Joy and Victory Over Death

11Apr

Joy and Victory Over Death

Introduction

Joy and victory. Well, that seems like an easy enough connection to make. I am a sports enthusiast and can relate to that sensation, upon hearing the buzzer at the end of a basketball game and looking at the score board, to discover that your team has won. It is the same feeling when you come down the final 100m stretch of a 400m race and you cross the line first. Now, that is joy.

Suffice to say that when you are victorious, you are joyful. For Christians around the world, the season after Good Friday should birth unspeakable joy. Unspeakable, not in the sense of not speaking about it because we are called to do the contrary and sing it aloud on top of all mountains and rooftops; but unspeakable, in the sense of indescribable. Due to this, permit me to delve into my reflections on victory first before I share my insights on this unspeakable joy.

Victory over Death

Today is Holy Saturday. For Catholics, it is a time of deep reflection and very somber. Before this quarantine, I would often wince and brace myself for the proliferation of decadence that awaits this Easter holiday which starts from Good Friday to Holy Monday. There will be so much noise and distractions with parties, comedy shows and events being held all over the place in celebration of easter.

Now, there is quiet; stillness and we can hear the voice of God clearly if we seek Him today.I would always correct anyone who wished me Happy Easter on Friday by explaining that alot happened in 3 days and they should try and enter the mood of the first Easter and tap into the reflective mood of the Church before the glorious event of that blessed Sunday morning. Victory.

Today I got a deeper insight of what victory over death actually meant. Revelations 1:18 says this: “I am the living one; I was dead; and now I am alive, for ever and ever; and mine are the keys of death and the netherworld.” To understand this, we have to go back to the beginning when Adam and Eve actually had dominion but handed over this dominion to satan who had possessed the body of a snake. Genesis saw Adam and Eve stripped of their power and publicly humiliated, as they stood naked before all to see in the garden of Eden. Just as a conqueror strips and lays bare his spoils, Genesis 3:6 saw satan conquer Eve, render her and Adam naked and powerless and take possession of the world which God had originally created for us to rule over. He used his age-old tactic of deception; just as he had deceived his fellow fallen angels to rebel against God, so did he deceive Eve into rebelling against God. So basically, the keys were given to satan and death came into this world since we were disconnected from God and could no longer live forever. Heaven was closed and hell was wide, wide open to unleash its fury and perversion upon the world. Romans 5:12 says thus: “Therefore sin entered the world through one man and through sin, death; and later on, death spread to all humankind because all sinned.

Fast forward 62 generations ahead when Jesus came on the scene. How did I come about this calculation? Well, some biblical scholars believe that from Adam to Noah was 10 generations; from Noah to Abraham was another 10 generations; from Abraham to David was fourteen; from David until the exile to Babylon was another 14 and from that time to Christ was the last 14 generations. At the risk of getting sidetracked, let’s just say fast forward several generations later.

Now, Jesus was the game changer. He was the first born just like Adam was the firstborn, but He was of divine origin and without sin. He would be the one who would restore dominion to mankind and get back the keys which Adam had handed over. He was to do this by undergoing extreme agony and torture for our sake and it is on this Holy Saturday that I normally enter into this deeply reflective mood which leads me to recommit myself to making Jesus’ agony not be in vain. Jesus’ torment must have been worth it. I must have been worth dying for. Jesus died and rose from the dead. 1 Cor 15:21 says “A human being brought death; a human being also brings resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive.”

As Christians, we know that Jesus became that conqueror who stripped satan of his own spoils, left him powerless and reopened heavens for humankind to enter. We know that Jesus played the greatest trick on the deceiver himself who was so over-driven by his hatred towards God, that he did not realize that he was playing out a script, which would ultimately lead to his defeat. Satan thought he had defeated Jesus by stripping him and leaving him naked on the cross just like he had stripped Adam and Even and gotten them kicked out of paradise. Guess who had the final say? Satan must have totally lost his warped mind and cried out in extreme torment when he found out that God had the trump card and that heaven was finally opened again for us and his dominion was lost forever. God never loses. He just never does. He is God and will forever be God as Psalm 147:5 testifies that “The Lord is great and mighty in power; his wisdom is beyond measure.”

The deeper insight I got over this knowledge I just shared, is when I was wondering why the Jews found it so difficult to believe that Jesus would rise from the dead. Weren’t theses the same Jews who had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead in John 11:44? Weren’t these the same authorities who had wanted to kill Lazarus in John 12:9-10 because he was a living testimony of Jesus’ power? Weren’t these the same people in Matthew 27:52-53 who saw dead men arise from their tombs and walk around after Jesus’ death? Then it dawned on me that raising someone from the dead was a totally different ballgame from raising yourself from the dead. You are alive when you raise someone from the dead, but to raise YOURSELF from the dead when you are dead, well, that would take a whole new level of belief. That would be mind blowing! It would entail you believing that a dead man could instruct his dead body to arise, just like Jesus had told all those worthy souls, who were unable to enter heaven to arise. No wonder it was easier to believe the story in Matthew 28:12-15 that the soldiers were bribed to give – that his disciples had stolen his body away.

Meaning of Joy

I had started by explaining what I feel when my team wins or when I personally win a race. I had described it as joy but allow me to make a distinction between joy and happiness. I was told once that “happiness is based on happenings” while joy is deeper since it comes from within. This is so so true. When the disciples found out that Jesus had arisen, they were happy in the strict sense of the word, although John 20:19 says that “the disciples, seeing the Lord were full of joy.” This good feeling was determined by the outcome of external events; Jesus was amongst them once again and no longer lay dead in the tomb. The handicap and inadequacy of the English language in translating the original text of the bible comes to bear here again. In Hebrew, there are 10 words to describe joy or happiness, which throw more light on the distinction between both words. However, in English, we aren’t this complex and normally use joy to indicate a deeper sense of happiness, but it is this and more.

Recall that we began talking about Christ’s victory over death and the feeling of the disciples. We can agree that they felt extremely happy as they found themselves in the presence of the Lord. Galatians 5:22 and 1Thess 1:6 tells me that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and thus, joy finds its source in God. We know that the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples after Jesus had ascended and He was no longer physically present with them. To experience the joy which I speak of, I dare say that the disciples were unable to experience such joy until they had been filled with the Holy Spirit, 50 days after Jesus had appeared to them on Easter Sunday.

The Presence of God

Joy is the lasting presence of God and although the disciples may have felt an emotion similar to joy on Easter Sunday, at best it was fleeting, since Jesus was not always physically present with them. It was not until Acts 2:3-4 when the Holy Spirit had settled upon them, that the lasting presence of God could be established. John 14 testifies that wherever the Father is, so is the Son and wherever the Son is, so shall the spirit, which is sent by the Father, abide. This lasting presence of God brings comfort and assurance. I once read that joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details. It is the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright. The disciples did not have this joy before their infilling with the Holy Spirit.

Joy is undeniably linked to the presence of God in our lives which is made manifest by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus assured us of His permanence in our lives in Matthew 28:20 when He says “I am with you always even to the end of the world.” It is us who grieve the Holy Spirit contrary to the plea in 1Thess 5:19 not to quench the Spirit. True to God’s word, however, the Holy Spirit never leaves; He remains within us in spite us of suffocating Him and denying His presence in our lives.

How do you invoke the Presence of God in your life? David was known for using praise which boosted his confidence in God. The psalms are littered with several references to the presence of God. Psalm 16:11 sees David sing thus: “You will show me the path of life, in your presence, the fullness of joy, at your right hand, happiness forever.” Here we see the distinction between Gods’ provision and God’s presence. God’s presence which comes from within gives you the fullness of joy, while His provision of external things by his right hand, gives you happiness.

The beauty of it all is that when you have the Presence of God, you have it all. This “all-ness” may not be seen in material possessions, but suffice to say that your joy still flows. This is because joy comes from within and is not dependent on external circumstances. It does not rely on people. It is not a feeling. It is a knowing that Jesus is victorious and has sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within us forever. It is the confidence we have that the gates of heaven have been opened and that our dominion has been restored. It is the gift that Jesus has given us which we must treasure at all cost – His Holy Spirit. It is when we focus on God, focus on knowing God and seek to be in His Presence that we shall always have joy.

Conclusion

Centuries ago, before churches broke away from the Catholic church, today was considered the most quiet day of the year. As a Catholic, I continue this tradition and choose to listen to the voice within me as I contemplate Jesus’ body lying silently in the grave. I do this filled with joy. Are you filled with joy? We know that in spite of the silence, Jesus battled satan and shook the powers of the underworld to restore our joy. He did this with such frenzy that it caused an earthquake recorded in the annals of history by historians of the time. We cannot be like the disciples before the day of Pentecost, for we have the Holy Spirit within us, do we not?

Today is a solemn day but it is not a sad day. It is a day of expectation for we who have the hindsight to know what happened on the third day after Jesus was crucified. Waiting for Easter Sunday reminds me of what Saint Paul said in Romans 8:19 “All creation is eagerly expecting the birth in glory of the children of God.” I had been reborn in Christ 2020 years ago. Today all creation awaits my re-commitment to be under His Lordship and be energized by His Resurrection power. His victory over death has been made manifest and in His power, my victory over sin and all that separates me from manifesting the joy of the Lord shall be effected.

Today, we are quarantined in our homes, but do we have the presence of the Lord keeping us company? Do we have this silent confidence in God that our dear Mother Mary had; she who was filled with grace and the Holy Spirit? Do we find ourselves praising Him in every situation to glorify Him? John 15:9-11 urges us to heed the words of He who has given us access to heaven and redeemed us: “You will remain in my love if you keep my commandments…I have told you all this that my own JOY may be in you and your JOY may be complete.” Remaining in God’s love is remaining in His presence. You cannot have the fullness of joy, if God’s joy, through the Holy Spirit is not in you. All you will have would be feelings of fleeting happiness dependent on external circumstances.

So today on this most solemn day of the year, as we have repented and died with Christ on Good Friday yesterday, join me in basking in the joy of the Lord. We are in times of uncertainty with the current pandemic ravaging worldwide, but we are called to be joyous nevertheless. Jesus has overcome satan and all his wiles, which is the victory over death that we contemplate today. There are several circumstances which may cause us to be unhappy but remember that Jesus’ Presence is always within us. Jesus is ever eager to make us overflow with joy if we could only submit our Will to His Kingship and practice His Presence more than ever. Isn’t today a good day to start? Thank you Lord Jesus for your victory over death.

Thank you Lord Jesus for your victory over death. Heavenly Father, we come to You in earnest, seeking your Holy Presence in our lives. Fill us with your Spirit and cause Your unspeakable joy to overflow from within us. In Jesus name we pray. Amen





06Apr

QUARANTINED – The Passover

Introduction

Self Isolation. Quarantined. Why? What? By Whom? To give the reason for being quarantined is multi-layered. On the surface, the reason seems obvious in light of so much information and guidance advocating “social distancing.” The new phrase- social distancing. Haven’t we been socially distant from each other for decades now? Haven’t we been emotionally and psychologically aloof about so many things and towards so many people for decades now? Social distancing may be a new phrase but it is not a new concept. The only difference now, is that it is more obvious – we truly see what we have become – distant, self isolated, quarantined.

I believe everything ; as in absolutely everything, is birthed from the spirit. We manifest what is happening or has happened in the spiritual realm. We have become socially distant because we became distant from our Creator; our Heavenly Father. We became cold but we termed it realistic; we became isolated but we termed it independent. We became trapped in our own body and its concerns. We became eager to satisfy the concupiscence of the flesh. We became trapped in our own sin. Quarantined.

What is Passover

Now for the first time in my generation, I am experiencing how it must have felt like for the Israelites in Egypt. Tonight Jews around the world have celebrated Passover according to the Jewish calendar. If I could transport myself back to Exodus 12, where God’s instruction was given to the Israelites, I would encounter a scene where the Israelites are locked indoors just like us. They seek protection from God just like us, as they take shelter in their homes after smearing the blood on their lintel and doorposts and await in anticipation for their liberation as seen in Exodus 12:22-23. What do we take shelter under? What do we hope for?

Tonight is a special night. It is the Passover night -“Pesach”. It also marks the start of the day where as a Catholic, I join my brethren each year during Holy Week on Thursday to celebrate the Last Supper; Jesus Christ’s last meal with his disciples – the New Passover. The Israelites to this date, still celebrate this sacrifice of the Passover and renew their covenant as instructed by God in Exodus 12:24 You and your descendants shall observe these instructions as an everlasting ordinance.

As a Christian, I renew this “new covenant” given to me by Jesus through the offering of the body and blood of Jesus. As a Catholic, I do this in the celebration of the sacrifice of the mass which brings into remembrance when Jesus gave Himself up as the sacrificial lamb to be slain for our redemption. Hebrews 7:27 describes Jesus as the High Priest who “offered Himself in sacrifice once and for all.”

I have often had to explain to non-Catholics that Catholics are not sacrificing Jesus over and over again at daily mass when the priest celebrates the Last Supper and calls those in attendance to participate in the meal. The priest is bringing into being, the objective reality of what was being commemorated and enabling the worshiper to participate in the event recalled. We must understand this in light of the Jewish concept of time as a series of specific events initiated by God. Time to the ancient Jews did not exist as an independent reality, but only in relation to events which were largely divinely initiated ones. We must also understand the original language used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:24 which English dilutes as “in memory of me” or “in remembrance of me.” The Hebrew Word used is “zikkaron” which renders present, the past actions of God as a living reality. So the worshiper is actually doing more than simply remembering Jesus’ sacrifice. The worshiper is actually with the disciples having that last meal with Jesus, just like the Jews are locked up in their homes celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread during Passover. It becomes a reality and transforms those who participate.

Blood of the Lamb

The Passover without a mention of the blood of the lamb would not be the Passover. I recall the hymn by the evangelists, John G. Foote and Elisha A. Hoffman called “When I see the Blood.” An image of Exodus 12 comes to mind whenever I sing the chorus: When I see the blood,
When I see the blood,
When I see the blood, 
I will pass, I will pass over you. 

So what exactly is this blood which was shed at Passover? It is described in Exodus 12:5 as the blood of “a perfect lamb without blemish” which is to be slain and put on the lintel and doorposts. By doing so, the destroyer will not enter the houses of those who have marked their houses and they will be saved from God’s wrath upon the first born of Egypt. This reminds me of so many places in the Psalms where reference is given to being hidden by God and being protected under His wings or in His shadow or in His hand.

This protection is made perfect by the shedding of Jesus’ blood at Calvary as a sacrifice to redeem us from our sins. Hebrews 9:12 describes Jesus as a High Priest who “did not take with Himself the blood of goats and bulls but His own blood.” Jesus is the perfect lamb who gives us the ultimate protection and wipes away all our sins. This perfection is conveyed in verse 14 which says “how much more will it be, with the blood of Christ?…offered Himself as an unblemished victim…” During these times of uncertainty, I am assured of the power in the blood of Jesus, as Revelations 12:11 assures me that I will overcome evil by the blood of the lamb and by the word of my testimony.

As we are quarantined during this Covid-19 pandemic, I can’t help but marvel over the perfect timing of God. Now more than ever, we need to plead the Precious Blood of Jesus over our lives and over all we hold dear. It is this precious blood which saves as expounded by Peter in 1Peter 1:18-19 – “Remember that you were freed…not with gold and silver, but with the precious blood of the Lamb without spot or blemish.” I recently came across a copy of a Letter of the Oration found in the Holy Sepulchre of Our Lord Jesus Christ as revealed to St. Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary, who with St. Matilda and St. Bridget, wished to know something of the Passion of Jesus Christ. It was revealed to them amongst other things that Jesus lost 28,430 drops of blood. What agony He went through to protect us from ourselves; from our self destruction and damnation to hell.

The New Dough

The question now is – was the shedding of that precious blood worth it? Why are you alive? Was saving you worth it? We are under quarantine but it is not an isolation period. It is not a time to practice spiritual social distancing. It is an incubation period; a period to reconnect to God and to listen to Him as He unravels the purpose for which you were saved. Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 sums this up for me: “This is not the time to praise yourself. Do you not know that a little yeast makes the whole mass of dough rise? Throw out then, the old yeast and BE THE NEW DOUGH.”

Indeed, this is not the time to praise ourselves but a time for deep introspection. We have not only allowed ourselves to be spiritually lukewarm, but have been unable to rise up against the darkness that has seemed to gain an upper ground in our world. We have become stale yeast and we need to empty ourselves by throwing some things out and renewing our Purpose in life. Everything is birthed in the spiritual and we need to manifest what God has destined us to be. As Romans 8:19 says, “all creation is eagerly expecting the birth in glory of the children of God”; of you and I, as all creation groans and suffers the pangs of spiritual rebirth in us. We cannot afford to let this period of incubation pass us by. It cannot just passover.

Conclusion

During this global quarantine and forced retardation of our ever-busy lives, let us contemplate more deeply on the significance of the Passover. As a Catholic, I celebrate this Feast of Unleavened Bread daily, as I participate in daily mass and it is easy to go through the ritual of this sacrifice without deeply reflecting on its grand significance. It is easy to become spiritually lukewarm and fill my mind up with things which may not necessarily be aligned to God’s Purpose for me.

So many souls have perished as a result of this pandemic. Have you asked yourself, why God spared you? Do you think it was because you were in control and it is because you have observed all the social distance and hygiene protocols? Do you still think that you are in control of your life? Isn’t it time for you to reconnect to God and to delve deeper into His Presence so He can guide you into your destiny and His plan for you?

This is Holy Week and as we enter into the Easter Tridium of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, may we realize that it is a perversion NOT to put God first in our lives. May we also be true to ourselves of the times where we have served other gods apart from him, albeit that of money, success, and the like, thus being guilty of the sin of idolatry. Let us heed the words of St Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 “If Christ became our Passover, you should become unleavened bread. Let us celebrate, therefore, the Passover, no longer with old yeast which is sin and perversity; let us have unleavened bread that is purity and sincerity.Make me unleavened bread. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

10Nov

SEASON OF REST – Part 2

Introduction

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “PROPHECY?” For some, they are filled with doubt and sarcasm which often leads to painting the prophet’s utterances in ridicule. For others, they are curious as to what words exactly are being uttered by such a prophet. While for others, they listen expectantly and attentively, to ponder upon the words thereafter. I belong to this third set of people. There are prophecies abound so how do you know which one is truly from God?

I recently heard a prophecy which I would like to share and which I would encourage us all to reflect seriously upon. It is about the new season that the chosen people of God are about to enter into according to God’s will to bring us to our rest and fulfillment. 2020 ends in a zero which is indicative of a rebirth and a springing forth. It speaks of things that have been pre-ordained for you which shall come to pass in your lives and also in the Church of God.

Decade of Generational Keys

It was revealed that the year 2020-2029 is a decade of rest. Within these next ten years, we are to be called to our destiny which will affect our generation. We were advised to study how to use the keys which we will be given in this season of generational keys. Revelational knowledge on the use of keys is vital since we are to know which doors to open and which to shut. We were referred to the importance of keys as seen in the key of David mentioned in Isaiah 22:22 and Revelations 3:7 which empowered David to open doors nobody could shut and shut doors, nobody could open.

Keys as a symbol of governmental authority is also seen in Matthew 16:19 where Peter was given the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” and the power to bind and unbind all things on earth, as would be done in heaven. This season of generational keys requires us to stop dwelling on the events of the past which may evoke feelings of pity or guilt or unworthiness. We must not engage in pity or regret, but arise from the ashes and get ready for the decade ahead.

It was revealed that the number 20 represents a wheel and a cycle whereby governmental authority is set upon us. During this decade, there shall be an individual ordination for us to rule over and make a kingdom for God. Thus, we cannot remain ordinary as we are given the keys to influence our generation. We are encouraged to seek and to wrestle for that key which opens the door and which clarifies our Purpose for this decade.

Season of Restoration – 5780

Just like the Gregorian calendar year ending in 20 which signifies cyclical fulfillment, so does its equivalent year 5780 in the Jewish calendar, ending in 80, signify restoration. We were told that we are in the season of restoration; a “Sampson season” where our hair and glory will regrow. We have been given a springboard in this season which gives us the advantage to bring about a generational change.

The action of Mother Mary at the wedding of Cana was mentioned in John 2:3-11 which acted as a springboard for Jesus into His ministry. We are to be watchmen like Mary who observed in spite of all the merriment abound and confusion, that the wine had run out at the wedding feast. It was her prompting to Jesus which brought about Jesus’ new dispensation and the new wine. We were encouraged to be like Mary and insist that there be new wine in this season to avoid all being shut down and to avoid shame coming upon our lives and the Body of Christ, the Church.

If we decide to be part of these chosen people, we shall be propelled by the fire of God to influence those we meet. God shall pull us out of the shadows and consecrate us by setting us apart. Your old foundation which may include your relationships and flaws will be revisited and you will find new expression for this season. This season is to bring you out of the pit so you can BECOME.

Governmental Authority

It was revealed that only those with authority can rule 2020. Authority is God’s Presence. Those chosen shall be the balm to give rest and peace by virtue of hosting God’s Presence and by extension, they shall have His authority. By 2029, we must be able to present to God a dispensation of the Gospel in whatever expression that has been placed in us, to be fulfilled. We were reminded that 10 years is enough time to bring about a generational change – Jesus had only 3 years.

We are warned to remain humble and to bear in mind that we are only pilgrims journeying towards heaven, during this period of authority when we are given this springboard. We were told to ride on this authority and to speak to the year for whatever we say, will come true in our lives.

We were also encouraged to seek the Bright Morning Star, Jesus Himself, who is the one ushering in this new season. Just as the planet Venus is at its brightest just before sunrise and seems to usher in the dawn, so has Jesus seen it fit to also usher us into this season of governmental authority where we will be given a new identity in Him.

Season of New Identity

We were reminded of the need for us to leave our old foundation behind in order to become. Zechariah 3:2-7 shows how satan was rebuked and the high priest Joshua was clothed in rich garments and given a clean turban on his head. We are given a new identity this season to restore God’s glory. God has taken away our filthy garments, clothed us in rich garments and given us a new identity for the work He has prepared for us to do. We need to ask God what this new identity is and obtain the generational key to work with it.

Conclusion

So, that was it. That was the prophecy. These are excerpts from Prophet Emmanuel Kure’s utterances in the October 2019 pilgrimage to Israel as summarized by Apostle Gbolahan at the Lekki Tower Prayer Meeting. We have a choice. There is a season and chance for everything and we are to be watchful of the seasons and the times. This next decade is an amazing season and we must key into the times.

We can decide to start 2020 with the same old expectations of a more productive year in this rat-race called life or we can look to God and seek His will in our lives during this amazing season of rest. I call it a season of rest because we are to rest in Him. He is inviting us and is set to give us the springboard and the generational keys. He is ready to endow us with a new identity basked in His glory. His Presence shall abide with us during this season and His Presence is true rest.

It all boils down to a choice. If you choose to respond to this prophecy of this season, join me in praying this: “Heavenly Father, please do not let me enter this season ordinarily. Lord make me into an authority as I cling to your Presence and as you bring me to my Purpose. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.”

09Nov

SEASON OF REST – PART 1

Introduction

As my hunger for God increases, I find it difficult to determine how much sleep I need to function. I wonder how those whom we invite to our church programs, muster up enough energy to keep on going from one program to the next, honoring invitations to proclaim God’s Word. They would often say that they were just coming from one program or that they would be attending a vigil after our own program and I would just wonder if they ever got sleep. Some of these people have families and other things they do to earn a living so how do they cope? Do they sleep? I mean, I know they sleep but do they have ENOUGH sleep? Do they wake up tired each time or do they have a deep, true rest?

What is Rest?

What is true rest, anyways? Isn’t it what we all want? As is my default, my compass turned to Scripture and what it said about all this rest stuff. Rest is translated as “nuach” in Hebrew and “katapausis” in Greek. It entails the state of being quiet; of settling down after labour; of being in repose.

This is different from the metaphorically usage of a heavenly blessedness in which God dwells. This concept of “rest” is often seen as a resting place of promise as seen in Hebrews 3:11 where God vowed that the stubborn Israelites would “never enter my rest.” As I contemplated further, however, I began to wonder whether this “rest of God” was actually different in essence to “nuach” or “katapausis.”

Sabbath As Rest

Christians and non-Christians alike are familiar with the story of creation in Genesis 2:2-3 where God “rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done.” We are supposed to do same as demanded of us in Exodus 23:12 that “for six days you shall work but on the seventh, you shall rest.” which was intended to be for our own good. This is seen in Jesus’ words in Mark 2:27 where he states that “the Sabbath was made for man.” So, we know that God made the Sabbath for us to rest. We also know that Jesus understood the need for rest as seen in Mark 6:31-32 where He states “Let us go off by ourselves into a remote place and have some rest.”

Rest, rest, rest. We need it but can we have enough if we are truly to be effective workers in God’s kingdom? Coming to think of it – how many hours of sleep did the disciples have? How many hours of sleep did St. Paul have? I mean, by my analyses, those who are invited to lead crusades or other church programs in different parishes across the state, country or even continents, don’t have more than 4 hours sleep each day! How can they function on such? 1 Cor 6:13 shows that God does not wish to destroy the body and knows that the body He created needs to be sustained. Surely, lack of sleep harms the body, doesn’t it? Isn’t this why He created the Sabbath?

What Science Says

Science tells us that we need to sleep for a certain number of hours each day – 8 hours to be precise! These people do not have this so how come these people of God seem to function just fine with 4 hours of sleep? Psalm 127:2 is instructive. It says that only God can give rest and He gives rest to His loved ones. Truly, can you sleep if you have no inner peace? Isn’t that why there is a rise in the usage of sleeping pills and in insomnia in our world today? There is an absence of inner peace that only God can give. Psalm 4:9 stresses this by saying “I lie down in peace, for you alone, O Yahweh, make me feel safe and secure.”

So, do you NEED 8 hours of sleep? As I tried to wrap my head around this, I was led to Psalm 23:2-3 where King David acknowledges that it is God who makes him to lie down in green pastures, leads him beside the still waters and who restores his soul. This stillness and this repose is definitely the translated meaning of “nuach” which means to rest. The purpose of sleep is to rest but if you realize that God’s Presence is the actual rest we need, then the hours of sleep needed seem inconsequential. David treasured God’s Presence above all things and would always seek it. I wonder how many hours of sleep King David actually needed and got.

God’s Presence is rest. God’s Presence is true rest. Isn’t it interesting to note that those in the monasteries only have 4-5 hours of sleep each day and function just fine? Contrary to the impression that they simply pray all day on their knees, they actually undertake serious manual work, without the comfort to which others would be accustomed. So, why is it that they don’t need 8 hours of sleep? Well, consider this – research has shown that just thirty minutes of deep meditation is the equivalent of two hours of sleeping. Deep meditation is part of their daily life by which they connect to God’s Presence. This is true rest.

Conclusion

The purpose of sleep is to rest. As we hunger more for God and work for His Kingdom, we must seek for His Presence and seek to operate within His Presence. Now, I am not saying that those who get more than 4 hours of sleep, are not hungry for God or are not spiritually fruitful. I am simply saying that when you put God as your focus, sleep becomes secondary. When you have spiritual depth, your body does not need to rest as much. In short, the little sleep you get is deep enough and of good quality. There is a reduced need for sleep. It is not a deprivation because God’s Presence is truly all you need.

Two scriptures come to mind. The first is in Isaiah 40:31 where God assures us that those who hope in Yahweh “will renew their strength. They will soar as with eagle’s wings; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and never tire.” The second scripture is in Exodus 33:14 where God states: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

May we constantly abide in God’s Presence and stay connected to God who alone renews our strength and gives TRUE REST to those He loves. May we be counted as one of those whom God loves and enter His rest in this world and the next. In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen

11Oct

REVIVAL – Day 1

Introduction

The Revival has come. I don’t know about you, but I am in dire need of this revival especially as we have entered into the last quarter of the year. The fasting and prayer in January to usher in God’s blessings and to seek His direction for 2019 seem so so so far away, but I recall the expectations and the joyous anticipation of what 2019 would bring. I remember God’s word over me as we concluded the prayers. I remember them and I have often clung to them when anxiety and doubt rear their twin heads. As Jesus’ parable of the seed and the four types of soil in Matthew 13 comes to mind, I have often wondered over these past 10 months whether I am that soil upon which seeds fell among thorns, that grew and choked the plants.

Meaning of Revival

The speaker for the first day of this 3-day revival program at the Catholic Church of Divine Mercy, Lekki started by defining what a revival was. She called it an extraordinary movement of the Holy Spirit and a time of repentance and encounter with God. She stated that a revival is a spiritual re-awakening from a state of dormancy or stagnation in the life of a believer.  In this encounter, the Holy Spirit breaks the chains of limitations, sicknesses and all that is not part of God’s plan in your life. She stressed that what is required for a revival is the spirit of humility and the desire of the spirit to spiritually grow.

Types of People Needing A Revival

  1. LOSS OF FIRST LOVE

In Revelations (Rev) 2:1-5, we see the complaint leveled against the Church of Ephesus as a people who forgot God who was their first love. The speaker mentioned that any time you fall away from your first love, a revival is needed.

2. EXPERIENCING PERSECUTION

Rev 2:10-11 talks of suffering befalling the people of Smyrna. She stated that you need a revival if you are spiritually and mentally exhausted. There’s this song by Tamela Mann which captures this state called “Take me to the King”

3. BELIEF IN THINGS CONTRARY TO WORD OF GOD & CONTRARY TO CHURCH TEACHINGS

She talked of those who need a revival to change their mindset which in turn, will change the way they behave. Reference was made also to those who perpetuate false preaching which are contrary to the teaching of the Church.  Now, when she mentioned this category, I was keen to know how you would persuade someone constantly criticizing a Catholic belief such as devotions to Mary and the saints,  that he or she needed a revival because of this mindset. Your stance of the need for that person to have a revival might even sound spiritually arrogant.  However, she stressed that such people needed a revival to find the truth.

4. SPIRITUALLY DEAD PEOPLE

The speaker drew our attention to Rev 3:1-6 of those who have the reputation of being alive, but are spiritually dead. She mentioned the hypocrisy involved and the need for such people to be made alive through revival.  In her analogy of the fig tree which Jesus cursed in Mark 11:12-18, she pointed out that Jesus had expectations just as He has expectations of us, but He had to curse the fig tree because it did not turn out how it should be.  She stressed that revival will cause you to be fruitful in all areas of your life, be it your business, marriage, relationship and more. Thus, a revival is needed to avoid the fate of the fig tree.  

5. NOMINAL CATHOLICS

The speaker described nominal Catholics to be those who do not know who they are in Christ Jesus. As a result of this ignorance of their identity, they are powerless. She explained that a revival will show them who they are which is essentially, a priest, a prophet and a king.

This also applies to those Catholics who do not appreciate the power of the Sacraments within the Church such as the Eucharist and the sacrament of Reconciliation. A revival will draw them into the knowledge of these gems of the Church.

6. LUKEWARM PEOPLE

She referred to Rev 3:16 which necessitated God vomiting those who are luewarm. Psalm 85:6 sees King David yearning to be revived as he cries out “Will you not revive us again so that your people can rejoice in you?” To be spewed out of God’s mouth is arguably the worst end in which someone can find himself in, thus the need for a revival to avoid this doom which is brought about by not using your spiritual gifts to give God glory.

Conclusion

By the time, she had finished her description of this sixth category of persons who need a revival, I could identify myself in at least two categories and I thanked God for ordering my steps to start this program.  She stressed that the church needed a revival.  Since we made up the church, it is fitting to say that we all need to be revived. The speaker urged us to rise from our apathy and refuse to be comfortable when the winds of revival are not sweeping through the lives of all these categories of people.

The journey continues as we step into Day 2 of the Revival Program tomorrow. I await in anticipation.