Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Four Reasons To Be Bold In 2015

2 Timothy 1:6-7 ,  1 Corinthians 1:1-39
"Keep focus, Don't Give Up, Have a plan, Extend Your Network, Take Risks, Be Positive" and many more of these self-help strategies swamped my mind while preparing to speak to a Christian youth group on the theme "Take A Bold Step Into 2015". I only have to open my Bible and garnish these points with "practical living" biblical texts and I have a ready message to deliver.  But how different would my message be from what they might have heard all year round? I asked myself. In deep thought, I concluded that too much emphasis has been placed on these self-help strategies , especially on pulpits that must be preaching the gospel of Christ and I wasn't going to add to an already pathetic situation. Don't get me wrong. Self-help strategies are in themselves not bad. But when they are given prominence over the gospel, then we must raise eyebrows. The truth is people can be taught all the self-help strategies, attain all the success imaginable and yet be damned to eternal damnation: "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26).

Here are four points gleaned from the message I delivered to my friends in the youth group.

1: You Are Called By God
Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours(1 Corinthians1:1-2).
From Paul's salutation to the church in Corinth, we learn a vital truth: If you are a believer, you are "called by the will of God" (Romans 8:29-30John 1:12-13 ). God, before the foundations of the earth, set you aside as a chosen vessel to reveal His glory (Romans 9:23). Paul was called by the will of God to be an apostle. The believers in the church of Corinth were also called. God's calling is not in relation to any inherent good in us. Our calling is rooted in God's mercy and His grace (Ephesians 2:1-10 ). Like Paul and the Corinthian believers; every believer is called with an assignment to fulfill. We are not on a "self-sent" assignment on earth. Our lives, our breath, our purpose for existence all takes its source from God. "In Him we live, move and have our being"(Acts 17:28). We are all on God's assignment.  He brought us on earth for His purpose, His will, His plan and His agenda. Our life originates and evolves  around God and what He created us for. If there is any truth that will sustain us in 2015, it is that we take our existence from God. We are, because He is: self-existent and all sufficient. We take our sufficiency from Him. We are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10 ) and without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5 ). God Is Our source of Existence.  The Bible opens with the words "In the beginning God..."(Genesis 1:1).Our lives and the whole of the Universe takes its source from God(John 1:3-4) This knowledge and truth will make a lot of difference in your life in 2015.

2. You Have The Holy Spirit: Not A Spirit Of Fear
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Every believer has the seal of the indwelling Holy Spirit and that's enough assurance of security. "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory".(Ephesians 1:13-14).Now  2015 is a new year, we haven't walked this path before, so for some, it will create fear and anxiety. That is normal. Change comes with the unknown. The unknown comes with fear and uncertainty. Everything new always produces a level of anxiety and nervousness. Will I win, will this turn out well? Can I truly do this? Fear is a potent power that can ground and immobilize anyone to try new things. Fear will stop you from entering the place of change God has for you. Fear I believe is “faith in the devil.” From 2 Timothy 1: 7 it is clear fear is a spirit— a spirit not from God. “… God hath not given us the spirit of fear.” If fear is not a spirit from God, then obviously, it originates from Satan. Now, as much as fear is an enemy for change, fear itself is not the problem. The problem is what we do with fear: whether we will allow it to immobilize us or serve as a springboard for greater things. If placed in a right perspective; fear will drive us to our only source of strength— God ( Acts 4:29 ). You can overcome fear— you have the Holy Spirit.

3. 2015: Incomparable To Eternity
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus... as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.(1 Corinthians 1:4-9).
Every born again believer carries a secure eternal promise. The faithfulness of God that called us in His dear Son will sustain us until eternity. That's guaranteed. Nobody can snatch you from the Father's hands(John 10:29 ) and nothing can separate us from the Father's love(Romans 8:35 ). That's security: in this present age and the ages to come. God will take care of you. Nothing can jeopardise the future and security over your life.  The greatest question you must ask yourself however is "Am I one of His"?. Many people sit in church who have no relationship with God through Christ Jesus. They have good Christian upbringing but they are not born again. Some came looking for a solution because they heard Jesus will solve all their problems. Are you called of the Lord? Are you a saint in Christ? Are you you born again? Will your success in 2015 stand the test of time in eternity? Settling your eternal destination is bigger than any achievements in 2015. Ponder that.

4. God's Vessels Are Ordinary People.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being  might boast in the presence of God.(1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
"Foolish, weak, unwise...". These are not befitting words to describe anybody. But that is how God describes those He calls. Now, In an age of abundant success formulas, the world lures us away "from the simplicity in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3). As Christians, we can easily be held "...captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ"(Colossians 2:8). We can easily get trapped in a man centered Christianity where we have to do so much to be blessed by God. We might be tempted to seek a certain level of "spiritual or social status" to court God's favour.  The Bible however tells us "it is not by might, but the Spirit of God. Scripture is littered with "nobodies" whose lives were turned around by God. Every vessel of God is an ordinary vessel. But God is extraordinary and He works in an extraordinary way to bring His purpose to pass in ordinary vessels. If you are a believer, you can be bold in 2015 because you qualify as a vessel of God. God takes unqualified people and qualifies them. John Piper, a minister of the gospel wrote that “when it comes to being a candidate for grace, your background has nothing to do with God’s choice”.  Many of the people God worked through and is working through were not, are not and will never be the obvious choice of society. Why? So that no human will have cause to glory in God’s presence. Be bold, you Ur an ordinary vessel of God.