Saturday, 22 April 2017

THE "JOY" OF SERVING GOD

The journey through the trials of life is not a pleasant one at all. If care is not taken, it can destroy a person’s life and even ministry. But it is interesting to note that the end result of trial can be glorious when one endures it patiently. (Rom.5:3-4)The same goes for the paradox in this thesis - the pain of serving Him becoming a thing of Joy. How can this be?
 Moses was a beloved servant of God, a man who spoke to God face-to-face. The Bible speaks of him as the meekest of all men. He was a man who led the Israelites for forty good years in the wilderness. Whenever he was faced with crisis, he cried unto the sender of the ‘great exodus’ – God, Himself. He walked with God long enough to understand His ways. But one wonders, “Why did he disregard His command at some point?” He was angry at the Israelites one might say, and he referred to them as “you rebellious people.” Did God hold him guiltless? Not at all. Though he pleaded for mercy he was not spared by God. (Deut.3: 23-27)
Servant of God, did you notice that as long as Moses was living in obedience to God’s command, God honored him in the presence of the Israelites because he honored God? But on that unfortunate occasion when he lost control of his temper, little did he realize what the consequence would be. Abraham laughed at God’s promise (Gen.17:17), Sarah also laughed, and she even told a lie (Gen.18:12,15); the virgin Mary asked the angel,“How shall this be…(Lk.1:31-34). And Zacharias, a priest, also asked a question, “Whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. (Lk.1:13-18).
 Moses was denied the joy of entering the long awaited for Promised Land. Is that not painful? Zacharias was pronounced mute for a season. What was the punishment meted out to Sarah and Mary? I hasten to add, God’s servants sometimes experience ‘pains’ in serving the Master. What God overlooks while dealing with others, He will hold you highly responsible for same. As ministers of God we need to remind ourselves always of this maxim, “Others may but I cannot.” To remain victorious in God’s service, obedience to His commands cannot be compromised. As long as we keep honoring the Lord in our daily walk with Him, we can be assured of the JOY of serving Him.
HALLELUYAH!


Monday, 22 August 2016

FROM THE ARCHIVES: I WILL LOVE AND YOU WILL OBEY- PART 3


NINE INGREDIENTS OF DIVINE LOVE IN PRACTICE BY A CHRISTIAN HUSBAND
           
There is no doubt that what is expected of a Christian husband is not an easy task at al. it is only the divine presence of the Holy Spirit described in its fullness from 1 Corinthians 12 that can lead on to these nine ingredients of love in 1 Corinthians 13. It should be remembered that Galatians 5:22 describes LOVE as the first fruit of the spirit. Christ Himself said it is the most important commandment. (Matthew 22: 36, 37).

(i)                 PATIENCE can be described as the passive love. 1 Corinthians 13: 4 & 7 describes this ingredient as being long-suffering, bears, believes, hopes and endures all things. There are going to be occasions especially early in marriage when the patience of a partner is tried to the limit. He would have complained about one thing or the other which the wife is not used to and during the time of adjustment he naturally grows annoyed. It is under such occasions the husband is expected to remember: ‘I love you.’ He continues to believe things are going to be better and thereby endures the situation.

(ii)               KINDNESS is love in action.
There are some husbands who only try to show off in public by opening the door of the car for their ‘bride.’  Such is only good when other kindness and concern is shown when only two of you are present. This show of kindness involves a constant appreciation of the wife’s extra labour of cooking, cleaning the house, washing napkins and clothes and lots of other household duties possibly in addition to her daily duty at work; when such appreciation is followed by a sincere helping hand and encouragement from the husband the wife is happy. But please note that it is necessary to be consistent in showing kindness to your wife.

(iii)             GENEROSITY – Love in competition.
Love within marriage should continue to be fanned by gifts of different kinds. Many husbands stop giving their wives gifts after the wedding day! Gifts need not be expensive; it may even be ‘a piece of meat’ on the table! Especially when as a result of unexpected visitors your meat ration has been cut off from four pieces to one and your wife has none! This ingredient of generosity should spread to the use of time in helping to get things done in the house.

(iv)             HUMILITY: Love in hiding
Within Nigerian set-up pride tends to rule the heart of the husband – he remembers he is the head of the family and thereby assumes a bloated degree of importance. Verse 4: ‘Love vaunteth not itself, it is not puffed up.’ Nothing should be too mean for the husband to do for his wife.

(v)               COURTESY – Love in society
Verse 5: “Love does not behave itself unseemly...” It means being polite both at home and especially outside. A husband must never disagree publicly with his wife; he can do this by constantly remembering that she is part of himself. Whatever he would feel about, if it is done by someone else must be avoided.

(vi)             SELFLESSNESS – Love in disposition
Verse 5: ‘seeketh not her own...thinketh no evil.’ It is always necessary for the husband to think more of the good of his wife.  He shows concern about her family responsibilities and her welfare. This ingredient is important in the aspect of sexual relationship. It is easy for the husband to ‘use’ the wife to satisfy his sexual appetite – Both husband and wife need to enjoy this aspect and there will be occasions when the wife is rather too tired to respond – the husband needs to express love that is not selfish to her.

(vii)           GOOD TEMPER : Love in disposition
Verse 5 ‘not easily provoked, thinks no evil...’There is a useful attitude that has helped in situations which would have brought about hot temper; that is the attitude of ‘positive analysis.’ When your wife has done something that annoys you to be provoked, first think of the positive reasons why she did it! Start from yourself – “Have I caused it? Was it done for the good of the family? I believe she did it for our good and until she proves otherwise I am not going to be angry because I love her.”

(viii)          RIGHTEOUSNESS: ‘White love’
Verse 6: When a husband sincerely hates sin, he would aim at keeping his home away from falling into sin. He himself will positively guard against it. He is always thinking in turns of how the family will be closer to God. Ephesians 5: 25-28 expresses a love that sanctifies and cleanses the wife so that she can be presented to God as holy and without blemish. It is one of the most important duties of the husband to ensure that the family altar is not neglected. He is to ensure constant love for God by the whole family and it is only through this that internal family love continues to grow. The more righteous a couple is, the greater their love one to another.

(ix)             SINCERITY: ‘Love never fails’
It is not necessary to expand this much further but simply to add that when all that is done in love is done with Christian sincerity such love will never fail. It makes you both feel you are still on honeymoon after 50 years of marriage. Yes, love brings submission and love in response. I am yet to find a couple who will follow the analysis of the scriptures without riding through their marriage in JOY and peace.

May our love to our wives be such that makes them obey us so that we shall both enjoy the peace and joy of marriage as God has designed it for us.  I will love, you will obey is the balanced and unbiased contract between husband and wife respectively that can ensure perfect peace, joy and harmony of their Christian home.

-          M.O. S ( REV.)
 Saturday, 20th October, 1979.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: I WILL LOVE AND YOU WILL OBEY - PART 2

LOVE from me – husband:
Invariably every marriage starts from this idea expressed either verbally or through action by the man. He goes to the young lady with various methods of expressing himself. ‘I love you.’ Those three words are very important to maintain the joy within the Christian home. The initiative for love usually, and should continually come from the husband. He started the whole business with ‘love’ and must be prepared to maintain it with ‘love’ no matter what happens. He should always remember the pledge, ‘for better, for worse.’ The idea of love when things are smooth, easy and nice is normal and would happen among pagans and members of other sects or religions. But when things become tough, uneasy or perhaps disagreements or disobedience has set in within marriage, the idea of love can then be tested. This love is the ‘Agape’ love.


The love expected from the husband has been qualified in a way that makes it very difficult and trying. It says ‘you must love, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her.’ It simply means that there is no earthly sacrifice that a husband can give to his wife that can be too much. There is no doubt about the fact that such sincere love can not be easy in human strength. It is the love of Christ in the husband that can make it possible. Paul has described love in its entirety within the thirteen verses of first Corinthian Chapter 13. It is possible to bring out at least nine attributes of love in this chapter and when a husband can aim at these to live by that standard, the true joy that love brings will be in their home. One practical illustration before discussing the nine points. There would be occasions when your wife would annoy you, though unintentionally, and your anger would normally want to take you out of the home; it is during such a time that you need to express verbally or practically those three words, ‘I love you.’! Try it and watch anger melt in the warmth of love. It is really when such love is expressed that one’s partner knows she has a trusted husband and would continue to express sincere obedience.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: I WILL LOVE AND YOU WILL OBEY - PART 1

Part of the introduction to the book of HOSEA in Good News Bible reads:
The prophet Hosea preached in the Northern kingdom of Israel... during the troubled times before the fall of Samaria in 721 B.C... Hosea boldly pictured the faithfulness in terms of his own disastrous marriage to an unfaithful woman. Just as his wife Gomer turned out to be unfaithful to him, so God’s people had deserted the Lord ...Yet in the end God’s constant LOVE for His people will prevail and He would win the nation back to Himself and restore the relationship. This love is expressed in chapter 11:8, ‘How can I give up Israel? How can I abandon you...My heart will not let me do it! My love for you is strong.
The word love has lost its meaning in the modern world. Biblically, it is represented in two ways: ‘agape’ love and ‘Erotic’ love. It is necessary to define the topic in the light of what the Bible expects of God’s children.
Love is expected from both members of the Christian marriage. In fact, Christ’s last commandment in John 13: 34, 35 declares: “A new commandment give I unto you that you love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples. It is crystal clear that the Lord expects all Christians to love one another ‘as Christ loved the Church.’ It is however true that the greater responsibility is given to the man when it comes to the issue of marriage. This is real love or ‘Agape ‘ love.
            Erotic love describes physical love or sexual relationship. It must be stressed that there is no biblical ground or moral ground with which anybody can justify sex outside marriage. God’s word calls it SIN and 1 Corinthians 6: 9, 10 names it as one of the sins that will prevent anybody (caught in it) from going to heaven.
Obedience: The idea of the obedience from the wife to the husband is described by Paul in Ephesians 5:22 ‘Wife submit yourselves unto your husbands as unto the Lord.’ I propose that this will include both husband and wife. The idea of obedience rather than just a direct obedience to one’s husband should be seen as obedience unto the Lord. The idea of Women liberation is both foreign to the Christian as well as the Scriptures. I don’t believe any Christian woman has either been in bondage or social prison to warrant liberation. John 8:36: ‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’ Every Christian, husband or wife is abundantly FREE in the Lord.

OBEDIENCE in the Home:   ‘Obedience is better than sacrifice’ declares the Scriptures. Most Christian wives will easily find that this is true when the Lord governs the home. It will be a matter of obeying the husband or submitting to him as the church is subject unto Christ. Let us take a simple example within the Church. The idea of sexual sin or fornication or adultery has become common sin in the community from the beginning of the age. Both are attractive to the flesh and anybody outside Christ will find it unreasonable to legislate against sex outside marriage. But a child of God sees it as a command from God and through God’s grace he or she has to obey.
            A Christian wife is expected to obey her husband in all things but because of love that exists between them she should be free to express disapproval on some issues but be prepared to carry out the orders. In most cases the problem is created simply because she does not see the issue in the same light as the husband sees it. Psychologists have claimed that in some cases women act under the influence of ‘intuition’ while the man has a mind that critically analyses the issues. On few occasions such basic differences in reasoning lead to disagreement. Just as a student may not agree with school rules and regulations or a citizen with the laws that bind him, yet it is profitable for both the student and the citizen to obey these rules. Such actions pay good dividends when the rules are obeyed. It is always real joy for the Christian wife when she sincerely obeys her husband.

            The issue of obedience by the wife brings about greater responsibility from the husband. Outside the Christian faith, such obedience may lead to servitude, but within Christ’s family, sincere obedience from the wife brings about greater trust and this leads to deeper love. I believe, just as a father will always show greater love and interest towards an obedient son, so also will a normal husband show greater love and trust for the wife.
            Obedience in all things can be a problem but it is necessary to clarify one important area of obedience within marriage. It is in relationship with sexual relationships. Paul did not miss words in 1 Corinthians 7:3-5. [It clearly teaches that both husband and wife should not deny one another the joy of sexual relationship except when they have both agreed to pray and fast.] The reason given is that they should not expose themselves to the temptation of immorality. It is given as the second reason why marriage was ordained in the Anglican order of marriage service: “Secondly it was ordained for a remedy against sin and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.” Paul ends up with the same reason. Disagreement on sexual desires from either member of the marriage can lead to trouble. It is usual that because of some physiological changes in the wife, there are periods in the month when her desire for sex is almost nil. It is necessary for the wife to thoroughly discuss this with her husband and both should agree on what to do on such occasions. There may be other occasions when some other reasons may prevent sexual relationships; for example a wife has an injury or boil that will make sexual relationship impossible. It is important that she discusses such with her husband early and should not wait to give the excuse when the husband makes advances. Obedience from the wife in social issues like regular meals, at the right time , in the right way or the way he wants the sitting room or bedroom to look like as well as other ‘rules’ within the home should be pursued vigorously with prayers and confidence in God. The obvious wages of obedience is LOVE from the husband.


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

FROM THE ARCHIVES: MY IN-LAWS ARE DOMINATING -PART II


Another problem is the pressure to marry due to age. If the couple are not financially sound as to be able to live and stay alone, they may be tempted to stay in their parents home. On the other hand a working couple with children who allow their parent to live as Nanny permanently or semi-permanently with them may also be inviting interference or domination by parents and /or in-laws. A student couple still depending on in-laws and parents for fees and other maintenance allowance can’t but be controlled by the donor. Gifts could be a bait, impatience could enslave, bad planning could be dangerous, without leaving you will remain forever bound. A country is never independent until she has escaped the domination of her masters by peace or struggle. You must start by leaving then you can go to a higher step of cleaving.
CLEAVING
Cleaving really means joining. This is a process that preceeds becoming one. Attempt joining two compatible materials (e.g. ropes) with a third and foreign material (e.g. gold). Though the third material could be so precious you can only bind it up with rope, you can’t join them together to be one. God does not plan that a Christian couple should cleave to anyone else. Only the husband and wife are first to be separated from their two families, remain alone and then cleave together. This cleaving is a painful process. It also calls for complete cut-off of all links of submission to one’s family. It calls for understanding the needs of one’s family and in-laws, and agreeing on how to help but never how they are to interfere in the running of your home. It calls for understanding of each others weaknesses and strength and differences so that a compromise could be arrived at that will help for moulding into one flesh.

      The only difference between this word “cleave” and “leave” is “C” standing for Christ who alone can join a compatible couple together without any form of interference from in-laws. If ever you intend your marriage to be a union that makes both of you to become one, you must be prepared to cleave and that means a readiness to accept your partner as the only perfect and fitting mate that can be joined to you. Parents and in-laws are not additional mating material but instruments of God for bringing you up till you are mature enough to fulfil God’s plan for you in marriage.

BECOME ONE
“Two shall become one flesh.” There is no ambiguity at all in God’s law. Thank God His word did not use fraction or percentage whose interpretation may have to be taken to Tribunal or Supreme Court where a split decision will permit external members on one hand and limit the union to two or the other. This is why polygamy is completely out of God’s plan also. Only two partners – helpmeet, fit for each other – can cleave together until they become one. If you have been married and you have not become one, yet both of you are Christians, then examine your marriage. Have you both left your father and mother and relations and in-laws to cleave together as husband and wife? I must say here that if one member of the family  fails to “leave,” the other member will surely have interference and domination from the in-laws. Love does not exist where your action causes your partner to suffer humiliation and subjection. Domination may not (and does not often) come directly from the in-laws to the affected person but through him/her partner.
      Let us watch out. The very moment you divulge your secrets to your family, the very moment you invite them to settle a rift between you, asking for subsidy for your feeding or other sustenance, is submitting your children wholly to the care and training of your parents, the very moment you argue or fight in their presence, the very moment you appoint your parent as your special adviser, the very split second you stop truly loving your partner – that very moment Satan sees a loophole and brings your partner and invariably you, under the domination of in-laws.
CONCLUSION
We have our example in the word of God. In Genesis 29-31, we read of the experience of Jacob. Anyone contemplating on marriage should study these chapters lest they fall into the bondage that often befall those who run into marriage prematuredly. Laban continued to dominate Jacob and play him out even with more service years. Even when Jacob had served for the wives and children he said in Gen. 30: 25-26 “... I want to go back home, Let me take my wives and children – for I earned them from you- and be gone, for you know how fully I have paid for them with my service to you.” Yet Laban said (verse 27) “Please do not go.” He bargained for more properties (sheep, cattle etc.) as wages for more service years. He never was able to run his home until he left to take his role as the head of the family. God is not calling us into a marriage of servitude but of freedom, joy, peace and lasting unity.
      I challenge you today that you must leave, cleave and become one if you desire a balanced Christian home free from domination by parents and in-laws. If you are not prepared for the responsibility of marriage, don’t venture into it. If you are not sure of God’s choice that will best fit you to become one, don’t rush into unequal yoke. Be sure your foundation is sound and have Christ only as the glue that will join both of you together to become one. Keep in-laws, parents and friends out of the administration of your home and the joy of being one will be yours.

                                                                                     Shola Adeleke (Mrs.)
                                                                                     Saturday, 20th October, 1979.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: MY IN-LAWS ARE DOMINATING - PART I



Imagine yourself, faced with a sobbing lady who had come for counselling, having prayed with her, you listened very patiently to her as she shares her problem with you. All of a sudden as if to sandwich the weeping, she broke down with these words only: “My in-laws are dominating.” Surely you will wonder why, how and to what extent is this allegation true. A proof of the fact that any married couple is prone to have this problem is that, almost all intending couples are always warned against the interference of the outsiders especially the in-laws. We would examine the causes of this problem, its effect on the Christian home and the remedy for this cancer of the unwise Christian home.
      First of all, I wish to dwell on the theme of this symposium - A balanced Christian home. The triangle for this theme shows 3 vital steps that must be taken if indeed the Christian home were to be balanced. These are – LEAVE, CLEAVE, BECOME ONE. They all come from the word of God in Gen. 2: 24.
LEAVE: The first step in marriage is that the man should leave his father and mother and in fact his own family to set up his own home. The danger of not leaving one’s family was immediately realized by God when he was even going to choose a nation to be loved by him through Abraham. He was to leave his family and kindred and home town to a land that God will lead him to. He was not to be influenced in his decision and association with his new-found bride-groom.

Leaving calls for physical, spiritual, emotional and psychological maturity to be able to separate from old association and pioneer a new kind of living entirely. The problem many people have today is that they marry prematurely and thus had to depend to a large extent upon their parents. It is imperative that he who provides for your sustenance dictates your life. A man who has his mother or father as the only confidant and adviser needs to break this cord of dependency and realize that he now has a help meet. At this point I wish to suggest that the family background plays a great contributory part in this problem. 

We shall look at some practical problems:
A sister once came up with a problem. She has a non-Christian boy-friend that she has been going on with for quite some time. She knew within herself that she was not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers but because both parents have known of their association and are constantly pressurizing the couple to get married, she felt she would be offending her parent if she fails to marry this man. Obviously if she fears hurting them and prefers to disobey God instead, she would always seek to please them to the extent that they will rule her home for her. Moreover, the non-Christian husband would not believe in the principle of leaving; they can neither cleave nor become one because they are incompatible.  I will therefore ask our complainant, “Is the foundation of your marriage sound?”...

Sunday, 19 June 2016

FROM THE ARCHIVES: A BALANCED CHRISTIAN HOME

MONEY IS TRYING TO DIVIDE US

(F)     MARRIED YET APART
There was the question of a couple not living together. The husband was an undergraduate in the University and the wife a village teacher. As a village teacher, most weekend expenses had to deal a heavy blow to her purse by way of transport fare, apart from the husband who needed plenty of money to maintain him.
One weekend the husband came with the news that he had been awarded a scholarship. The woman breathed a sigh of relief and beamed with joy. Unfortunately the husband would not bring any of his bursary sum for the family to spend, yet he realized that the woman had no savings in her account because of him. He was still demanding from the wife. At this stage, the woman refused giving him and the man felt: “but she knows I am a student and is this the extent her Christianity goes, or could it be for my scholarship award? She is now so stingy?”
     
We should have our eyes opened so that we may see all the tricks of the enemy in the various ways he can come to cause disunity so that we may not be caught unawares. We must be wiser than our enemy, the devil. 1 Peter 5:8.
Indeed the case above could have been prevented if some patience was exercised before marriage:     Luke 14:28-30. Let Christians learn to stay together once married. Eve was deceived by Satan while Adam was away. Therefore what God has joined together let not anything, (ACADA, MONEY, SICKNESS, RELATIVES etc.) rend asunder.

Let husband and wife be plain to each other. Your wife should know all your various regular sources of income and vice-versa if indeed you are cleaving. There is no reason why I should hide my pay packet from my husband neither should he hide his from me. If the contrary happens, then we are not fully cleaving and it means we have allowed money to divide us, thus we live below the standard of the word of God.
      Having given numerous examples of homes rent in pieces by money I hasten to add that I know of countless Christian homes where peace, joy, love and confidence reign supreme while they maintain a common purse and a joint account. A couple opened a joint account and they had no account number but an account name “Mr & Mrs.........................” when they individually submitted the account name to their respective places of work, they were ridiculed by the accounts staff. It was strange to them. But to the glory of God this couple have stayed together joyfully in full trust of each other over the years. The wife acts as the treasurer while the husband is the financial secretary. They needed no external auditor because they knew they will account to their master Jesus. Money had not and will not divide your home if you follow this pattern.

      When we know our financial strength we are able to plan together. As the Lord would have it, remember Gen, 2:25 when Adam and Eve were both naked and were not ashamed. When a couple sees each other’s nakedness even financially, there is much joy instead of shame.
      I am prescribing to my audience what my husband and I are practising through the grace of God. Paul says in his epistles, “Be ye followers of me...” that is, be my imitator. Let not money divide you.
1 Tim.6:6-10; 1 Pet. 3:1-7; Eph. 5: 22-33
                                                                                           Ope Opapeju (Mrs.)

 Saturday, 20th October, 1979.