The Greatest Birth Ever

Born to be king

He is God

But He consented to be born of woman

Born of a virgin lady

He became flesh and blood

Taking on the nature of Man

But as He is the seed of the Holy Spirit

He wouldn’t inherit the sin-nature of man.

His birth was not a happenstance

It was a fulfillment of divine prophecy

Part of Heaven’s grand design

To redeem mankind from depravity.

 

In a time like this, yearly

We celebrate the greatest birth ever

The Son of God

And the Son of man

Born to be the Saviour

Immanuel – God with us

Jesus, King

Wonderful, Counsellor

The everlasting Father

The Mighty God

The Prince of Peace

All hail King Jesus!

 

Merry Christmas everyone


©Copyright 2018|Victor Uyanwanne

 

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Bartimaeus: 9 Inspirational Lessons From A Blind Man

the story of blind Bartimaeus

The unstoppable man

Bartimaeus was blind but he could hear. He didn’t have the sight to see Jesus, but he had the ear to hear that he (Jesus) was passing his way.

At a certain time in His ministry, Jesus and His disciples visited the city of Jericho. And as they left the metropolis, they  were thronged from behind.

In the process, Bartimaeus, a blind roadside beggar who heard that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was passing by began to call out to Him as loud as he could, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

The people around him tried to shut him down. But the more they tried to make him keep quiet, the louder he shouted. He eventually got the attention of Jesus who healed him of his blindness (Matthew 10:46-52).

You cannot read the story of this blind man without being inspired by his persistent attitude. As I looked at the story again, I realised that there are many things we can learn from him.

The story of Bartimaeus was one of a beggarly  blind man, who could hear, who had faith, had courage, had focus, had a voice, who proved to be unstoppable, and who got his desired miracle: restoration of sight when he encountered Jesus Christ.

The event might have happened over two thousand years  ago but there are life lessons from it that we can apply today in our lives today.  And that is why I am writing this post, with the hope that you will pick a lesson or two.

Here is the account of the story of blind Bartimaeus as recorded in the Gospel of Mark:


Mark 10:

46And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging.

47And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

48And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.

49And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.

50And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. ” He began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”

51And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.

52And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.


9 Good lessons you can learn from blind Bartimaeus (and apply in your life right now)


1. Bartimaeus had information that Jesus was passing by

“...When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth…”

As I observed in the introduction, Bartimaeus might have been blind, but he could hear. And he used his hearing sense very well. He had correct and timely information that Jesus was coming around.

Whatever situation you find yourself, you need the right information to bring about the desired change.  For Bartimaeus, all he needed to hear was that Jesus was passing through his territory and he knew what to do with that information…

Do you have timely and accurate information at your disposal? Do you have the kind of information that will positively impart your life? Are you even actively seeking for relevant information that will make you live healthier, happier or even wealthier?

You might be shocked that the change you need right now is in the information you haven’t heard yet. Seek information.

Victorscorner

2. Bartimaeus used the information on Jesus presence to his advantage

“He began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”

It is one thing to have the correct information at your disposal. It is another to use it to your advantage. Bartimaeus got it right on both spheres.

He had the correct information that Jesus was passing by, he capitalised on it to get healed. Even if it meant creating a scene,  he was not bothered.

Based on the information available at his disposal, Bartimaeus cried out and he got helped. He was not the only blind person in Jericho who might have heard that Jesus was passing by. But he did not only hear, he also acted proactively based on what he heard.

I have no doubt that blind Bartimeaus must have heard about Jesus healing the blind, the lame, the deaf and the dumb before. He had to do whatever he had to do to get the attention of Jesus, so that he too could be healed.

Bartimaeus recognised an opportunity and he took it; He knew that it was not enough to have Jesus come around his vicinity.  It was his one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get healed of his blindness. So he called out to Jesus for the help he so badly needed.

What good information do you have at your disposal right now that you are not using? It is not enough to have the right information. You have to make appropriate use of it – to your advantage. Bartimaeus would have remained blind if he had not used the information he had to meet Jesus.

3. Bartimaeus had a revelation of who Jesus is

So Bartimaeus called out to Him, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”

In Matthew 1:1, we have it recorded, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham…” But He is more than that: He is the long-awaited Messiah, the Saviour, the Deliverer.

Blind Bartimaeus did not only recognised Jesus as the Son of David, he also knew that the mercies of God are with Him. Hundreds of years before that time, God had promised David that He would never withdraw His mercies from him.

but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. 2 Samuel 7:15-16

Now Jesus has become the custodian of all grace… And Bartimaeus knew it!

What revelation do you have about Jesus? Is He your Saviour, healer, deliverer, helper, lover, provider, protector, master? The revelation you have about His identity will often determine how you relate with Him, or call out to Him for help like Bartimaeus did.

4. Bartimaeus showed courage in the midst of intimidation

And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Bartimaeus was a very courageous man. Or how else can you explain the fact that he refused to be intimidated into silence by the many people who tried to shout him down?

Strong able-bodied men who had their sense of sight intact wanted to stop this blind man from asking Jesus for help. But, thankfully, he proved to be unstoppable; the more they tried to  silence him, the more he shouted out loud. “Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Think about it, how many times you have abandoned a good project simply because everyone went against you! Learn from this man, and show courage no matter the level of intimidation you may face.

So long as you are on the right path, don’t allow anyone intimidate you into oblivion. Like blind Bartimaeus, shout if you need to!

5. Added to his courage, Bartimaeus showed persistence till he got Jesus’ attention

“And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.”

Bartimeaus persisted in the pursuit of what he wanted. The people wanted to stand in his way, but he went past them. They shouted him down many times, but he refused to be cowed until Jesus got his attention.

At long last, Jesus got to hear Bartimeaus’s call and responded,  “And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise.”

I like that expression, Jesus stood still ! Why? Because of Bartimaeus’s importunity. An interesting twist to the story is that the same people who were trying to shout Bartimaeus down were the same people who were now telling him, “cheer up, Jesus is calling you.”

Don’t you think Jesus would have moved on without stopping if this man had not persisted in calling out to Him for help? You see, persistence pays! So you have to keep doing the right thing until you get the result you desire.

For instance, when you pray once and you do not see any visible result, what will you do? Quit? No – pray again, until your change comes.

6. Bartimaeus had to shed ‘excess weight’ to move closer to his goal

And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.”

What is that excess weight that may hinder you from reaching your goal faster? For Bartimaeus, it was his garment. I don’t know how heavy it was for him to carry but the fact that he had to cast it aside to answer Jesus’s call meant that it was obstructing his free movement.

Mind you, a garment was a necessity for Bartimaeus. But at that time it was coming between him and his quest to receive his sight back, so it had to be dropped.

What is that ‘important’ thing that is holding you down? What necessity are you carrying right now that is slowing your pace of progress? It is time to cast it aside in order to move faster and closer to your goal.

7.  Bartimaeus knew exactly what he wanted. 

“And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.”

Why was Bartimaeus calling out to Jesus? He knew what he wanted!

Why did he refuse to keep quiet when the people told him to shut up?  He knew what he wanted!

Why did he run as fast as he could to meet Jesus once He invited him on?  He knew what he wanted!

It is not that Jesus didn’t see that Bartimaeus was blind. He wanted to afford him the privilege of making a specific request, and having it granted to him. So Jesus asked, what do you want me to do for you? Our man who already knew exactly what he wanted, replied, “that I may see Lord.”

Do you know exactly what you want in life? If you have been praying, are your requests clear and specific? It is high time you did some personal reevaluation in that regard.

If you don’t know what you want, find out. As someone I know used to say, “If you don’t define, you won’t find.”

Blind Bartimaeus

8. Bartimaeus had faith to be healed

“And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. “

We see in Bartimaeus, a man of courage, a man that knew what he wanted, a fearless man. An unstoppable person. A man with with a voice. All well and good.

But in addition to all that, Jesus himself lets us know that Bartimaeus was also a man of faith. He had the faith that Jesus could make him receive his sight back and it worked!

“And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.”

Faith without works is dead. Bartimaeus’s faith was not dead. It was active, vocal, proactive and well-directed. And it produced result – restoration of sight.

Faith, that’s what it takes to please God. That’s what guarantees that you will have what you asked for.

Whenever you come to God, never forget to apply your faith. It is what will make you whole!

9. Bartimaeus became a follower of Jesus at once

“And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.”

You might say that Bartimeaus’s decision to follow Jesus once he got his sight back was a natural response just like some other people who began to follow Jesus after He healed them. But he was not forced; it was a personal decision he made.

If you check the Gospels, you will see that there were people who were healed by Jesus but never bothered to follow Him.  There were also healed people who offered to follow Jesus immediately, but He didn’t oblige them.

For Bartimaeus, everything seemed to be going for Him. Although Jesus had told him, “Go your way,” he still stayed with Jesus and Jesus allowed him.

“…”Immediately, he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.” We were not told how long he followed Jesus. But he followed him all the same!

When you are blessed, you should not run away from God. If the blessing of God upon your life –  be it healing, prosperity, deliverance, or whatever else God does for you – drives you away from God, it means you have handled the blessing wrongly. God does things for us to win us to His side and not to lose us.

***

What other lessons can we learn from the story of blind Bartimaeus?


©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

On Forgiveness

Revenge

1. God has forgiven your offences. He expects you to forgive other people too.

2. Unforgiveness is a big weight. Free yourself from it or else you may get crushed under it.

3. Happiness and unforgiveness don’t mix. Between the two, you have the power to choose the one you prefer.

4. You have the capacity to forgive anyone who offends you. No need pretending otherwise.

5. Forgive yourself. If you cannot forgive yourself hardly can you forgive others.

6. No matter what anyone has done against you, find a reason to forgive.

7. Forgiveness is a gift. You can give it even when someone doesn’t deserve it.

8. In the long run, forgiveness is sweeter than revenge.


Any comment?


©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

5 Good Ways Being Grateful For Your Salvation Will Impact Your Life

Everyone alive has something he or she should be grateful for. From the mundane to the sublime, there is always a reason to be thankful.

As followers of Jesus Christ, let’s relate that to our attitude towards the free gift of salvation we received from Above.

Many of us would say that our salvation is what we are most grateful for in this life. And that’s a great thing!

Jesus Himself taught that our greatest joy should be that our names are written in Heaven (See Luke 10:20). So it is well in order to feel immensely grateful to God for our salvation and also allow that joyful attitude to reflect in our daily living.

But do we really live our lives daily in a way that demonstrates that we truly appreciate our salvation? Are we as joyful as we should be?

Probably not! That’s why I am writing this post, because I’m convinced some of us are falling behind expectation in that regard.

Sometimes we are immensely grateful we are saved. Some other times we don’t even seem to remember we are saved. So we go about our lives not reflecting the attitude of gratitude both before God and our fellow man or woman.

It is my believe that if we are constantly thankful to God for the free gift of salvation we received in Christ, it will positively impact on the way we respond to God and the way we treat other people.

In this post, I will highlight five ways being grateful for your salvation will impact your life positively.

5 ways you will be positively impacted if you constantly feel grateful for your salvation

1. You will find it easier to live a life of gratitude, irrespective of your estate in life.

You have the capacity for gratitude that does not depend on your external circumstances. But the question is, “Are you using it towards God and your fellow humans?”

The Bible tells us that “In all things, we should give thanks to God.” That’s a way of saying you should always maintain a heart of gratitude.

I am not saying it will be easy to do. But it is something that can be done, even when life doesn’t go the way you want it.

As someone pointed out, “It is not everything that happens that is the will of God. But it is the will of God that you should give thanks to God no matter what happens.”

Being grateful for our salvation

2. You will live to please God rather than yourself or anyone else.

When you appreciate your salvation as something you could never achieve by your best efforts, but which God delivered to you undeservedly, it becomes imperative that you focus on pleasing the One Who got you saved in the first place.

God paid the highest price for your salvation so He deserves to get your highest love, greatest pleasure and deepest loyalty.

Before you were saved, you were living for yourself and for the devil.

Once you have been saved, you should begin to live your life to the glory of God. Always being grateful for your salvation will help you in that regard.

3. You will love other people more

When you love God with all your heart, loving other people becomes a less difficult challenge.

At salvation, you received the love of God in your heart. This love that has been shared abroad in your heart is what enables you to love other people, whether they are lovely or unlovely.

If you don’t value your salvation, you will underestimate the need to love other people with the same love God has loved you with.

4. You will not live a hopeless life

Hopelessness is a consequence of not having any expectation for a future good. But in Christ, you are guaranteed of a good future.

God has promised to bring you to an expected end. A glorious one!

Our salvation is not an end in itself. It is the restoration of our relationship with God here on earth and it points us to a more glorious future.

As a saved person you have hope in this world and in the world to come. You will not lose sight of that if you are someone that always appreciates your salvation.

Apostle Paul argues that, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” 1 Corrinthians 15:19.

Because of your salvation in Christ, you have been born into a living hope that extends beyond this world into a glorious eternity.

5. Your faith will be strengthened

Ingratitude will drain your strength! But gratitude will empower you.

The greatest thing God did for mankind is sending Jesus to die for the salvation of the world. This singular act coupled with your positive response to it by faith is what afforded you the benefit/hope of eternal salvation.

If you appreciate this on a personal level, it will strengthen your faith in God and in the belief in His willingness to answer your prayers.

Just like Apostle Paul, you will reason that , “He [God] who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32, NASB


In what other ways do you feel being grateful for your salvation in Christ will positively impact your life?


©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

What Are You Grateful For?

There is a saying in Nigeria that if you look carefully within or around you, you will definitely find something to be thankful for.

In other words, everyone has one reason or another to feel some sense of gratitude.

Look within you or around you.  Look back over the course of your life… l believe you should find some reasons to be grateful.

I dare say that it would not be correct for you to say there is nothing about you to be grateful for. So please don’t even go there…

Recently on my Facebook page, I asked this simple question:

Victor Uyanwanne asks a question on gratitude

The responses I received to that question are what I present to you in this post, with the hope that you too will join in the conservation aimed at identifying the things you are most grateful for in your life.

Interestingly, I didn’t have this post in mind when I asked that question. But as I examined the feedback I received, I began to feel the need to use them as basis to write this post.

The following points are the feedback I received from 4 respondents as the things they are grateful for:

1. My salvation. My parents for being there in my formative years. And many other things;

2. For God’s elaborate salvation plan that included me.

3. My salvation, and other priceless gifts too numerous to mention!

4. The legacy bequeathed me by my dad and mom.

All the responses came from very mature people (all of them over 50 years of age each). I would take that to mean that they know what they were talking about.

From the responses of these friends on Facebook, I was able to see that there are majorly two things they are grateful for:

1. For the salvation they have;

2. For the roles their parents played in their lives.

If necessary, I will explore this two reasons in subsequent blog posts. But here, let us just continue the conversation by having you identify what you are grateful for in life.


See also: What is your greatest joy in life?


Are you ready? Let me set the ball rolling.

Just like the above respondents, I am grateful to God for the salvation of my soul. But I’m more grateful that it happened early enough in life for me.

I gave my heart to God before my fourtheenth birthday. This has helped me in so many ways…

It helped me to form my values based on the word of God, shapened and steered my character – as a teenager then – in the right directions.

With my heart already dedicated to God, I found it easier to overcome peer pressure and other teenage vices that would have certainly led me in the wrong direction in life – away from God.

The core values that were instilled in me at that stage of life, have continually proved very useful in my adult life. For that I’m very grateful.

Let me not make this post about me only. It should be about all of us. So permit me to ask you the same question:

Looking back over your life these past years, what are the things you are most grateful for?

Kindly provide your answer in the comment section and thank you in advance for participating.


©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

Adultery Will Cost You!

Fidelity in marriage

Marriage is a special institution established by God for His glory and for the enjoyment of mankind. And we are expected to treat the institution honourably.

Unfortunately, many people have been dishonouring their marriages by not protecting the sanctity of the marital unions as necessary.

Part of the requirements for safeguarding the sanctity of marriage is marital fidelity.

I do not mean to suggest that fidelity in marriage guarantees that a marriage will be happy and successful. But I can state categorically that marital infidelity is a sure way to destroy a marriage or make it fail.

It is required that in marriage, spouses should be faithful to their partners with their bodies. But what do we see sometimes amongst married people?

Adultery – willful sexual relationship with someone else other than your spouse!

Adultery is a grievous sin first before God and then before your marriage partner. Yet, some people engage in it without caring about the consequences.

Beyond the seeming pleasure derived from adultery, alot of pain is caused by it.

Anyone who commits adultery is playing with fire, and should not be surprised if the fire consumes him or her.

Here is a question from someone who seriously contemplated the danger of adultery:

Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Proverbs 6:27

The answer is no! You cannot put the fire of adultery on your lap and expect not to get hurt!

Marital infidelity

Here are additional warning against adultery from the book of Proverbs (NLT):

26 For a prostitute will bring you to poverty, but sleeping with another man’s wife will cost you your life

28 Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet? 29 So it is with the man who sleeps with another man’s wife. He who embraces her will not go unpunished…

32 But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself (Emphasis mine).

As a follower of God, you will have known from the Bible that adultery is a serious sin, with eternal implications…

But beyond that, no one will deny that adultery has terrible consequences to the perpetrators and to the people along their paths.

Adultery damages nearly every relationship around it, including the extended family. Forgetting the goodness and mercy of God by giving in to immediate impulse and physical passion brings self-inflicted consequences to the body and soul… Ross Rhoads, Adultery – A Heartbreaking Sin

The following consequences might result from adultery:

  • Loss of reputation
  • Fear of being caught
  • Emotional pains
  • Divorce
  • Financial liability
  • Death
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases
  • Unwanted pregnancy/Child
  • Distrust
  • Guilt
  • Loss of job, etc.

Talking about loss of job, that was what happened recently to a university professor in Nigeria. He was dismissed by his employers over a confirmed allegation of sexual misconduct.

Earlier in the year, a recorded conversation between the professor in question and one of his female students went viral in the social media circle in the country.

On that leaked audio, the randy professor was caught on tape soliciting sex from the post-graduate student in exchange for pass marks.

Following the public outcry over the sex-for-mark scandal, the school authority launched an investigation into the allegation.

The preliminary investigation found the professor guilty of the allegation, prima facie, and this led to the accused professor being suspended. However, the professor was later sacked upon the conclusion of necessary investigations.

One reputable media source reported that the Professor “was found to be liable for all allegations of [sexual] misconduct levelled against him… This led to the dismissal of the academic from the services of the university, to serve as a deterrent to others.”

The guilty-as-charged professor was dismissed “to serve as a deterrent to others.”

The need for strict safeguards

That’s one of the reasons I’m writing this post as well. If you realise the inherent danger in committing adultery, you will guard against it.

As David Boehi noted in an article on adultery published on Family Life website, “…All of us [should] realize the need to set up strict safeguards to ensure that we are faithful in our marriage commitment[s]. If I am convinced of what adultery would do to me and to my family, I will watch my wandering eyes, guard my thought life, and avoid any situations that could put me in harm’s way.”

Here is my final advice: Think twice before you commit adultery because it will cost you!


What’s your perspective on the consequences of adultery?

©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

On Truth And What You Believe

Belief and morality

One of the eternal words that Jesus ever uttered includes this one: And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).

Knowing the truth is the way to true freedom. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

But first, here is the question:

What is the truth?

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” John 14:6.

There goes another audacious claim of Jesus’:

  • He is the Way;
  • He is the Truth;
  • He is the Life.

With all these assertions, was Jesus just posturing or He is who He claims to be? I choose to believe the latter.

Therefore:

  • As Jesus is the Way, if you are following anyone other than Jesus alone, you are on the wrong path;
  • As Jesus is the Truth, if you have not believed Jesus as the full revelation of God’s truth to mankind, you have believed wrongly;
  • As Jesus is the Life, you will not have eternal life except you receive the life that only Jesus offers.

I know these are the kinds of statements that make some people mad. But Jesus did not offer any apologies when He made those audacious claims, neither would I.

a) Jesus is the Truth

First and foremost, truth is a person; Jesus is the Truth and He is unchanging…

So He can be trusted. You accept the truth to your eternal benefits and you reject it to your eternal peril.

There can be no meaningful “commitment to the authority of God” without a firm personal acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Truth.

b) The word of God is truth.

Jesus is the Word and the Word is truth, absolute truth. So the question of relative truth doesn’t apply…

All contemplations of truth must be hinged on God (through Jesus) and on His Word. You rise or fall to the truth you receive or reject.

That brings us to the question of morality.

The Standard for our morality

The word of God is truth. Therefore, more than anything else, the word of God must be the standard for our lives and the basis of our morality.

More than anything else, our morality should be based on what God thinks. Everything else is sinking sand…

But the choice is ours whether to base our morality on God’s thinking or not.

Our world today gives us three options for how to discover truth: We can choose to base our morality on what we think, on what other people think, or on what God thinks. We really have no other options. Our choice will dictate how we live, how we love, and, someday, how we die. But it’s our choice. What will you choose? – Rick Warren, in the devotional article, “You can know the truth by looking at God.”

The best foundation for our morality should be on God’s truth. Atheists may think otherwise, but I reckon that any question on morality cannot but have God in the picture.

Without God, the source of truth, there can be no a proper sense of right or wrong.

Any philosophy of life not backed by the word of God, irrespective of whoever might have propounded it, cannot be the truth.

The absolute truth as we should know it is the word of God only; whether in part or as a whole, the word of God is truth. I didn’t say so, Jesus did.

Jesus once prayed for His disciples, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17, emphasis mine).

Yes, the word of God is truth!

But there is a tragedy

Instead of choosing to knowing and living by the truth of God’s word, many people today have chosen to embrace some philosophies that are now destroying the moral fabric of the society.

Many people now believe what they want to believe. And feel they can live their lives how they want it, with or little considerations for the issues of morality.

Writing along that line in a recent devotional article, author of the best-seller The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren, reminds us that What You Believe Shapes Your Life.

As he puts it, “What you believe determines your behavior. Your behavior then determines what you become, and that has a direct effect on the direction of your life.”

So you see why the behaviour of the world is going haywire? They have rejected the truth, living a lie and heading in godless directions.

If you think godless thoughts, you will believe godless things and make godless choices!

Knowing Jesus and accepting God’s word as the truth will help shapen correctly what you believe and how you live.


©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

How Do You Define Victory?

Surrender

In the Christian life, victory could be defined as living each day with Jesus Christ at the center of everything. We commonly refer to this as “surrender”, which is ironic.

In the world to surrender means you lose, but when you surrender everything to Jesus Christ you experience the ultimate victory. You experience God’s plan for your life in place of your own plans.

The amazing part of this experience is not knowing what lies ahead… sure this can be scary at times. But I try to turn that fear into excitement knowing that God always has the better plan.

When I look back at the past 46 years of my life, when I was in control, things didn’t go very well… In fact, I nearly destroyed everything.

At the center of it all, was my pride, believing everything was about ME ME ME. At the end of that road, what a waste!

Praise be to God, Jesus Christ intervened and Saved my life.

Consider King Solomon, the wisest man to ever walk the Earth, aside from Jesus Christ. He had all the money and power any man could ever want, he chased after all the things the world would provide, and indulged in all the pleasures. Yet at the end… this is how he felt…

Ecclesiastes 2
11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.

17 So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.

Do you ever feel like your “striving for the wind”?

I know for many years I felt this same way. The hard truth, which sometimes I do not like to hear, is that we need to stop being selfish and realize there is something bigger out there, a higher purpose, a grander plan.

The good news is that as Christians we are part of that plan, the bad news is that few of us live a life that reflects that truth.

Please do not misunderstand me, fully surrendering to Christ is something I work on every day, not something I have “achieved”.

Think of this process like climbing a Mountain, in that we should continue striving towards that highest peak… to be “Christ-like”.

Much like a Mountain there is safety in numbers when making that ascent (fellowship) and you ALWAYS want to stay anchored along the way (the Word). If one of your brothers or sisters loses their footing, you are there to catch them and bring them safely back.

Photo by Frantisek Duris on Unsplash

What does it mean to fully surrender?, you may be asking.

I delved extensively into this topic in another post, What does it mean to surrender?. But for the sake of this article, to fully surrender means you let go and let God.

Stop trying to force your limitations on life… and spend time with the Lord daily so you can hear clearly what He is trying to tell you.

There are many days when I feel like I have given my all to God, and those days are the GREATEST days… a taste of victory that I can have every day if I choose.

However there are also days when I turn from God and go after things that I want and desire… without exception I always tend to regret those days.

Then I ask myself, why can’t I get this right? Why do I keep screwing up? WHY?!

You want to know what I discovered?

Those days that I regret are the days I chose to love something else in my life, more than I love God. Usually it is myself but it could also be something else. Only when I learn to love God EVERY day will I achieve this surrender I seek.

Would you like to share how you have surrendered or in what ways you try to surrender in your life? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

Stay Strong & Stand Tall

Keith Mosher

Keith - Stand tall for Christ

Stand Tall For Christ

www.standtallforchrist.com

(P.S. If you follow my blog today and like the following post, you could win a very nice leather bound Bible, a Celebrate Recovery Devotional and more. Click Here for more information.)

Being A Loving Leader Doesn’t Mean You Shouldn’t Hold Your Team Accountable

Holding your team accountable

If you are leading anything of significance then you will regularly run into many uncertainties, obstacles, and failures. And it is the way you deal with these situations, how you handle things going wrong, that truly defines your leadership.”

Those were the words of Paul Hughes in the post, “Your leadership is defined by how you handle things going wrong.”

Paul is someone who believes that leadership should be founded on love.

According to him, “When a culture has its foundation in love, then it is safe to fail. People start to come out of their comfort zones because they know that even if they make a mistake they are still going to be valued. Instead of being blamed, they know they will be supported and assisted to grow.”

What that means in a way is that a leader who loves his or her team will not take pleasure in dishing out blames to the team if failure occurs along the line; neither will he or she be judgemental.

Rather the leader focuses “…on discovering and truly understanding the cause of the failure, while at the same time being attuned to the feelings of the people involved.”

Paul calls that the Empathetic Discovery Approach. The principle requires that in any situation of failure, you the leader should build shared understanding of the root-cause of the problem through exploration conversations without demoralising any member of your team.

If you jump into conclusions without this empathetic exploration, you are more likely to get your team feeling hurt and getting blamed. And as you know, no one enjoys being blamed all the time.

I agreed with that position when I read it in the original post. But I was also left with the following questions:

Does this approach (of focusing on the root-cause of failure and having respect for the team members’ feelings) preclude a leader from holding people accountable for their actions?

Or is this another way of saying, “Ask what went wrong, not who was wrong?”

Leadership and accountability
Paul Hughes-LoveYourTeam

Here was Paul’s response to that question. (I have his permission to reproduce it here):

This approach doesn’t preclude a leader from holding people accountable for their actions. In fact, it is the opposite.

If you don’t hold people accountable then you aren’t really being a loving leader.

To give an analogy of how the approach I’m describing fits in with accountability, imagine the situation when someone is speeding in their car and a police officer pulls them over.

There is a consequence for exceeding the speed limit, which is getting fined. It is the police officer’s duty to issue that fine.

But the police officer has a decision to make about how they are going to perceive the speeding driver.

One approach is to make an assumption that the driver doesn’t care about the road laws, and then to look down on the driver for this lack of care.

Another approach is to hold back from jumping to conclusions or forming a judgement.

I guarantee that the driver will know the difference, even if the police officer did not say anything. They would sense in a lot of subtle ways whether the officer was holding that judgement or not.

Now, the officer could just issue the fine and walk away. And there is nothing wrong with that.

But think about the possibilities of approaching the situation from a standpoint of unconditional love.

The police officer might want to do the best they can to help make the chance of speeding lower in future, to protect people from preventable accidents. In his case, the loving officer would be navigating the table in my article.

The system first. What if it turns out that the speed signs had fallen down and it was impossible for drivers to know the speed limit.

If this turned out to be the case, the officer would want to arrange for the signs to be fixed to help all drivers.

But let’s say the speed signs were fine. What caused the driver to be speeding?

May be they were stressed out with many different things, and weren’t concentrating while driving.

The loving officer could listen and empathise with this, while at the same time still giving the person the fine. And who knows, maybe just taking the time to listen and to offer an encouraging word letting the person know there is hope amidst their many problems, ends up being a moment that really changes that person.

And then maybe that person is able to sort out some challenges they have that help them in many ways, only one of which is not getting distracted while driving and causing them to speed.

How much better of an outcome is this than just the person stopping speeding out of fear that they’ll get another ticket?

Or let’s say it turns out that the driver really doesn’t care and is disrespectful to the officer. At that point the officer obviously still gives them the fine, which is the consequence of their behaviour. But the officer still has a choice whether to love the person.

The unloving path is to hold the innate worth of the person lower because of the attitude they expressed. Following that path, what is the chance of this interaction actually helping that person?

It’s most likely going to re-enforce the poor attitude they have.

But on the other hand, what if the officer was loving? In this case they would not diminish the worth of the person. They would feel sorry for person, knowing the expressed attitude will lead to pain for them and others.

They would look the person in the eye, and out of genuine love say something like, “I really don’t want to see you get hurt or others get hurt. I need to give you this fine today because you have broken the law and done something dangerous. But I truly hope you value yourself as much as I value you, and stop speeding”.

Now the person may snarl and dismiss the comment. But you never know what kind of seed that moment of genuine unconditional love will plant.

The authenticity of that interaction could play some small part in really helping that person change. And even if that is only the remotest of possibilities, then it is worth it.

Screenshot_20180606-015213~2

What do you think?

©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

Don’t Use God As An Excuse For Laziness

Ministers and secular jobs

There is an error that is gradually becoming endemic in our days.

I have seen young energetic men become lazy, laid-back, lethargic and beggarly all in the guise of pursuing God or working for God (Ministry).

Those that are married lean on their wives’ income as sole income and not complementary income to support what they bring.

The ones that are not married seek ladies with steady flow of income to hook up to thereby abusing God’s order.

Some others want their wives to stop working and take care of their children without showing them practically how they intend to provide for their homes.

This laziness has led many preachers to sell their soul by engaging in many unspeakable things to make endsmeet. They are deluded by a voice supposedly from God telling them not to work.

My concern is simple; if God tells you not to work, be sure God’s provision will always be ahead of your needs.

Paul in his missionary journey worked with his hands when there was no provision. And where there was provision, he devoted the entire time in preaching the word of God.

My heart reaches out to women that are saddled with so much burden to ensure their family have the basic needs (food, shelter, clothing and basic-education).

With all these burden, many ‘MOGs’ [Men Of God] expect their wives to perform their nuptial duties at night as and when due. Failure to do so due to fatigue has been used as an excuse for extra-marital affairs.

Let us grow up and revert to the divine order where husbands provide for their homes and wives support.

Full-time ministry is to do the work of God fully with your heart, might and strength and that is also the first commandment. This is God’s minimum requirement for all Believers.

It doesn’t hinder any Man of God from working with their hands pending when their congregation is financially solvent enough to accommodate their financial burdens.

Get this fact straight, dust your certificate, get a skill and start working.

Your heart is with God even at work. Become productive, unburden your wives and lean solely on God.

Shalom!

Jude Agbontaen


Jude recently posted this article on his Facebook page. I obtained his permission to share it with you here on this blog.

You may follow Jude directly via his Facebook handle for more insightful posts.


Question: Should young gospel ministers do other jobs to earn a living? What is your view?

A Man of God Should Bear Good Fruits

The imperatives of bearing good fruit

A man of God will bear good fruits. He is not a man of God if he doesn’t!

In my Nigeria where I live, just like in many places around the world, I have realised that many people are quick to be called “men of God.” But the question is, “are all of them truly men of God?”

What I have also come to realise is that some of those so-called men of God hardly live up to that identity.

I am not saying this because I am judging them. But rather because, it can be seen that many of them are not conducting themselves in ways that bring glory to God.

If someone is a man of God, he should not say and do things that are attributes of men of satan.

How can you be a man of God and your lifestyle has no regard for the word of God?

  • A man of God should conduct himself in obedience to God.
  • A man called of God should seek to please God more than men.
  • A man of God should bear fruits that bring glory to God.

Otherwise, it gives room for avoidable doubts.

The sad truth is that many people who claim to be men of God are really not what they claim. And from such people, we should be wary.

Remember the warning Jesus handed us in Matthew chapter 7:

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.

Beware of fake men of God.

The above advice is as relevant today it was when it was given over two thousand years ago. It will be to your own peril to neglect it.

Many people who claim to be prophets are ravenous wolves in sheep clothing. But as Jesus hinted us, “we [will] know them by their fruits.”

A man of God will bear good fruits. He is not a man of God if he consistently bears bad fruits.

One source quoted the late American evangelist, Billy Graham to have said:

“A Man of God is one who depends on the Grace of God, preaches the Word of God, stays in the Will of God, fulfils the Purposes of God, respects the Servants of God, edifies the Family of God, is filled with the Spirit of God, devotes himself to the Ministry of God, loves the Word of God, and lives for the Kingdom of God!”

What’s your own idea of a man of God?

 

©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

Pornography: Setting Up Defences In Our Daily Lives And Taking Them Seriously

You are not alone!

Addiction to pornography is a real issue in the world, even amongst some Christians. So if you are one of those fighting the battle against this unwholesome habit, know that you are not alone in the struggle.

But do not lose sight of the fact there is a way out for you. I mean, do not give up on yourself, thinking you have lost the battle already.

No, you haven’t!

The good news is that you can be helped – just like some people have been helped and have overcome the addiction to pornography.

dangers of pornography viewing

The rest of this post is a contribution from one of my readers. In response to my post On Billy Graham’s famed scandal-free life, the author openly shares his struggles with lust and pornography as well as the ways to gain victory over them.

And because I didn’t want the gems in the contribution to be buried away or lost all-together in the comment section of my blog where it was first posted, I have obtained the commenter’s permission to share the full text of the comment here so that many more of my readers can benefit from it.

I have inserted appropriate headings to make navigation of the article easier. I believe you will benefit from reading it.


Hello Victor,

Yes, pornography and lust have been my greatest of struggles. I wish I could say one day Jesus delivered me from those desires but to this day I have to remain on guard at all times.

For your readers I would start with how harmful pornography is, as many people think it is just a normal part of daily life, and countless Christians regularly view it…

Gaining the victory

Victory (which I am hesitant to call it) comes from three things.

First you have to HEAL the wounds of your past that drive you to watch pornography (or any other sin). This healing came to me through Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12 step Program.

What drives sinful behaviours?

Our sinful behaviour is driven by SOMETHING and often times the source lies in our past. When we can learn to truly heal those wounds, we can begin to be free of the bondage.

How do we heal those wounds?

[Through] Forgiveness!

[Realise that God has forgiven us and we should accept that forgiveness. We should also forgive ourselves and others who have offended us.

Recommended: 6 Simple Reasons to Forgive Offences]

Second, we have to set up defences in our daily lives and take this seriously.

The enemy is roaming about like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. The enemy wants to kill us and everything we have worked towards the kingdom of God… So we NEED defences.

Keith - Stand tall for Christ
Keith Mosher – standtallforchrist.com

What are the defences we need against pornography?

1) Accountability partners. We need to have a team (2-3) of trusted people of the same sex we can speak to about our most intimate sinful thoughts. People that won’t judge us and will support us by holding us accountable.

These people should be fellow Christians and it helps if they struggle in the same areas… or better yet have victory in your area of struggle. YOUR spouse should never be on this team… they are usually the victims of our stupid behaviour.

2) Accountability software. Personally I use Covenant Eyes, which sends a weekly report of all my computer and device activity to my accountability team. It’s only $15/month… but is invaluable. There are a bunch of others out there as well.

3) Identify your triggers and defend against them. TAKE Extreme measures if necessary, this is your marriage, your family, your ministry even your life that is on the line!!

For six months I pulled the TV off the wall, and read more books, because there were too many triggers on TV of sexual imagery and I could never predict when they would show up.

I quit ALL social media and still haven’t gone back to any of them. I gave up my smart phone for over a year and bought a flip-phone with no pornography access.

The last thing I will mention, not last in importance, but FIRST… is we need to spend quality time with GOD every day… not as a to-do-list or a good christian checklist. But because God wants a relationship with us, and how do we have a relationship with anyone we never spend time with?

It is Jesus Christ alone that will eventually demolish any strongholds of sin in our lives… but we have to do our part and turn away from our sinful desires.

I am always available for support and questions if any of your readers need help overcoming pornography or lust in their lives. We are in this together, we need to stand shoulder to shoulder on this battlefield.

Stay Strong & Stand Tall.

Keith


Thank you so much Keith for this awesome contribution.

Dear reader, please feel free to make your own contribution to the discourse via the comment section. And if you have any questions, Keith – “a Christian writer and Apologist who spends his time defending the faith, encouraging other Christian believers and serving in his local church” – has offered to provide answers.

Feel free to download his new ebook Shattering the chains of sexual addition. You may also visit his blog, Stand Tall For Christ, for more helpful resources.

©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

Introducing all the Marys in the Bible

How many Mary's are in the Bible?

The name Mary we understand is a modern form of the Jewish female name, Miriam (the other variants being Maria, Mariam, Maryam). For instance, in the Old Testament, Moses’ elder sister was called Miriam.

In the New Testament, there were several important women called Mary that were specifically mentioned, especially in the various Gospels.

There was a time I couldn’t perfectly distinguish from amongst all the Marys. But once I was able to clear the confusion, it became easier for me to do so.

Hence this post highlights some things I learnt about the women called Mary in the N.T. One striking discovery was that all these Marys where one way or another associated with Jesus Christ and/or His Disciples.

The 7 Women Called Mary in the Bible

Bible scholars have been able to identify that there are seven Marys in the Bible. In this post, we will take a close look at all the people called Mary as the Bible tells us with a view to understanding them better:

In no particular order, we will now begin the journey…

1. Mary the wife of Joseph, Matthew 1:24

This Mary was the one who found favour with God (Luke 1:30).

She was the virgin through whom Jesus was born; Matthew 1:23: the mother of Jesus.

She was the wife of Joseph, the ‘earthly’ father of Jesus;

She was also the mother of Jesus’ step brothers – James, Joses, Juda, Simon – and sisters. You know that Mary gave birth to other people apart from Jesus!

She was one of the four women that stood close to Jesus while on the Cross. The rest were her sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas and Mary Magdalene.

2. Mary Magdalene

This Mary was from Magdala, from which Magdalene was coined in reference to her home town;

Jesus cast out seven spirits and infirmities from her, Luke 8:2. She later became one of the prominent women who ministered to Jesus.

This was one of the four women that stood close to Jesus while on the Cross. The rest were Jesus mother, Jesus aunty (his mother’s sister) and Mary the wife of Cleopas.

She was also the woman, first disciple and first person to see Jesus Christ after resurrection. Hence, she was the first to bear the testimony of the resurrection to the rest of the disciples (John 20:13-18).

3. Mary from Bethany

This was the sister to Lazarus (whom Jesus raised from the dead) and Martha;

She was one of the 3 woman recorded to have anointed Jesus with oil and wiped His feet with her hair woman John 11:1-2, 12:1-8.

This Mary was from Bethany. During an outreach Jesus had to that village, Martha, this Mary’s sister invited and hosted Jesus in their home.

This was the same Mary Jesus commended for choosing to listening to the Word while Martha was busy in the kitchen (Luke 10:38-42).

4. Mary the mother of James and Joses/Joseph

Two James easily come to mind in the N. T. One was the step brother of Jesus while the second one was the son of this Mary in focus. Matt 27:56.

This Mary was mother of two disciples of Jesus. Both James and Joses also known as Joseph were disciples of Jesus Christ.

This Mary was part of the women that ministered to Jesus, and even followed Him to the cross; Matthew 27:55-56.

This Mary sat on his grave after Jesus was crucified

5. Mary the mother of John Mark

This woman was a widow in Jerusalem, and she owned property in that place.

She was the mother of John Mark, Acts 12:12.

She made her house available for the disciples to gather for prayers, once the persecution escalated; Acts 12:11-17.

James had been kill by King Herod and Peter imprisoned. So the remaining disciples were hiding (or fellowshipping secretly) in this Mary’s house;

Peter after being supernaturally freed from prison made straight to show himself to James and the other disciplines who were gathered in this Mary’s home. From here, he left town and went to other places to continue ministering.

This Mary was also the sister of Barnabas, the one who sold his landed property and laid the proceeds at the Apostle’s feet (Acts 4:37).

Paul in his letter to the Colosians (4:10) exposed the relationship amongst Mary, Mark and Barnabas when he identified Mark or Marcus (John Mark) as the cousin of Barnabas, that is the son of the sister of Barnabas.

6. Mary, the wife of Cleopas

John 19:25

This was one of the four women that stood close to Jesus while on the Cross. The rest were Jesus mother, Jesus aunty (his mother’s sister) and Mary Magdalene.

7. Mary of Rome

Not much record was kept about the character of this Mary. However, the writer of the epistle to the Romans gave special recognition to this woman.

She was greeted and mentioned as the one who laboured greatly for the Apostles. At this point, Paul had joined the believers and had obviously benefited from the labour of love of this Mary. Hence, a special mention was made of her in his letter to the Romans.

This post took a look at the women called Mary in the Bible, with the hope that we can learn one or two things from each of them. What are your thoughts about them?

©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

On Billy Graham’s scandal-free life and what we can learn from it.

Keeping the faith

In a previous post about Billy Graham, I came to the conclusion that “Just like Apostle Paul, we could say of him “Graham fought the good fight, Graham finished the race, Graham kept the faith.”

It was also pointed out in that article that most people that know him acknowledge that Graham was a man of great character and integrity, who stayed true to his divine calling of evangelism throughout his active life in ministry.

Unlike many preachers of his day and in modern times, it is widely acknowledged that despite his tremendous success in ministry, Billy Graham led a scandal-free life.

I’m not saying he was a perfect man. But he was a light in the midst of darkness. A mentor to many leaders and an example to his followers.

If you are like me, then you must have wondered how he was able to achieve so much success and fame in life and ministry without being tainted with the popular character pitfalls that bedeviled some preachers of the gospel in his time.

You can say it was a miracle and you are probably right. But apart from that, one thing we cannot disprove is that this highly respected preacher took personal responsibility for his character and integrity. And by the grace of God, he held out strong till he breadth his last.

The Resolve for a Life of Integrity

In an article by a Scott Wise on WTVR, we were given a tremendous insight on how Billy Graham and some members of his preaching team made the commitment to uphold their honour and integrity as ministers of the gospel of Christ:

“In 1948, at the beginning of his rise to fame, Graham and his tight circle of traveling evangelists gathered in California and catalogued the sins that had destroyed the careers of other Christian preachers. Money, sexual temptation and hubris topped the list.”

Please take another look at the three:

  • Money
  • Sexual temptation
  • Hubris (pride or overconfidence)

Are these not the same areas where many Christians leaders have fallen short of the moral standard required of them as followers of Christ?

Graham and his men pledged to avoid all the three. Shouldn’t we do the same?

The ministry team of Cliff Barrows, Grady Wilson, Billy Graham and George Beverly Shea
The ministry team of (L-R) Cliff Barrows, Grady Wilson, Billy Graham and George Beverly Shea. Source: Billygraham.org

The Modesto Manifesto

This was the documentation of Billy Graham’s and his core ministers’ personal resolution to uphold “the highest standard of Biblical morality and integrity” in their lives and ministry with respect to financial integrity, sexual, publicity and partnership with the local church.”

Cliff Barrows, close associate of Billy Graham who was also a member of the manifesto-drafting team was quoted to have said that the Modesto manifesto made it “…settle in our hearts and minds, once and for all, the determination that integrity would be the hallmark of both our lives and our ministry.”

As one commentator also noted, “Billy Graham’s standards are imperative requirements for all ministers” of the gospel and indeed for all those who profess to be followers of Christ.

 

©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

Peter, Jesus and the Question of Forgiveness

Forgiveness

The 7 Times Forgiveness Question and the Surprising Answer

The Gospel of Matthew (18:21-22) has a record of an important conversation between Peter and Jesus which bothered on the question of forgiveness.

Peter had sought a validation from Jesus on his belief about the subject of forgiveness. But beyond Peter’s wildest expectation, Jesus taught him and the other disciples an expanded lesson of a lifetime.

Was Peter simply trying to show that he was magnanimous, or he merely wanted to validate his 7 times forgiveness theology? Either way, Jesus had him covered.

Validating your beliefs

When you seek information to validate your beliefs, one of two things can happen if you eventually find the truth:

1. If your belief about a subject is right and you come to find the truth, your belief will be validated by the truth you have discovered;

2. But if your belief is wrong, the truth you find will burst your bubble, deflate your ego. But you will be a better person if you would take dressing from it.

Peter’s experience

The second scenerio was the one faced by Peter in the conversation with Jesus concerning forgiveness:

Peter: Lord, how many times should I forgive my neighbour when they offend me? Is it seven times?

Jesus: Peter, I did not tell you seven times, but seventy times seven.

Wow! Peter was dazed by that response. He just learnt that 7 times forgiveness offered to someone is not magnanimous enough. Four hundred and ninety times was Jesus’ new standard measure.

Of course Jesus was not limiting forgiveness to only 490 times. But that was not what Peter expected to hear. He got the lesson anyway.

Some credits to Peter please?

Despite this shocking revelation from Jesus, I think we should still give Peter some credits here.

First he knew that he ought to forgive his neighbours when they offend him. But he got it wrong when he thought that a neighbor deserves to be forgiven only seven times and not more.

We can see that Peter’s focus was on himself and what he had the capacity to do, without knowing that with a relationship with Jesus Christ, he could have the capacity to forgive infinitely.

Perhaps he had reckoned that he could forgive a person only seven times and nothing more because he couldn’t imagine that one should go on and on doling out forgiveness limitlessly. As we saw, Jesus stretched the limits farther than Peter had imagined.

Another thing we should give Peter some credits for is that he willingly held out his belief about forgiveness against the light of the truth to be revealed by his Master.

I wouldn’t say Peter was testing his popularity by the question he asked. But rather, I can say he was on a quest for the truth. And it paid off because Jesus had the real truth about forgiveness to neighbour revealed to him in a way that he (Peter) never knew.

But then, this revelation of 490 times forgiveness rattled Peter’s theology, deflated his ego and settled the issue once and for all.

What is your take on the number of times we should forgive? 

©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

Billy Graham: I Wish I Had Met Him

Billy Graham's Quote

Like Bishop Benson Idahosa, Like Billy Graham

In 1998, Bishop Benson Idahosa went on to be with the Lord.

A fearless Charismatic Pentecostal preacher, and founder of the Church of God Mission International with headquarters in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria, Idahosa, remains one of the greatest ministers to have come out of Africa.

Bishop Benson Idahoha
Picture Credit: DunamisBlog

He was a man that preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to the uttermost part of the world. From Nigeria to Africa, America, Europe and other parts of the world, Idahosa took the supreme task of evangelism to all nations with courage, faith and power of the Holy Spirit.

As the first televangelist I came to know growing up in the 80’s, I had great respect and administration for Idahosa. And for many years, it was a secret desire of mine to meet him face to face some day.

As God would have it, that silent wish came to fulfilment in 1997 when he happened to pay a scheduled visit to the Polytechnic town of Auchi where I was schooling at that point in time. Needless, to say, I made it a point of duty to see the Bishop that day and even touched him. It was a fulfilling experience for me – a dream come through!

Outside this shores at that time, one renown evangelist I also heard about so much then was American preacher, Billy Graham. I was not born yet when he held some of his gospel crusades across some cities in Nigeria in the 60’s, but his reputation as a fiery, respectable man of God did not escape me.

In some ways, one could say that Bishop Benson Idahosa was to Nigeria and the world what Billy Graham was to America and the world. While I had the privilege of meeting the former before he passed on to glory, I was not able to meet the latter in person. And sadly, I would no longer be able to do so again on this side of life.

Every one must confess there is God - Victor Uyanwanne
Billy Graham. Source: Billygraham.org

It is no longer news that the legendary American evangelist has recently passed on to glory. He was indisputably one of the greatest Christian leaders ever known in this century; he was a good soldier of Christ here on earth who was highly respected around the world.

As the stories about Billy Graham’s  ministry, life and time on earth continue to pour into our consciousness through various media, I came to realise something I never really knew I had – a wish to have met him.

Unlike being able to meet Bishop Idahosa before he passed on, I would be unable to meet Graham any more.

However, from the many available reports about him, there are some interesting things that one would easily cherish:

  • He was a man of great character and integrity;
  • He stayed true to his divine calling – evangelism;
  • He was highly respected around the world;
  • He was “a spiritual adviser to American presidents…”
  • He was very influential as a christian leader;
  • He insisted on racial integration in his crusades;
  • He remained conscious of Heaven all through his life.

Billy Graham has now left the world to be with with Lord. And it is gratifying to note that he finished strongly.

Just like Apostle Paul, we can say of him “Graham fought the good fight, Graham finished the race, Graham kept the faith.”

Though I never got to meet him while on this Earth, I take solace in the fact that we shall some day meet at the Lord’s bosom – in Heaven that he so much believed in and preached about.

My home is in heaven. I’m just travelling through this world – Billy Graham.

©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

 

5 Things That Do Not Make You A Disciple Of Christ

Many people claim to be Christians but they are not. And if one is not a Christian, he or she cannot be  called a disciple of Christ.

Without a personal faith in the finished work of Christ, one could not be called a Christian.

Things that don't make you are ChristianIn this post, we will examine 5 things that though they may appear good in themselves, they are not sufficient to qualify one as a Christian or a disciple of Christ.

1. Having Christian parents.

Yes, you are not a Christian simply because your parents are Christians.

Anyone can become a disciple of Christ irrespective of whether their parents know Christ or not. It is a personal decision. This is where those who see themselves as cultural Christians miss the point.

You are privileged if you have Christian parents. But that does not automatically make you a Christian or a disciple of Christ.

To become a Christian, you will have to enter into a personal relationship with God by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. Your parents cannot do it on your behalf; it has to be a personal, conscious decision only you can take for yourself.

 2. Being a member of a local church

Christians go to Church, but truly speaking, not everyone who goes to Church are Christians or disciples of Christ.

Being a registered member of a local Church is good, but it is not the ultimate. Many people are members of the physical church, but they are not members of the spiritual one. Such people are not disciples of Christ.

The Church is the spiritual body of all believers in Christ on Earth irrespective of where he or she lives.

Despite being a member of a local church, you are not a disciple of Christ if you do not belong to the spiritual church, which salvation in Christ offers automatic membership to.

Church
Source: Pinterest

3. Giving a part of your income to God.

Some people feel that because they regularly give the tithe, donations or other forms of giving to the church they have earned their rights to be Christians or children of God. Far from it!

Irrespective of your level of financial support to a local church, you still have to get to the point of having to have personally committed your life to Christ in faith before Heavens can recognise you as a bonafide child of God.

Unfortunately, so many people there are that give money in church every Sunday who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. And as such, they are not disciples of Christ.

4. Fasting and praying.

You can engage regularly in prayer and fasting but that doesn’t make you a disciple of Christ.  A good Christian should fast and pray as the needs arise, but fasting and prayer doesn’t make you a good Christian.

For your prayer and fasting to be meaningful, you have to have a personal relationship with the Lord to whom the prayers are directed.

Without complete trust in the finished work of the Cross, prayer and fasting profits little or nothing.

5. Doing good

Anyone can do good to people; even atheists do some form of good deeds.

You do not have to be a disciple of Christ to do some form of good to other people. But you cannot earn being a child of God or a follower of Jesus Christ by doing good. It is however expected that the disciples of Christ should do good.

In summary, having Christian parents, belonging to a local church, praying and fasting, doing good deeds are good in themselves but they are not what make you a Christian or a disciple of Christ.

To be a christian truly, you will have to have a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. In other words, you must accept Jesus as your Lord and personal Saviour.

©Copyright 2018 | Victor Uyanwanne

 

Quote: Religious Legalism Vs The Holy Spirit

Unless you can let go of what you think you know, and fully submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit – abandoning religious legalism wherever necessary – you would definitely be unable to realize your full Christ[ian] potential in this life regardless of your best efforts. –Rev. Wildfire

Religion, christianity and the Holy Spirit

Raising Questions on Apostle Paul’s Calling to the Gentiles

Not too long ago, I published a post that explored reasons proving that Apostle Paul was not an eloquent speaker. That piece was however, concluded on the following note:

…Paul’s speeches were not at the highest levels as he wasn’t outstandingly eloquent as some other speakers in his time might have been. But in no way did the gospel suffer as a result of this perceived lack of oratorial skills. Rather it made it more obvious that the power of Christ was at work in Him

While commenting on the post, one of my readers took the post further by overtly questioning Apostle Paul’s frequent claim of being called to reach the Gentiles. His argument was that even before Paul came on the block, other Apostles such as Peter have had ministry to people other than the Jews.

At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. Acts 15:7, NLT

While that position is correct, as the scripture above shows, it is not enough to discredit Apostle Paul’s claim of being specially called to be a minister to the Gentiles; the argument became overextended when the reader tried to deny that Paul was the Apostle to the gentiles. Apostle Paul, a polished speaker or not - by Victor Uyanwanne

In this post, I present to you that reader’s comment and my response to it then.

The Comment

..I doubt his [Paul’s] claims towards call for the gentiles as other Apostles too spent their life time spreading the gospels to gentiles all the way to India, much farther than Greece or Syria reached by Paul. Paul’s claim of him being a minister for the gentiles and Peter for Jews again is a complete mess as Paul goes out of context.

Jesus had said to Peter and other 10 apostles to go and preach to whole creations, nations… Peter has preached to the gentile Cornelius and baptised him with the Holy Spirit even before Paul ever preached gospel to gentiles…and Yes Peter and other apostles had a possible church for gentile in Antioch even before Paul was somehow converted. I feel sorry for Paul’s misunderstanding and his claims…

My response

Hello, your comment on the post is appreciated…

…That Paul was an Apostle to gentiles is a very known fact. So you would not have sufficient basis to disprove that!

Even from the beginning of his calling, the Lord himself defined who Paul (previously known as Saul) was being called to reach. Perhaps you will need to read Acts 4:9 again, which clearly says:

But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.

No one can doubt that Paul was sent to the gentiles after reading that passage, except of course the person doesn’t esteem the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Time will fail me to begin to comment on each of the other issues you brought in. Suffice to say that Paul was a great Apostle any how you look at it. Thank you.

You can join in the conversation.

Still ahead: Reasons That Confirms Apostle Paul Was Called to Reach The Gentiles.

 

©Copyright 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne

Being A Cultural Christian Is Not Enough

I’m A Christian Atheist.” How Possible?

Recently, I heard something on an international news channel that I consider worth talking about here. An aged author and ostensibly an intellectual man who was being interviewed about a book he wrote (amongst other things) was asked:

“You are an atheist and a Christian. How is that possible?”

“I’m a cultural Christian: I’m a Christian by my culture, but not one by my belief,” he replied.

Really? An atheist and Christian in the same breadth?

Can someone be a Christian who does not believe in God?

The answer is obvious!

Unfortunately, this man in question is not the only one making this type of “cultural” mistake. There are people around the world who think that they are Christians simply because of the home or geographical location they were born into.

Those things as factors may exert some influences on who you become but they are not what will make you a Christian. And of course, being a Christian goes beyond being born into, or living in, any of the so-called christian nations.

I would like to further explore this topic in subsequent posts, but here it suffices to say that being a Christian is not about the culture you were born into or the one you live in. It is about you having a personal relationship with God through faith in His son Jesus Christ.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. John 1:12

Unlike the man mentioned above, it is not enough to to see yourself as a cultural Christian; you should be a Christian by heart as well.

In the first place, being a Christian presupposes that you believe in God. And in fact, a Christian does not only believe in God, he or she also believes in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

It is therefore a mistaken identity to be called a Christian if you don’t believe in God and in His Son Jesus Christ.

What do you think?

©Copyright 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne

12 Promises For Your Health

There is hope for your health.

Healing is for you as the Lord has promised. God is not only interested in your spiritual well-being, He also cares about your body being in sound health.

Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually]. 3 John 2.

This is a post highlighting some of God’s assurances of physical health for you as a follower of His. Through the written word of God, you have been given concrete proofs that good health, either in form of divine health or healing are God’s will for us.

Through His word, the healing power is delivered to you. “He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave” Psalm 107:20.

Promises for your healing

I present to you the following 12 scriptures on healing to encourage and inspire faith in you:

1. He sent out His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Psalm 107:20

2. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3 John 1:2

3. The LORD will sustain him upon his sickbed; In his illness, You restore him to health. Psalm 41:3

4. The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt.  Deuteronomy 7:15

5. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

6. For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord. Jeremiah 30:17

7. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Luke 5:17

8. “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. Mark 10:52

9. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. James 5:14-15.

10. “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you. Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. Mark 10:52

11. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Rom. 8:11

12. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. Matt. 8:16-17.

©Copyright 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne

3 Main Reasons That Confirmed Apostle Paul Wasn’t A Polished Speaker

In a previous post, it was established that despite being a very intellectual person, Apostle Paul was not a very polished speaker. But this did not anyway impede his ministry as he was as effective as he could ever be.

It is far better to be plain in speech, yet walking openly and consistently with the gospel, than to be admired by thousands, and be lifted up in pride… (Matthew Henry)

But how can we be so sure that the great Apostle Paul was not a man imbued with so much eloquence? The scriptures bear record of it as we shall see shortly.

Was apostle Paul a polished speaker?

In this post, we will consider three reasons confirming that Paul was not as gifted in oratory as he was in knowledge.

1) Apostle Paul humbly admitted he wasn’t a polished speaker

Even though Paul never exalted his credentials above the grace of God upon his life, he always listed his shining qualifications whenever an opportunity presented itself. So he wouldn’t​ have failed to list the power of oratory as one of his skills he if he had it.

Not only that, in 2 Corinthians 11:6, Paul categorically admitted in his own words that he was not a skilled speaker.

I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way.

You might say that Paul was being humble by openly admitting that he was not a polished speaker. Agreed. But I think that the humility comes more from him pointing out a perceived weakness in him and not trying to cover it up with his strengths than from merely owning up to a skill he didn’t possess.

2) Eloquence was not part of Apostle Paul’s ministry strategy

Paul had a good understanding of what God sent him to do and what He didn’t send him to do. And in accomplishing what he was sent to do, his strategy was to depend on the power of God so that His name alone is gloried as the value of the Cross is made known.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with eloquent words of wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 1Cor1:17

Unlike Apollos whom we were clearly told was very eloquent in speeches while ministering (Acts 18:24), Paul stated that it was not part of his ministry strategy to display eloquence in speeches as he delivered the gospel messages he was sent to preach. Doing so, according to him, would have undermined the power in the Cross of Christ which he was commissioned to proclaim.

3) The people spoke about Apostle Paul’s speeches not being at the highest levels

Apart from the fact that Apostle admitted that he was not so eloquent in speeches, the people who heard him speak at various times and places also observed it and spoke about it to his hearing. Their observation bothered particularly on his body-frame and speech power.

For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but his physical presence is unimpressive, and his speaking is of no account.” 1Cor 10:10

Paul must have been so diminutive a man some people in Corinth refered to him as a man with “unimpressive physical appearance.” Besides having a seemingly weak appearance, the people also observed that Paul’s “manner of speaking is of no account.” And Paul was fully aware of this uncomplementary notion the people had about him.

However, it has to be mentioned that the people recognised that Paul wrote powerful letters even though his speeches appeared less impressive. It seemed to me that what he lacked in speaking skills was fully compensated by his writing prowess.

Base on the foregoing, you might say Paul’s speeches were not at the highest levels as he wasn’t outstandingly eloquent as some other speakers in his time might have been. But in no way did the gospel suffer as a result of this perceived lack of oratorial skills. Rather it made it more obvious that the power of Christ was at work in Him.

What do you think?


©Copyright 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne

Was Apostle Paul A Polished Speaker?

How much do you know about Apostle Paul of the New Testament?

Many people will agree that he was a man of high intellect, he was knowledgeable, passionate about the course of the gospel, and full of divine revelation.

He knew his way through any kind of argument. As a man highly schooled in Judaism, Paul had a good grasp of law and history as well.

Coupled with the uncommon revelations he received directly from the Lord Jesus Himself, no one could parallel him in the most accurate communication of the gospel of Christ.

It is obvious therefore that there are many fantastic things we can say about Apostle Paul. But was he a polished speaker?

You might think so, but what he said about himself concerning that question may shock you.

You could easily be excused if you pass Apostle Paul as a very eloquent person – a man who is very “fluent or persuasive in speaking or writing.”

That he was very persuasive in his writings is pretty obvious in the way he marshalled his points in the various Epistles penned by him and the many arguments and counter-arguments he had to be engaged in for the advancement of the gospel.

Despite all these, Paul admitted in one of his Epistles that he was not a skilled speaker. Or as he put it, “…I am unskilled in speech…”

But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things (2 Corinthians 11:6).

Although he acknowledged that he is vast and skilled in knowledge, Paul told the Corinthian church that he was “unskilled in speech.”

In other words, you could say Paul meant he was not a polished speaker, a trained orator or a captivating public speaker. Was he just being humble or telling a fact?

What do you think?

©Copyright 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne

A Blank Cheque From Jesus To You

 

During a private discussion with His Disciples, Jesus Christ specifically said to them, “If you ask Me anything in My name [as My representative], I will do it” John 14:14 AMP.

This sounds like a blank cheque from Jesus to you as well!

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What do you think?


©Copyright 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne

A Conversation With A Jewish Atheist

Some Jews do not believe in God

Introduction

I see myself as a follower of Jesus Christ, who believes in the existence of the Sovereign God and whom I fully recognise as the Creator of heaven and earth and the entire universe. Having grown up in a religious country – although I did not get to accept Jesus  Christ as my Lord and personal Saviour until I was  a teenager – I can recall no time in my life that I ever doubted the existence of God.

But as I grew older, it began to dawn on me that not everyone believes that God exists. Not only that, I also came to realise that there are people whom it is that they do not believe in God, they as well either go out of their way engaging in (fruitless) exercises to ‘prove’ that God does not exist or make all efforts to discredit the notion of God in the hearts of people. These are some of the kind of people I have encountered on this platform.

Before I began posting on this blog, I never got to meet an avowed atheist face to face (I still haven’t met one yet). But after a few posts deliberately targeted at the (unknown) atheistic audience, I began to be engaged in multiple online conversations by self-proclaimed atheists on the internet. Some of those conversations were reasonable while many others were nothing but properly orchestrated hostile attacks from faceless people who claimed God does not exist.

As it turned out, one of the people who engaged me in a most reasonable manner told me he is a Jew but he does not believe in God. A few years ago, the thought of a Jew that does not believe in God, would been nothing but preposterous to me; I would have sincerely thought that all Jews believe in the existence of God, although I am aware that many of them deny Christ His Son. But the sad reality is that even though the revelation of the true God came by the Jews to the world, most Jews in the modern world have turned secular, without retaining any belief in the supreme Being.

In this post, I present to you an online conversation I had with a Jew who claimed he does not believe in God. Enter the conversation, in its original state!

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Rejection of all religions

Jayson: I grew up “spiritual” with no religious training other than the random Christianity events for holidays. As an adult, I became a Christian, then got into messianic Christianity. Then I rejected Christianity and became a Jew. Then I rejected that too. I can’t say with 100% certainty that there is no god, but I’m about as certain as saying there probably aren’t unicorns either.

Ultimately, it was my incessant needs to have questions answered. Religion couldn’t answer them. I found the natural world to provide a better source of understanding the world than a sky man watching me.

Me: Jason, thanks for stopping by and for commenting.

As you found out, engaging in the so-called Christian holiday events doesn’t make one Christian. To be a Christian is to ‘know’ God. To know God, one has to begin with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ which is based on faith.

It is not religion or religious training that can save anybody, but faith in Christ. Anyone who talks about being a Christian without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is involved in mere Religion not Christianity.

It is good that you have not come to that point of categorically saying there is no God. I hope I understood you well there? If yes, then I take that to mean that you still have an open mind about this ‘God exist or not’ stuff.

When it comes to ‘searching’ for Him, God speaking through prophet Jeremiah said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13). This shows that anyone who seeks God with all his heart will find Him. You can say it is guaranteed!

I am not talking about religion in the common sense of it, because religion is not what makes the difference. The difference comes from beginning a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In my own case, I found that knowing God through Jesus Christ helped me get answers for the questions that most troubled my heart. So if you don’t mind, I would gladly recommend that you establish a PERSONAL relationship with Jesus Christ. Only then will some things begin to add up for you.

You said the natural world have helped your understanding than the “Man in the sky”. First, we believe that God put the natural world in place too. In fact the Bible has it that “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1). Although some people do not agree, nature itself speaks eloquently of the existence of God.

Simply put the natural world was created by God. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20,

Secondly, my own concept of God includes the fact that He is inside of me through the Holy Spirit, not some unimaginable being out there in the sky as you put it. I totally understand if the last statement didn’t make any sense to you.

In conclusion, let me add that what God offers us is a close personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, not religion. This is what true Christianity is all about. I once heard a preacher explain it like this: “Religion is man attempting to reach God, whereas Christianity is God reaching out to man.” Understanding this simple analogy will make a whole lot of difference in anyone’s life.

If you have the time, you may visit the link below for some more answers: http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html?gclid=CKjkj8Hg38kCFScFwwod0dILxg

Thank you.

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More Insights on the journey to atheism

Jayson: I guess I should elaborate a while. I was a devoted Christian for about 15 years before I converted to Judaism. I no longer believe in God and have not only rejected Jesus, but also blasphemed the Holy Spirit.

The god of the three monotheistic faiths is a sado-masochistic tyrant who creates us sick and demands us to be well, at the threat of eternal hellfire. What a spoiled twat. Who needs that?

Me: Jason, thank you for throwing more light into your position. Now I know where you stand on the belief in the existence of God.

When you said you were once “a devoted Christian…” I would really like to know exactly what you meant by that. I am familiar with a few people who call themselves “devoted Christians” simply because they go to church regularly, help the needy, gave money in church, fast two times a week, ate holy communion, partake in Christian events and all that. But they have not come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as their individual Lord and Saviour.

The next questions I would ask would be these: Did you ever come to the point of having a personal relationship with God, by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Personal Saviour and living by His grace? How did you arrive at the point of not believing in God anymore as you indicated?

I am not to speak for the other so-called monotheistic faiths you referred to. But for the avoidance of doubt, the God that I believe in is the One who “… so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This God is calling us (all mankind) into a personal relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ who died and resurrected for our sake.

This God is a God of love and He could never be a tyrant as you called Him. Only someone who hadn’t known God would describe Him as such; those who truly know Him know better than that.

At creation God created man in perfect state of health. It was the corruption of sin that gave birth to the issue of sickness (and other evils), which you wrongly attributed to God. If for anything, God wants us well – in spirit, soul and body.

Hell is not a threat from God as you put it. It is a real place prepared for satan and his angels who rebelled against God.

It is not the will of God that anyone should perish and go to hell, but rather it is the will of God for all to come to repentance and be saved through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, rather than accepting the Lordship of Christ, many people have sided with Satan. For such ones, hell is a beckoning reality.

But to anyone who is still alive, hell is absolutely avoidable if they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. We definitely need that God who has made a way of escaping hell through faith in Christ. Regards.

Conversations with atheists 2

Did Jason ever know Jesus as his Saviour?

Jayson: It wouldn’t matter if I told you that I had a “personal relationship with Christ” because you would just come back with “I wasn’t doing something right and missed it.”

The long and short of it is, there is no god. There is no Jesus. Modern religion is just the Zeus stories evolved into some place where we cannot go to prove whether the gods are there or not.

I don’t believe in anything of this sort because it cannot be proven. To quote Hitchens, what can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.”

It’s all rubbish. I chose to reject the god worldview and live simply as my own man with the world around me as it is.

Good sermon though. You got it down. It’s a shame that it misleads so many people away from a life of curiosity and learning to one that is simply satisfied with not knowing and looking forward to a world for which there’s no proof or evidence for.

Me: I read your comments again Jason. I am glad that you also took time to read mine.

I am convinced you got the message already. So there wouldn’t be much use repeating myself. But allow me to say that Zeus compares in no way with our Lord Jesus Christ, who died and resurrected. Did you ever hear that that any god claimed to have died and resurrected?

Dear Jason, God is real and so is Jesus Christ His son. The proof is in me and in any one that believes. If you seek Him with an open mind and with faith, you will find Him.

Allow me to end this comment with a quote from Marilyn Adamson who once didn’t believe in God:

“When it comes to the possibility of God’s existence, the Bible says that there are people who have seen sufficient evidence, but they have suppressed the truth about God. On the other hand, for those who want to know God if he is there, he says, “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you.””

At this juncture, Anne of FREEDOMBORN … AUSSIE CHRISTIAN FOCUS (lent me a helping hand with answering Jayson)

Great Message Victor, I was wondering if Jason has died and come back to be so certain there is no God or Heaven or Hell. We have our assurance through The Holy Spirit and as you shared Victor, we can see God in Creation so there will be no excuse. Also The Bible confirms God’s reality without a doubt; there are Truths that only God could have known when He had man record them, such as that the world was round when everyone believed it was flat because they had no other way of knowing and D.N.A which you can read about on the link below, also proves we could not have evolved from animals and there are other Truths too that only God could have known.

Creation – https://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/wow-a-new-missing-link-has-been-found/

Having been an Atheist for almost 30 years, (well I was one in my head not my heart or I would still be one), I was deceived as a young Teenager that I came from an Ape and Jesus who was my Best Friend and the Bible were just made up. I know Satan’s lies and God’s Truth shows without doubt they are lies.

I don’t accept that anyone has the right to reject their Creator but they do have free will to choose to do so and they are also choosing their own Destiny which will be a eternal suffering, it is clear Jason hasn’t asked the right questions so does not have the right answers, sad but True!

Christian Love – Anne.

Me: Thank you Anne for your contribution. Your points were very clear.

Finding the proof of God

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Jayson: Victor, you seem very nice and patient. I’m sure you’re a pleasant person to be around.

I may need to define proof in this case. Something that can be seen, tested, and repeated, like gravity. You can test gravity. Anyone can. It hasn’t been disproven yet.

You can’t test god. There is no way to see that someone is there. I could find no proof of him as much as I wanted to. And the proofs mentioned in the link: Points 1-4 have explanations in science. They’re not explanations that require faith. They’re explanations that you can see for yourself in local university or college. You can email the people who study the world and universe around us. You can also study their tests and see their failures and successes. Points 5 & 6 are completely subjective. 5 especially – last I looked, there was no one chasing me. I’m 100% confident of it. 6 is also incredibly subjective as any other worshiper of any other god, Islam is a hot topic now so I’ll go with that, can state the exact same thing about their god or belief.

Death and resurrection is a common theme in other religions. Yes, I’ve heard of other gods that died and resurrected. Here’s some proof for you: http://listverse.com/2013/03/30/10-resurrected-religious-figures/

Finally, there are over 5000 gods worshipped today. Isn’t it convenient that yours is the right one? And that the thousands of others have the same conviction of faith about their gods as you do with yours. Very convenient. And yes, Jesus has many counterparts in other ancient religions. I should have been more specific mentioning Horus, an Egyptian god, instead of Zeus. Though the Greeks and Romans have their counterparts predating Jesus’ time. Sorry for the rabbit trail…

What’s not tyrannical about a being that is solely responsible for bestowing life, tossing his creation into hell for a disease he’s not responsible for, to be punished terribly for eternity? God has to keep this person alive to suffer. Forever. I don’t think tyrannical is a strong enough word and doubt that one exists in any language to accommodate that level of savagery.

I’ll close with a small thought experiment. I’m interested to hear your response to this question more than anything else.

Stare at a dark sky and consider any one of the dots of light… “for any length of time and then try to convince yourself that God created the whole Universe for one of the 10 million or so species of life that inhabit that speck of dust [in this case Earth]. Now take it a step further: Imagine that everything was made just for a single shade of that species, or gender, or ethnic or religious subdivision. If this doesn’t strike you as unlikely, pick another dot [another star in the sky]. Imagine it to be inhabited by a different form of intelligent life. They, too, cherish the notion of a God who has created everything for their benefit. How seriously do you take their claim?” Excerpt From: Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan. “Pale Blue Dot.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/dm6Yz.l

Me: Jason, thank you very much for the generous compliment. That was huge coming from you.

Permit me to add that I have not always been like that. It was the ‘knowing’ of Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal Saviour that gradually transformed my life. What you described of me as being “very nice and patient” is a veritable manifestation of what we refer to as the fruit of the Holy Spirit (in this case, love and patience) in the life of a believer in Christ. Religion didn’t give them to me but Relationship (with Jesus Christ) did.

I am glad you had time to explore the “Is There God” link I recommended. Did you notice that it was written by a former atheist? That speaks volume on its own!

Your observations that her “Points 1-4 have explanations in science. They’re not explanations that require faith. They’re explanations that you can see for yourself in local university or college” are very correct. Sincerely, you got the point there! Even the writer subtitled the article as “….straightforward REASONS to believe that God is really there” (emphasis mine). I assume she had people like you in mind when she penned that piece.

It has never been that the evidences that God exists are not there. But it’s just that some people have chosen to close their minds on them! Recall that you had indicated you were only interested in ‘things around you,’ that you don’t believe in God. I had also mentioned that even things we see around us have eloquent evidences that prove the existence of God, as the article you read so succinctly explained.

You see Jason, it is not everything, however, that can be seen or tested. But the fact that they can’t be tested doesn’t preclude their existence. For instance, we were told in elementary science that we can’t see air. But who will doubt that it exists? “Of course no one!” you would say.

Secondly, I know you do not see gravity with your eyes, but you acknowledged that it exists. In the same way, it is true we don’t see God but we know by faith that He exists. And some of the physical evidences of God’s existence you already have acknowledged to have been scientifically established. Those evidences were neither the product of the so-called evolution nor the aftermath of the ridiculous big bang theory. But they are the handiwork of the Creator God.

However, don’t you know that science itself is very limited in some way? It can ‘test’ only things in the physical realm – things that can be felt, heard, tasted, seen and perceived. But beyond the experiences we get in the physical world (as passed to us by our natural five senses), there is also the spiritual world, which science at its best cannot explain. That’s the truth my dear Jason!

God is a spirit and the Bible says those that worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth. It is not everything about God that can be scientifically proven. Can you subject a Spirit Being to the crucibles of science? Impossible! This is where faith comes in. “Without faith”, the Bible says “it is impossible to please God.” I guess this is where the lacuna exists for people like you who doubt the existence of the living God!

You said that death and resurrection are common themes in religion. Well I can assure you that those concepts do not compare to how Christianity speaks about them. The crux of Christianity is the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind. This alone sets Christianity light years apart from the so-called other religions.

Jason, Jesus Christ is the only One whom I ever know who declared “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:18). He was dead, but He resurrected, never to die again. Are those gods you mentioned still speaking or changing lives today as Jesus Christ is doing? I would say an emphatic NO!

I explored the link to the purportedly resurrected gods you forwarded to me. I observed (not surprised though) that there was nothing fantastic about the so-called gods you referred to; nothing inspiring – all dead stories of dead selfish gods. It leaves me curious why you seemed to have faith in them and yet you claim you don’t believe in the living God that we are talking about here, whom it was that raised Jesus Christ from the dead!

For the records, Jason, I was not born a Christian. In fact no one is born a Christian. (Hope that didn’t surprise you). One becomes a Christian only when one is able to willfully and knowingly by faith ask Jesus Christ to be one’s Lord and Personal Saviour. It is not something inherited, not something that can be forced. It is entirely by choice – the choice of the individual God-seeker.

Those who say they are Christians by birth or by association have only experienced religion and not the Relationship that Christ offers. So I did not believe in God out of convenience as you suggested, but out of my discovery of Him as the only true God, who gave His son to die for me to restore my relationship with Him.

Therefore, again Jason, I say that it is incorrect for you to say that God is a tyrant who threatens to throw us into hell if we don’t believe in Him. Don’t you realise that if what you said was true of God, you wouldn’t be alive here to be engaging in this discourse with me? Because He sure has the power to throw you into hell at once! (Pun intended please). Indeed, God is a God of love, mercy and grace! You believe, you receive!

More so, the first commandment of God remember, is, “Thou shall not have any other God before Me.” So I do not reckon with any of the over 5,000 gods you referred to. But that doesn’t stop me from loving the people that follow those gods; (as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are able to love people whether they believe in our God or not). I can only wish and pray that the followers of the other gods (some of them at least) will one day come to the knowledge of the only true God. After all, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way” until some of us embraced the saving grace God made available to all mankind in Jesus Christ.

If you say Islam is ‘hot’ these days, may be it is for those who are looking for religion. But some of us are not looking for a religion… What we have is a relationship with God through Christ. The difference between the two is enormous.
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Many years ago, a classmate of mine who is a renowned adherent of Islam asked me why I follow Jesus Christ. I answered Him it is because Jesus said He is THE WAY, THE TRUTH and THE LIGHT and that He is the only way to God. I asked Him in return if their Prophet ever said any such thing. He said no. Someone else later told me that their Prophet even said he didn’t know ‘the way’ when his disciples asked him to show them the way. Are you still surprised that I am following JESUS CHRIST, THE WAY? Smiles!

Finally, Jason, I did not really get the clear relationship between the ‘experiment’ you used to conclude your comment and the point of our discourse. It was just too hypothetical to be taken as a valid basis to advance a serious argument of this nature. But I didn’t fail to notice that the writers alluded to God being the creator of the universe. (That alone is significant).

Their argument seemed to bother on ‘whom’ the creations were made for, rather than on whether or not there is a creator in the first place. In any case, as my closing response to that, I will use the following quotations from the Bible which clearly identifies the Creator and the purpose of all creations:

“Thou art worthy, o Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou [God] hast created all things, and for thy [God’s] pleasure they are and were created” Revelation 4:11.

Jason, I know this was a very long response. So I thank you immensely for your time.

Atheism vs Theism

JaysonThat was a long response! It’s been nice talking with you, Victor. We clearly have vastly different world views. I’m not going to counter this due to time and I feel it will not do either of us much good. I have given up on believing in God, and being Jewish, I have absolutely zero interest in adding a 2000 year-old Jew (that got into a lot of trouble with the Romans) to the equation.

However, I do want to point out that patience is not a character trait available only in Christians. I am Jewish (yes, a secular Jew), and have several secular & religious Jewish friends that are exceedingly patient. Additionally, I have several non-Jewish secular friends that are also patient. You can rest assured that you can meet people that are not Christian and possess immense patience.

Take care. Thanks for the fun.
Jason

Me: You got me smiling Jason. It’s been nice talking with you too.

I would say I agree with your position to a great extent this time around. But I was surprised to hear that you were a Jew. I know that Jewish people believe in God, even though some do not recongnise Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

I pray that one day, you find reason to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour. He is the only hope of mankind in time and in eternity.

God loves you Jason and so do I. Regards.

More conversations…

Some parts of this conversations with Jay had previously been published under the series, conversation with an atheist. After reading them, Jayson showed up again and so the conversations continued:

Jayson: Victor, thank you for keeping these posts true to our conversation.

When I began commenting on your post, it was mainly for being in a bit of a mood as I had recently discussed atheism with a new Christian, and was in a bit of an ire.

I was once a devout believer. If you, or your commenters had met me, you would have accepted me as one of your own. But it was in the midst of sorrow, hopelessness, and storm that I could not find his comfort, joy, and protection – the time when I needed it more than any other in my life. My wife was recovering from cancer and our best friend was losing their child.

The loss of faith was not instant. It took years to happen. But the questions those events generated could not be sustained by faith. Faith had no answers. Faith could not make sense of these events. In turn, these events opened my eyes to the suffering not only of humanity but also to the cold indifference of nature to all of life. Then there was the matter of the thousands other faiths that exist and the sincerity and devotion to which those people practiced and believed. Then there was the idea that if other life exists in the universe, if they held similar convictions of faith to their own gods, what would be the likelihood of us believing them?

The answers Faith provided were superficial and only created more questions. The answers to those were problematic in that they only led to conflict.

There are numerous directions to take the conversation. I’ve been working on a writing project for some months to put my own path into order. I’m considering to publish it, and if you think it would be helpful for you and readers to learn another worldview (not convince of disbelief), I’m happy to start putting something together. What do you think?

Me: Jason, nice to have you back here. Not being true to the discussion we had as published here would have amounted to misrepresentation. And I wouldn’t do that!

Sorry to hear about your wife’s cancer. I hope she fully recovered. And your friend’s child too…my heart goes out to them.

Concerning all the issues you raised, please allow me to respond later. For I now I am exhausted from the day’s work and so in dire need of a good sleep. Thank you.

Jayson: No worries. I wasn’t expecting a diatribe.

The following day….

Me: Hello Jason, please further to my earlier response to your comment, here are my additional thoughts as I promised. The issues you raised were many so I take it that my (usual) long response here will not bore you.

I really appreciate the fact that you commented on the initial post. Our exchanges so far have turned that post into one of the most viewed single item on this blog. I have you to thank for it.

Jason, I know by experience that (Christian) faith has answers; answers to issues of this life and the life hereafter. The issue is that sometimes, the answers don’t please the sensual person. More so, the Christian living is a walk by faith, not by sight. That’s why so many people do miss it.

Life can be so hard sometimes that we begin to question the love of God. But it doesn’t invalidate the love. In the midst of our crisis, God promises to be with us all the way. And He comforts us through the Holy Spirit, whom we know as our comforter. God never promised us a storm-free voyage in life, but He did promise a safe-landing.

With regard to the issue of unanswered questions you had, I concede that not all questions can be resolved on this side of life. But I will tell you that there are sufficient answers in the Bible to refresh an unbiased mind. Even the fact that we may never know everything in this life is also clearly stated in the Bible.  But “He is at peace, whose mind is stayed on God.”

Jason, except you are a NASA staff, I do not see why you had to worry if other life exists outside the earth or what ‘they’ believe ‘over there’ for that matter (Pun intended please). As for me, I am satisfied with Biblical explanation that God gave the earth to man to inhabit. The (unproven) possibility of life existing in other parts of the universe, could never stop me from believing in God, the Father of Jesus Christ.

The other thousands of faith you referred to exist because human beings, irrespective of geographical locations, have always felt the need to know “God”. So in a bid to meet this need, they invented various ways to try reaching the “God” they somehow “felt’ in their inner enclaves. This was what gave (and is still giving) rise to the multiplicity of faiths you talked about.

Sadly, these efforts of man inventing ways to please or reach God, have, and will, never be able to find the true God. That’s why there is so much frustration in religion, as you might have possibly noticed.

But you see Jason, Christianity in the truest sense of it is not a call to religion. Like I explained before, it is a call to a Relationship – a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You may ask, what’s the difference? Simple, “Religion is man’s attempt to reach God, Whereas Christianity is God reaching man.”

Religion is doing all it can to try to find God. But God is saying, “I have already revealed myself through my Son, Jesus Christ. Believe in Him and you will have an eternal relationship with Me.” This is not a thing we can grasp by our five senses, Jason, but by our faith.

Finally, you asked what I thought about your work-in-process project to publish your worldview…. I would say, you are free to publish any of your thoughts or research findings. (By the way, does it really matter what I think about it? I doubt!). I read for information, but when it comes to finding/knowing God, the Bible remains the most authoritative voice.

Thank you for your time Jason.

Anne: Thank you Victor, a Loving response for Jason with much Truth.

Me: Thank you Anne for your comment. God bless your heart.

Your comments and contributions are welcome.

P.S:

  1. This online conversation took place in 2015 as comments on my blog posts. Except for minor correction of typos, the discussions were presented unedited.
  2. It would appear that Jason has deleted his blog as it is no longer available as at the time of writing this post.

© Copyright 2017| Victor Uyanwanne

How Did Jesus Handle Favourable Public Opinion?

Jesus did not entrust Himself to the people.

In a previous post, we reasoned that you should not live your life by the dictates of public opinion. Frustration will be inevitable if you let your decisions in life be driven by opinions of the public rather than your life’s purpose.

It does not mean that public opinion will not favour you at times. But you should still embrace it with caution if it happens to go in your favour at any point in time.

You cannot afford to ride comfortably on the tide of public opinion for too long. You can learn that lesson from the example of Jesus Christ.

During His life and ministry on Earth, Jesus faced a lot of persecutions from both the religious leaders of His day and sometimes from members of the public. At various times, He saw Himself at the receiving end of negative criticisms.

But He had it good on some occasions too. For instance, at the celebration of Passover in Jerusalem at one time, Jesus performed many wonderful miracles. As a result, many people in that city came to believe in Him (as the Messiah). In other words, public opinion at that point in time was fully in His favour.

But how did Jesus handle the favourable public opinion?

  • He lingered more than necessary in Jerusalem to enjoy the favourable public opinion? No!
  • He commended the people for speaking good of Him? No!
  • He rode on the tide of the favourable public opinion to promote Himself and His ministry? No!
  • He began to base His ministry’s decisions on favourable public opinions? No!
  • He was completely carried away so much so that He miss-stepped in His missions? No!
  • Did He need or use the favourable public opinion to massage His ego? No!
  • Did he consent to the people to make Him king prematurely? No.

Jesus knew His true identity and so did not require public opinion to validate it. He was too “purpose driven” to be influenced by the vagaries of the opinions of the teeming crowd.

The Gospel of John tells us clearly how Jesus handled​ public opinion:

But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. John 2:24-25.

Do you get the picture now? Even when public opinion was favourable to Him, Jesus did not entrust Himself to the people. Simply put, He did not reckon with public opinion. He remained who He was even in the face of His rising public acceptance in Jerusalem at that point in time.

As you can see, Jesus did not allow public opinion to direct His life. He remained focused. That’s a big lesson for you and I to learn from.

You should not let favourable opinions about you get into your head. If you do, you might be carried away with pride more than you can handle. And if you relish positive public opinion so much, negative public opinion (which are inevitable) will definitely hurt you.

Unlike Jesus, you do not even know people in and out so you cannot always be sure of their intentions. Besides, it does not mean that the crowd that gives you a favourable rating today will not turn against you in future.

Just like they did to Jesus, those who praise you today will be there to ‘crucify’ you tommorrow.

Jesus did not entrust Himself to the crowd, neither should you. Let your trust be in God only, because Psalms 118:8 tells us, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans.”

Have you ever been faced with a favourable public opinion? How did you handle it?

© Copyright 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne

 

13 Kinds Of People Jesus Encountered On His Way To The Cross

The way to the Cross of Jesus
People Jesus met on His way to the Cross.

Jesus encountered many kinds of people on the day He was crucified. This post takes a close look at the roles played by these people from His trial to His eventual crucifixion.

1. The elders and the chief priests.

These were the religious power brokers wielding tremendous influence over the people and the government of the day. Over time, this strict sect of people became offended with Jesus, because they felt threatened by His rising popularity and the way He has been tackling them on various contentious issues.

They were losing followers to Jesus. And the more accepted Jesus became amongst the people, the less relevant it appeared that these revered religious group became. Out of sheer envy, they delivered Jesus to governor Pilate to have Him destroyed.

They conspired to have Jesus crucified and they had their way, without knowing they were fulfilling a divine purpose. That is why Apostle Paul while speaking of divine wisdom to the Corinthians quipped, “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

Yes, the Lord of Glory was crucified over spurious charges leveled against Him by this sect of unloving religious kingpins.

2. Pontius Pilate.

He was the unwilling partner in the greatest crime of all times. But he was equally guilty as the elders and the Chief Priests who masterminded the crucifixion plan.

As the ruling governor of the land, it was in Pilate’s powers to set Jesus free, having found Him to be innocent of all the charges they brought against Him. But he did not discharge and acquit Jesus because he feared the people more than he feared God.

He yielded to the blackmail of the people that he would be adjudged not to be Emperor Ceasar’s friend if he did not have Jesus crucified (John 19:12) as they demanded.

Jesus-trial
Jesus trial, Source – Bibleexplained.com

Therefore in order to be seen as not being disloyal to Ceasar, Pilate released Barabbas, a guilty man that deserved to die and killed Jesus, an innocent man that should have been set free. What a miscarriage of justice!

3. Mrs. Pontius Pilate

Amongst the participants in the crucifixion saga, if anyone was to be adjudged not guilty of crucifying an innocent Man, Jesus, it would be this woman. She knew the charges brought against Jesus were spurious.

She reckoned that Jesus being innocent should not be killed as the people demanded. To that effect, she pleaded with her governor husband not to have Jesus crucified. But he refused to be persuaded, leaving the woman completely helpless; her plea fell on deaf ears and Jesus was sent to Golgotha to die.

4. Barabbas

This was the ultimate beneficiary of the travesty of justice that Jesus suffered. Being a condemned criminal, he was scheduled to die. But he got a second chance at life when the people demanded him to be released to them instead of Jesus.

Congratulations Barabbas! While you, a convicted criminal was discharged and set free, Jesus an innocent Man was made to face the cruelest form of the death penalty at the time – crucifixion.

5. Judas Iscariot

Everyone knows him as the mole amongst Jesus’ disciples. It was him that gave Jesus the kiss of betrayal (John 22:47-48).

Being a greedy man, the love of money took the better part of him. He sold his Master to the blood-thirsty religious leaders for only thirty pieces of silver.

He later showed some remorse for this ignominious act by returning the money he earlier collected, but it already was too late; the deed had been done. Jesus had been captured and His traducers were not ready to renegotiate the deal with Judas as requested.

In the end, Judas died before Jesus. As he could no longer live with the heavy guilt of selling out on his Lord and Master, he took his own life, thereby sealing his destiny as the confirmed son of prediction.

6. The Multitude

These people consented to have Jesus crucified in place of a notable criminal, Barabbas. Without maintaining an independent frame of mind, they became willing accomplices in the dastardly execution of the evil machinations of the enemies of Jesus.

According to Matthew’s account, the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask for Barabbas to be released to them, and destroy Jesus instead. In response, Pilate flogged Jesus and released Him to be put to death by crucifixion.

That was the final nail in the coffin, the final blow that sealed the deal. And they took responsibility for their action: “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood [be] on us, and on our children.”

7. The soldiers

These were the band of military men directly under the command of governor Pilate. Once their leader had released Jesus to them to be crucified, these soldiers began to have free reins dealing disrespectfully with Jesus.

soldiers
Roman Soldiers (C) Alamy Stock Photo

They stripped Jesus of His own robe, put a mocking royal robe on Him, fabricated a crown of thorns on His head and began to bow their knees to Him in false worship.

Before leading Jesus to the Cross, they spat on Jesus, slapped His head and spoke to Him in derision, “hail the king of the Jews.”

These soldiers gave Jesus vinegar mixed with gall, which a source explained is “...usually given, according to a merciful custom, as an anodyne to those who were crucified, to render them insensible to pain. Our Lord, knowing this, refuses to drink it. He would take nothing to cloud his faculties or blunt the pain of dying. He chooses to suffer every element of woe in the bitter cup of agony given him by the Father.”

These soldiers crucified Jesus, “and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.”

8. Simon of Cyrene

The soldiers found Simon of Cyrene along the way and compelled him to bear Jesus’ cross to the desired destination. Depending on your perspective, you can say Simon was at the right place at the right time or at the right place at the wrong time.

At the right place at the right time because he had the opportunity to enter the illustrious pages of history as a burden bearer for Jesus. On the other hand, as a man in the right place at the wrong time, you may say the soldiers victimised him by forcing him to bear a burden he did not bargain for.

Whatever your perspective is, we will all agree that the history of the journey of Jesus to the Cross would be incomplete without a mention of this (un)willing burden bearer from North Africa.

9. The two thieves on either side of Jesus’ cross.

Then there were two thieves crucified with Jesus, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Both have been found guilty of criminal acts and were receiving the reward of their rapacious iniquities by being nailed to the cross.

Their being crucified alongside Jesus was a rare privilege, one that could have changed their eternal destiny once and for all. But instead of being remorseful for his sins, the thief on the left joined in the league of people mocking Jesus, saying “If you are the Christ, save yourself and save us.” He didn’t have faith in Jesus and he was far too short-sighted to see beyond the now.

Enter the second thief…

He was remorseful for his own sins, accepted his punishment and rebuked his other guy for reviling Jesus. Most importantly, he showed faith in Jesus by making the request that made him one of the first beneficiaries of the “salvation by grace through faith,” which the cross epitomises.

“Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” he said. “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” Luke 23:39-43. The second thief was saved at the last minute.

10. The passers-by

These ones had no pity on the helpless Jesus on the Cross. Instead of keeping quiet, they joined in the mocking party, reviling Jesus saying, “…Thou that destroyest the temple and buildest [it] in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

They also were too short-sighted to see the eternal purpose in the suffering of Jesus on the Cross. And of course, Jesus ignored them completely without responding to them and they went down in history as mere passers-by without any specific identity given to them.

11. The centurion and the guards

These were also part of the soldiers earlier mentioned. They are featuring here again because they had the opportunity to confess Jesus as the Son of God.

They had stood directly ahead on the crucifixion stage, guarding the dying men on the three crosses. As firsthand observers, they had witnessed something that gave them the correct perspective about whom Jesus is – the indisputable Son of God.

The records in the Gospels showed that as Jesus breathed His last, the earth quaked, the rocks split and the veil in the temple split too.

“Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”

12. The Marys and the other women

These were a group of women who have been followers and supporters of the Ministry of Jesus. “Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s children.”

They did not abandon their Lord at the time of need. Although they stood afar off observing the crucifixion of Jesus, I would say they showed courage by sticking around despite the fear and threat to life they were exposed to at the time.

13. Joseph of Arimathea

You can call this man a secret disciple of Jesus. Nothing about his discipleship was ever reported until he showed up to request the body of Jesus from Pilate for a proper burial.

As with the prevailing custom at the time, this Joseph being a rich man, had prepared a tomb for his own burial. But as a mark of respect for Jesus, he donated his final resting place for the interment of Jesus.

According to Matthew, “when Joseph had taken the body (of Jesus), he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

This singular act is what history remembers him for from that era till today.

This article examined the various characters that Jesus encountered during His trial and crucifixion based on the account in Matthew chapter 27. It is my believe that you have gained some lessons in one way or another by taking a closer look at them.

Share your own thoughts in the comment section below.

©CopyRight 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne

It Is Finished!

Statements of Jesus on the cross
Redemption: Jesus finished the work on the cross.

“It is finished.”
It is more than just a sentence…
It is the final verdict from the lips of Jesus,
Meaning, the work is completely done…
Just as it was planned from the beginning.

The price of justice is fully paid for.
The sacrifice is complete and adequate.
I am forever  ransomed, redeemed
My sins are totally forgiven…
A new beginning is now mine.

The veil is rented in two…
The great chasm bridged, blockade removed.
Access to  God the Father is granted
By the sacrifice of God the Son.
My relationship with the Godhead fully restored.

The battle is over… won and lost
My Jesus is the victorious One.
The seed of the serpent bruised His heel
But the Seed of the woman crushed the head of the serpent.
Satan is defeated, shamed, disgraced forever…

Nothing has been left undone…
My past, my present and my future
All fully taken care of by His blood.
The work of redemption is complete.
Nothing can undo what He has finished.

 

P. S: If you like this poem, let me know by clicking on the ‘Like’ button below 👇👇

©CopyRight 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne

A Conspiracy That Could Not Cover Up The Resurrection Story

A conspiracy that could not cover up the ressurection story.
Jesus has risen

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day knew very well that Jesus truly resurrected. But they were too ashamed to openly acknowledge it or let their subjects hear it, so they hatched a grand conspiracy to cover up the resurrection story.

I am not setting out with this post to fundamentally prove that Jesus rose from the dead because I believe He did. But I am taking a look at the official falsehood that was concocted to suppress the truth of the resurrection.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead as some people ignorantly claim, there would not have been any need for the religious authorities of the day to invent a theory with the sole aim of trying to refute the resurrection story as we know it.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ was a historical event that took place in time over two thousand years ago. As followers of Jesus we ‘know’ this by verified Biblical records as well as the fact that the living Jesus now lives in our hearts by the Holy spirit.

“When I first began examining the evidences (sic) for Christianity, I discovered that [the] belief in the Resurrection does not constitute a blind leap into a dark chasm but rather a step into the light. Indeed, the evidence for Christ’s resurrection is so overwhelming that no one can examine it with an open mind desiring to know the truth without becoming convinced of its truth” —Hank Hanegraaff,  in Jesus’ Resurrection: Miracle or Myth?

It is unfortunate that some people in the modern world have chosen to dismiss the Biblical account of the resurrection story as a work of fiction or a product of deluded minds. But you see, anyone who denies that Jesus rose from the death does so at his or her own risk, one that has an eternal consequence.

Doubters may continue to doubt, but it does not change the fact that Jesus died and rose from the dead. He is no longer in the grave

Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Easter Celebration

Before Jesus was born of a virgin, there were prophecies that He would be born that way. The purpose of His birth was also foretold and it was fulfilled to the later.

To fulfill the purpose of the redemption of mankind, Jesus had to die. But He assured His disciples that He would rise again from the dead. Whether or not the disciples understood or believed Him at the time is a different ball game.

In the final analysis, Jesus obediently walked the tortuous way to the cross, endured the excruciating pain on the cross and was laid to rest in a cold grave.

But Jesus came out of the grave, victoriously. As the Psalmist had proclaimed centuries earlier, the power of the grave could not hold Him for long. He came back to life. “For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave,” Psalm 16:10.

Recall too that during his earthly walk, Jesus Himself had proclaimed that He would die but He would resurrect. At one instance, He declared, “…The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.” Luke 9:22.

The Chief Priests Did Not Forget The Prophecy

The records in the Gospels show that the religious authority of the day remembered what Jesus said about rising on the third day. In order to block the perceived loophole, they decided to seal the grave properly and also set capable soldiers to keep watch over it, to ensure that Jesus’ body would not be stolen by His disciples.

Matthew’s account states that “..the next day, … the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead..” Matthew 27:62-66.

Having secured Pilate’s consent, the gravestone was sealed up and soldiers were put on the watch to ensure that Jesus’ body would not be taken away and thereafter report that resurrection had taken place. But that was not the kind of resurrection Jesus had foretold.

For instance, after chasing out traders from the Temple, Jesus proclaimed that if they killed Him He would come back to life in three days:

Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.  John 2:19.

Not only did Jesus resurrect as He promised, the rising happened in a most spectacular way: There was an earthquake and a heavenly angel appeared in blazing light and glory and the guards passed out at the sight of him.

“And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead [men]” Matthew 28:3-4.

Jesus Resurrection by Victor Uyanwanne
Benefits of the resurrection of Jesus to me

An angel rolled the stone away and Jesus walked out from the grave victoriously. Hallelujah!

Why Did An Angel Have To Rollaway The Stone?

Matthew Henry explains that “… Our Lord Jesus could have rolled back the stone Himself by His own power, but He chose to have it done by an angel to signify that having undertaken to make satisfaction for our sin, He did not break prison, but had a fair and legal discharge, obtained from heaven. He did not break prison, but an officer was sent on purpose to roll away the stone and open the prison door, which would never have been done if He had not made a full satisfaction.”

Jesus did not break ‘prison’. He got a heavenly discharge. He Resurrected with power and glory.

What about the soldiers? They witnessed the resurrection but could not withstand the accompanying awesome display of heavenly power, so they fell down and became half dead.

Enter The Conspiracy…

When the soldiers awoke from their near-death slumber, they went into town to the elders and the chief priests relating the events of the resurrection as they had witnessed it. But after collecting huge bribes, they were forced to change the resurrection story to agree with the wishes of their paymasters.

The guards were made to twist their testimony to say that the Disciples of Jesus had taken His body away by night. As shameful and unthinkable as that arrangement was, there goes the grand conspiracy they hatched with which they tried to cover up the fact that Jesus had truly risen from the dead.

And when they were assembled with the elders and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him [away] while we slept. Matthew 28:12-13

That conspiracy between the chief priests, on one hand, and the guards on the other thereafter gave rise to the so-called stolen body hypothesis, which according to Wikipedia, “…posits that the body of Jesus Christ was stolen from his burial place. His tomb was found empty not because he was resurrected, but because the body had been hidden somewhere else by the apostles or unknown persons.”

Unfortunately, many people then believed the lie that His body was stolen by His disciples. But we know better: Jesus truly rose from the dead, with power and Glory.

The grave is empty. His disciples didn’t steal His body away as the religious authorities claimed. Jesus arose from the dead with power and glory, just as He promised He would.

Jesus lives forever. And He is coming back again to judge the world.

Only a living man can speak. Jesus spoke and has been speaking, saying “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and death” Revelations 1:18.

Jesus is alive and we know it. Therefore, the ‘stolen body’ conspiracy could not and will forever remain incapable of suppressing the fact that Jesus resurrected from the dead.

What is your take on the step taken by the authorities of Jesus’ day to cover up the resurrection story?

©CopyRight 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne