Living on top of Circumstances

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” – 

Philippians 4:11

One of my all-time greatest Thanksgiving Day memories took place many years ago when I was a college student, living with my mother and young sister. The house was a mess, for we had just moved to a different home and had not had time to unpack. Rather than celebrate Thanksgiving in these unsettled conditions, we decided to pack a meal and go up into the mountains and eat picnic-style at a campground. We fixed a nice dinner with roast turkey, stuffing, baked yams, Jello with fruit in it, and I cannot remember what else. Placing all of this in paper bags and a cardboard box, we loaded up my old jalopy and headed for the hills. The day was cold and blustery, with intermittent rainsqualls. Unfortunately for us, my old car did not have a heater, so to be comfortable in it, one had to dress warmly. To make things worse, my car was in desperate need of a new radiator. Consequently, it boiled over several times on the way up. Finally, I did not feel it would be prudent to drive any higher, so we parked in the visitor’s parking lot at Mud Mountain Dam. As I recall, ours was the only car in the parking lot, and of course, there was no view at all out of our car windows, because the rain on the outside coupled with the steam on the inside had completely obscured them. Despite all of this, we had a wonderful time. We all loved the Lord. We enjoyed each other’s company. And the food was great. Basically, the key to our enjoyment of that day was that we were determined not to let “circumstances” spoil our joy. As someone has said, we were determined not to live “under” the circumstances, but rather “on top” of them. Or as in the words of Paul, we were determined to be content in whatever state the Lord had allowed us to be. Today, I drive a much nicer vehicle than the jalopy I spoke of, and I have had many wonderful Thanksgiving meals down through the years, served in warm, comfortable surroundings. Yet, I still look back fondly to that day at Mud Mountain Dam, when God came down and blessed us as we ate—we were content. Let contentment be a hallmark of your life no matter the circumstances in which you find yourself.

Just say thanks

“What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.” – Psalm 116:12-13

A number of years ago, I worked with a young man named Curt. I remember clearly something he once said to me: “You don’t take compliments very well.”

He had previously offered to me a simple compliment and somehow, in my desire not to appear conceited or proud, I had said enough negative things about myself to make him sorry he had ever bothered to compliment me. He had not really asked for a sermonette on my human frailty; he was just trying to be courteous and appreciative. At a later time, my pastor clarified what to do in cases like this. He told us that if someone complimented him, perhaps on a recent sermon, he would respond, “Thank you.” How simple!

From time to time people will, out of the goodness of their hearts, say something nice to you or perhaps go out of their way to show you kindness. They may even give you a gift—something that is appropriate for your relationship with them. How helpful it is to know that all that is expected of us in these situations is to accept what is offered (whether it is words or something more tangible), and to thank the giver in a way that shows we really mean it.

There is a similar lesson in our key verse. Some might wonder how to receive answers to prayer from God. “I am just an ordinary person,” they might say, “and I don’t see how God could ever do a miracle  for me.” They might wonder what great deed they must do to impress God, or if they are just not good enough to ever please Him. Sadly, some people who think this way never realize how God wants to work on their behalf. They just go on, bemoaning their unworthiness, and never accepting the free promises in

God’s Word.

The fact is that none of us is perfect. None of us deserves God’s love, but in spite of this, God loves us! He does not ask some heroic deed from us; all He asks is that we simply obey Him and accept what He has provided for us. In fact, just taking the “cup of salvation” and calling on His name is very pleasing to Him. Then, when He does bless us, we need to tell Him, “Thank You,” from the bottom of our hearts.

Today is the Day

“For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

2 Corinthians 6:2

A while back, I made plans to purchase new furniture for my home office. After doing some research

and reviewing my budget, I finally decided what pieces I would buy and just how they would all fit into

my room. To sweeten the deal, I had a coupon for a substantial discount, based on points I had earned

from an office super store.

At last the day came to head for the store and make my purchases. I picked up the coupon, intending

to put it in my wallet—and stared at it in horror. It had expired the day before! NO! Thoroughly disgusted

with myself, I decided to go to the store anyway, and see if I could persuade them to accept the coupon.

“Is there any way I can still use this?” I asked, handing the coupon to the cashier. She studied it for

a moment, and then replied, “No, I am sorry. It is expired.” I asked about possible deals that were not

advertised. “Are there any discounts available at all? Of any kind?” Again, the answer was no. I left the

store disappointed, realizing that I was going to have to re-think my budget. My sweet deal was no longer

available, and I had no one to blame but myself. If only . . .

It is disappointing when we miss out on something because of neglect or inattention to an established

time or date. However, it generally is not a life-or-death matter. We get over our disappointment and in

most cases, we can remake our plans. However, today’s focus verse speaks of the importance of “now”

when it comes to spiritual issues.

God offers salvation to all people, but many put off yielding their lives to Christ, thinking there will

be a better time. That is incredibly dangerous! They could easily miss their opportunity altogether by

neglecting to accept the mercy and grace of God.

Even after we have given our hearts to God and are serving Him, it may be possible to postpone

making a consecration or yielding something in our lives that God is calling from us. We must not let

anything distract us from responding to God now. Today is the day to make sure every consecration is up to date!

Using Faith

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6

Lately, I have spent some time thinking about the subject of faith, and have come to the conclusion that most of what we do takes faith. When we sit down at the computer to use the internet, we expect, or have faith, that we will be able to send and receive the information we need. When we buy an airline ticket, we have faith we will be able to go to the airport and fly where we have planned to go. When wego for a walk, we have faith we will come back again.

These situations show us that faith is something we learn. When we realize that certain events always unfold in the same way, we learn to trust that pattern. Our faith is increased when a belief proves true repeatedly, and our faith is greatly increased if a belief is tested under extraordinary circumstances and still proves true. If the belief were never tested, there would be no way to know if it were right.

Our focus verse says that to please God, we must have faith in Him and trust that what He says is true. Some people may say, “I just can’t believe,” or, “I just don’t have the faith to believe that.” Of course, no one has all faith, but when the Lord saves us, He plants a measure of faith in each of ourhearts. If we will let Him, He will continually build upon that little seed of faith.

Do you want to know a sure way to increase faith in God? In Romans 10:17 we read, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The more we study God’s Word and come tounderstand His greatness, love, mercy, and overshadowing protection, the more our faith grows. After welearn about His promises and goodness in Bible examples, we increase our faith even more by exercising those beliefs in our daily living. We start with small concerns, such as traveling mercies or strength for a trying situation, and as we see the pattern of God always answering, we will eventually learn to trust Godin every situation. The more we seek God and ask Him to undertake in our lives, the more our faith willgrow.

Some people seem to have loads of faith. We sometimes sing a song which says, “God said it, I believe it, and that is good enough for me.” That is a good attitude! The Bible is full of examples of thosewho walked by faith—Noah, the Hebrew children, and Daniel, to name a few. They trusted in God, and God did not fail them. He will not fail us either. Trusting God is a choice and it is the best one we can make

True Vine

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. . . . Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” – John 15:1,8

I love blueberries. When I learned that they were easy to grow in my area, it was not long until I had planted five bushes. Eagerly, I watched for blossoms and then fruit. It took a while, but by the third season, my spindly little plants had grown into fruit-bearing bushes. Their creamy-white blossoms brought beauty every spring, and were followed by plump, juicy berries in the summer. By the fifth year, the mature bushes were loaded with enough berries for the neighbors as well!

Those bushes always produced blueberries, and only blueberries. The fruit was simply an outgrowth of the kind of bush I had planted. An appropriate amount of plant food kept the bushes vigorous, and some judicious pruning made them stronger and healthier. I enjoyed an abundant harvest every year that I lived in that location.

The Bible teaches that people also produce fruit. The fruit of our lives is manifested both in personality and in actions; it is an outgrowth of who we are. The Master Gardener looks for the fruit of righteousness in our lives, but we cannot produce it by ourselves. We need to be connected to Jesus Christ, the True Vine, and then we need to choose the right nutrients to nourish the inner man. Our Father has endless resources to commit to our well being, but it is our choice to utilize them. We can feed our souls with His Word, the fellowship of the saints, and communion with Him, or we can allow ourselves to be sidetracked by the things of this world that hold a promise of happiness but never satisfy. If we stay attached to the True Vine and constantly nourish our souls with His nutrients, the outgrowth in our lives will always be the fruit of His Spirit.

The sharp pruning instrument of His discipline also encourages the “peaceable fruit of righteousness.” And we have a part to play in this process, too. Our part is to respond positively to His discipline (see Hebrews 12:11). When we submit to His correction, we will be stronger Christians for it.

The Master Gardener is interested in upgrading the quality and quantity of the fruit in our lives. By His grace, and through His mercy, we can bring forth much fruit for His glory.

Overcoming Rejection

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” – Isaiah 53:3

In high school I played on the softball team for two years. As a freshman I was on the junior varsity (JV) team, and since I had already been in Little League for several years, I was a pretty good player and got a lot of playing time. When I came back the next year as a sophomore, I had a chance to make the varsity team. Only a few sophomores were good enough to play varsity, and I was right on the edge of making the team.

At one of our last tryouts, I realized the coaches were particularly watching two of us. The other girl was a freshman who had been playing softball for nearly her entire life. It was cold and wet out on the grass where we were running drills, and both of us were working our hardest to field choppy grounders and throw them back as fast and hard as possible. I gave everything I had, but it was not good enough for the coaches. The other girl was chosen and I played JV for another year.

While competition can be good because it pushes us to do our best, it also means we will sometimes face rejection. Most of us have experienced being rejected from something—perhaps the college of our choice, a job, or even by someone we care about—and it is usually unpleasant. Even when we know the rejection was not our fault, it has the potential of leaving us feeling ashamed, unwanted, and insecure.

In the Bible, we read of how people despised and rejected our Lord. He spent His life doing good works for others, yet He was denied by His closest friends. Still today, people refuse the sacrifice He made and the salvation He offers, a rejection which must be agonizing. Because of these experiences, Jesus understands how we feel when we are told we are not good enough. He knows what we are going through, and if we take our burdens to Him, He can give comfort in a way that no one else can.

How good it is to know that God accepts us as we are! He bestows on us His wondrous love no matter what our human limitations are. He does not ask us to do things that are beyond our capabilities; all He asks is that we give Him our best. And He knows what that is because He looks on the heart! He will not turn His back on us and nothing can separate us from His love.

It might seem difficult to understand at the time, but God has a reason for everything He allows in our lives—even rejection. When we feel as though we cannot meet others’ expectations, let us focus on seeking God’s approval instead. He always understands us and will never reject us. And while the applause of man will last but for a moment, the benefits of God’s approval will be eternal!

Diary of my first Youth Camp

Friday 4th May
It’s Youth Camp! I’m so excited, I’ve been waiting for this day for so long, and it’s finally here. I bet the place is going to be so glamorous, with shiny bathrooms and plumped pillows. I hope I’ll be in the same room as my best friend Tosin. We went to Morrison’s to get snacks for the coach, but we had to run all the way back because the coach was leaving in six minutes! It was so funny!
Oh, that’s not the only reason why I can’t wait there; I’m bound to receive blessings there. I’m expecting my Baptism of the Holy Ghost by God’s grace!

***

The coach journey was marvellous! I sat with Tosin and we had so much fun. Unfortunately, I’m not in the same room as Tosin, but I’m with people I know. We just keep talking and talking, but we have to go to sleep now. It’s almost 1:00 in the morning!

Saturday 5th May
It was so exiting today! We had fun creating armour for people in different difficult situations and we found solutions for them. Then it was time for Sports. I had signed up for abseiling. It was so scary!  When we were doing zip-wiring, I was so scared to jump off the edge. When I did, it was like I lost all gravity and was flying. It was such a fantastic moment, although it only lasted a few minutes.

***

Oh my goodness! The evening service was such a blessing! About eight people got blessed.  I prayed with Tosin today and she got saved! Thank God! My heart is bubbling with joy because she’s finally saved. She said she found it hard because it seemed as if something was blocking her way. I told her “If you ever feel that way, sincerely tell God that you don’t want them in your way. Consecrate yourself to God and just let go”.
If you are in the process of praying for a  blessing, make sure you ask God to take away anything that may be blocking your way. It may be pride, doubt, unforgiveness, or anything that is in you that you are holding on to. Just let it all go.

Monday 7th May
I couldn’t write anything yesterday because I slept so late. I slept late yesterday because it was the best night of Youth Camp. Yesterday I lost many things, but I found them. I lost my glasses and my sister’s phone, but I found them. Best of all, I had lost my Salvation and sanctification because of doubt, but God miraculously saved and sanctified me. Oh my, it was an indescribable experience. Now that I am back home, I can’t help but smile at how merciful God was to come down and bless me. Tosin got sanctified too.
Here’s a word of advice. Never let the devil make you question your salvation. He used this method to cheat people of their blessings; I’m talking from experience! Ask God to equip you with the right armour and you will never fall for the devil’s tricks, by the Grace of God.
As well as my first Youth Camp, it will also be the most memorable Youth Camp.

 

Aanu Sodipe 

Teju Got Saved!

I thank God for His grace and love upon me. In 1996, I wanted to enlist to become a member of the choir, however I couldn’t because then I was a sinner.  Although, people think I was a quiet and gentle girl, however I knew within me I wasn’t. I stole and lied to my mum before I got saved. I thanked God because He’s a loving father and he accepts anyone who comes before Him honestly. 

One evening service, I told God on my knees that if only He would save me I won’t go back to sin and I would serve Him onwards. I pressed further He sanctified me, however getting the Infilling of the Holy Ghost took a while. But I thank God for His mercies in my life. That same year, I went for Camp meeting in Anthony, Lagos, in the basement of the tabernacle during night prayers,  I prayed earnestly and God did it, I was filled with the Holy Ghost.
God heard my prayers and heart desires and granted me peace which until now I still enjoy, and there has never been a day I regretted to be a child of God. I pray He continues to uphold and sustain me till I see Him.
All praise and honour be to His Holy name.
Teju , A student and a youth worker. She plays the flute.

Ayolaaaa’s Electric Experience!!

Ayo

Hey it’s Ayoooooo; and I just want to thank God for saving and sanctifying me on Saturday 5th May at Youth Camp 2012 – Call of Duty:  Get Equipped! This year I didn’t really want to get saved at Youth Camp; this was partially because at the Youth Camp last year I ‘thought’ I got saved so much that I believed it for a while but when I finally realized that I hadn’t been saved my heart became stone cold towards God & it almost felt like I didn’t fear Him or The Rapture anymore.

But at Youth Camp on the Saturday evening after the interactive reach out session with Uncle Banji, I went to the altar. At the altar I was almost forcing myself to pray and cry but this didn’t work & I fell asleep soon after that. After a while I woke up, looked around & left determined not to go back to the Church but whilst me & the girls were chatting in the girls common room, one of the older youths named Hazel came & told me & a few of the other girls to come back to Church & pray. I really didn’t want to but thank God I did.

“His Spirit was running through me and He set everything loose and I was just sitting there shaking and vibrating and then a sudden peace entered my soul.”

When I got back into the Church, I still didn’t feel like praying. I was there kneeling down with my best friends Rhoda & Simone and Joshua O, they were telling me that even if I don’t feel like praying I should just mutter words of that’s what I did and shortly I found myself praying very fervently (I think that’s the word). I was confessing all my sins and laying my life down before God. Then, Simone got saved and I was like Oh Wow! Why hasn’t my salvation come and I started to give up a little bit but I thank God for the people around me because they helped me to continue praying and then it got serious, I was telling God that it wasn’t fair and that He has to do it for me and then suddenly, His Spirit was running through me and He set everything loose and I was just sitting there shaking and vibrating and then a sudden peace entered my soul. Then I slowly opened my eyes and I saw bare* people just staring at me I then closed my eyes and got up and yeaaah that how God saved me.

The next night God visited me and sanctified me.

I just want to thank God for Youth Camp and for his Grace that has kept me until now, I just want y’all to pray that he keeps me forever.

*a number of

Ayo, year ten in secondary school, budding social entreprenuer!

Remember Me

Youth drama at the 2011 Camp Meeting of Thy people shall be delivered. It captured families and individuals going through moments of depression, loss, in need of forgiveness, in need of deliverance and many more not excluding marriages.