Hugs and Kisses

hugs

I remember as a child of about five years old, my mother was still in high school. My father worked far away in another country. It was only my mother and I, coming home from school; I would play as was a juvenile thing to do. As it got late, I would sit on our door way facing the East where I knew my mother appeared from when she came from school.

I would sit with bated breath just waiting to see an image of a black and white school uniform.Once I spotted any appearance that looked similar to what I waited with an intense famish of my mother’s presence, I would run with an extraordinary gratification towards the person but to my dismay most of the times I would be wrong and just  be deceived by just a look alike appearance. But once I realized that I ran to the right person being my mother, I would hug her so tight; the wait would just be overwhelming and so much worth the wait.

My story reminds me of the story of the prodigal son. Luke 15:20, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around and kissed him.” I can just imagine the father, viewing as far his eyes can see every day just yearning to one day see his son come back home. I can just imagine the father waiting everyday just like I waited for my mother. I can just imagine the father envisioning how he would overspill his affection and passion with hugs and kisses.

Romans 4:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” This demonstrates the love of the Father. Just like the father of the prodigal son, God displayed His passion for us through the death of Jesus while we were sinners. Just similar to the father of the prodigal son, he ran to his son in hot pursuit even before his son stepped into his premises. Even before the prodigal son would even utter a word, the father was showering his son with kisses and hugs.

Luke 15:22, “But the father said to his servants,Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. ” The son was so focused on himself trying to condemn himself and the response of the father was way contradictory to the son’s inquisition but the father’s focal point was is just exhibiting his affection, passion and zeal towards the son. He took it way ahead and drove it home by insisting that the son be given the “best” robe.

Isn’t this what we do most of the time when we approach God, Luke 15:21, “The son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” God is not fascinated in this kind of talk. He knows it’s toxic and wearies us, as an alternative to this, God wants to lavish us.

Just like I waited with bated breath for my mother with my eyes fixed in the East side. Just like the father waited each day hoping and longing for his son to come back. Just like the father ran towards his son with passion and rained kisses and hugs to his son. That’s just as little as I can explain the love of God towards us and I will try to go deeper and deeper in explaining His love in the coming articles.

Atonement

Festive season is a really amusing filled interval, enjoying time with family and friends. Being merry and reminiscing about the days when we were young and how we spent Christmas in the olden days. Retrospection seems to be what we are mindful of, hence that precise theme on the verge of our tongues.

One very odd, heartbreaking and disturbing story I heard was from one man who was an intruder. During our assembly as a family on Christmas day, late in the evening while we barbecued. Out in the dark I spotted a man who was scouting our family reunion spirit. My eyes and his met and he walked directly to me. He familiarized himself to me. He had come in harmony. As we got comfortable around each other. He narrated how his brother was massacred. He and his brother were attacked as they walked around 1 AM. He showed me scars on his head and arms where he was battered with a sword. What saved his life was him falling into a valley. As they attempted to assassinate him, he was taking steps back unbeknownst to him, behind him was this valley where he fell into.

As he got back up from the valley to the plateau, the assailants had dispersed and on the ground laid his brother. When he approached him, he could smell the stench of blood. When he lifted his brother’s head up, he noticed that his throat was slit open with a knife. He could hear him gasp for breath. He held his hand and spoke his last words to his brother. He noted how all he wants to do is to avenge his brother’s blood. It happened about three years back but his fume was as fresh as a two minute wound. Emphasis is what happened 3 years back is as exasperating as though it happened today.  For this individual, satisfaction for him would be seeing blood from any of the four men, death of any one of the four men would be his desired atonement for him to be at peace.

As the man whose brother was murdered spoke about him seeing his enemies’ blood as atonement. It really hit me hard to know that God wanted and was satisfied with the shedding of blood in order for us to have that perfect peace with Him. It got me thinking of the magnitude of the shed blood of Jesus. These four murderers who brutally slayed a man; could recognition and acceptance of Jesus’s forgiveness mean perfect peace with God? Romans 3:25 “(Jesus) Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed”, propitiation is regaining favor of someone by doing something that pleases him. This is to say that the blood of Jesus was so pleasing to God in making appease with God on our behalf.Image result for atonement definition

The law is so perfect, it is like a mirror, and a mirror can help you see the flaws on your face. The mirror helps you spot what blemishes you have on your face.  That is what the law does, it does not modify you, and instead it shows you what it is that you didn’t do or did wrong. There was no escaping the law, even if unintentionally you did something wrong, God would charge that against you. Numbers 15:24, “Then it shall be, if ought be committed ignorance without knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one bullock for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour unto the Lord, with the meat offering, and his drink offering, according to the manner, and one kid of the goats for a sin offering.” All this was atonement unto God so that there would be peace for a certain period of time with men. So complicated and demanding and if not done then waging war was thrust upon us.

This is to say no matter how small or big your sin is, the blood of Jesus became such an impeccable atonement for us. I do not know what you may have done, maybe you murdered someone or you lied to put someone in so much trouble or you were so ignorant and hurt someone without you even knowing, the real, perfect and ceaseless atonement was handed forth by God Himself, one word, JESUS!!!!

Ephesians 1:7 “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His Grace”, our sins have been atoned for, Jesus is our atonement today. He has made amends for us with God. Today we have this unadulterated forgiveness of sins.

 

They Call it Godfidence!

 

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In the previous post, I spoke about Jesus being our pool. How He gave the man who was impotent for thirty eight years effortless healing. He gave this man hope from the moment He asked him whether he wanted to be made whole. This man for thirty eight years did not have anyone to help him to go into the pool in order for him to be restored.

We have established how this man had fallen deep into the dumps of insecurity, low self-esteem and possibly so much bondage, strongholds and stagnancy. I thank God for His son Jesus. When Jesus delivers, he gets rid of all the grips that keep us from living the life He intends for us to live. If anything, Jesus did not come to keep us under a heavy yoke that He already found us in, if anything, He came to deliver us from any substantial oppression that may have befallen us. John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it in all its fullness,” this is what Jesus came to do, to provide unto us life in its fullness, full of His faith, full of His peace, full of His assurance and confidence. 2 Timothy 1:7 puts it like this, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline,” that is one crucial single-mindedness Jesus is more keen with. This in essence says that if you are timid, Jesus came to replace the timidity with His authority.

Going back to the story of the man at the pool.The incident happened on a Sabbath. The Jewish leaders were feared due to the fact that they were scouting for anyone who broke the law so that they can condemn him/her. The Jewish leaders were feared for their condescending words and extreme condemnation insinuations. So here the Jewish leader ridiculed him, John 5:8, “…it is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”The man who for thirty eight years was in absolute bondage and suffered self-doubt replied with no fear, unquestionably not being timid of these leaders. John 5:11, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” Now this is the end-product of the perfect encounter with Jesus, our pool of mercy; Jesus, our porch, our rest. This person who had thirsty eight years of solitary, fear and seclusion had all of a sudden gained so much poise that he stood up to the domineering Jewish leaders. He was testifying of Jesus though he did not know His name yet, but just the encounter with Jesus had impacted him greatly. That is the power of Jesus’s encounter, total inward transformation and not psyching yourself into confidence. Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and his mighty power,” Paul is reassuring the church of Ephesis that the best way to be strong is to be strong in the Lord and his mighty power, not your mighty power. This is what this man at the pool was experiencing, after encountering Jesus, and being infected by Jesus wonder working power.

The man who had an encounter with the personified pool of mercy headed to the temple and there he met Jesus and now got to know His name. Just a look at this man, having come to head knowledge of who Jesus was this man went back to the Jewish leaders. He had such audacity that he made his way back to the terrifying Jewish leaders to testify of this name of Jesus. I can envision this man saying, “I can do all things through Christ who infuses my inner strength,” Phillipians 4:13. I bet this is what he would say if he was in the New Testament but the overall prominence of my emphasis is that this man gained such authority by encountering Jesus to an extent of him heading straight to the keepers of the law and officiators to actually tell them about Jesus.

The absolute focus on this sequence from the last post is that Jesus is our confidence, Jesus is our supreme source of confidence, NO, Jesus is our confidence. An encounter with him adds so much poise that you can be able to confidently proclaim of His name. You will have no shame in actually proclaiming His name. Jesus, Our Pool Of Mercy.

Jesus, our pool of mercy…

The Bible is filled with interesting stories of redemption and restoration. True stories that bear testament of the goodness of God and His unfailing favor that transforms even people of the lowest insecurities to become men and woman of outstanding confidence.

One story is of a man at the pool. His story is found in the book of John 5:1-17. I will attempt to recite as vividly as possible this layer of the story and you should try to portrait it in your mind. John 5:3, “Here a great number of disabled people used to lay-the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.” At this pool were such an incredible number of people, the pool called Bethesda, translated from Hebrew linguistic, called the pool of mercy. This is where the Grace of God was on parade. This pool of mercy didn’t deliberate whether or not one had sinned or was still in sin. So long as you strode into it; your health was effortlessly restored.

Read more: Christ the Healer

John 5:2“…which is called in the Hebrew Bethesda, having five porches,” this river had five porches where all these ineffective people sat in order to stride into the pool. Five being a biblical number of Grace, this implying that these people had done nothing to deserve this goodness, unmerited favor indeed. All they had to do was to believe on the ability of the pool to make them whole. They did not have to cleanse themselves or purify themselves first to be made whole by the pool.

All this pool of mercy was just God screening what a great era was imminent. This was a shadow of what Jesus would be to mankind. This pool of mercy would be personified into Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus Himself. Full of Grace. Just as a porch is a place where people put benches and sits, so as to rest and islobby to the main open way, so is Jesus, he gives us rest facing the goodness of God, just as these porches faced this pool of mercy. So as we rest in Jesus, he is the entrance into the pool of God’s favor, mercy and everything good in our lives.

Read more: Messages from the Divine: Wisdom for the Seeker’s Soul

Back to the presentation, John 5:5, “And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.” Let us just visualize this man, just imagine his insecurity because in the next verse when Jesus asked him, “wilt thou be made whole,” he rambled on how he did not have anyone to carry him into the pool, how when he tried to go in, another person went before him. In the previous verse, it mentions how at this pool were even blind people, withered and all helpless people. I am sure his level of insecurity and fear was nothing like any person you could ever know or think about. Are you telling me that this man for thirsty eight years had no relative, friend, neighbor, sibling, parent, next of kin, or pastor that he had in his life to help him get into this pool? Just imagine his loneliness, his seclusion and self-doubt.

Let us shade this with the canvas of our imagination, see him wake up in the morning heading to the pool, and on his way there, bowing his head in shame, seeing people in the nook of his eyes that were in the same condition or even worse. As he elevates his head, he perceives these people with infirmities having a support system, either a friend or relative, and see him crossbow his head down when he comprehends that he will be in the same routine the following day whereby he goes to the pool alone, and goes back home in an unchanged condition, still desolate, still impotent, still abandoned, still insecure and still in captivity.This man was even superseded by even blind men and women.

Year after year, there was someone who was even worse than the situation he was in I am pretty sure, but still, he could not make it into the pool. He would witness men and women who were in an inferior state than he was in, and he was an eye witness of these people being carried by either a friend of relative into the pool and coming out delivered and liberated from pain, infirmity and impotence. I can see this man’s confidence and security deteriorate year after year.

Read more:  Putting Jesus First (Jesus Calling Bible Studies)

Failure and setback was immune to him. Jesus asked him a close ended question which required a simple yes or no, John 5:6, “Do you want to get well?” but his thirty eight years of stagnancy and insecurity compelled him to outline so many reasons of why he wasn’t delivered after that long and I bet a ray of hope shone in his heart as he heard someone take a moment of their time to ask him that question.

I just love the response of Jesus. With such ease and Grace, John 5:8, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk.” He did not say, “How useless! How weak!Are you serious?What a loser!You are not serious!You are playing! He had every right to reprimand and curse this man but how graceful was He. Jesus didn’t consider this man’s action but his heart. His action was for him to get into the pool, but this man, him just being at the porch showed that his heart longed to be helped and healed. His heart longed to find himself in the pool.

porch
Above: A picture of a porch beside the pool.

Today, we do not have to struggle to be healed, to get victory or prosperity. Jesus today is the pool of mercy; He comes to us like he went to this man. All we have to do today is to sit in Grace. Like all the impotent people sat at the five porches. Today this Grace is even greater, we do not have to struggle or look for the wittiest ways to earn God’s goodness like most men had outsmarted the man who was stagnant for thirty eight years.  Today, Jesus comes to us like he did go to the man. He is the pool of mercy personified. He doesn’t need us to be strong or smart to get His favor. Just like the people believed in the ability of the pool to become whole not on their ability or wisdom or goodness for the pool to make them whole. Today we have a superior Pool; He does not need us to be smart or try purifying ourselves to make us whole. He is that perfect pool that wants us to believe in His ability to complete us.

Read more: The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism: Second Edition

This first part was just to show Grace. The story goes on but you will have to see the effect of Grace in my next post. I will be deliberating on the life after the healing which is part 2 of the story of the Jesus, our pool of mercy.

Fruitless? He loves you still..

I come from a very big family tree, and I am pretty sure that all of you as well have a family tree that you belong to. It could not be a biological blood line that you co-exist in and yet you have a conviction and assurance that you have become part of that family tree. I consider myself as a branch in my family tree. A branch is any member or part of a body or system. I have not yet borne the fruits and that is having a child. I have not yet produced the fruits (children) and yet my father(biological) loves me still.
He has not even pressured me to have a baby or even threatened to cut me off or renounce me if I don’t multiply the blood line. My mother goes to as far as lifting me up, encouraging me never to burden myself into rushing; instead she encourages me and buzzes me up. What is my point; I will never be disclaimed by my parents albeit I am not being fertile.
John 15:2, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”Contrary to widespread consensus about this verse being that when one is born again and doesn’t bear fruit, God throws them away. In actual facts, the vine is grown on what is called the trellis. The branches swirl themselves on the trellis. So if the branch does not bear fruit, the vine-dresser lifts the branch back on the trellis so that it finds support with a purpose of helping it to eventually bear fruit.

  • Picture of a grape Trellis

trellis

The phrase, “He taketh away,” is translated from a Greek word “Airo`” which means to lift up. Therefore in context, Jesus implies that if you are a believer and you do not bear fruit, God lifts you up so that you can remain in the vine, Jesus Himself; hence why it is later followed by the verse, John 15:4, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” Jesus is all about lifting us, His branches up.

My main point in this article is that in no ways will you ever be cast away by Jesus. John 6:39, “And this is the will of the God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.” Once you are born again, you will forever be saved. That is the power of Jesus’s saving blood.
I am sure you now understand my reason of commencing with why I would never be cut off from my blood line and my family tree. If my biological father has no power in doing so, why do I even have to contemplate that my all mighty Father will disown me if I do not bear fruit?