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ARE YOU OF THE TREE OF LIFE OR OF DEATH?

Famished after a long day of hard labor, the men looked forward to picking some oranges from the orange trees that lined the road home. One of them spotted a tree that had the best-looking oranges, and hastily climbed on the tree and threw down some oranges. The men hungrily peeled off the orange skins, just to find themselves moaning in disappointment. As great as the oranges looked on the outside, they were all dried up and sickly inside.

In 2 Kings 2:19-22 we read about a city that was said to be ‘well-situated’, but offered nothing but deep disappointment its inhabitants and to anyone who ventured into it. Why? Because it carried a river of death. According to the residents of the city, the water of the river that flowed through the city was poisonous.

The city was ‘well-situated’ in that it was located on top of a hill, and travelers could see it from miles away, and would look forward to getting to it, so they could get some much-needed water to quench their thirsts. But alas, when they got there, they were told the water from the river is deadly.

The Lord Jesus said in John 7:38 “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (JUBILEE BIBLE 2000 version.)

So it is expected that a believer MUST carry the water of life that Christ gives. And as people expected to find good water in that city because they expected that such a well-situated city must have good water, so do people expect only goodness out of believers for the fact that we are supposed to carry the water of life. Because of what we carry, we are ‘well-situated’, ‘well-positioned’ to do so much good in the world around us! And when people know that we are Christians, they expect only that good to come out of us. Being believers makes us representatives of Christ! It makes us people who can provide solution to problems, healing to sicknesses and diseases, comfort to the sorrowful, aid to those in need, salvation to the lost sinners, etc., just as Prophet Elisha was called to do for that city. Like Elisha, we are to use the living waters of Christ that flows within us, to provide remedy for the bad situations that we encounter.

Right in the middle of the garden of Eden God planted two trees: The tree of life and the tree of death (tree of knowledge of good and evil). He forbade Adam and Eve from eating of any fruit from the tree of death. So Adam and Eve freely ate of the tree of life. That tree of life was Jesus Christ, and each time Adam and Eve ate from it, they partook more of the Lord Jesus and nourished their spirits and stayed alive and well spiritually in God. The day they ate of the tree of death, their spirits died and their relationship with God suffered a severe and critical setback.

Through salvation, this death is kicked out of our spirits, and the life of Christ is restored in us. Through Christ, we begin to receive the same nourishment that the tree of life used to give to Adam and Eve! Jesus was that tree of life, and as His representatives, we are, therefore, supposed to display the characteristics of the tree of life. !

As Apostle Paul explained in Romans 11:24 , believers are like wild olive trees that are grafted into a good olive tree. Meaning that we as individuals, are literally incorporated into the Lord Jesus, so that we are now a part of Him, as Apostle Paul declared so eloquently in Acts 17:28: “for in him we live and move and have our being.”

Therefore, as believers we are branches on the Tree of life that is Jesus-Christ, and so we must carry and display the characteristics of the Tree of life. THIS MEANS THAT NO BAD FRUITS SHOULD EVER BE FOUND ON US! Every fruit on us as branches of the Tree of life must bear nothing but the goodness, love, purity, help, healing, solutions, charity, mercy, strength and power of God that are found in Christ! WE MUST NEVER BEHAVE LIKE PEOPLE WHO ARE PART OF THE TREE OF DEATH! WE MUST NEVER BE PEOPLE WHO CARRY WATERS OF DEATH, AND WHOSE FRUITS BRING NOTHING BUT DISAPPOINTMENT, HURT, SORROW AND PROBLEMS TO OUR FELLOW MEN!

We must not be people who lead others to their spiritual death; who kill with our tongues and our deeds; who offer bad advice and bad solutions; who fan the flames of discord among people instead of seeking for peace to reign among people; who see the needy all around us and do nothing about it; who make no efforts to share the knowledge of Christ around the world. Rather BECAUSE WE’RE IN A PLACE, IT MUST MEAN THAT GOD IS THAT PLACE! The people in that place must benefit from the fact that a representative of God is in that place!

Your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors must benefit from the fact that you exist in their lives. They must have heard the Good News because you have shared it with them; they must know that God is a great God because they see the great things He does in your life; They must have experienced the love, joy, peace and goodness of Christ because they have interacted with you and seen you demonstrate those godly qualities.

It’s an inescapable fact of life that we can only exhibit the type of fruit we carry within us, even as the Lord made it plain in Matthew 7:20 “…so that by their fruits ye shall know them.” (JUBILEE BIBLE 2000)

Trees of life don’t produce bad fruits. True believers in Christ don’t produce bad fruits. So what fruits do you carry? Good-looking fruits that look great on the outside but are rotten and dry inside? Or fruits that bring nothing but great satisfaction and joy to those that are privileged to get a taste of your character?

Therefore, I implore you dear believer, in the name of our Master Jesus, to understand the kind of person you are to be as a representative of heaven, and to determine yourself to live up to that expectation for the rest of your time on this earth, to His glory! Your character is your fruit. Therefore, endeavor to develop and build a character that is founded on the holy teachings of Christ our Master, and on the definition of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, given to us in Galatians 5:22-23: “…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance…” (KJV)

Go and show the world the beauty and glory of God-Most-High!

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Posted by on November 8, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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THE BELIEVER’S RETIREMENT PLAN

So how’s your heavenly retirement plan looking these days? How big has your nest egg grown up there in heaven?

 

These are questions we never hear believers ask one another; unlike the way we ask the same type of questions about our earthly retirement plans and activities. But the cold hard truth is that just as we need to have a retirement plan in place here on earth, we need to have one in heaven as well, and the heavenly one is by far more important that the earthly one because no matter how long an earthly retirement period (the years between retirement and death) might last, the heavenly one will last for eternity!

 

One crucial understanding that every believer must have is that we were placed on this earth to work for a period of time, then go to heaven to dwell, therefore, to retire. If you can allow this understanding to guide your life, you will be able to plan for your ‘heavenly retirement’ the same way you would plan your earthly one. It’s sad enough that most people fail to even plan for their earthly retirement; what a tragedy then, that most believers fail to plan for their much anticipated home-going to heaven!

 

Just as we must ask ourselves how we will meet our financial needs after we’ve grown too old to work, we must wonder how we will fend for ourselves in heaven. The problem is that we have this general belief that in heaven, there will be no need for anything. Wrong. The truth is that we don’t really know how things work in heaven, but the Lord Jesus has told us some things about heaven, so whatever understanding we must have of heaven must come from what the Lord has told us, and here are some of the statements He has made about heaven:

 

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21, KJV)

 

Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:33,34, KJV)

 

So the Lord has made it clear that we ought to lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven. Why would that be? Of what use would the treasures be to us in heaven, other than for us to make use of it up there? So if we will need to make use of treasures up in heaven, that means there will be need to make transactions in heaven. So things will not be free up there after all. Let’s remember that God modeled life on earth after the way things are in heaven, but without the evil that we have on earth.

 

Here on earth we save up money for retirement because during the retirement period, we have for the most part ceased all income-generating activities, which tends to limit our ability to make ends meet. Now the tricky thing about being retired is that no one knows how long one might stay alive in retirement until death comes calling. So if an individual saved up enough money to last him five years, but gets to stay alive for 10 more years, those can be very harsh 10 years. For this reason we are encouraged to work hard at saving as much money as possible for our eventual period of retirement, since we have no idea how long it will last. Using this same logic, shouldn’t our highly-anticipated heavenly retirement be an even greater concern to us, since we know for a fact that it will be for eternity?!?

 

This is why in each of the statements the Lord made above, He ended by saying “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also“, in order to stress the need for us to be more concerned with the treasure that we accumulate in heaven more than the earthly one. Because our retirement to heaven should matter to us far more than our retirement on earth.

 

Imagine that a man figures out that when he retires, he’s going to be spending $50,000 a year on living expenses. If he decides to save up for 20 years of retirement period, that comes to $1,000,000. With this in mind, everything he does in life will be geared towards realizing this $1,000,000 goal! Whatever amount of this money he manages to accumulate becomes a treasure that he would think of and cherish every waking moment, and would do everything to protect and grow. The Lord is telling us to have this attitude towards our heavenly retirement instead! In fact that is what the entire chapter of Luke 12 is all about. (Please take a moment and read the entire chapter).

 

In Luke 12 we’re told about a man who had succeeded in accumulating a great treasure for himself on earth, and decided one day that he had amassed enough to live on like a king for the rest of his life. That night, God took his life, and he ended up having done all that hard work for naught. The point of the parable is not that the man should not have amassed a fortune to enjoy here on earth. Rather it was that he had only concerned himself with gathering an earthly treasure, and totally ignored the fact that there’s a place called heaven, where God dwells, and where he would have to go back to. And because he had failed to be mindful of heaven, he failed to engage in the activities that would have earned him treasures in heaven. He failed to serve God while he was alive. God called the man ‘foolish’. And the opposite of foolish is wise. Proverbs 11:30 says:

 

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. (KJV)

 

What’s wise about winning souls? It’s the fact that soul-winning is the means for us to gather treasures in heaven! It is the means by which we get paid in heaven! As we serve the kingdom of God here on earth, we earn wages both here on earth and in heaven, and it is the ones we earn in heaven that are gathered up as treasures for us to enjoy when we retire to heaven.

 

So again I ask, what’s wise about winning souls? Imagine the rich man in Luke 12 going to heaven to find nothing in his heavenly account. But he sees a man who is enjoying a serious amount of treasure up there. As he looks closer, he recognizes the man as someone he had known on earth, who had spent his time on earth doing the Lord’s work winning souls for the kingdom. Which of the two men was wiser?

 

The Lord asked me one day “those mansions that I said I’m going to build for you in heaven, what do you think I would be building them with?” I replied that I did not know. He said that it is the treasures that we accumulate in heaven that He uses to build them. Meaning that as we serve in His kingdom here on earth, we earn wages in heaven, and from those wages he builds our mansions for us in preparation for our retirement to heaven. Needless to say, that blew my mind!!!

 

Here’s a story I always share to illustrate this: Many Africans who live abroad work hard in order to send money to their home countries to build houses for themselves. When I was living in Nigeria, a cousin of mine who lived in Germany came home one day, expecting to find a fully-built and furnished house waiting for him. He had been working hard and borrowing money to send to one of our uncles to build and furnish a house for him. But when he came home, there was no house, just an empty lot with the foundations of a house. That’s an example of a man who tried to lay up treasure for himself here on earth, and the treasure was stolen from him. Had he endeavored instead to lay up all that treasure in heaven by investing all that hard-earned money into the work of the kingdom, he would have given the Lord the resources to build him a mansion in heaven. And the Lord would not have cheated him!

 

As in the parable of the rich man in Luke 12, the point of this real life story is not that we shouldn’t build houses for ourselves here on earth. It’s just an illustration of how we can get our priorities all screwed up, for lack of wisdom.

 

This is why the Lord admonished: “…Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth…”

 

In order to successfully save up for retirement, the principle of ‘deferred pleasure’ must be applied. One must deny oneself some pleasures in order to, instead, put away the money that would have been spent on that pleasure. Likewise must we deny ourselves some pleasures here on earth in other to send the money up to heaven instead, by spending that money on the work of the kingdom. For example, before setting out to build yourself an expensive dream house here on earth, have you considered what your mansion in heaven looks like? Even if you get to live in your earthly dream house for years, that will still be nothing compared to the fact that you will have to live in whatever you end up with in heaven for eternity. So let’s be wise and prioritize well. Let’s be busy sowing seeds into our heavenly treasure by financing the kingdom and by giving alms to the needy. Haven’t you read that“… Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” (Proverbs 19:17, NIV). Instead of wasting our hard-earned substances on things that will eventually prove futile, let’s be wise and ‘lend’ them to the Lord. He pays back with heavenly interests!

 

Therefore, it is imperative that we truly submit EVERYTHING we own unto God and let Him guide every facet of our lives. Only He can help us spend our resources in the best and most profitable ways, and help us maximize our treasures in heaven. So brethren, I URGE YOU TO TAKE A MOMENT AND PONDER THIS ISSUE VERY CONSCIOUSLY! Allow the Lord to ingrain in your consciousness the fact that all this is very real. If you’re somebody who has taken the time to consider the fact that you will retire one day from the work you’re doing and that you need to have a retirement plan in place, then it should be easy for you to understand how crucial it is for you to work even harder on your eventual retirement to heaven.

 

There are 4 major types of retirees:

  • Those who planned for retirement and worked on saving up for it.
  • Those who didn’t plan and didn’t save anything.
  • Those who didn’t plan, but were simply fortunate to have made a lot of money, and retired well.
  • Those who planned and tried, but simply couldn’t save up a lot.

 

So it is in heaven. Most believers have never thought about these matters at all. Therefore in heaven we find the following kinds of believers:

  • Those who worked hard for the kingdom and built great treasures for themselves.
  • Those who didn’t work for the kingdom at all.
  • Those who worked, but not much at all.
  • Those who worked hard, but not in the ways or in the areas God wanted them to serve Him.

 

You will agree with me that if those who had failed to work hard had known that their service would earn them treasures in heaven, they most likely would had have tried to do better. For this reason, LIFE IN RETIREMENT IS NOT SOMETHING TO BE LEFT TO CHANCE. Rather we must consciously work on setting ourselves up as best as possible for our retirements here on earth and in heaven.

 

Therefore, as you would sit down with a financial consultant to help and guide you in planning your earthly retirement, you need to go to the Lord and let Him show you where and how He has planned for you to serve in His kingdom. NO MATTER WHAT YOUR OCCUPATION MAY BE, THERE IS A WAY FOR YOU TO SERVE GOD IN THIS WORLD. And if you can’t serve Him in deeds, serve Him in kind! REMEMBER THAT NOTHING YOU ACHIEVE HERE ON EARTH IS WORTH IT IF IT STANDS IN THE WAY OF YOUR ACHIEVING SUCCESS IN HEAVEN! No treasure or good life that you can create for yourself here on earth is worth it if it prevents you from creating a treasure and a good life for yourself in heaven! BE WISE ABOUT THIS!

 

I will close by pointing out once again that the Lord repeated the phrase “…For where your treasure is, there will your heart be alsobecause it is a strong urging from the Lord for us to be more mindful of our heavenly treasure than of our earthly one. I pointed out earlier that a man who has a retirement plan will cherish and protect his nest egg more ferociously than a hen would protect her nest. The Lord is admonishing us to have this attitude even more towards our heavenly nest egg. This doesn’t mean that our motive for wanting to serve Him should be based on the rewards we receive in heaven, but He’s simply urging us not to make the mistake of neglecting the treasures that we accumulate in heaven, BECAUSE WE WILL NEED IT TO LIVE when we get up there!!!

 

The work abounds in God’s vineyard, and the harvest has been ripe, waiting for laborers! Be that laborer and watch God faithfully bless you here on earth and in heaven!

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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ARE YOU REALLY IN THE LORD’S SERVICE?

Picture a man who goes to work at a construction site, and goes straight to the foreman, gets assigned to a job detail, and gets to work. At the end of the day, he gets no salary for his work. Why? Because he was never hired for the job in the first place. He had failed to first of all go to the Human Resources department to apply for the job and get hired. This is similar to serving in the Lord’s vineyard without ever getting hired first. Without first becoming a servant of His. Meaning, without first receiving Him as one’s Savior and Lord.

Service in the kingdom is paramount in Christianity, as believers are saved to serve the King of kings in His kingdom. We are saved from serving in the devil’s kingdom to serving in the Lord’s kingdom. Therefore, serving in the Lord’s ‘vineyard’, wherever that may be – at a church as a worker, on the missions field, on the evangelism team, thru your own personal ministry, etc. – is a must for a believer. Every believer is ‘called’ to serve in some very specific capacity in the kingdom.

But salvation is what qualifies an individual to earn a reward for serving in the Lord’s kingdom. This is a crucial matter because like our imaginary construction worker, so many people that are serving the Lord in one way or the other, will do all that work just to end up hearing the Lord say to them “…I never knew you. Depart from me, you that work iniquity!” (Matthew 7:23).

What went wrong for such people? The answer is simply that they were never really saved from sin while they served the Lord. One of the greatest tragedies in this world is the fact that the Church is full of believers who have compromised their salvation so that in the Lord’s eyes, there’s no difference between them and the unsaved, as they still indulge in all the sinful activities they’re supposed to have been saved from. The big question then is: Are most believers truly saved? After receiving the Lord and getting saved from sin, did they remain free from sin or have most gone back to living in sin, even though they are strong and very active members of a church?

Some of the scariest passages of Scriptures are where the Lord denies entry into heaven to people who thought for sure that they merited to get into heaven because of the service they rendered unto Him on earth. So it is VERY POSSIBLE to serve in the Lord’s vineyard WITHOUT ACTUALLY being in His service. Why? Because the kind of service that He requires first and foremost is not being rendered by the believer. And what kind of service is that? Spiritual service. Service done within oneself. Our relationship with the Lord is based within our beings, in our hearts and in our spirits because that is:

– Where we belong to Him, or not.
– Where we love Him, or not.
– Where we keep ourselves pure and holy, or not.
– Where we obey and keep His commandments, or not.
– Where we love all men, or not.

It is in our hearts and spirits that we decided that we wanted to accept the Lord Jesus as our Lord and savior, and that is where we decide everyday whether we want to remain His property by deciding to keep ourselves holy unto Him and faithfully following His commands. Therefore, it is in our hearts and spirits that we decided whether to remain employed in His vineyard, or not. Because the day we go back to sin, we go back to serving Satan, and all the service we render unto the Lord are not recognized by the Lord. So many will kill themselves trying to serve the Lord with all their might, showing up for choir practice rain or shine, spending long hours walking the streets passing out gospel tracts, cleaning up the church and making sure the senior pastors’ needs are met, etc… But if they do all this while being imperfect in their hearts towards the Lord, while living in some sin, while having lost their salvation…. ‘Depart from me…’ is what they might hear in the end. God forbid!

Many serve because they heard a message on ‘service’ that moved them into deciding to serve. Some serve to be seen as faithful workers in the church. Some do because they truly want to serve the Lord. All that is commendable here on earth. But to the Boss in heaven, all that is insignificant if we don’t first of all serve Him in Spirit and in truth! The Boss Himself made this clear when He said:

“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spiritand they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24 (KJV)

If your life doesn’t give Him glory, your services couldn’t possibly give Him glory. If He hasn’t accepted you, how would He accept your services?

Therefore, brethren, I urge you to reaffirm your commitment to living a life that is pleasing to the Father by serving Him in the way that truly matters to Him, by having a genuine Father-son/daughter relationship with Him, and walking in His holiness and righteousness. That is what He truly desires and wants from us. Ask the Lord to rekindle your passion for His holiness and righteousness, and determine to never go back to living in sin. Live a life that makes you always ready to meet the Lord, so that when you do, it will be to hear Him say to you: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2012 in READINESS CHECK!

 

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