look up

LOOK UP

In this life, we all go through some struggles, troubles, or problems. For example, we have illnesses, job losses, immigration matters, and relationship issues either through our spouses, children, or co-workers. The book of Ephesians 6:12 says that “for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” In such a time like this and when these situations in our lives occur, we cannot but need help. The greater help and power that we need during those situations can only come from our Lord. Psalm 121:1, “I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help,” talks of where our help is coming from. For He has promised to keep us from all evils and calamities as He continues to watch over us. Hence, we must look up to our God, the author, and finisher of our faith.  Let us consider some of the ways to look up to God which include:

KNOWING GOD: “The people that know their God shall be strong and shall carry out great exploits.” – Daniel 11:32. Firstly, one needs to confess Jesus as Lord and personal savior of one’s life. Do you know your God? He is at the door, knocking, calling, and waiting for us all to come to Him. Jesus says, “come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give your rest” – Matt 11:28.  1 Peter 5:7 also encourages us to bring all worries and troubles and leave it on God for He cares for us.

FEAR OF GOD: Another way to look up to God is to have the fear of God in you, which means to reverence God. Like Abraham had the fear of the Lord and it fostered his obedience under great stress. “Do not reach out with the knife in your hand against the boy and do nothing to harm him, for I know that you fear God” (with reverence and profound respect) – Genesis 22:12.

INCREASING FAITH: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen” – Heb 11:1. Continuously increasing our faith is by studying the Word of God, praying daily, and positive confession of our faith. Put faith into action like the Shunammite woman. We are told in the scriptures that she was a “great woman” who had faith and one who showed hospitality to prophet Elisha and who God used to make sure she did not remain childless in her life as she gave birth to a son a year after the prophecy (2 Kings 4: 8-37).

REJOICING IN THE LORD: Today is Thanksgiving Sunday, which the Church has set aside to give thanks to God for all He has done for us. Let’s come before Him with an attitude of gratitude and rejoice just like one of the ten lepers who came back to appreciate Jesus for the healing (Luke 17:14-16).  Our life experiences often reveal that we do not show enough gratitude to those good people in our lives who go beyond and above to assist us and sometimes we take their help for granted. As Christians, we must act like one of the ten lepers who came back to show gratitude, though not needed by our Lord Jesus Christ, after the miraculous healing of the sick lepers in question. Also let’s praise God for those things He is yet to do for us.  As in the first book of Thessalonians 5:15, it says, “In all things give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us.”

STAYING FOCUSED: Finally, let us stay focused and connected to God for He is our unending eternal salvation. “I am the vine, and you are the branches, He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing (John 15:5). The fruit that our heavenly Father looks to in His children is Christlikeness. To be productive, a vine must submit to pruning, the beneficial discipline of the Father and we are all encouraged to recognize and do that in our lives. “The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5: 22-23).  Therefore, when we abide in Him, we will begin to bear those fruits mentioned in the above scriptures.

In conclusion, brothers, and sisters, look up to God as He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will be with you until the end. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8: 38-39).” Therefore, I encourage you to LOOK UP.

foundation

OUR FIRM FOUNDATION

I always remember that passage in John 14:15 that says, “if you love me keep my commandments”, and I wonder what the things are that keep us from obeying His commandments.  Many times, it is because we have conflicting or competing instructions.  And we decide to follow the other one because the root of our knowledge of the God we serve, or our faith is not deep enough. So, this makes it very easy for any wind of thought to blow us wherever it may.  There is this familiar biblical story of two men building their homes. Both men had access to the same materials. Both had choices as to where and how to build their homes. But one man’s house stood while the other man’s house collapsed in the great storm. The difference, we were told, was in the foundations. One built on the Rock, the Eternal Rock, the other on the shifting sands of time (Matthew 7:24-27).  This story was told by our Lord Jesus Christ in regards to listening to and obeying the Word of God.  However, the principle is time-tested and could be applied in many areas of our lives.

In this life we are all builders, building one thing or the other, and the Bible basically tells us that whatever we build stands a better chance of remaining standing if we build it on a solid foundation.  The flip side is also true if the two men had the same foundation and one builds with superior materials while the other builds with inferior materials.  It will not take long before the building with the inferior materials also collapses.  So once the foundation is taken care of, we must also worry about the quality of materials that we are using to build.  Sometime ago, I was watching a Nigerian TV channel, Channels TV, and the principal of a secondary school was asked his thoughts about why a block of classrooms in his school built in 2010 had collapsed in 2015.  He asked the TV journalist to follow him.  Then he said, “Look at this rafter here, it was supposed to be 2 X 4 but they used 2 X 2; look at the blocks, they were supposed to be 9-in blocks, but they used 6-in blocks.  Why will the building not collapse?”  In essence, the contractors collected money for a solid building but instead used inferior materials.  It only took 5 years for the building to collapse.  I can also bet that in this particular case both the foundation and the materials were inferior.

We, Christians, are building a temple for God.  What is the foundation for our building?  We must always build on the foundation that our Lord Jesus Christ has laid.  Even after building on that foundation, we must take time to make sure that we build with quality materials.  The Bible tells us that when the foundation is bad, the wind comes and blows it down.  Similarly, when we use inferior materials, when the fire comes, it burns everything to ashes.  There are different types and shades of thoughts out there.  People with weak foundations can easily be swayed and unduly influenced by these dangerous thoughts. Christ is our firm foundation and only He can keep us standing when the tempters come.

My brothers and sisters, let us build our faith in a qualitative manner.  We do that when we build on Christ’s firm foundation.  No outside influence, no contrary spirit can derail us from doing our Father’s will.  Our life will be lived in the fullness of God’s perfect will, working diligently for Him and walking in the light of His perfect plan.  In our walk with Christ, the Bible enjoins us to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” A life that is influenced by all sorts of ungodly ideas is a life that has a shaky foundation.  A qualitative life builds the character and spiritual achievements of the godly life on that solid foundation as we walk with Him. At the end of our lives, the temple of our soul will be tested to see if it can withstand the fire test. We are told that if any of our work remains after it is tested with fire, then we will be rewarded. On the other hand, if a person’s temple is burned to the foundation, it indicates that a person did not live to potential. I plead with you brothers and sisters, let us live each of our days in joyful service by being intentional, diligent, hardworking, resourceful, and obedient servants of God, “For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” Ecclesiastes 12:14.