Extend Your Blessings – 6 June

“Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” – 1 Chronicles 16:29

There is an old expression that says, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” I heard this many times in my youth—if we children were asking for the unreasonable, Mother was quick to remind us about the source of money, and that it was not growing on trees!

Actually, in our home, the source was often from Above. I grew up during the Great Depression, when times were hard and money was scarce. One day, someone stole the morning’s milk off our front porch. My sister was just a baby, and the milk was needed for her. That day, my father went to work at the sawmill, where his job was to pull slab wood off the conveyor chain that went up to the scrap burner. As he was pulling the slab wood, he spotted a ten-cent piece, and with that dime he was able to buy the necessary milk for my sister.

Where the dime that my father found came from, we do not know, but God knows, and we give Him the credit. Over the years, God graciously provided for us many times, even blessing us so that our material needs were more than met.

While money is not everything, it is still our medium of exchange, and at times we have opportunities to “give back” some of the material blessings God has given us. For example, years ago my wife became very ill, but the Lord stepped in and helped us through our crisis. We were so thankful for His goodness to us! Not long after that, there was a call for help to support a youth camp in Romania, and we saw it as an opportunity to give something back to God—a token of our appreciation for His goodness. We knew we had been blessed, and we wanted someone else to feel blessed too.

We can never do enough to repay God for all that He has given to us, but it is not a bad idea to try. In this way, we can be used by God as He fulfills His promise to supply His children’s needs. A minister once told his congregation, “If God blesses you or answers a prayer, put some shoes on a poor child’s feet, or help to feed them!” That is very good advice!

Father in Heaven, Thank You for taking such good care of me. May I always be quick to respond when You want me to be a channel through which You can bless others. Amen.

Jesus’ Harvest – 5 June

Jesus’ Harvest

“Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” – Matthew 13:30

A well-landscaped area with trees, flowers, and a trim lawn is pleasing to the eye—it is a portion of God’s beautiful creation. I try to keep my family’s property looking well-kept, but one day, as I went about mowing, edging, fertilizing, and doing other yard work, I discovered that some of our grass was not the type I had planted. As the lawn grew, it became evident that some grass had a wider blade, its color was a slightly different shade of green, and it grew faster. Although I did not know how it had happened, it was clear that some bad seed had been mixed in with the good. Then I had to start thinking about how to get rid of the bad grass.

In the parable of the tares, Jesus told His disciples that the world is like a field, where He plants good seeds and the devil plants bad seeds. At first, before the seeds can bear fruit, the bad ones are unseen. However, as they grow, there are clear differences between the two: the good seeds become wheat, which Jesus calls the children of God, and the bad seeds become tares, which are children of the wicked one.

Interestingly, whereas you or I might be compelled to rip out the tares as soon as we notice them, Jesus’ instructions were to leave everything until harvest time, which represented the end of the world. He said that ripping out the tares would inevitably hurt some of the wheat too, and He was not willing to risk the loss of any of His harvest. It might be difficult to understand, but this means that Jesus allows some evil to remain in the world, and perhaps even to prosper, for the sake of those who will be saved. No doubt allowing such injustice is not easy for God, yet He does it in mercy.

The wickedness allowed to remain in the earth is ugly—much more so than my lawn with random sprouts of taller, darker, wider blades. Yet, we have a promise from God that things will be made right. In the final analysis, there will be a separation of the tares from the wheat; the tares will be burned and the wheat will be gathered into His barn. Then, the righteous shall “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43). What a wonderful hope!

Youth Camp 2012

About 122 delegates comprising of mostly youths held their annual youth camp at a beautiful Christian centre around a Lakeside at Linchfield, Staffordshire from 4th to 7th May. The theme of the youth camp was ‘Call of Duty: Get Equipped’. After a cut down overnight rest, all youth camp delegates went through a morning drill and were afterwards re-grouped into six battalions. Each battalion were given a task and came up with solutions relating to biblical standards. The Saturday morning activity ended with amazing ideas which ranged from short plays to cardboard descriptions. The afternoon of that same day was a time of relaxation through games of Absailing and the likes; all in preparation for the battle of life. The evening of 5th May was spectacular, a time of soul searching and burden bearing as people walked up to a paper-made cross, sticking up their handwritten problems and leaving it on the cross for Jesus to bear. That evening, at least 4 people were Saved, 2 Sanctified and 1 Baptised with the Holy Ghost

The blessings continued through the following day – 6th May. The morning sermon of that Sunday focused on the theme of the Youth Camp. Before the sermon, the power of God was felt especially when the Youth Choir (VOH) gave a rendition of ‘Our God Reigns’. Bro. Seun Ogunleye preached that morning. In his sermon he rallied all youth to the call of duty and to be properly equipped for the Christian battle ahead. It was soul searching and heartfelt, and there was a wonderful altar service following. The evening service was also spirit filled. VOH encouraged all as they gave a powerful rendition “God said you’re gonna make it”. The sermon was given by the youth leader, Sis. Olos Irenoa and titled “You’re gonna make it!” Indeed, a lot of youths surely broke their way through to various Christian experiences as God blessed the altar service greatly that evening.

After watching a power packed DVD of John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress, delegates returned to their various cities equipped and with testimonies to share. The happy smiling faces of the young people told the story of the Youth Camp. We are most grateful to God.

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God Bless The Queen

The world is celebrating the diamond jubilee. We want to pray for our Queen, using her as a point of contact for all our national and international  leaders.

As we pray, let’s claim the following bible verses for our Leaders:

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. – Proverbs 29:18

For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged. – Proverbs 28:2

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety – Proverbs 11:14

It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness. – Proverbs 16:12

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. – Proverbs 29:2

And then for us as citizens:

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. – 1 Peter 2:13

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God – Romans 13:1

May God Bless The Queen, bless the government and bless every single one of us, in Jesus Name. Amen.

Praising God | Evening of Music

The evening of music kicked off with a set of joyful song by the Congregation and an opening prayer on 27th May 2012.

The orchestra of young people from Salem Academy of Music led the audience through a thrill of classical pieces as they warmed the audience with “Battle hymn of the Republic”. More pieces were played and a group of young people sang “Alleluia”, composed by one of the young people: Ope Sodipe. Her little sister Aanu carried the audience in a wonderful tour of a violin concerto piece. The evening was filled with Praising God as the title of the concert. A special piece was played which the President of Salem Academy of Music, Rev. Okusanya, composed: “Ogo ni foruko re”. The evening ended with an exhortation from the youth leader “Sis. Olos Irenoa”. The audience was admonished to praise God in all situation and we sure did at the altar of prayer.

God’s Call – 25 May

“And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.” – 1 Samuel 16:12

There is a minister in our church who testifies of how he was called to preach. He tells that he prayed for hours, wrestling with the decision, before he was finally willing to let God have His way. Afterward, he did not plan to tell anyone about his calling, but his wife soon asked him, “Are you called to preach? Because the Lord told me to prepare to be a minister’s wife, and you’re the only husband I’ve got!” The secret was out! That minister eventually became a pastor, and after a number of years of serving the Lord in that capacity, he is now retired. Despite his initial reluctance to answer the call, he says he has greatly enjoyed the privilege of serving God as a minister for these many years.

When God calls someone, it is not a secret for long. Our focus verse is an example of this, as it tells of how God called David to be King of Israel. God announced that David would be the next king through the priest, Samuel. Years before, God had also used Samuel to anoint Saul as Israel’s first king.

In Samuel’s own life, as well, God’s call was no secret. When Samuel was only a child, he was left by his mother to serve the priest, Eli, in the temple. Samuel did not understand when he heard God call, but God used Eli to help him understand (1 Samuel 3:8). In all of these cases, God faithfully revealed His chosen vessel to key leaders at an appointed time.

In the New Testament, we read the account of the dramatic calling of Saul of Tarsus (whom we know as Paul the Apostle). God revealed Paul’s calling to Ananias as well, instructing him to find a man named Saul and pray for his sight to return, “for he is a chosen vessel unto me” (Acts 9:15).

When God calls someone to a particular service, He does not reveal it to just that one. He often makes His will known to many! God is faithful to show His plan to those who are responsible for the Gospel work. He touches the hearts of those He is calling in ways that leave no doubt, though some may resist for a while. And we need not worry that God will change His mind, for His gifts and callings are without repentance (Romans 11:29).

When God calls, we want to respond as Isaiah did, saying, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8). Then, we can patiently allow the Lord to teach us and lead us in His perfect time and will.

House for Sale – 24 May

“Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” – 2 Corinthians 3:3

After deciding to sell our house without professional help, I spent a lot of time working to get our ad just right so it would attract potential buyers. With limited space, I wanted to restrict my word selections to only those that were most necessary and beneficial. Of course, I had to be sure to give the correct phone number for potential buyers to contact us, and I had to do some research to find out what information might be most appealing. Once I had chosen what would go in the ad, I also needed to make sure it looked well put together, because I knew the ad would be seen as a reflection of its product—our home. Finally, I found advertising venues that would likely cross paths with serious buyers.

Our focus verse says that we are “epistles,” but rather than being letters written with ink and stone, our hearts are like living letters written by God’s Spirit. In this sense, we could be considered as “living advertisements” for the Gospel. Jesus paid for us with His own Blood, and commissioned us to spread His message to the world.

Our goal as advertisements is clear: we want to inform everyone we meet about the opportunity to receive salvation—the best product on the market. We have a limited amount of time to interact with the unsaved around us, so we must be careful to spend that time wisely, maximizing our impact on their eternal souls. We also want to make sure that the people around us know how to contact us if they have questions about the Gospel—and we must study so we are prepared with information when they come! And just as a neat, orderly advertisement is more appealing to buyers, so a well-kept Christian is also more attractive to lost souls. Because we are representing Jesus, both our attitudes and appearances should reflect His righteousness and love. Finally, we must be ready to carry our message wherever the Lord sends us. If we are following His Voice, He will lead us to those who are serious about giving their hearts to Him.

An advertisement is only good if its product is good, and we have been given the best product in the world to share with others. Unlike houses on the market, this product is flawless—it needs no repairs, it will perfectly meet the needs of every “buyer,” and it will never wear out. It is invaluable, yet free to all because Jesus paid for everyone’s salvation when He died on the Cross. Would you like to be able to reach more lost souls? We can ask God to show us how to improve our “sales pitch.”

Dave Andersen’s Testimony

Dave always thought he wanted to be a rock star, but one day he found something much better. He went from being a confused young person to the President of a world class organisation, Andersen Construction

No In-Between – 23 May

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

A while back, my daughter gave me a new watch for my birthday. It is a pretty watch with a snap band. I especially like the fact that its numbers are large because I am older and sometimes have trouble reading small print, and it also tells the date. It kept perfect time for a while, but then one day I looked down at it and discovered that it had stopped. A watch that does not keep time might look all right at a glance, but in reality it is useless. I needed to replace the battery.

Seeing my dead watch made me think of people who practice religion in some form, but have settled for less than the whole Gospel. Our focus verse says that Jesus can deliver from all unrighteousness, and anything short of that is surely useless. A person may look nice at a glance—friendly, well-dressed, and attending church on Sundays—but unless he has been delivered from all unrighteousness, his religion is powerless and will not work. Though others might not notice the problem, it will be clear to the individual that something is wrong.

That one little word “all” holds so much power! We are not delivered from some unrighteousness, but all of it! Imagine what would happen if we ignored that word, or any part of God’s instructions—would we expect to be cleansed from part of our unrighteousness? Or would we go part way to Heaven? The Gospel does not work that way—it is all or nothing. When we do our part, God is faithful to do His part, just as He promised.

Often, a watch will slow down before it stops altogether, which can also happen in our spiritual lives. We can grow distant and disinterested without losing our salvation, but unless something improves, we will not last long in that condition. However, if our faith has been losing power, we do not have to wait for it to run out completely—we can go to the Lord and ask Him to recharge it right away, and He will! Salvation works, and it can keep working until we arrive at our home in Heaven.