FACE YOUR UGLY…PRUNING

“I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15: 1 – 2 (NKJV)

Imagine…

You’re a tree with beautiful, green branches bearing fruit and then an old, dried out branch begins to shoot out. It bears no fruit, growing steadily until it begins to affect fruits on other branches, causing them to wither albeit slowly and unnoticeably.

So God alerts you. How? Your bad branch becomes a lot more evident. You’re almost constantly jealous, or acting in selfishness or lashing out in anger…. The worst part is, you hate it but you can’t seem to do anything about it. You’ve tried though. Oh He knows you’ve tried, He sees you trying till you get frustrated. He waits; your frustration should lead you to the One who can truly help. He waits for you to see the neon signs, acknowledge the problem and ask for His help. The moment you give Him permission to get rid of it, He wastes no time. Reaching for His shears, The Gardener cuts off the dead branch in one swift stroke; then He carefully and lovingly tends to the tree so that it begins to bear even more fruit than it ever did.

…………………………………..

I’ve titled this face your ugly because the truth is there’s a lot of ugly in all of us. That’s why Jesus came, the only beautiful one, to make us as beautiful as He is. But from time to time, our ugly nature yearns to rear its head and destroy our beautiful. Thankfully, God is right there, ready to mold us right back into shape again… once we ask Him to. Simply put, your ‘ugly’ is your flesh and the flesh is filled with rubbish! I hate it! But there is a divine solution and so even when ‘ugly’ surfaces, we don’t have to remain ugly for very long.

The truth is some of these ugly traits tend to hide in the dark corners of our hearts so sometimes, you’re unaware of it or you’ve chosen to just ignore it but God who sees your heart in 3D vision and is aware of the plans He has for you knows that it is not okay for these to be present. To be all He will have you be, every trace of ugly must be cleaned out; so He reaches down and brings it to the surface. This is why it begins to strongly manifest in your character and if you’ve been walking in the Spirit, it immediately throws you off balance because you see the ‘ugly’, you become aware that it is there and you can’t seem to shake it. This helplessness then propels you to humbly kneel before God, to tell Him about these issues and ask for His divine help.

There is a relief that comes with asking for God’s help in such matters.  You know He has heard, You know He’s going to get right on it and the best part, your heart will be perfectly beautiful again, even more beautiful because God does NOT do anything less than perfect. Your heart knows this so the moment you get on your knees and face your ugly, your Spirit being starts to rejoice. Your heart automatically becomes glad, it knows what has just happened, it’s about to get a makeover! And the Best Best part is that this makeover will be permanent. That particular dead offshoot will never rear its head again. NEVER! Because…? You ask. Well, because God does not need to stitch over and over again, He is not man.. He deals with issues once and for all.

Don’t feel bad, we all have to go through it as God’s children. Don’t ignore it, it won’t disappear but grow even more rapidly. Don’t try to fix it, you’ll get frustrated and end up despising yourself. Instead, face your ugly, tell God about it and let Him do what only He can do. It may be a painful process but you’ll love Him all the more for it when He’s done. It may also occur more than once, for different sides of ugly exist but the Gardner is always present. God also constantly prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it may bear more fruit so rejoice when you see ugly, your level of fruitfulness is about to increase! (John 15:2)

There’s a particular prayer I love on pruning, you can find it here and if you know any books, you may recommend it in the comment box. Have a great week! 🙂

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last…” John 15:16 (NIV)

P.s: I know I’ve been away for a while, I have been undergoing what I refer to as an ‘intense training program’ with the Holy Spirit as ‘Sensei’! (that means teacher in Japanese). I pray He grants me the grace to talk about it here soon enough.

BE INCONSIDERATE.

Caleb had just finished feeding the goats. He led them to the stall and secured the gate. He put away the pigs and checked on the servants. They were quiet and Caleb wondered why, they always seemed to be chatting. He had walked in on them talking before.

“May God repay Caleb for his kindness towards his father.”

“Jacob is a wicked child! He took his share and left, without a care in the word!”

“Come on, he’s just a restless young soul. Didn’t you do worse at his age?”

“We can only pray that he finds his way back home.”

Caleb did too. He still had ill feelings towards his brother for leaving but he also wondered if he would ever see him again. Sometimes, he prayed that his recklessness would leave him penniless; maybe then he would come home.

Satisfied with the outcome of the day, he gave the leader a pat on the back. “Good job Gibeon. Pack it all in, I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”

He was walking towards the house when he heard music. A party? There hadn’t been a party on the estate since Jacob left. Sometimes, he missed it. He had yearned for a party, at least a small gathering once, but dismissed the thought as quickly as it came. It would do no good to bother Father about such frivolous things.

But who was having a party? Certainly not Father. He called to one of the servants, Eliakim, who was standing nearby, “What is this music I hear?”

“Your brother has returned,” he replied, “and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.”

Caleb wasn’t sure what he felt. He had prayed for his brother to come back home but had not expected this kind of reception. Be glad, yes but not to the extent that you throw a party. Why didn’t father send him to the stalls to work as a servant for a year until he learns his lesson? Why throw him a party? More importantly, how come he never got one? All these years he had been faithful and has served his father diligently. He had worked hard to ensure he recovered all he lost over the years, losses caused by Jacob! He wouldn’t have minded a party, actually he would have loved one so he could at least take time off from working so hard but he had considered the state of his father. All these years he had worked and asked for nothing in return and now his indolent brat of a brother appears, and they throw him a party?!

He didn’t realize he had been thinking out loud until he looked up and saw Eliakim staring at him wide – eyed.

“What?!”

“Nothing sir” Eliakim replied quickly and bowed his head.

“Eliakim! Leave us.” Caleb heard his father’s calm but stern voice.

“Yes, my Lord”

He watched as Eliakim rushed away.

His father was smiling as he walked towards him, ‘Caleb, your brother is back. Come, let us celebrate and be glad for this brother of yours was dead and is alive, he was lost and is found.’ He seemed genuinely glad.

He could not believe this. Saying nothing, he turned and walked away.

“Caleb!” His father called after him.

He stopped. His father commanded respect even when he didn’t feel like giving it.

“Aren’t you glad your brother has returned?” His father asked and Caleb could hear the concern in his voice.

“Not really” He replied, tight-lipped.

He felt his father’s hand on his shoulder. Calm, reassuring and his anger started to subside until he heard noises and someone shout, ’To Jacob!’ followed by the sound of mugs clashing and wine sloshing.

His anger returned in full force and he turned sharply to face his father. “Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”

“My Son,’ his father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”

“Had you asked for a party, I would have thrown you a huge one right away.”

Caleb scoffed. “You had lost half your wealth to that indolent brat! You had less workers. There were far more pressing issues you had to deal with than my desire for a party. Forgive me for considering you!”

His father said nothing and Caleb started to get uncomfortable. He was only being considerate and now, he was the bad one? No! Jacob was the bad sheep! Not him, Jacob! He waited for his father to say something but he remained silent. He finally looked up and Caleb saw the sadness in his eyes. Why? He hadn’t done anything wrong!

After what seemed like hours, his father sighed deeply and began to speak, “Caleb, I love you very much and I see all you have done especially since your brother left but I do not require your consideration. I need you to come out plainly and ask for the things you need, even the things you merely want. Whatever is important to you is important to me, no matter how mundane you consider it to be. Take a look around son, EVERYTHING you see is yours so ask. Ask me for whatever you want at any time in the day and it will be given to you. “

“You do not have because you do not ask. Be inconsiderate Caleb, ask and keep asking.”

And with that, His father walked back to the house.

 

THE BURNING BUSH

‘Here am I, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.’ Isaiah 8:18 (NIV)

We’ve all read about the story of Moses and the burning bush or at least, heard about it. Some of us have seen ‘Prince of Egypt, actually who hasn’t? So let’s recap a little, shall we?

Moses had committed murder and fled Egypt. After forty years, it was time for Moses to return back to Egypt, God had chosen him to free His people, the Israelites. However, Moses was already settled with life in Midian, as a husband and a father and also, tending his father-in-law sheep. God needed to get his attention, and it had to be something wondrous so He set a bush on fire and yet sustained it so that it did not burn. That definitely got his attention.

‘…Moses saw that though the bush was on fire, it did not burn up. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.’ Exodus 3:2b – 3 (NIV).

Hold that thought.

Fast forward to the 21st century,

There are so many things happening around the world today yet those who know their God remain unaffected. The state of the economy is terrible and yet you have somehow always had just enough money in your account to live; bad occurrences are constantly on the news and yet there is a bubbling joy in your heart and a constant smile on your face; your finances are beyond alarming, yet somehow you are able to feed regularly; or you look at your academic history and your chances of graduating are really slim yet you do graduate and well too.

A burning bush in reality occurs when you are in a situation that causes people to sink…but not you. You stay afloat, you don’t know how or why but you do… think about it for a second, anything come to mind? Yup, burning bush.

As God sustained the bush so that it did not burn, so does He sustain us so that we are unaffected by our external environments, whether there be fire or flood. Not only will you be sustained, God will draw others to Himself through you in this way.

Like He did with the burning bush, God displays us as evidence of His wonder to get the attention of those who don’t know Him; they see us ’on fire but not burning’, broke but still provided with necessities, and sometimes even hungry but rejoicing… In amazement, they are drawn to take a closer look, and just like He did with Moses, He introduces himself through the ‘burning bush’, who, let’s not forget, is you.

‘When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” Exodus 3:4 (NIV).

So no matter what situation you are in, it may seem like you are struggling to stay afloat, you aren’t… God is keeping you afloat so let go and trust God. You’re a sign. You’re a wonder. You’re a bush that’s on fire. And guess what? The bush will never burn, no stem or leaf shall ever be hurt.

Blessed to Receive

25th July, 2015.

*WhatsApp Chat History with Anibe Ibenu*

Me: ‘I’m getting baptised at church tomorrow’

Anibe: ‘What?! Why didn’t you tell me?’

Me: ‘Err.. sorry?…lol’

Anibe: ‘Its important now. I wouldn’t have come to London for this party’ ‘I’m coming to Birmingham first thing tomorrow morning’

Me: ‘Why?’

Anibe: ‘For your baptism. People always have loved ones there to read verses and all that’

Me: ’Really? I didn’t know o’

*Me typing*: There’s actually no need. You’ll now take the train early in the morning, what kind of wahala is that?

I was about to hit send this when I heard the Holy Spirit say to me clearly, ‘Let her help you’.

I paused.

*delete*

Me: ’Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow then, thanks a lot Ibe’

Ibe showed up in church the next morning, about an hour into the service. She had come in straight from the train station. She sat on the pew beside me, I looked over at her and smiled. I was glad she came, more glad than I thought I would be.

……………………………………………………………………………

Ephesians 3:20 says that God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can ever ask or think according to His power that works in us. From the latter part of this verse, I understand that God doesn’t come down Himself to do things for you, He uses people to help each other. We’re like pieces in the jigsaw puzzle, He pushes us and places us right where He wants us to be, right where we need to be. Every piece fits in perfectly with the next as God uses us to help us.

If like me, you have an affinity to give help but strongly reject it. I write this to you as I tell myself, accepting help is not a sign of weakness. It is knowing that God has placed that person in your way for that reason, to help you, as you will help others as well. It is more blessed to give than to receive, yes but it is also a blessing to receive and be thankful.

I chose Galatians 2:20 as the verse to be read over me (well, actually the Holy Spirit helped me choose it and I was glad He did. It was the perfect verse :-D) and Ibe read it before the immersion. Some other friends of mine also came forward to show their support as I was baptised, we took some pictures afterwards and I just realised I didn’t actually take one with her personally.

Did I mention she later treated a friend and I to lunch at hers? All in all, it was a good day :). Thank God for the people He sends our way.

Imagine That!

‘When everything and everything is finally under God’s rule, the Son will step down, taking his place with everyone else, showing that God’s rule is absolutely comprehensive – a perfect ending!’ 1 Corinthians 15:28 (MSG)

It wasn’t enough for Him to destroy death, to help us live freely (not subject to sin), to restore us to God so that now we can call Him Father, to have His Spirit dwell in us, to give us an assurance that death will not be the end of us. His grace had to go one step further, to give a guarantee that when we are with Him, we will not just be like Him in appearance but in standard. We will be EQUALS with Jesus! This is completely mind boggling, I don’t get this kind of grace, I honestly don’t. Why should I, with all my limitations and weaknesses be the same with my King? He went through so much and not for Himself, for me. I’ve done nothing but believe in Him, I haven’t given up my life for the world, I haven’t even given up my food for the world… and yet, I am being presented with such a gift. We are His Servants, and grace assures us that at the end of time, the servants will be like the Master. Oh what GREAT LOVE the Father has lavished on us indeed! Not only that we should be called children of God, but that we should be made equal with the firstborn of all creation, the Son of God that existed when there were no Sons or even relatives of God. Praise God. Hallelujah!

Have you ever been in a situation where someone gives you a huge gift, so huge, you find it difficult to accept? ‘Ah! Mummy eyi ti p’oju.. e ba ma se ‘yonu’. That’s totally how I feel right now! I want to tell my Father, hmmm… me, a servant of the Master… be equal with the Master. I can’t imagine it, there’s no need o. I’m perfectly okay being His servant forever…. but He just laughs and re-assures me. Don’t worry, the First born will always have first born privileges as is the same in every household. Jesus will always be the first. Glory! Hallelujah!

Ever since I encountered Jesus as my own, I’m constantly taking pictures of everything He’s made… the birds, sea, sky, trees… I love it all because I can’t help but see the magnificence of my God in all His creation. Everything He has made is beyond beautiful. YET Paul explains to us in 1 Corinthians that this is not even the half of it. ‘The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different… and we’re only looking at pre-resurrection ‘seeds’, who can imagine what the resurrection ‘plants’ will be like!’ 1 Corinthians 14:38 -41 (MSG).

I know right! All this is nothing compared to the BEAUTY our Father has prepared for us? How can it be? How can anything be more beautiful than this? Father, what have you done?! Will there be cameras in Heaven? Probably not. I will probably just sit, transfixed, gazing at everything for days! To be honest, as imaginative as I like to think I am… my frail human mind fails me on this one. I cannot imagine anything more beautiful yet I am assured there is! What’s more, because of Jesus I’ll get to see it forever. Imagine getting THE BEST VIEW in your house, forever… and it’ll be all around you! As I think on all these, one scripture comes to mind… ‘eyes have not seen, ears have not heard nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’!! (1 John 3:1, NKJV) or in the message version, ‘No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it – what God has arranged for those who love Him’.

P.S: This is an unedited write up of my thoughts, I’m writing this down literally as it is coming to me hence, my excitement!! 😀

HIS JOB, NOT MINE.

A doctor was in his office one day with his 6 year old niece. it was ‘take-your-niece-to-work-day’, at least that’s what she called it. So here he was, trying to focus whilst she played in a corner with her dolls. The first patient walks in, a middle aged man suffering from a chesty cough. Before the doctor could speak, his niece who had been listening to the consultancy session, jumped from her seat, ‘We must remove your lungs!’

They laughed. Doctor and patient. She frowned, what in the world was so funny? She just gave him sound advice.

Another patient walked in with a complaint of slight back pains and immediately his niece jumped up again, ‘You need a new back with a few extra bones so it can be longer. That way your back wouldn’t hurt anymore.’  When she suggested removing the eyes of some poor woman suffering from cataracts so it could be cleaned and replaced, the doctor turned to face her, ‘Sweetie, I love you and appreciate your input but please LET ME DO MY JOB.’

In the book of John, Jesus, when He was about to leave the world for the Father, said to His disciples, ‘and I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate TO HELP YOU and be with you forever’ (John 14:16; NLT). The job of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to help us. To help us worship God, to help us pray, to help us live holy and pleasing lives to God, to help us gain insight into His word, to help us serve our master diligently, to help us wait patiently and joyously for manifestation of God’s promises…I could go on and on. God has sent His very own Spirit to help mankind! I know, I can’t scarcely believe it myself but it’s true and that is his job description: to help God’s children. What’s more, God has tailored the Holy Spirit, this same ONE spirit to be custom made to fit each and every one of us. How the Holy Spirit deals with me is different from how He deals with my friends or even my sisters; they may be some similarities yes but the Holy Spirit has been tailored to fit you personally, your temperament, your needs, your life…. He teaches you everything you need to know about yourself and God (1 John 2:27). That’s why people have different encounters with the Holy Spirit. Some don’t even know He’s the one helping, pushing, encouraging, comforting. He is as ecstatic as He is gentle, He gives visions to some and He speaks in plain words to others. He reminds you of scriptures in your heart and for others, its through people around you. The Holy Spirit is dynamic yet constant.

Being human, we try to take over sometimes and God knows, we are way out our league when we try to help ourselves, like a 6 year old trying to advise a well trained medical specialist. Thankfully, our Father will not let us go astray, the psalmist says, ’The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him, though he may stumble, he will not fall for the Lord upholds him with his hand.’ (Psalm 37:24; NLT). It is important that we do not quench the Spirit by trying to take over for the Holy Spirit is saying to us at some point or the other, ‘Sweetie, I love you but LET ME DO MY JOB’.

Love like Big Bro.

Loving – going out of your way for others, putting the happiness of others before yours. Doing for them even when you don’t want to, when there’s nothing in it for you.

A major part of love is selflessness. This is what Jesus showed us when He laid down His life for us. He had nothing to gain for He was already the Son of God. He was God himself, He had been there in the very beginning; He had full access to the Father. If anything we were coming to infringe on His rights, to receive the benefits and love He had received alone all this while. He went from being the only child to having numerous brothers and sisters, all shapes and sizes, all kinds of personalities; He really had nothing to gain. High Priest forever? Chances are He didn’t even know about that until the father appointed Him as such. Even if He did, His Priesthood is so He can make intercessions on our behalf. Again, it’s for us and not Himself. He needs no intercessions, He knew no sin! He already had access behind the curtain.

Every single thing the Father has done is for us and His Son did nothing to stop it, instead He facilitated it and volunteered to be ‘scape goat’ so that we may be live and enjoy the blessings He receives as the Son of God.

I don’t know how I would feel if my Father was constantly doing things for ungrateful people who rebelled against him every time. Not happy at all. “Daddy, its enough. They’re not worth it’ I would have said at some point. Actually, I would have said that right from the start. Take a quick second to imagine. Imagine if someone insulted your Father over and over again, despite all His love, compassion, help, provision amongst others. I know. It’s ganna be a deadly day isn’t it? Everybody would definitely die on the line that day!

But Jesus is as merciful and kind and loving and everything beautiful like His Father is, because a lion does not give birth to a dog. We’ve received Jesus and have been made sons of this same Father. Take a cue from the first-born today, be merciful and kind and as selfless in your love as Jesus was and still is.