C002D5556 Sunday 15 April 2018 28BDSUNDAY TheWorshippers ‘Receiving from God does not depend on any man’ The Church of God Mission International, Lagos-West holds its zonal conference April 26-28, 2018 with the theme ‘Empowered to Succeed: Vision 100%’. Ahead of the conference, Reverend Charles Shedrack, pastor of the Maza-Maza Province of the church, speaks with SEYI JOHN SALAU on the church’s 100 percent vision to evangelise and reach out to its neighborhood. The church’s zonal conference comes up in the last week of April. Could you speak to the theme of the conference ‘Empowered to Succeed’? Empowered to Succeed’ is the global vision of Church of God Mission as enunciated by our Archbishop; she was led by the Holy Spirit to make that declaration and we believe it is a year where we are empowered to succeed. The empowerment is not coming now, we have been empowered already; Jesus has empowered us. As he said on the cross, “It is finished,” but sometimes what denies us of enjoying that privilege is ignorance. A man leaves $1 million for his son in the bank and the son does not know how to access the money, and he struggles for bread with everybody while he has $1 million somewhere in the bank idle. But the day somebody comes to him and says, “Who are you? Are you not this man’s son? This is what you will do to access your money in the bank. Get your birth certificate and other documents,” that day he gets knowledge and that knowledge delivers him from poverty to access what is already his. Such declaration helps those of us that are still low in faith and may not know the scripture so much, and maybe have gone through much trouble in life that their faith is beginning to wane, to build their faith. It reminds us that we have been empowered by the blood of Jesus on the cross of Calvary; all I need do is to rise in faith, do a meaningful job, business or career and succeed, and out of it God can bless me. The other aspect of it – Vision 100% – is our local vision as a church; it is like having a vision in the vision. We are running with the global vision of our Archbishop, but as a local church we have our own challenges and Shedrack so, our own local vision is called ‘Vision 100%’ because we want to reach out to our community. We want to go out there and let them know that Jesus is Lord. It is 100% Jesus, 100% evangelism, 100% outreach, and we are at the stage of preparing the church to buy into the vision. We have divided the church into groups of 17 squads; they have their leaders, assistants, and secretaries according to where we live to go out there and tell the neighbourhood about the love of Jesus. We want to tell those who do not have a place of worship that they can come worship with us, or if you are going far away to worship, why go far away when there is a church here close by to you? That takes me to the issue of faith, creed, and believing in Christendom. At what point do we draw the line between Christianity and idol worship? Of course, sometimes abuse I think as Christians we should read the bible. The bible is simple, it is written in English and as long as you can understand the English language, you can understand the bible. You do not need too much of education to understand the bible is inevitable in whatever human beings do because of certain excesses. Even when you look back, Jesus also used certain symbols. For instance, he spat on the ground, took some sand, mixed it and rubbed on somebody’s eyes and the person regained his sight. Elijah in bible – an axe fell into the river, he told somebody to cut a stem of a tree and put it at the spot where it fell, and the item floated. In the book of John, the bible told us that if any is sick, let them call the elders and let them take the oil; the anointing oil and the prayer of faith will heal the sick. It is not the anointing oil that heals, it is the prayer of faith that heals, but as I said, abuse is inevitable. There is so much abuse in the body of Christ today when it comes to the use of all these symbols, but the Christians of today should realise that with or without the symbol you can be healed. Jesus did not make it a regular practice to heal people with spittle and sand; Elijah did not make it a regular practice to heal people by cutting of sticks; the early disciples did not make it a regular practice to sell anointing oil and holy water. Yes, we have anointed people with oil and seen them get healed; we have even given people water to drink and seen miracles happen, but the first thing you notice is that we pray over the objects, and so it is not the water and the oil – it is the prayer of faith that does the healing. But sometimes it is difficult for people to believe. I must throw a balance here not to criticize what is happening but I think that sometimes people’s faith is still not big. People exhibit small faith – when they see a symbol, maybe anointing oil, they believe not because they believe in the anointing oil but they believe that through that anointing oil miracle will happen. But most still place emphasis on the symbols. Not that they believe the anointing oil is the miracle worker; they know Jesus is the miracle worker but through the anointing oil – maybe they have seen their pastor anoint somebody that was sick, prayed for him and the person became healed. So, that means anointing oil can heal, it helps to lift their faith. So, no matter what, it is the faith that has been lifted that brings the miracle but there is a lot of ignorance. Some of my colleagues who are pastors have abused this privilege, and I say here it is not about the oil, water, cane or whatsoever it is; there is extremity to these things and I must confess that some of them are manipulative. But God will bring to judgment some of these people who are intentionally manipulating the ignorance or the naivety of the worshippers. But generally speaking, there is a place for the anointing oil, there is a place for symbols, but they do not take the place of prayer and faith, and it is not those symbols that bring the miracles, it is faith in Christ that brings the miracles. The scripture talks about the prayer of faith healing the sick; how come most believers still look to other persons in the church for prayers and other things? I think as Christians we should read the bible. The bible is simple, it is written in English and as long as you can understand the English language, you can understand the bible. You do not need too much of education to understand the bible. There is no other name by which we might be saved but by the name of Jesus, but sometimes people want to hinge their faith on something they can see as a means of aiding their faith to believe more. When you have a personality that is strong and have affected your life so much, sometimes you believe in him so much, you believe in his word so much but that does not mean the person does not believe in Jesus. He believes in Jesus but somehow he sees somebody that is like a father figure to him that helps him believe more. So, you see how God is helping the man, how God is using the man and maybe how God is working through the man and you wish you can be like him because if you be like him, you can be more like Jesus. So, I do not think people put their faith in man; they put their faith in Christ but somehow for some of us as Christians, even for some of us as pastors, we also have our mentors. So, it is not just the congregation that is guilty of this, even we pastors are also guilty. But, it’s more of respect, honour for somebody through whom God has blessed my life, without whom I would not be where I am. I believe in Jesus but I love this man and I am excited about him as a father, mentor, and I reverence him. However, our faith is in Christ. But then people should not make the mistake of thinking that without Pastor A or Bishop B or Archbishop Z, I cannot receive from God. With or without any man anybody can receive from God, but of course, if you have somebody you love, cherish because of the role he has played in your life, no problem, go ahead and cherish him, honour him, but never take your eyes away from the cross.
Sunday 15 April 2018 C002D5556 BDSUNDAY 29 Inspirations FUNSO JOHNSON ODESOLA Crossroads of suffering WHe is able to succour them that are tempted (Hebrews 2:18). The picture here is that of a stronger deliverer running to the rescue of the weak “He is able to run up to the aid of those who are tempted.” Not only does he lend his ear – he gives his hand. Not only does he see their distress. He runs to relieve it. He is more than a match for the most aggressive battalions. The very sight of his advance is a sure sign of victory. The very gaze of His eyes is the promise of deliverance. “Those who are being tempted.” It is an accurate description of all disciples. It expresses a fact of Christian experience which is at once universal and definite. Even those who feel themselves immune from temptation are but showing their tempted condition by such presumption! From the earliest moment to the latest hour of conscious experience we are warring against unseen foes. From the cradle to the grave we are aware of the fingers that try to touch us in the dark. Temptation in itself is not wrong; let us find comfort in this fact. The marks of violent temptation are not the marks of declension; they are marks of sensitiveness. The nearer to God the more aggressive the enemy becomes. The more consecrated the attitude the more bitter the persecution. Many young disciples are disappointed because they have more trouble from Satan than before they were converted. Quite a number of them were surprised why these should be so. It is not at all abnormal, it is normal phase of experience. Before conversion the spiritual nature was dull, sleepy, and dead. Sin hard no sting, temptation no struggle; no battle. But after conversion the spiritual nature is quickened; the soul is alive; the mind is spiritually The preface of triumph (4) alert. Not only is sin revealed, but danger of sinfulness is manifested. Life now becomes a battle field, where conflict has to be waged. What hitherto stood on natural ground, friendly ground, now stands as an avowed enemy; temptation becomes perpetual warfare. It is not the man who is aware of his proneness to temptation that is warned, but the man who feels secure from invasion; “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Watch and pray that ye enter into temptation. In every age the people of God have been subjected to temptation and trial. Was not Abraham thus tried when he was commanded to take his only son Isaac and offer him a burnt -offering? Was not Jacob thus tried when Joseph was torn from him, and not only Simeon was detained, but Benjamin demanded? Wee not the apostles tried when, in doing their masters will, they encountered the fury of Satan and the rage of a pagan world, being always “delivered unto death for Jesus sake?” Yet great and gracious as these triumphs may see, we are hashed as we read of our Lord Jesus Christ – “He himself hath suffered, being tempted.” He who knew no sin was tempted! He who was the son of God passed through the stress and strain of our common battle; he suffered being tempted. “Wherefore it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful priest in all things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people, for in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to run up to the aid of those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:7-18) EMPHASIS MINE “In things pertaining to God.” He made atonement for sin. He did so by virtue of his merits; He was a lamb without blemish and without sport; he knew no sin; he was holy, harmless and undefiled. He removed the barrier between the sinner and God; the “veil was rent in twain from the top to the bottom”. He is become the new and living way. He is related to me by virtue of his humanity. Not only did he taste death for every creature; he tested human life as well. “As God knows what is in us; but as man he feels it also.” Let us not be reluctant to speak of humanity. He became man- without sin, and knew the pain of suffering, and the stress of trial and temptation. From these facts arise His matchless sympathy is based. He knows the road along which we have top travel, for he has trodden it himself. His tender sympathy is based on knowledge. He knows the enemy we have to fight. “Like unto his brethren”- the glory of that conception put a new dignity into the battle and a new courage into feeble hearts. Whenever we speak of the suffering of Christ. We always seem to have in mind the last scenes; the agony in the garden, the judgment of the palace, and the death on the cross. Was not mark of blood ever upon Him? Can we limit his suffering to the last few days before his death? In taking our nature did he not suffer pains we can never describe? Remember he was unuttererably holy. He was without sin; he was perfect love incarnate. Yet he came into daily contact with rough, coarse, unhallowed souls, whose very presence near him must have wounded His spirit. The daily experience of mis-understanding, of physical hunger, of weakness and fatigue, of criminal neglect, of hateful neglect, of hateful enmity, was not all this suffering of the most acute kind? When we speak of Him “being tempted,” shall we limit that phrase to the interview He had with he Arch-enemy? Was not the whole of His life subjected to trial and temptation? Let us grasp blessed truth that our Lord, in order that he might be a merciful and faithful High priest to secure- his people, suffered, being tempted. From this truth the following things emerge. A precious fellowship I may share with the Lord a holy companionship. He took upon himself my nature, fought my battle, and lived my life, suffered as I shall never be able to. He knows what temptation means, for he himself has been tempted, he is not some interested on- looker who stands on a distance and watches with curious eyes the result of the conflict. He is a merciful and faithful high priest. He intercedes continuously on my behalf. In the hour of conflict he is ready to run up to my rescue. He can deliver me with a great deliverance. The sense of oneness with Christ will at once produce a firm determination to fight the foe. He fought the same enemy that I am fighting, and the very fact that he knows all the subtle trickery of the devil guarantees my victory as I enter into the conflict. A trustful attitude I am called upon to live in a state of continuous dependence upon him. He is willing to impact the succor and strength required, but I must be prepared to receive it. He is willing to undertake for me, but am I willing that he should? Do we really believe experimentally that the Lord is able to give us victory over acute temptation? The answer to this question depends largely upon our attitude to daily dependence. Only as we are daily living in a state of trustful dependence can we experience the power of the Saviour to give deliverance in the hour of temptation. The attitude of daily receptively may involve a great renunciation. There may be in us a handicap which must be removed; nor even a missing of the mark, but a weight hindrance, a clog, may be some things that makes the victory seen remote. Christ ministry of suffering can only operate as we are scrupulously obedient and honest. We are called upon to present our bodies a living sacrifice: we are commissioned to walk in the light; we are told to lay aside every weight and the sin which is closely things to us, that we may run with patience the race that is set before us. Are you tired in your daily life? Does every one misinterpret you? Are you well intentioned actions universally misconstrued? He knows, for he was misunderstood from cradle to the grave; his perfect sympathy reaches out to you in your great need, and if you cry out He will run to your aid. Are you tired through loneliness of your lot? No man so lonely as he was! He was ever lonely for although He had friends, few understood Him; few were heart companions for Him. Will you cry to Him? He will reveal to you the sacred ministry of his suffering. 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 The power of divine connections (4) 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 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. Dr. Iruofagha James is the founding pastor, Glory Christian Ministries, Odo-Olowo Street, Apapa/Oshodi Expressway, Ijeshatedo, Lagos. www.isjames.org Tel: 08060599144