C002D5556 Sunday 08 April 2018 30BDSUNDAY TheWorshippers ‘Many so-called church leaders today are answering the call of their belly, not the call of God’ Ozioma Onuzulike, a professor in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), was called to service by God after the death of Ben Unegbu (the servant of God) in May 2017. In this interview with SEYI JOHN SALAU, Onuzulike speaks about God’s call and the idea of planting religious denominations or ministries in the name of God’s call. Excerpts: How do you explain the ‘Call of God’ to mankind? The call of God to mankind has been ongoing. He has always called everyone in general, and some people in particular. God’s decision to make man in His own image was an important call. The fall of mankind was a direct result of man’s unfortunate decision to heed the enemy’s call in disobedience to God’s own wonderful and sin-free call. God also called the entire Israelites for his own divine purpose. Many of them answered the call to possess the Promised Land but only two faithful men (Caleb and Joshua) eventually made it to the end of that glorious call. Others perished in the wilderness because of hardness of heart. But you will remember that God’s call to Moses was special. He called him to lead the people of God. It was God’s direct call. No human being in his or her religious denominational confusion had any hand in that call. When Moses passed away in a rather unfortunate situation due to his disobedience to God’s instruction, God himself called Joshua to step into his shoes and do the work. Similarly, God’s call to Samuel was direct and unmistaken. It was never any humanly established organisation that called him. Samson was also called, although he ended up in a woman’s bosom because of his lack of total surrender to the will of God who called him. Samson’s experience reminds one of the messages that God delivered to us through His servant of blessed memory (Ben Unegbu) entitled “A Call is No Surrender” (Message for Urgent Action No. 189). Jesus called the 12 apostles, but He continued to preach repentance to them because they were merely called to service and needed to surrender through genuine repentance so as to inherit the kingdom of God. He continued to remind Peter about that even at the point of His departure when He told Peter, “When you repent, feed my flock”. Saul (who later became Paul) was also called to serve God on his way to Damascus. Nobody preached repentance to him. But he recognised that he needed to surrender to God in genuine repentance so as not to perish after helping others to turn to the path of righteousness. In answering the call of God, some have gone ahead to plant churches, some ministries. What is your position on this? There is actually God’s own call as I have already noted. On the other hand, there is, of course, man’s own carnal call through religious organisations or commercial enterprises erroneously called “churches” or “ministries” today. What you call “churches” are simply religious, political and commercial empires. Many are merely social clubs where people entertain themselves and network for pecuniary gains. The church, in its right sense, is the body of Christ, a collection of saved souls wherever they meet under the umbrella of Jesus Christ (indeed, not merely over-lip or in signposts). And Jesus Christ is the owner and head of His church, not any mortal man, no matter how humanly charismatic, eloquent or intelligent. The headquarters is in Heaven, not in any village, city or country of this world. If you have repented of your sins and are saved, the other fellow has done so, I have done so; if we meet together, we have formed the body of Christ (the Church). It is not any building made with man’s hands and wisdom, no matter how gigantic or magnificent, that is the “Church”. You and I are the temple of God. What would you say is the key characteristic of the church? Very importantly, members of this body of Christ or the “church” are known by their fruits or character as they shine as the light of the world, showing remarkable examples like the no-nonsense governor recorded in Nehemiah chapter 5 verse 15. Such people also meet in the name of Jesus Christ alone, as we are instructed by Christ himself in Matthew 18:20, not by any name ending in “International”, “Worldwide”, “Global”, “Incorporated”, or, maybe, even “Limited”. Many are answering the call of their belly, not the call of God, really. They are those about whom Paul wrote in Philippians chapter 3 verse 19, “Whose end is destruction, whose God is Onuzulike their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things”. And that is why there is confusion everywhere because they are subservient to human and carnal authorities, not the authority of God in Christ Jesus. They are teaching what they want to hear (as warned in 2 Timothy 4:3), not the undiluted word of truth. Your organisation holds a “monthly free freedom lectures with positive action for all”. How do you ensure this outcome? I or we have no organisation in the sense that people think of “organisation” with carnallyplanned hierarchies, their own The church, in its right sense, is the body of Christ, a collection of saved souls wherever they meet under the umbrella of Jesus Christ (indeed, not merely over-lip or in signposts) constitutions outside the Bible or articles of faith selected from portions of the Bible that suit their own carnal agenda. Which is why many of such so-called organisations are currently fighting in secret and in the public, taking themselves to the law courts of this world. Just as Jesus Christ instructed in Matthew chapter 28 verse 18, we simply gather in the name of that glorious and wonder-working name (Jesus Christ) at the “Compound for God’s Urgent Message” in Masterpiece Village (also called Galaxy Quarters) located in Oji River town of Enugu State from the 1st Friday to Sunday of every month (except in December and January because of the annual camping for the word of God which also holds in the same venue from 23rd to 27th December). The outcome you ask about is achieved by allowing God through Christ in the company of the Holy Spirit to lead the way. Jesus promised that when He is gone the father He will send us the Holy Spirit who will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). We focus attention on the real mission of Christ on earth which is the salvation of mankind from sins and other satanic bondages. A look at Luke chapter 4 verse 18 elaborates on Christ’s real mission on earth. When people are sincerely led to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, God faithfully, as usual, adds other things unto them, including deliverance from demons, healing from diverse diseases and other blessings. And all without charge, in compliance with God’s direct instruction through Christ in Matthew chapter 10 verses 7-8, where He says that we received freely and freely we must give. Like Elisha, the mantle of leadership has fallen on you after the passing on of the servant of God, Ben Unegbu. What is your vision for God’s Urgent Message? I will say, first, that I count it a very special grace and privilege to be asked by God to step into the very big shoes of His selfless and faithful servant Ben Unegbu whom it pleased Him to take home for eternal rest last year. The departure of that nononsense servant of God actually did not come to us as a huge surprise. That was because he had announced repeatedly, well before it actually came to pass, that God had signalled him that it was time to return but that he did not know the date. He declared, as he was moved by God, that when he would have departed, God would do more wonders in pushing the gospel forward, even more efficiently, for the salvation of humanity. My duty, I am convinced, is to humbly listen to God and steadfastly follow Him as He moves through Christ in the company of the Holy Spirit. There are numerous messages God gave His servant Ben Unegbu which are in print, numbering over 300 titles. They need to be digitized and circulated freely to as many people as possible for their own interest and the interest of humanity in general. Similarly, the messages that had gone on air through the Soul X- Ray radio programme (which he ran, through the power of God, on the Radio Nigeria Enugu for more than 15 years) would need to be digitized too and also made freely available to a wider reach of people, including sharing them on all possible on-line platforms, all to the glory of God only. Ben Unegbu, before God called him home to rest, had warned not only verbally but also by practical example, that the word of God must never be commercialised for any reason whatsoever, always citing Christ’s clear instruction in Matthew 10:7-8 that we have received freely and must freely give.
Sunday 08 April 2018 C002D5556 BDSUNDAY 31 Inspirations FUNSO JOHNSON ODESOLA The performance of His promise And being fully persuaded that what he “ had promised, he was able to perform” (Romans 4:21 “ABRAHAM staggered not at the promise of God.” It is a daring and forceful figure that is used here. The word as we have it implies that the patriarch did not enter into conflict with himself; he was perfectly composed and assured; in his heart were no reading doubts. Let us gather up the facts. God in His own purpose of grace promised that Abraham should become a father of many nations he has seen many seasons of life. For he was a centenarian. His wife was old and infirm. The time of offspring seemed long gone by. The grace loomed nearer every day; Abraham must have thought of an ending rather than a beginning. Yet one eventful day the Lord came to Abraham in a vision, and said; “look now toward heaven, count the stars… so shall thy seed be.” At first sight it seems a cruel jest; it appears as a needless taunt, yet the patriarch “staggered not at the promise of God.” He was not torn with conflicting fears; he was not embarrassed with the magnitude of the promise; on the contrary, it is recorded of him “He believed in the Lord.” There is a health fascination when we come into the presence of faith like this, and we may linger for a few moments over the narrative. Let us find the steps The preface of triumph (3) that led Abraham to the confident restful attitude. “Who against hope believed in hope.” This phrase amplifies that Abraham had within him a well spring of hope, although everything externally seemed to give the lie to such genial optimism. He had a flourishing subjective hope, although the objective hope had languished, if not utterly disappeared. We mean that all the lights along the share have gone out, yet the light in the heart still burns brightly; invisible spring keeps on bubbling up, although everything objective is a thirsty objective desert. Abraham had no external ground of hope; yet he hoped against hope he grounded his faith upon hope; he refused to be daunted by the seeming impossibility of the promise; he “staggered not.” With the simple faith of a little child, he was fully assured that, what God had promised he was able to perform, although everything without seemed in opposition. “He considered not his own body now dead” The faith of Abraham is magnified. He regarded the promise incapable of fulfillment along ordinary physical lines; he took full account of the natural impediments to the fulfillment of the promise, and yet did not doubt. If he considered his old age and the barrenness of Sarah, he would have surely laughed the promise to scorn. But he considered not; he did not allow any external circumstances to have any weight; he did not look at the difficulties of the case, but looking unto the promise of God, he staggered not; his mind did not reel with prospect of a life- long dream being realised; he did not spend the time of waiting in wishful misgivings, but gave glory to God, being fully assured that what he had promised, he was able to perform. Here is a model of unquenchable optimism, before which we may well stand with humble hearts, for we have the same heavenly father whose gracious covenant cannot be broken. This is a call to genial and bracing optimism. It is an iron tonic for doubting hearts; it is a healthful, healthful wind for fevered lives. The optimism in question has its springs in the eternal God. It is to be a life – giving river that has its source in the divine word. The growing faith of the patriarch is to quicken our sense of the Lord’s faithfulness; it is to stimulate our venture of faiths. We are to stagger at nothing that he has promised, but rather live in the definite assurance that he has promised he is able to perform. We are such creatures of circumstances; our moods are too often determined by external events of slavish despair. We look too much on the things that are seen, and the things that are unseen and seem to lose their grip. Hence this calls to a fruitful expectancy. We ought ever to be on tiptoe with easier anticipation; we ought never to be staggered with the wealthy promises of God because we realize that what is to man impossible is to God an easy thing. There is too much slavish dependence on external aids: we accept the promises of the divine word theoretically, we even ask for their fulfillment, but we are ever waiting in full assurance, giving glory to God. Our lord Jesus Christ promised that where two or three are gathered together in his name, there would he be in the midst of them. Perhaps no promise is quoted and used more frequently than this one. Yet does it always kindle a sense of awe? Does its very mention produce a solemn and expectant harsh? Ah! But the prayer meeting is badly attended; it is cold, heavy, lacking in spontaneity; is that indeed the case? Then how great s the performance of the promise required! How much the few depressed and anxious quests need the presence of the host! Some of the most heart searching prayer meetings have ever known have been prayer meeting where few were present. Another example is: “Whatsoever ye ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” Christ has spoken of the divine appointment of those who are to bear fruits to abide and this gracious appointment is in order that whatsoever we ask, God may give. Here then, is a stupendous promise. “Whatsoever” does it awaken a sense of expectancy? Does it call us to the venture of faith? Let us keep in mind the thought that he is able to perform what he has promised; there is no such thing as unanswered prayer; let us be fully assured that the promise is being performed, even though to us the petition seems met with a blank refusal or a stony silence; even the seeming refusal is reality the very answer that I need. Abraham simply took God at Hs word, out of a full and grateful heart, in a restful and contended spirit; he gave glory to God, and looking at the promise, lived in the atmosphere of faith. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary’ they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31). Let us be intoxicated with the consciousness that he who has promised will bring us into the state of restful strength, buoyancy and steady triumph, irrespective of external odds against the chances of its fulfillment. Pastor J.F. Odesola (PhD, LLM), Assistant General Overseer (Admin/Personnel) & Pastor-in-Charge Region 1, The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Redemption Camp, Nigeria. Facebook.com/PastorJFOdesola Twitter.com/PastorJFOdesola Youtube.com/PastorJFOdesola ng.Linkedin.com/in/PastorJFOdesola IRUOFAGHA JAMES There’s a right way to both connect and disconnect. And every disconnection comes with a particular level of pain. For instance, if you have to leave your church because you are relocating to another country (in this case, God would have spoken to both parties involved because in the case of things that affect divine connections He never speaks to just one person), but if someone decides on his/her own to leave and chooses to frame it as God having instructed him/her to do so without God having confirmed this to the other party, then you’ve broken the connection in a wrong way. It is also when most people have decided to break a divine connection that they now want to speak to the other person to explain their decision, this is not right. God doesn’t give you the option of altering the terms and nature of a divine connection, if you are having problems in the relationship the right thing to do is to sit with the other person and talk it out and not for you to walk out and break the connection. A person like this is deemed to be unfaithful and ends up becoming someone nobody wants to be connected to. Looking at marriages as a form of divine connection, you won’t find a marriage that is without its own share of trouble and conflicts, but these problems are meant to be worked on and resolved through communication, patience and perseverance and not by walking out when things get tough. That’s how marriages (and by extension, divine connections are preserved). Man was designed and shaped to live in a community, husband – wife, father – son, employer – employee, friends, neighbourhood; even on the bad side you have cults, gangs and The power of divine connections (4) prisons: these are all forms of relationship/connections. Whether positive or negative, people live in communities and not independently of every other person. That’s how man was created, but the devil is trying to stop people from connecting to others and ensure they live in isolation. The American Medical Association recently declared that loneliness/social disconnect is not just a psychological ailment, but a medical one as well; one which the Association says is worse than heart disease, obesity and smoking. This means loneliness will make one physically sick. Eph. 4:11 Jesus gave the five-fold gifts of ministry to us, but even those who function in any aspect of these ministries ought to have someone he/ she submits to (Gal. 2:1) Ps. 92:12-14 “12The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree, he shall grow like cedars in Lebanon. 13Those who are planted in the house of God shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing” The righteous person has a God-ordained place to flourish. Imagine what would happen if the righteous moves away from the place that God has ordained for him to flourish in. There are two things that are necessary for us to be what we want to be: 1. You have to be planted 2. There is a right place to be planted For you to flourish, you need to trust the wisdom of the Master planter/gardener. You can’t plant yourself, only God can plant you; so trust in His wisdom. There’s a difference between being planted and just growing. Planting connotes a sense of purpose, it is deliberate. But growing happens by chance and it isn’t regulated by anyone. It also has a large measure of risk in that a plant that grew where it wasn’t planted can be uprooted at any point in time. Going further from being planted, there is a particular place above every other place where a person will thrive best. Like the Cedar is native to and thrives best in Lebanon (as quoted in the passage we just read – Ps. 92:12-14), so a person will thrive best in the place that God has ordained for him/her to be planted. Don’t let anything whatsoever uproot you from the place God has planted you. There are certain conditions God has made to favour each of His creations, there’s a thing as the proper connections to the right soil/ place Those who are planted have a sense of divine connection. They know that’s the place that God has planted them, they are members and not just attendees. Connected people don’t truly ever leave, even if they are physically removed from the church by legitimate reasons, they will stay in touch and keep tab on whatever is going on there. Members have a sense of responsibility, commitment and then a sense of divine connection. Divine connections shouldn’t be taken trivially and/or broken indiscriminately. Even when disagreements and conflicts occur, they should be worked on and worked out, because you know if you are to leave that relationship where you’re planted and connected you are on the way to destroying yourself. Just like you have it in marriage, if one disconnects himself from a divine-ordained relationship (like a Church) at will and enters into other relationships trivially, he’s an adulterer. Adam (Man) fell because he didn’t know how to treat divine things as divine. We saw this with Achan (Joshua 7) as well; he touched what God said no one should touch, and he treated the divine instruction with levity. We see this happening in the Church with people disconnecting from church at will. Truly committed people who are members of the church (those who have a sense of divine planting), take up the challenge of building their church. Remain connected 3 ways people can be disconnected: 1. Overtly • Someone in open disconnection and disagreement with the church 2. Covertly • Someone who’s not involved and uninterested in anything that’s going on; who gradually withdraws from what’s going on in the relationship/church. • These people are found in a circle of friends who are of a similar disposition to themselves; they have friends who are living in open rebellion to the standards of God and the Church. 3. Surreptitiously 1 Sam. 22:19-23S 1. Abiathar was the remnant of his family and he connected divinely with David. 2. As he stayed connected with David, he rose up in rank with David till he became the national priest of Israel. • When God wants to bless you He sends you a person who will help lead you along God’s pathway to His predetermined destination for you. Your destiny helper. • When the devil wants to mislead you, he sends you a person who will side-track you and move you out of your path to God’s predetermined destination for you. • We see this with Abiathar, who even after he had risen through the ranks with David eventually disconnected from him because he sought out his own agenda • 1 Sam. 2:30-36 shows us that Abiathar’s lineage was under a curse and he only escaped the effects of that curse while he divinely connected to David. But once he broke the connection, he was ousted from his position in line with God’s word spoken against his family. Each one of us at any point in time is either a beneficiary (someone seeking the help of others) or a benefactor (one who’s providing for the needs of others). Dr. Iruofagha James is the founding pastor, Glory Christian Ministries, Odo-Olowo Street, Apapa/Oshodi Expressway, Ijeshatedo, Lagos. www.isjames.org Tel: 08060599144