through Jesus, we can learn from God’s wisdom through His word. We can become wise in God’s way, we were never created to be foolish, God wants us to truly be like him. Like I said earlier, the fall of man also affected man’s wisdom, it changed everything! However, we can rediscover God’s wisdom and realign ourselves to perform with His wisdom.

“Godly wisdom is crowned with love, it functions within the boundaries of peace and is expressed in humility and respect for others.”

In our next article, we will be seeing how to walk in godly wisdom.

Blessings.

~ George O.N

WHEN YOU FACE TRIBULATIONS


Many times we allow things that aren’t important to distract us from the real reason why we were made by making them very important. When God gives us a task, it is only our focus on that task that can truly get us going to the finishing line. Those who focus on their given task finishes strong but those who allow distraction don’t continue in the race. While distraction is a major reason people fail to fulfil a purpose, another reason people fail to fulfil a purpose is that they are walking alone and they often want to walk alone either because of how they have been treated in the past or because of how they have been betrayed.

Well, regardless of the betrayal and broken heart, aloneness is never an option. God never designed man to walk alone, Jesus never came walking alone and people who walk alone can never build and build to the finish. Of all the options you have in life, aloneness isn’t one of them. You need people as much as people need you and most importantly you need to stay hopeful. Let’s talk how to walk through the moment of tribulations. The Bible says in Proverbs 13:12:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”

When hope becomes crushed, the heart becomes sick, the mind becomes unmotivated and depression begins to set in. This means that at all cost, you must keep your hope alive! Dreams don’t get fulfilled when hope is crushed, it is in the presence of hope that you are motivated to keep moving, to keep running until you win! One inevitable thing in life is what you don’t wish for; tribulation! What about it? The Bible says in John 16:33

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus never promised that we would live without tribulation, He never promised us a life without troubles and sorrow! But amid that trial, he said we can have peace in Him and how do we do that? It is by taking heart and standing on the reality of Christ’s victory over the world. To take heart means to be courageous! We can be courageous in the face of tribulations, they will surely come as long as we are on earth but they can’t destroy us if we lay hold on Christ’s victory over this world and its systems. If you must live for Jesus, the time will come when you just have to give up certain pleasures, friends and some good life for a greater purpose. This is the price we pay, not for the anointing or salvation but as a result of our convictions. Anyone who truly wants to follow Jesus must be ready to give up himself because, at some point, you would never be world friendly.

The beautiful thing Jesus promised us is that we can be courageous when we are faced with these things and the problems will not last forever. In the face of tribulation, what do we do? The Bible says in James 1:2

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”

There are so many kinds of troubles, they come in various shapes and sizes but it is what we see in these troubles that matter or shape our reality. When they come, the Bible says you should consider it an opportunity for great joy! As for the troubles, they will surely come in diverse manners but you must develop the attitude of joy and this joy comes from your trust in God and not from the mere satisfaction of life. When things are going fine with you, don’t laugh at those who are having troubles or try blaming them for what they are going through. Put yourself in their shoes, show empathy and do something about it. Your own time of trials would come and you may also need them!

Following Jesus comes with some degree of sacrifice, people will laugh at you on the social media, friends wouldn’t want to go places with you, some fellow Christians will mock you! At some point, you will be forced to question your stand! However, you must know that these are prices you have to pay for your convictions. The only way you can find rest in the series of tribulation is to focus on what God is saying rather than what the situation is saying. God’s word isn’t suggestive on how we should live, it is showing us the exact way to live. Living God’s way isn’t usually awesome to the flesh but it subjects our flesh to discipline! In the midst of it all, you can still enjoy God’s rest.

Christ gives us freedom but this isn’t freedom for everything but freedom from sin and death. This is where the yoke of Christ comes in! The yoke of darkness drags us downwards but the yoke of Christ leads us to destiny through the path of purpose! In Christ. The freedom Christ gives isn’t freedom for everything but freedom from sin, death and darkness. Being in Christ doesn’t mean we are entirely free from tribulations and when we go through all manner of trials, there are eternal implications. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:17

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”

The Bible isn’t suggesting that we might experience troubles, it is telling us that we will surely experience troubles but that we can eventually pull through knowing that they are just small compared to the eternal glory that will be produced of them. God’s salvation has nothing to do with giving us certain material things but rather about having us to himself. When the Bible says that God has given us all that pertains to life and Godliness, it wasn’t talking about money or food but about the life of God, we have received to live like Him. God has empowered us to live by His standards. The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:3

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself using his marvellous glory and excellence.”

Do you see that? By coming to know Him, we receive all that pertains to life and godliness which He has given us. Jesus is all things that God has to give, He is that life and He is also the truth that sets us free! When Jesus promised the Disciples that they would become fishers of men, it might have sounded like a big business deal but it was more than that anyway it wasn’t about their career, it was beyond it! They had to sacrifice their awesome career, it was a trying moment for them too! No wonder Jesus told a rich man in Mark 10:22 to use all he has for eternal purpose! When Jesus asked him to sell all he had if he must follow Him, Jesus was saying “if you can’t sacrifice your pleasure, you can’t follow me!” This is why Jesus said it is hard for people who hold on to their wealth above all things to find God. People who trust their riches cannot trust God because God will, first of all, take you away from those distractions, make you let go of your trust in yourself before you can trust him.

God fought with Jacob until he came to an end of himself and received a new identity. The true meaning of godliness is coming to the end of yourself and we cannot undermine the place of contentment as believers. During tribulation times, many people tend to lose patience, they tend to seek ways outside God’s will and sometimes they even seem to pray prayers that aren’t according to God’s will. It is in times of lack that contentment is proven. Contentment is also the ability to give up certain things and not just the ability to stay without certain things. In Mark 10:28-29, Peter wondered what their fate was after they had left everything to follow Jesus and Jesus assured him that those who have left things for his sake will receive a hundredfold in the present and in the age to come.

You shouldn’t be lost in the quest of getting things! You should focus on living for Jesus, in leaving and giving things up for Him. There are a present and future reward for people who are ready to give up something. Persecutions will always be there to train you! Persecutions will purify and refine you. God leads you through various experiences and lessons in the face of tribulations. Some tribulations may teach you how to manage resources better, how to stay humble even when the world starts bowing to you and how to live in absolute contentment. Sometimes, God trains you with tribulations and in these times, your confidence is that God is with you and that He has got you covered! The Bible says in Hebrews 10:38-39

“But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”

There are times when believing God becomes so hard because of what we are feeling in the flesh and many times people shrink back when they had nearly crossed that phase of life! You truly don’t belong to those who shrink back. No matter how much your soul has suffered, Jesus is the saviour of your soul and not you, why not just trust Him? If you have given Him everything, then allow Him to do it the way He wants. You can pull through, you can stay joyful regardless of the weight of the tribulation and the Bible tells us how to keep standing!

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne.” – Hebrews 12:2

Our eyes shouldn’t be on things, on men, on the government, on people’s promises but strictly on Jesus! He is the champion, the initiator and the one who perfects our faith! We can always look at what He did and do like Him. The Bible says He endured the cross, He disregarded the shame but now He is honoured! In the same way, we can ignore the shame that comes with the tribulations and we can ignore the mockery that comes with it. People may say God has forsaken us, they may say our God can’t save us, they may even say there isn’t any God but we shouldn’t let those things discourage us, we should stay joyful knowing that these things result in an eternal weight of glory!

God isn’t pleased when you face tribulation and decided to back down or lose hope in Him. He takes delight when you stand, He rejoices when you stand on the victory He already delivered to you! You express absolute trust in Him when you look up to Jesus and God finds it pleasing. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:6

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

We please God in the face of tribulations by looking up to Jesus and not to things! What is your life pursuit? When you pray, what dominates your mind? When you are in Christian gatherings, what is it that you come for? Are you seeking for an easy escape from tribulations or are you ready to keep looking and waiting on God? Are you lost in the world’s way of seeking success and pursuing vanity?

When we fix our eyes on Jesus even in the face of tribulation, we are saying “Lord, I know you are good even in hard times and I know you are working all things together for my good. Therefore, I am looking up to you because I trust you with my life.” All things truly aren’t yours to get, it is God’s give and He promised that when you seek the kingdom and its righteousness, all other things shall be added to you and Jesus promised that your father in heaven cares about your needs.

Do you know one of the ways to express confidence in your trying times? Reach out to people who need more rather than focus on your problems. Be concerned about the poor than focus on what you don’t have, contentment is shown in our ability to give others when we don’t have much. Have you forsaken everything to follow God? Then keep trusting Him! Let Him be your priority. In simple words, the best thing to do in the place of tribulation is to keep pursuing Jesus.

Blessings!

~ George O.N

DOES GOD FORGET OUR SINS?


Does God truly forget our sins? The simple answer would be “of course, God has dealt with the issue of sin, He has forgiven AND FORGOTTEN!” We appropriate this truth by believing and walking in its consciousness. Now let’s look at a detailed explanation.

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” – Romans 3:23-24

The aim of Romans 3:23 isn’t to put it in our face that we are sinners but to show us that despite our sins, despite our fall from God’s glory, God has freely made us right with Himself. Not because we were able to do right but because Jesus Christ freed us from the spiritual consequences of our sins. This is how sin has lost its power! We are judged now based on what Jesus has done. Based on this, Jesus said in John 3:17-18

“God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”

Now you see that? God’s purpose in sending Jesus isn’t to judge us or tell us how bad we were but to save us through Him! We are justified by faith in the finished works of Jesus and not by any kind of efforts. The Bible clearly shows us how God has made His judgment. This is how: anyone who believes has been declared free and what exactly are we to believe? The Bible tells us in John 3:16

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

We should believe that God loves us despite all odds, that Jesus proceeds from the father and has been given as the propitiation for our sins, that what Jesus did is enough and that we are saved in Him! The Bible says “everyone who believes…” It doesn’t matter who and what he or she has done, Jesus is mighty to save! God has dealt with the issue of sin entirely, once and for all as the Bible says in Romans 6:10

“When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.”

 And Jesus said on the cross in John 19:30

“It is finished!”

God’s forgiveness and forgetfulness of our sins isn’t an indication that He is suffering memory loss but it indicates the length and breadth with which He has forgiven our sins. He chose to forget it, He chose to see us on a clean slate! He doesn’t see our past because it is gone! He sees us as new creatures who are as clean as Jesus! He sees us in Jesus! God said in Isaiah 43:25

“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.”

God didn’t just promise to deal with sin, He promised never to think about them again! He doesn’t have the record of our sins and as long as we are in Jesus, He isn’t judging us as sinners anymore. So why stay on that sin consciousness? Why keep mourning a past that doesn’t belong to us anymore? The Psalmist after seeing this vision of what God would do in the New Testament wrote in Psalms 103:12

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

God has removed our sins, He didn’t just forgive us, He didn’t just overlook it, He removed it entirely and we became brand new and became born of a seed that can never be corrupted by sin (1 Peter 1:23). I don’t know how this sounds to you, I don’t know if you feel very uneasy that God isn’t legalistic as you ever thought but these aren’t my own words but the gospel!

What you feel about sin and people will not change what God has done about it! Does this give people a license to sin? No, it empowers people to break free from the consciousness of sin and start walking in the deliverance God has given to them! Our belief system has a lot to do with our actions. Concerning God’s grace, the Bible says in Titus 2:11-12

“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God.”

The revelation of God’s grace is the only power that turns people from godless and sinful pleasures and the way to live in this world as Christians are to live with wisdom, righteousness and devotion to God! How? By not focusing on our past but by fixing our eyes on Jesus who authored our faith and will see it to completeness. People had been sinning before God’s grace was revealed, they needed no license to sin and therefore Grace didn’t give people license to sin, it rather showed people a way out of sin.

By believing that we need a saviour, we are also agreeing with God on His judgement on sin! We can’t say we need a saviour if we don’t want to get done with sin! Does this mean believers don’t make mistakes? Does it mean that believers are people who are perfect physically? No! As believers, the perfection of Jesus has been credited to us and anytime we do wrong the Bible assures us in Romans 8:34

“Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honour at God’s right hand, pleading for us.”

God justified us not because we were able to do anything right but because we have put our trust in Him and accepted Jesus! The Bible says the just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17)! Again, the Bible says in 1 John 2:1

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the truly righteous one.”

Now, I repeat the words of my friend Don’t kill yourself with guilt; God has no record of your sin anywhere. He has forgiven you so forgive yourself and move on.” Why not walk in the light of what Jesus has done for you and never let the devil keep accusing you! Remember, the devil isn’t any better! If he reminds you of your past, remind him of his future! 

When we say God has forgiven and forgotten, we mean that God has chosen to remove your sins and see you as He sees Jesus! When Paul wrote about love, he was writing in the light of God’s love which keeps no record of wrong (1 Corinthians 13:5).

Why exactly did God saved us from sin and forgot that we ever sinned? Why did God wipe our records of sin? In Isaiah 43:25, God said He is doing this for the sake of His name! He is doing it for His pleasure and we cannot do anything to change His mind on this! He enjoys Himself by offering salvation, it is what He loves doing, it is His hobby and it has got nothing to do with how you feel God should have done it.

Blessings!

A free Gift for you!

DISCOVERING THE HEADSHIP OF MAN IN THE FAMILY


Welcome to the age where men are fighting for relevance, where they have to suppress their wives and children to get what they suppose is respect. Sometimes, fighting for something simply indicates that we either do not have it, that we aren’t worth it or that we have lost it! If a man still has his headship intact, he may not have to fight for it, he would just have to act on it! If a man hadn’t lost his headship, is there any need fighting for it? Sometimes again, people fight for what they have because they don’t even know they have it or because they can’t even operate it and identify what they have from the results it yields.

Until men concede to the true essence of “headship”, until they humble themselves and take up the cloak of service, they will continue fighting for relevance, seeking for respect and yet never get restored into the seat of “headship”. Efficient leadership is found in the place of effective co-operation. You don’t fight for it, you don’t blow the trumpet for it! You simply walk into it within the doors of service. This service begins with love and gets achieved with love. Leadership cannot be proven by manipulated submission, it is proven by willing followership.

Before we look into some things that the Bible said concerning the man in his family, we are very much aware that if we want to understand the true way God designed men to serve his own body by the reason of the woman becoming one with him and the children being the products of that union, we must look at how Jesus served and serves the Church as His own body! Jesus said in Mark 10:45

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus who is our Lord, the King of Kings and the saviour of the world never came seeking for people to serve Him! He came with service in His hands, He came offering service to anyone willing to receive. Yet, it is His service that got us all running to Him! You see the sick, the sinners, the rejected and even Children running up to Him because He serves, He wasn’t forcing submission on anyone as the religious leader would do, He was rather giving out Himself to people and these people, in turn, were bowing willingly to Him!

No wonder the women followed Jesus so well! They look at Jesus and they see the definition of the perfect man! They couldn’t see this kind of man in the religious leaders of that time, they couldn’t see it in the common men because the demands were heavy on them to always submit. It was a forceful submission to men and the ills of the society. A woman was caught in adultery, they passed judgment on her and almost stoned her in condemnation while the man was not even brought to the public but shielded! The same happens in our societies today, women are condemned if they ever cheat on their husbands while men are absolved by the society. Well, Jesus treated everyone the same! In Matthew 9:3, Jesus told a paralytic man that his sins are forgiven and in Luke 7:48, Jesus also told a sinful woman that her sins were forgiven. Jesus sees differently and if men must discover the place of headship, they have to learn of Christ.

We see something amazing about Jesus, He is aware that He is the Lord and the master, He is aware of His authority but the awareness of His authority only got Him into serving those that were supposed to serve Him. It was absurd when He bent low to wash the feet of His disciples, it wasn’t a ritual, it wasn’t a kind of ceremony, it was an example that He had set for every leader called by His name to follow. Jesus redefined leadership, He brought God’s meaning of leadership and in Him, we discovered that leadership simply means “serving others.” In John 13:13-15, as the disciples wondered why He would stoop low to wash their feet which is the work of the least of servants, He said to them

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

Jesus needed to set the record straight. By His actions, He was shouting on top of His voice “leaders are servants! Lords and teachers are feet washers! If you truly identify yourself as the head, you must bend low to serve. The head serves the body.” Have you ever studied the body? What is the duty of the head? The head serves the body in several ways until the body becomes strong enough to give back to the head. Before you started feeding yourself, your mother would bring your head closer to her breast and let you suck her milk. It is by this nourishment that you became stronger to the point of being able to feed yourself through the same head that had started serving you! It is with the same hand that had become strong that you wash your head, do your makeups and make the head attractive! In the same manner, Jesus showed us that the headship of man is greatly displayed in service to his body and turn, the body gives back to the man.

The reason many men don’t enjoy respect today is that they were fighting for it, they were mounting pressures for it and they never worked for it! You can’t earn what you don’t work for. Many times, we are forcing women into the position of headship by forcing them to serve! The leader is the one who initiates service, he is the model of service. Why leave women to train the children while you just make money and pay school fees? Haven’t you asked why many children grow up following their mothers? This is because it was the mother that they recognized her services, they are giving back to the leadership they felt and could relate with.

Why do we have to look up to Jesus to see what exactly leadership is in the family? First, Jesus and the Church is the reality of God’s design for the family (Revelations 19:7). Secondly, the Bible instructs us to learn from Jesus (Matthew 11:29) and thirdly, the Bible instructs men to love their wives just like Jesus loves the Church (Ephesians 5:25), the man must act towards his wife and family as Jesus acted towards the Church. However, there are still more that we can get from the Bible and if men can heed to this, they will explore the place of headship!

The submission of the wife to the man is by influence. The man influences his wife through his service; a pleasant display of love and true leadership. Someone would respond to you and even bow before you not because they respect you in their heart but because you have a gun and would shoot them if they disobey. Jesus didn’t come forcing Himself to us, He came saying “come unto me, I have the rest you seek.” This is the manner with which men should express headship. The authority of the man isn’t that of a dictator, the Biblical-leadership of the husband is expressed with Godly virtues. The Bible says in Colossians 3:19

“Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.”

I like the sound of that word “never!” The duty of the husband springs with love as Jesus loves the Church. The Bible also instructs that there isn’t any account on which the husband should be harsh to his wife. God’s desire in giving a woman to a man isn’t to get a new servant for the man but to allow the man to raise and model a Godly family! The woman is also a child of God, with the advantage of helping the man in his areas of weakness and the tasks given to him by God. This isn’t the sole reason women were created.

My previous articles have explained that beyond marriage, women also have the calling and blessing to subdue the earth and lead in society. In marriage, the woman possesses a strength that can help the man. God never graded the women as a second-place or an afterthought and this is why men are wired to care for them, not as though they are weak but because they are treasures that need protection. What will you do to the store of your treasures? Will you invest in security to keep it secure or will you leave it to the mercies of chances? Husbands influence submission by protecting and caring for their wives! There is no place of commanding the wife or pressurizing her into something. You influence her by your love, provision and utmost care! This is how a man initiates leadership. The Bible says in this regard in 1 Timothy 5:8

“But if any do not take care of their relatives, especially the members of their own family, they have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever.”

The husband sets an example of care and provision! Yes, the virtuous woman also provides, she is also engaged with several businesses and in the same vein don’t ignore her family and husband but the man sets an example of service and the woman also responds to this love wholeheartedly.

God never gave you a wife to use her as a punching bag! God never gave you a woman to experiment with your power and physical strength, she was given for companionship, to humble you and to help you become the best of you! It is wrong when you attribute leadership to your quest for power! Your physical strength is given to you to use and protect your wife and your children. It doesn’t make you superior, it simply brings uniqueness to your role as a husband. The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:7

“In the same way, you husbands must give honour to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”

Wives aren’t to be treated as afterthoughts but with honour and understanding! This is one great way to discover and take your place as the head or leader in the family. Regardless of the physical strength of a woman, she is not inferior and should be treated as your partner! Sometimes men hinder their progress as “husbands” by the way they treat their wives. You need to also come to that place of submission, that place of accountability and that place of honour for your wife. The strength of the man was ever designed to be lord over a woman, the man should rather use that strength to care and love a woman. She will willingly follow as her followership is a gift for your awesome display of leadership.

Have you noticed that God designed both male and female in such a way that they would complement? Where the man is weak, the woman is usually strong and where the woman is weak, the man is usually strong! Technically, no one is truly stronger if we put all of this into consideration. We will always find the answer when we go back and look at the creation story. God brought the woman to the man because the man needed a companion and a helpmeet. The best of this woman can only be gotten in teamwork. When the recognizes and take his place as a leader in the place of true service, love and respect for the woman, he will build a successful home!

One way to dismantle spiritual order in homes is to fight for authority as a man. The kind of authority God wants the man to have isn’t that gotten through dictatorship, through pressure or even through emotional blackmail. It is the authority gotten through service and love for what God has committed to his care. When we serve, we win those who we serve and they gladly follow. A wife will always give back to the service of the man and this way the husband takes his place of ‘headship’ to raise a Godly-family.

God bless you.

~ George O.N

A true story of myself