WORD CLINIC 28: Don’t worry

WORD CLINIC 28: Don’t worry

“Doctor, I want to thank you for the surgery you did on me to remove my right scrotal swelling. And my groin swelling too. I’m immensely grateful. I was really scared then, especially when the scrotal swelling persisted after the surgery. But you kept saying, ‘Don’t worry. Don’t worry. It would subside.’ That really helped to calm me. And indeed, it went.”

And just like that patient of mine, I’ve made it a culture to always tell my patients, and those around me, not to worry. No matter how bad the prognosis is, I always end my consulting sessions by asking them not to worry. I state the facts about their health condition and about what solutions medicine has to offer, then end with the reassuring note that they should not worry. Because worry helps no one. It rather makes things worse.

And that was exactly what Jesus was saying in Matthew six twenty-five downwards. He asked us not to worry about our life – what we would eat, drink, or wear. He made us understand that life is more than food and clothings. “Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” asked Jesus rhetorically. He summed His admonition by asking us not to worry about the mundane things of this world but to place premium on things of eternal value, then other things would be sorted out.

I’ve found out that worry does more damage in our society than many of us realise. Many people suffer from mental health issues because they have allowed the enomousity of their problems to weigh them down. Depression is on the rise. Its prevalence is so high now that we read in the news almost everyday about someone who committed suicide. Chronic diseases like hypertension are on the rise too, worrying being a major factor. Some people struggle with sleepless nights, swallowing pills after pills in order to get some sleep. But after my long consultation with them, I find out that the problem most times is psychological. Worry.

Our work place has not been left unaffected by this menace called worry. Worry has reduced the productivity of many. It has led to some traders giving out the wrong change; to some factory workers letting their hand slide under the machine, chopping off a finger; to some health workers administering the wrong medication to their patients; to some teachers and lecturers assigning the wrong score while marking scripts. The extent of worry’s damage is endless.

Many relationships have been made sour due to worry. When worry sets in, joy disappears. You become disinterested in the activities you do with your love ones and friends. The passion dissipates, and everyone around you is saddled with the responsibility of making you happy. You cast that depressed mood on others around you, making the time spent with them unfruitful, and straining the relationship in the long run.

The apostle Peter in First Peter five verse seven admonished us to cast our cares upon the Lord for He cares for us. And indeed, that’s the solution. Problems exist, no one is denying that. And they always would. But are you to go about your day carrying the heavy load of your problem on your head? The answer is “No”. The Bible has asked you to lay that burden of your problems on the Lord, because He is concerned about you; your life – what you would eat, drink, put on; the man or woman you want to marry, the car you want to drive, the phone you want to buy, the children’s school fees you’re to pay, the bills you’re to settle, and every other mundane things. He is more concerned about them even more than you are. So please put them on Him. Because He is able to carry them and solve them.

There’s this song I love about burdens and problems that I grew up to hear Christians of my father’s age sing. (Those of you born recently, and those who didn’t mix up with Christians of the 19th Century may not know it.) I’d just share the lyrics with you.

“Leave it there. Leave it there. Take your problems to the Lord and leave it there. He will surely deliver you, as you put your trust in Him. Take your problems to the Lord and leave it there.”

Many a times, folks would go to the altar and cry out to the Lord singing the above song, pouring their hearts to Him and casting their burdens on Him. The truth is that many do cast their burdens on the Lord in the place of prayers, but very few leave it there. For many, no sooner did they pray, asking the Lord to take over their problem, did they start worrying about that same problem. If you have laid your problems on the Lord, leave Him to carry it. Don’t bear those burdens again through worry.

And the last time I checked, worry is not a fruit of the spirit. Joy is. So don’t let the devil box you up. Don’t worry, but rather, rejoice evermore.

gidmedico.

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The Will Of God 02 – What is God’s will?

The Will Of God 02 – What is God’s will?

I began a teaching series on this crucial subject of God’s will and how central it is to the Christian faith. I pointed out that almost the entire pages of Scriptures are lined with this subject, such that one could submit that to be oblivious of God’s will is akin to not being a Christian. It is also worthy of note that the apostle Paul laboured in the place of prayer that the church be filled with the knowledge of God’s will (Colossians 1:9). Because of these, I would love to attempt an explicit explanation of what God’s will is.

The will of God refers to His desire, counsel, plan and programme. It is what He wants to exist in all facets of existence, and what He wants done by all His creations, to the minutest detail.

God’s will is not just a passive broad blueprint for all of creation but an active plan of what He wants to do, has done, and is doing.

In the Old Testament, we saw God creating everything (Genesis 1), with the singular intent that they bring Him pleasure (Revelation 4;11). After the fall of man, He began His plan for mankind’s salvation which He instituted before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). He chose Abraham, and the race of Israel to establish His covenant. We saw His specific plan for Israel actualised which culminated in Christ. 

In the New Testament, we see Christ fulfilling God’s will in His life and ministry, and fulfilling His will in going to the cross. We also see that He has an overall plan for the church and specific plans for the believer.

Many people, believers inclusive, live their lives completely oblivious of God. Some who are God conscious see God as a tool. They believe He created them, and left them to decide what they want to do with their lives. They also see Him as all-powerful, and believe He would be very instrumental to them achieving their life-goals. So, they design their well thought-out plans and employ the all-powerful God to help them execute it. They achieve some success, and are elated and grateful to God. Only if they knew they have it all turned upside down.

God is creator and initiator. He has a plan which He began running even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and has created us to be a part of that plan. He wants to use us in the execution of that programme, and not we using Him. So, His plan is both broad and specific. Broad, encompassing all of creation, and yet beyond creation. Specific, containing fine details as regards you His creation, and the role you have in His overall plan.

I’d love to use the analogy of a car manufacturer to explain this. The ultimate plan is to make a car. He has smaller specific plans to manufacture the parts, like the engine, body, tires, internal fittings such as chairs, steering wheel, and so on. The completion of his specific plan of manufacturing each part will result in the completion of his overall goal of manufacturing the car. The parts are not the final goal, the car is.

Knowing this about God’s will helps the believer to respond in reverential awe to seek to know and do God’s will for his or her life that he or she may remain relevant to God’s overall programme.

If God permits, I will mention the different wills that exist and how they came about in the next study.

gidmedico

WORD CLINIC 27: Two-faced Christian

WORD CLINIC 27: Two-faced Christian

First consultant. An endocrinologist. A worker in church. Sits in her consulting room, and says to her patient who was attempting to profess his healing. “In this clinic, I am your doctor, and you have to go by my prescription. When we get to church, we can discuss faith and other Bible stuff…”

Second consultant. An orthopaedic surgeon. A pastor. Sits in his consulting room and attempts making a case for Christ after his patient, a Muslim, took his bait, by beginning a discussion about Allah. “I am a doctor, but I believe in the spiritual realm, and it’s obvious you do also. Sickness has a spiritual undertone which is sin, which Jesus dealt with. And your Qu’ran also talks about Jesus…”

Two believers. One two-faced, the other, holistic.

And sadly, I find many two-faced Christians these days. Believers who live their ‘secular’ lives, leaving God out of it, and live their Christ lives leaving their secular activities out of it. They confine God-consciousness to only their quiet time and church services, and live entirely different lives with no trace of Christ during their regular daily activities. 

These two-faced christian folks see it as unprofessional to bring God into work. “Let’s talk politics not Bible.”, some will says. “Christianity should not be mixed with medicine. You have to remain neutral when dealing with your patients.”, some christian medics will maintain. “You don’t understand how the cooperate world works. You need to tip people with cash to open doors.”, some believers would say in defence when reprimanded about giving bribe.

There isn’t supposed to be a dichotomy between the lives we live inside and outside the church. If your fellow work colleagues, with whom you’ve been with for years, have no clue about your christian faith, or your fellow church workers, have no clue about what kind of secular job you do, or your neighbours where you live, have no idea about your faith nor the kind of work you do, then you’re a hypocrite. There should be a superb sync between your church life, work life, and all other lives. In fact, you should have just one life which is Christ.

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see…” says Matthew five sixteen. What light? The light of Christ exuding from your life. Who is to see this light? People. When are they to see it? During your every day activities.

Mind you, I am not saying believers should be mediocre, praying when they should be working, or reading their Bibles when they should be attending to customers. I am only saying you should not box your Christ to church and christian gatherings. You carry God, and God is a spirit. You are born of Him, so you are a spirit. Therefore, all your activities are spiritual. And you should know this. And work with this mindset.

I can’t remember having to introduce myself in any gathering as a Christian. But every single place I have stepped into, complete strangers related with me as a Christian. Some even addressed me as pastor. I was carrying no Bible; wore no clergy attire. I had no badge on my clothes or body. But I have a seal of the Holy Spirit in my spirit, which exudes Christ in my words, actions, and worldview. So whether I am eating amala, or seeing patients, or buying food stuff at the market, people should see Christ and call me a Christian.

“. . . The voice is Jacob’s voice but the hands are the hands of Esau.” Genesis 27:22. This, Isaac said when Jacob deceitfully presented himself as Esau in order to steal his blessing. And many believers are doing the same today. Their voices profess Christ, but their hands are acting worldly.

To be two-faced, is to be a monster. And even you won’t want to behold it. To be one-faced is sane. The face of Christ.

gidmedico

The Will Of God 01 – Intro

The Will Of God 01 – Intro

I currently have ten core values I live by. They kind of describe my worldview, which are of course based on God’s word. The second of these core values is this: I know and do God’s will. And then, this question may follow. What is the will of God?

I’ve come across a lot of believers who don’t know, or are not sure of what God’s will is. Some have been bedazzled by Bible scholars who spill jargons about this subject that are difficult to comprehend. Others have met other zealous folks who describe one action as God’s perfect will and another as his permissive will, and they are left the more confused. If you don’t understand what the will of God is, you are an unwise person. Or put more bluntly, you are a fool. Mind you, I didn’t call you that. The Bible did.

Ephesians five seventeen says that you should not be unwise or foolish but you should understand what the will of the Lord is. The will of God is one theme that all parts of Scripture talks about in one way or the other. Due to how fundamental and pivotal the knowledge of God’s will is, I would be taking a series of teachings on the subject as God leads me.

If God permits, we would consider the different wills that exist, the nature of God’s will – which is good, acceptable and perfect. We would also consider the overall programme of God, His will for creation, His counsel for the church and His specific will for the believer.

Amidst the discussion, we hopefully will consider how different people perceive God’s will; the right and wrong perceptions. Those whose perception can be described with the rail track analogy, and others whose perception fits the parking lot analogy.

We would hopefully cap up the series by considering how to know God’s will and the dividends of doing His will.

If Jesus sought nothing else but the will of His father (John 5:30), then you can’t, or better put, shouldn’t do otherwise. 

The series promises to be edifying as we seek to know and do God’s will together.

gidmedico

WORD CLINIC 26: Christian Diligence

WORD CLINIC 26: Christian Diligence

I currently live in a community in which most of her youths are lazy, lazy to the core. Most do not want to go to school, neither do they want to learn a trade. They just want money. Quick money. Today, they’re riding Okada, tomorrow they dabble into carpentry which they know nothing about, swindle some people, get some money. The day after, they follow the bricklayers and do some shabby jobs, just to make money. And what do they do with the little money they get? Squander it on alcohol, hard drugs, women or the latest fashion. If this menace was only limited to unbelievers I won’t worry much. But sadly, I find this same degree of laziness even amongst believers.

Christians are meant to be the gold standard of diligence. Some brethren have mistaken grace for laziness, thinking that the finished work of Christ forbade the believer from doing any kind of work. But a careful student of Scriptures and disciple of Christ would discover that the entire Bible encourages the believer along the lines of diligence, and that Christ is a perfect epitome of hardwork.

By way of definition, diligence is a constant, devout and earnest effort to accomplish whatever is undertaken. It is persistent exertion of the body and mind in the execution of any task. A diligent person is inclined to work.

After the apostle Paul had written his inspired systematic theology on the doctrines of the Christian faith in chapters one through eleven, to the Christians at Rome, he went on in twelve to admonish them on how to practically apply these doctrines. One of such admonishments was found in verse eleven, “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” I love how the Good News Bible renders it. “Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion.”

There exists two prongs of diligence. Persistence and Passion. For every work to be described as hard, and any labour as diligent, it must possess these two qualities.

A diligent person is persistent, devoted, committed and consistent. That person’s work is not haphazard. He or she can be trusted, shows up when needed and completes whatever task that is started.

Also, a diligent person is passionate, energetic and earnestly executes a given task. That person does his work with enthusiasm that is infectious. He or she doesn’t grumble while working, but puts his or her might into the work. For these persons love their work.

In what areas should a believer be diligent? In all areas actually. But the scriptures lay emphasis on some areas in which a believer must be diligent.

If there is one fundamental area a believer should display diligence, it is with guarding or keeping the heart. Proverbs four twenty-three says, “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Everything you do, or will become comes from your heart. Seeing the gravity of this, you must with all diligence censor, keep a watch and be deliberate about the thoughts you allow in your heart.

A believer should be diligent in doing God’s will. This is explicit in all of Scriptures. “You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God…” said Moses to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:17. The Psalmist affirmed this by saying in Psalm 119:4, “You have commanded us to keep your precepts diligently.”

Another core area of diligence is with the study of God’s word. In the admonishment of Paul to Timothy his son in 2 Timothy 2:15, he said, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” He had earlier told him to give attendance to reading (1 Timothy 4:13). 

Many believers are guilty in this area of the study of God’s word. They hardly read their Bibles. For those who do, they only take a cursory glance daily at the bible, just to appease their conscience. When was the last time you deliberately did a thematic or character study from the Bible? When did you last reference a Bible concordance or commentary or dictionary? Have you read through your entire Bible with the intent of knowing and doing scriptures?

A believer should be diligent in praying and seeking God. Jesus told His disciples that men ought to pray and not to faint (Luke 18:1). Paul told us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonian 5:17). The writer of Hebrews reminds us that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). For we pray little. Oh that we would display the utmost diligence in seeking God in the place of prayer.

Time will fail me to mention other areas in which a Christian should display diligence. In training your children (Proverbs 22:6; Deuteronomy 4:9); in helping and ministering to other believers (Hebrews 6:10-12), with discipleship and nurturing of those placed under you (Proverbs 27:23).

Some Christians may say, “I no get strength for too much work o! My life no like stress at all.” But that isn’t true. For God has given us as believers all we need, and the power to be diligent through the finished work of Christ. (2 Peter 1:2-3; Philippians 4:13). So you have the grace to be diligent.

Diligence has its dividends. Hard work pays. The diligent is prosperous. His soul is made fat and his hands make rich (Proverbs 13:4; 10:4). He receives favour from God and people (Proverbs 11:27), is highly honoured among men (Proverbs 22:29) and rises up to leadership positions (Proverbs 12:24).

I’d like to sound a note of warning. Diligence is not being a busybody. Some persons are seriously working, but as busybodies. They wander from house to house, meddling with other people’s matters and saying things they ought not to, in the name of counselling (2 Thessalonian 3:11; 1 Timothy 5:13; 1 Peter 4:15). Mind you, this is not being diligent.

Also, diligence is not doing things hypocritically just to make a show. Some believers engage in lengthy spiritual activities like praying, fasting, teaching, visiting, and so on, just for a show, to please others. They have the Pharisees as brothers. For Christ did not condole their acts of hypocrisy, neither will He approve them as diligence.

No one wants to work with a lazy person, not even the lazy. Diligence endears us to people. And if a Christian is to shine as light, he or she must exude diligence.

And if your morale is low, and your countenance fallen whenever it is time for work, you’re lazy. Please repent.

gidmedico.

WORD CLINIC 25: Christian accountability

WORD CLINIC 25: Christian accountability

“I don’t need to pattern my life after any man of God, or older Christian brother or sister. I just need to stay with God’s word. It is the best teacher. In fact, it is the only teacher. After all, Christianity is personal.” said a brother to me years back, as we discussed Christian discipleship and accountability. His statement may appear true to the undiscerning, but it is only half truth.

Many believers have remained stunted in their spiritual growth, and some have fallen out of the faith because they failed to understand and accept the pivotal role that accountability plays in Christianity.

Christian accountability entails been answerable to other believers. It means been obligated to report, explain or justify one’s actions or words to other believers that one has deliberately hand-picked. It is a state that allows one’s life to be poke nosed into. I know this doesn’t go down well with many, but it is scriptural.

First Peter five verse five says in the King James version, “. . . you younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another. . .” I like the way The Message translation renders this same scripture. It reads thus, “. . . you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other. . .” That’s Christian accountability, being down to earth with one another.

From my short Christian sojourn and from my interaction with other believers, I’ve found out that there can exist at least three types of Christian accountability relationships. The first is that that exists between you and another believer that you perceive as ahead of you in the faith. The second is the accountabilty that exists between you and a believer in the same spiritual growth level as yours. And the third is that accountability relationship that exists between you and a younger believer that has committed himself or herself to you.

Every believer must place himself or herself under someone older in the faith. This should be a deliberate step. The essence is to seek guidance. Apostle Paul admonished the church in Corinth in First Corinthians eleven one to be followers of him, even as he followed Christ. In the same vein, he admonished the Philippian church in Philippians three seventeen to follow his example; and that just as they had him as a model, they should keep their eyes on those who lived as he did.

You should have Christian brethren in your growth sphere that you’re accountable to. Prayer partners that you can unburden before the Lord with. Christian friends that can be frank with you about your shortcomings that others may be reluctant to talk to you about. Brethren that you can ‘argue’ God’s word with, all with the intent of edifying one another. I believe Proverbs twenty-seven verse seventeen was inferring this level of accountability when it says that iron sharpens iron, so shall a man sharpen the countenance of his friend.

Now some leaders or older believers don’t think it necessary to be accountable to those under them. Then how else can you be a better example? Is it not by being completely open to your followers? Your life being bare for them to critic and learn from? Believers that have committed themselves to you do not only learn from your spiritual strides and discipline, but also from your weaknesses and shortcomings. When they know how you fell and stood, when you empathise by laying your life bare before them, then they can face their challenges and successfully overcome them. The superman portrait would not work. It would only put you in a class of your own. 

Someone may ask, “How then do I know who to subject myself to? Can it be any believer?” Well, in a general sense, we are subject to every believer through the community of the church. But in deliberate detailed accountabilty, you cannot be subject to just any Christian. You need to seek for a believer or believers that are sound in the faith, have a good understanding of scriptures and a functional walk with God. It is good to choose someone that is in the same line of your calling. This will help prepare, and not derail you from your specific purpose.

May I quickly sound a caution. The apostle Paul asked believers to follow him as he followed Christ. Christ is the goal and ultimate model. You should follow other believers as long as they take similar steps with Christ, and cease the very moment they derail.

Someone may be saying, “Bro, I’ve looked around. There are no matured Christians for me to commit myself to. All the believers around me have issues.” I’d say too that you have issues; issues that can only be dealt with via Christian accountability. If you don’t know who to start with in this accountability business, I’d say start with the pastor of your local church. That is one of his primary responsibilities. If the pastor of your local church is not someone you can follow his example, please look for another church.

And who says you must have only one accountability relationship? Who says you must only seek counsel and listen to one person? For in the multitude of counsellors there is safety, and purposes are established (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22)

If you err and nobody can edge you to the right path; if you miss church and nobody calls to check on you; if you’re struggling with an addiction and there’s no believer you can confide in; if you’re confused about a critical life decision and you don’t seem to have any older believer you can talk to; if you suddenly take up a new strange doctrine and there’s no older believer that the brethren can run to, to speak sense into you; then you’re sitting on a keg of gunpowder. And God helps you when it explodes.

Christian accountability is a must. For it forms an essential pillar of the Christian community.

gidmedico

WORD CLINIC 24: The Value of Relationship

WORD CLINIC 24: The Value of Relationship

I peered into her eyes. I loved her, everything about her person. She was one person I had grown to admire of late. She was fast becoming a role model and mentor. She was my biology teacher. As I sat behind the work bench of the laboratory in one of those revision classes before my SSCE exams, staring with dilated pupils at her,  our eyes met. She stopped addressing the class and turned,  facing me. “Gideon,  I’ve noticed this – you don’t have friends. It’s not good. You have to do something about it.”
She was right. Prior to this time I didn’t care. I was a young chap who had met God in my early teenagehood. The bulk of my peers didn’t care about my God. So, in order to stay pure I kept to myself. Up until I was reprimanded by this teacher of mine,  I didn’t care. But now I did. As I walked out the gate of my school that fateful afternoon,  I pondered on these things. “She’s right,  your biology teacher.” the Spirit of God was saying to me. “You actually need to work on your relational life. You’ve been a good example in school; people admire your life from a distance,  but you’ve made little impact on them. Do you know why?” “Why Lord?” I asked. “Your relational life. You need to place more value on relationships,  with God and people.”
And that was it. The last part of the Lord’s statement to me became my number one core value. And I believe it should be the same for others.
Every believer should place the utmost premium on relationship,  because God does. God is a relational being, and He wired man a relational being too. The primary reason God created man is for fellowship. After the fall of man in the third chapter of Genesis, we were told that Adam and his wife heard the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. What was God seeking? Fellowship. He obviously had been meeting with them,  and even after their fall, He still came to check on them.
In the same vein, God has created man to fellowship with one another. For He created him and placed him in a family,  and a community. Why? Because man was never meant to be alone. Irrespective of temperament, for any human to survive and remain sane, that human needs people. Not just people, but personal persons with whom they can effectively communicate and bond. It’s the reason why the cruel punishment of solitary confinement is meted to condemned criminals; to render them useless.
As food supplies nourishment to the body, so does healthy relationship to the soul and entire being of man. For a man is either made or marred by his relationships.
A vertical relationship with God must be first,  forming the basis for a healthy horizontal relationship with people. Show me a man who has a functional relationship with God, and I’d show you a man who has a fruitful relationship with people. “My relationship with God is working well,  but I simply don’t have time for people.” some believers would say. That is a big fat lie from the pit of hell. If you don’t have meaningful relationships with people, if you don’t have friends, I can say boldly that you don’t have a functional relationship with God. If God wasn’t interested in your relationship with people, He would have taken you immediately to heaven after He got you saved.
David had a friend he loved as his soul,  Jonathan. Jesus had friends; for aside his immediate twelve disciples, He shared a fond relationship with faithfuls like Lazarus,  and Mary and Martha,  his sisters. He even fostered relationships with unbelievers when He ate with task collectors and sinners at Zaccheus’ house. So your excuse of temperament or you not being a people-person is not tenable. For you have Christ as example.
Examine your relationships, with God and people. Start with your nuclear family. When last did you tell your parents that you love them? When last did you spend quality time gisting with your wife? Have you ever asked your colleague at work about his welfare and family? Or you feel it is none of your business. Do you still exchange pleasantries with those you meet in the bus? Or you feel it’s old fashioned. Please turn a new leaf. For God wants you to give the utmost care to your relationships.
Before going to bed next time, ask yourself this question, “How have I bettered my relationship with people today?” For the value of a life, is in the value of the relationships he has built. For what would matter most to you in your dying bed is not the amount of wealth you’ve amassed, but the valuable relationships you possess.
gidmedico