“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks” – Hebrews 11:4 (NKJV).
Legacy refers to something remarkable someone has achieved which continues to exist after he or she has stopped working or died. Many people worry about what type of legacy they will leave behind when they are no more. Faith in God produces and leaves a worthy, living legacy. Hebrews 11:4 talks about Abel, even though long dead, still speaks today through the sacrifice and gifts he offered to God by faith. Below are the kinds of faith which will leave footprints on the sands of time and bequeath inheritance to succeeding generations:
Faith that worships: True worship to God cannot be separated from sacrifice. The sacrifice one is willing to make for someone is a reflection of the value that person places on him or her. Abel offered something God Himself considered pleasing. Therefore, God had respect for his gift and sacrifice, but disregarded that of Cain his twin brother (Genesis 4:3-5). Because Abel believed that God exists and is a rewarder, he gave a worthy offering which God respected. Having pleased God by his sacrifice inspired by reverential worship, he attained a legacy which still speaks before God.
Faith that walks: It was said of Enoch that he walked with God by faith and God took him to heaven without him dying (Genesis 5:22-24). His experience of being taken to heaven marked the first account of rapture in the Bible. He walked consistently with God for 300 years. The faith that will leave a legacy is one that will consistently walk with God in good times and bad times, in prosperity and adversity, and in high and low moments. Those who diligently seek God shall be rewarded. Those who have been justified by Christ are required to walk by faith, and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Faith that works: Noah was instructed by God to build an ark because He was going to destroy the earth by rainfall and floodwater. For about 70 years according to Bible scholars, Noah worked to build this ark, while the people around him insulted and jeered at him. Though he suffered vicious mockery, Noah never stopped working on the ark. He was able to save his family as a result of his obedience of faith. The Bible says faith without works (corresponding action) is dead. The Bible also says we should show we have faith through our actions (James 2:18). Nowadays, many who claim to believe God prove otherwise by their actions.
Faith that waits: The Bible says some of the patriarchs died in faith not receiving the promises they were assured of them (Hebrews 11:13). God told Abraham he was going to be a father of nations, but biologically he only fathered two sons: Ishmael and Isaac. Joseph died believing in the future exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt, so he left instruction that his bones should be taken with them when they leave Egypt. The faith that leaves a legacy is the one which sees far into the future; it adjures God to be faithful in keeping His promises, even when they are timeless.
Faith that wins: The victory that overcomes the world is our faith (1 John 5:4-5). Faith in Christ makes us a winner. Rahab the prostitute became a descendant of Jesus because of her faith in the God of Israel. She placed a high premium on God and loved His people to the extent of hiding them at her own peril. As a result, she saved her family and herself, and won the battle of destiny. This type of faith places a high premium on God and His promises, and contends without giving in (1 Timothy 6:12).
CONCLUSION: In order to leave a legacy, you must have the faith which worships, walks, works, waits, and wins. It’s my prayers that our faith will be transgenerational and leave an enduring legacy.
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 3:13-14
A mark is a goal worth pursuing. The Apostle Paul, in the above-quoted text, was consumed with the goal of winning a heavenly prize. Not everything in life is worth pursuing or worth our attention as born-again believers. Destiny is worth pursuing. Purpose is worth pursuing. God is worth pursuing. Heaven and heaven’s rewards are worth pursuing. Souls for the kingdom of God are worth pursuing. Peace of mind and marital peace are worth pursuing – and the list goes on. What are your pursuits? Below are some truths to imbibe in order to PRESS into our goals:
Press against the odds: The odds to press against may be our own stubborn wills, the will of the enemy, our fleshy and lazy attitudes, or external enemies set against us. Gethsemane is the place where Jesus prayed the night before His crucifixion, while His disciples slept. Gethsemane literally means oil press or the place of the press. It was in Gethsemane Jesus pressed into His destiny of going to the cross. It was there He travailed to conquer Calvary. The inner strength and resolve to embrace Calvary was given to Him in Gethsemane (Luke 22:41-45). We have to press to prevail against all odds.
Repent from dead works: The Bible talks about dead works in Hebrews 6:1. Dead works are time-wasting activities we sometimes engage in which do not, in any way, help us to attain the mark or goal(s) we pursue. It’s time again for us to review our activities. It’s time to stop some things and start other things which fall in with your life aspiration. Apostle Paul, in our opening text, says he forgets what is behind and reaches forth to things ahead. Dead works are destiny killers, so beware!
Eliminate your fears: Those who reach their goals keep pressing on despite their fears. Several attempts were made at flying before the Wright Brothers successfully flew the first plane. Many of these attempts resulted in death and serious injuries. All these perils didn’t stop Orville and Wilbur Wright from pursuing their goal. They went on to perfect the mechanics of the three axis control which enabled attainment of equilibrium and proper steering of the aircraft. The courageous are not those who don’t feel afraid, but they are those who conquer their fears. Fear paralyses, while faith mobilizes.
Stretch your imagination: One of the ways in which man is made in God’s image and likeness is the ability to envision and make the vision happen (Isaiah 46:10-11). Abraham, after separating from Lot (veil) had a divine visitation where God told him, “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever” (Genesis 13:14-15). Our perspective in life determines our pursuits. It is my prayer that the Lord sanctifies our thoughts and empowers us to see great things in Jesus’ name.
Solicit divine help: Divine help only comes to the needy, the vulnerable, the broken, the humble and the helpless. Angels came to minister to Jesus after He prayed earnestly for about three hours in Gethsemane. He was empowered and equipped to fulfill His destiny of going to the cross. We can only access divine help as we come to the end of ourselves and cry to God (Psalm 34:6). Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. Ask for grace for the race!
CONCLUSION: Keep pressing. Don’t settle. Don’t rest on your oars. By all means make progress because there is no resting on this side of eternity (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Have a blessed new month.
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
Resurrection simply means revival. It means that which is dead bouncing back to life. Resurrection also means a quickening. In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus said, “It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead, and is alive again …” (Luke 15:32). The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1, referring to born again believers in Christ, said, “And you He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.” God instructed Prophet Ezekiel to prophesy to very dry bones of dead men in a valley, and as he prophesied there was a response and a quickening, and the dry bones were revived and transformed to a great army (Ezekiel 37:1-10). When Jesus breathed his last on the cross, spectacular events happened, one of which was the opening of graves and the rising back to life of dead saints who were seen by several people (Matthew 27: 51-53). Our opening text was Jesus’ pronouncement at Lazarus tomb before he raised him up after been dead for four days.
We serve a God who can make the dead live again (Romans 4:17b). Dead situations, dead bodies, dead brains, the spiritually dead, dead marriages, dead dreams, etc at the touch and breath of God can live again. And this is one of the central messages of Easter. To receive resurrection and life the following are imperative:
Receive Jesus Christ: The first Adam is a living soul, but the last Adam (Christ) is a life giving Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45). Accepting Jesus is accepting life as opposed to death. He is not only the hope of our resurrection, but also the resurrection and life (John 11:25). Believers in Christ will never see death. Jesus, the resurrection and the life, is the first born from the dead. He rose to prove that resurrection is possible by the power of God, and that our faith in Him isn’t in vain (1 Corinthians 15:12-17). Receiving Christ is receiving eternal life, which is the ultimate, glorious kind of life Jesus gives.
Receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit: The Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is also the same Spirit that indwells believers in Him (Romans 8:11). This life-giving Spirit affects our mortal bodies, injecting life into us. Death is an eventual, natural order of sequence. Everything grows old and suffers decadence, but this life by the Holy Spirit can slow down the natural sequence of decadence and death. This life can also reverse death, as in the case of Lazarus in John 11. Cultivate a dynamic relationship with the Holy Spirit in order to see His renewing and reviving power.
Request for the power of His resurrection: Often times, our priorities in prayer are skewed and misplaced. Apostle Paul’s prayer for the New Testament church is largely different from the prayers we mostly pray these days. He prayed that he (and by extension the church) will know the power of His resurrection and be conformed to Christ’s death (Philippians 3:10). Paul further prayed that the Lord will enlighten the eyes of the New Testament believer to know the power of resurrection that raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-20). This resurrection life can activate every area of the believer’s life. Prophet Elisha’s body was so full of resurrection life that even in death, his body jerked back to life another dead man’s body which was thrown into his tomb and made contact with his body (2 Kings 13).
CONCLUSION: In this Easter season, pray that the resurrection and the life will make fresh contact with you. May His resurrection power activate every good thing dying in our lives in Jesus’ name.
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations” – (Jeremiah 1:5, NLT)
Purpose is simply defined as the reason for something. Divine purpose is the mind of God towards someone or something; it is God’s intention about someone. God is a God of purpose and intention. The scriptures are replete with theme of purpose and God’s intentionality. For example, a prophetess named Anna was intentioned by God to intercede towards the coming of the Messiah, and she was graced to pray and fast in the temple towards this end (Luke 2:36-38). Asaph, one of the three worship leaders of King David, was enabled by God to write poetry and raise His praise and worship in Israel (1 Chronicles 6:31-32, 39); Joseph of Arimathea was to use his high profile position and wealth to go before Pontius Pilate and claim the body of Jesus which he buried in his own grave, and thus fulfill prophecy (Matthew 27:57-60); Lois and Eunice, the grandmother and mother of Timothy, were enabled to raise a young, godly man who was to pastor the church in Ephesus, an intimidating city (2 Timothy 1:5); John the Baptist was to herald and bear witness and proclaim the divinity of Jesus ahead of His arrival (John 1:19-28). Below are the three imperatives for fulfilling divine purpose:
Discover: To be successful in the scheme of heaven’s reckoning, one must discover his or her purpose and go ahead and fulfill it. Jesus gave a parable likening the Kingdom of heaven to a beautiful gemstone of great price. And a merchant, on finding this beautiful gemstone, went and sold all his possessions in order to purchase the land in which the valuable gemstone was found (Matthew 13:44-46). Discovering purpose or divine assignment is a very critical issue. The seed of destiny and greatness is already resident in us awaiting our discovery. Our prayers should be: “Lord, reveal in clear terms your purpose and will for my life.” This is the foundation of Christian success and fulfillment. May you find your purpose in Jesus’ name.
Develop: It is true that nothing in its crude form attracts real value. Mineral resources in their raw and unrefined form found in Africa haven’t made the continent a prosperous one. Ironically, continents which are less endowed with the richness of the earth are far more prosperous. The gift or calling that makes a way and ushers one into the presence of the great is one that has been developed and well worked on. The religious leaders who plotted the killing of Jesus were amazed at the boldness and development of Peter and John when they heard them speak (Acts 4:13). A genuine encounter with the person of Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will always engender a life-transforming experience that will facilitate growth in all facets of life.
Deploy: To deploy means to utilize for a particular purpose. Many use their gifts and callings to serve and aggrandize self; some others use it to serve Satan. Apostle Paul said people preach the gospel for various reasons (Philippians 1:15-18). For the child of God, pursuit of the will of God must be paramount. Eternity must be kept in perspective since we are going to give account of heaven’s resources bequeathed to us (Luke 19:11-27). Jesus also described true greatness as service to God and mankind. How are you deploying heaven’s resources? Are you promoting the purposes of God? Are you impacting mankind appropriately according to divine purpose?
CONCLUSION: Success in heaven’s reckoning is accomplishing divine purpose. To discover your purpose is your responsibility. To develop your gifting, which is an indicator of your purpose, requires cooperation between the Holy Spirit and you. We deploy our assignment on this earth with a great sense of purpose and reliance on the Holy Spirit.
“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12, NKJV).
The Ellicott’s Bible commentary described the violent in Matthew 11:12 as men (or women) of eager, impetuous zeal, who grasp the kingdom of heaven—i.e., its peace, pardon, and blessedness—with as much eagerness as men would snatch and carry off as their own the spoil of a conquered city. In the Bible days, there were always spoils of war to be gained after a city conquers another city. Our text suggests that those who will inherit peace, pardon and heaven’s blessings in this dispensation must be believers with candor, zeal, eagerness and Holy Ghost determination. The word “violence,” in the introductory text, is translated in the Greek language as biazo, which means to use and apply force. Below are some key areas of Kingdom practice where we need to apply force and violence viz:
Violence in Prayer and Faith: The Bible says the persistent and heartfelt prayer of a righteous man has tremendous power that is dynamic in its workings (James 5:16, AMP). It is like dynamite that blasts rocks and mountains into pieces. A violent faith is like the one Jacob demonstrated i.e. it is resolute and will not give up even in the face of great physical pain (Genesis 32: 24-32). A violent faith was also manifested by the Syrophoenician woman who was skillful in pleading her case before a compassionate God (Matthew 15:21-28). A violent faith is what the leper had and believed that God is willing to bless (Matthew 8:1-3). Thus, a violent faith is one that knows that faith is activated by loving God genuinely and also loving mankind (Galatians 5:6).
Violence in Giving: In 1 Kings 3:3-5, the Bible states how Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on the altar in Gibeon and that same night God appeared to him in the dream with an open check of blessing. Solomon gave “violently” and this triggered divine reaction. Sometime ago, a young bachelor, who was about to marry, approached me and offered to me his only prized possession (i.e. refrigerator) as a seed. He said he was praying to God to bless him with a car and God asked him to sow his fridge which was all he essentially had. The result was that someone blessed him with an unsolicited car. The Bible says those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy (Psalm 126:5, NLT).
Violence in Praise: In Revelation chapter 4, Apostle John saw a revelation of the praise and worship going on in heaven by celestial beings. And he described that the praise was focused on God; it was continuous, unending, and dramatic. The heavenly beings prostrated and laid down their golden crowns in worship to God. It is God’s will that our personal and corporate worship on earth will reflect this (Matthew 6:9-10). Paul and Silas praised God “violently” in prison and in pain, and suddenly there was a divine response that caused an earthquake and their bonds broken.
Violence in Evangelism: Jesus talking about evangelism said, “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” (John 4:36). The woman of Samaria after encountering Jesus’ saving grace went and told her city about Jesus, and many came to seek Him as a result. Phillip brought Nathaniel to Jesus. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, brought him (i.e. Peter) to Jesus (John 1:35-50). The recurring cliché in these scenarios was come and see the Messiah. And this remains the crux of evangelism, introducing mankind to the Savior.
Violence in Holy Living: Jesus, in warning against temptation, said that if any part of our body causes us to sin, we should cut it off (Matthew 18:8-9). He was underscoring how violent and intolerant to sin we should be. He died to take away our sins and to empower us against sinful practices. We are to develop zero tolerance for sin and compromise. We are to deny the flesh daily, renew our minds with the Word of God, and activate our spirit man through fervent prayers. In this permissive, sinful world, we are to be symbol of purity and holiness.
CONCLUSION: As we become zealous and eager practitioners of the aforementioned points, there will be no limits to our rising in 2017. Receive fresh grace and determination to be a doer of the word in Jesus’ name.