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Sunday Sermon: The Priceless Gift in Every Trial

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By Bishop Isaac Idahosa

When James charges us to “count it all joy,” he does not mean it all — all our pain, all our trials, all our hardship — is joy in and of itself. Pain is pain, not joy. Trials are trying, not sources of pleasure. Rather, what James has for us — and what the gospel of Christ provides — is a lens on life, and a true vantage point on reality, through which even life’s most painful trials have a vital part to play in our joy.

“God draws his straightest lines from life’s greatest difficulties to our deepest joys.”

And not just “even,” but “especially.” In God’s strange and wonderful ways of ruling this world, life’s most painful trials serve a special purpose for our good. God often draws his straightest lines from life’s greatest difficulties to our deepest and sweetest joys. And not just in the long run, but even in the midst of trial. When trials assault our surface pleasures, we’re pressed to consider our deepest, fullest, richest treasures — and to tap those roots for sustenance in ways we simply do not when all is well.

James does not say, “Count it only joy.” We wince. We wail. We hurt. We ask, “How long, O Lord?” God does not expect us to receive our trials as only joy. In fact, Christians, of all people, should be most ready to receive pain as pain, tragedy as tragedy, trauma as trauma. We count, or reckon, our trials as joy, because we don’t simply feel them naturally to be so.

Not Just Tiny Trials

Don’t think that James only has little trials in view here. He says “trials of various kinds” because he means the big ones, too. It can be easy to see how God is at work in life’s little inconveniences, but our greatest tragedies press the hardest, darkest questions on our soul.

Has God abandoned me? Is he really in charge and also good? Is he even there?

James will not have us relegate his charge to “count it all joy” simply to the easy stuff. The very issue at stake is the hardest things — the “trials” of tragedy, loss, distress, despondency, and long-term despair.

Why Count Pain as Joy?

Verse 2 may be straightforward enough, but our souls need more than just a command to own this and see it come to life in us. Our minds and hearts need reasons, or at least a reason – which is exactly what James supplies in what immediately follows –

“When trials assault our surface pleasures, we consider afresh our sweetest treasures.

We could rehearse many of the clear biblical reasons why we can “count it all joy” when we encounter various trials. “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). We can write over every trial, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). And we can say with the apostle, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Or with Jesus, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:12).

But James has something particular in mind: “for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:3).

God Keeps Us Through Trial

“Steadfastness” is not a word we use frequently today, and so likely this does not feel especially compelling at first glance. Another word for it would be endurance. Endurance on its own isn’t necessarily desirable (for instance, enduring in error). What makes it compelling is what we endure in. And what James has in view is very clear: faith in Christ. And for Christians, enduring in faith is what life is all about. If we do not endure in faith, we will be on the wrong side of what matters most in the universe: being right with God, and enjoying him forever, in Jesus.

In other words, one of the things God is doing when he tests our faith is he is preserving our faith. When he lovingly brings trials into our lives — and he does so lovingly for all who are in Jesus — he is working for us, and in us, one of the greatest goods imaginable. When he tests us, he is taking action to keep us. And he keeps us not just by protecting our present level of faith, and not just by growing, enriching, developing, and maturing our faith. But in testing our faith, he is keeping it alive.

God’s preserving work in us through our pain and difficulty is essential to what matters most, and James makes that connection explicit: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

“God lovingly injects our lives with trials to train, grow, strengthen, and sweeten what matters most in us.”

Faith does not flourish when it lies untested. It atrophies when it goes unexercised. And eventually it dies. So, when God loves us with his saving love, and gives us saving faith, he commits, because he cares for us, to inject our lives with various trials to train, grow, sweeten, strengthen, and mature what matters most in us. Our “various trials” in this life are not superfluous to our enduring in faith. And they are not just threats to losing our faith. They are one of God’s essential means through which he preserves the faith he has given us and keeps us as his own.

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Faith

Opinion: Why I Believe in Celebration of Christmas Despite What I Know About the Origin

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By Rev Enitan Shogbade

So many people have reservations about the proprieties or otherwise of celebrating Christmas, especially on December 25. Some Christian denominations even see those celebrating Christmas as endorsing paganism in another form, but should Christians celebrate Christmas or not?

While there can never be a common agreement on the issue of celebrating Christmas as knowledge and understanding differ, I have decided to pen down for my friends and followers, where I stand about the issue of Christmas.

WHAT I KNOW ABOUT CHRISTMAS

1. I am aware that Jesus was not born on 25th of December.

2. That 25th of December was the day that was used to celebrate the Sun god in ancient Rome.

3. That Constantine was the Christian leader who chose the day for the celebration of the birth of Christ and that even Constantine’s conversion as a Christian was suspected to be false.

4. That the Bible did not command the celebration of Christmas and that the only thing our Lord commanded to be done in his remembrance is the observance of the Holy Communion.

5. That the Word “Christmas” did not even occur in the bible.

6. That the celebration of Christmas has been bastardized and commercialized and that it should not even been associated with a Holy and moral person like our Lord Jesus’ Christ.

7. That the Christmas season promotes sin and immortality all of which the person being celebrated opposed.

These are some of the arguments that the opponents of Christmas celebration based their opposition on and I share in their concerns BUT I STILL BELIEVE IN CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS. Why ?

WHY I BELIEVE IN CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS

1. Though Jesus was not born on 25th December, no one can say accurately when he was born. Those insinuating an October date are only being speculative. And I think it is a divine arrangement that the Godhead kept that day away from mankind because of what it may engender among those who may share the same date with him.(Imagine how those who were born on 25th of December feel compared to those of us who were not).

2. I know of friends whose parents couldn’t give the accurate date of their birth but chose a day close to when their mates were born to celebrate their birthday and still feel special on their chosen dates.

3. That 25th December was once a pagan day to celebrate a pagan god and now chosing to celebrate the King of Kings and Lord of Lords only proves the superiority of our God over idols and proves to us who believe that an idol is nothing according to scriptures 1 Cor 8: 4.

4. I celebrate on 25th because it’s been chosen by Church leaders thousands of years before our time and if it was not divine, it wouldn’t be standing and it would have fiddled out over the years.

5. There is actually no date or months that does not have pagan origin in the past. For example, history teaches that in ILE- IFE, the ancient town in old OYO KINGDOM and in current Osun State of Nigeria, every day of the year but one is used to celebrate the 365 gods of the people and this applies to so many other cultures of the world for the whole world was of paganism until God began to introduce himself to mankind through Abraham after the fall of Adam.

6. I believe in celebrating Christmas even though the bible did not command nor does it forbids such celebration because there are some things the bible leaves to our sound judgement to decide, as it’s not everything the bible dictates. For example, the bible did not ask you to brush your teeth nor did it ask you to take your bath daily but you still do.

7. I celebrate Christmas as commemoration of the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ because i appreciate that he came into the world on a day to begin the plan of our redemption for if he was not born, he could not have died and if he did not die for us, then we will still remain sinners, condemned to hell fire.

8. I celebrate Christmas because it affords me an opportunity to Minister to the dying world about the reason for the season, as almost everyone everywhere in the world remembers the day because of its association with the person of Jesus Christ.

9. I celebrate Christmas because birthday is an occasion to celebrate the one we love and since I love Jesus and he is my Lord and my friend, I will use the day to celebrate my Lord and Friend and take the advantage of the Holidays to reflect on his mission on earth and my response to him so far.

10. On commercialization and immorality associated with the day, this is the reality of our days and a sign of the end time foretold in the bible and does not in any way invalidate the morality of the celebration but rather a condemnation of those who choose to use the day to commit sins as they celebrate the birth of one whose reason for coming is to destroy sin and be born in every heart.

11. I celebrate because i deduct from scriptures that Jesus doesn’t mind being celebrated as we see in Mark 14 : 3 – 9 & Mark 5 : 29.

12. I believe in Christmas festivity because i realized that Jesus our Lord is not against festivity or social gathering, as he himself honours such with his presence at various feast in his days. Matthew 26 : 17, Luke 5 : 29, John 4: 45, John 5: 1 & John 7 : 2- 14.

13. I believe in celebrating Christmas because it afford me an opportunity to take after Christ who took advantage of such festival to teach, preach and advance the course of the kingdom. So i also celebrate by pointing people to why he came.

14. I join other Christ minded Christians to celebrate the coming of Christ to our world because i realize that the early disciples including the Apostles do join in the celebration of the feast of their days. Acts 18 : 21.

15. I celebrate because rather than restraining me from celebrating, the bible actually encourage me to do so truthfully, rightly and responsibly – 1 Cor 5 :8 & Jude: 12.

I can continue on and on and this is even becoming a long thesis many may not be willing to read so let me stop here on my reasons for believing in the celebration of Christmas.

I have presented my reasons because the bible commanded me so to do 1 Peter 3: 15. That I give reasons for my hope and reasons for my faith in Christ and to put to rest the questions often asked by my friends from other denominations who i will now refer to this write-up henceforth.

However, lets remember the bible says, he that regards a day regards it unto the Lord and he that regards it not, does so also unto the Lord – Romans 14: 6.

It is therefore necessary that we remind ourself of the biblical injunction that we put no stumbling block on each other’s path Romans – 14: 13.

He that believes in celebration of Christmas please celebrate responsibly and he that does not believe should still be himself or herself for we are brothers and sisters in Christ irrespective of our disposition to 25th December.

For those who are like me for the above started reasons or more I say HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL. May Jesus be born in every heart that gets to read this in Jesus Name.

Again, Merry Christmas and Happy Jesus Festival.

I am your Friend in Christ and a Friend of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Reverend Shogbade is the General Overseer of FOJIA, and writes from Lagos

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Faith

MY ENCOUNTER WITH BISHOP OYEDEPO

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The Abuja based clergy and founder of Shiloh Word Chapel, Prophet Samuel revealed one of the missing links to greatness in life, in a brief chat our correspondent had with him at his Abuja office this morning.
He said many today will not fly to the height they are ordained to reach because they don’t regard the greatness in their chosen area of calling. He emphasized that God put some men and women ahead of us in life to lead us , midwife us so that we can birth the greatness God has deposited inside us. You will miss this pivotal guards if you don’t honour , respect and regard their place in your life, ministry and calling.
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He specifically relayed the visionary encounter with Bishop Oyedepo ( winners chapel) this morning. The clergy said
“Today September 10th, 2021 (Seven days to my birthday, 17th September).
I had a powerful encounter that came by way of vision in the night, in that vision ; papa ( Bishop Oyedepo) was on a dining table with me and he said samuel my son, you need a fresh oil from me and in vision, he said he needed to pour oil on me again,

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In that same vision, Papa Idahosa and Papa Adeboye and some other ministers I couldn’t really recognize too were present. Papa Idahosa was reading a big sized Bible , then Bishop Oyedepo roared in tongues; shortly, he said “ what branch of living faith church do you pastor now”,?
I responded, Papa, you have forgotten that I lead a ministry now called SHILOH WORLD CHAPEL IN ABUJA.
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He said kneel down, and he cried “wings of wisdom to make wealth and global healing rest on you in the order of Elijah and Elisha”
In that same vision, I dropped a huge seed at his feet, he looked and me and he prayed and said “kings shall seek for your counsel, souls shall flood your ministry like sand of the sea,”
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I jumped in gladness and began to give glory to God; and all the press people around were taking pictures. This same encounter happened twice between 5am to 6am today Friday September 10th 2021.
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You see, in whatever field of life you find yourself, until you have a point of reverence, you will not be revered. Your spiritual root is fundamental to how far you will fly in the journey of life, said the clergy.
@prophet_i_o_samuel

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Faith

Fusion Concert: Hope David Set to Thrill Fans

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The bigesst and most colourful gospel concert that always create veritable platform for creativity and elicit tremendous infinite awesomeness as testimonies abound is set to thrill the world with the never-seen-before performances by globally acclaimed ministers.

The explosive concert is well articulated and designed to celebrate African and African-American heritage through gospel music and performances.
Fusion virtual Concert will showcase the best of gospel music and open door to creative and artistic expressions from around the globe.

Yes, as souls will be won and enriched for eternal glory, chains will be broken, lives will be transformed and many more.

Many people will be inspired/uplifted by exceptional artists Iike Joseph Benjamin of the famous TV show Green leaf, Ronke Adesokan, Wumi Abe, the McNatts and others together with the amazing Fusion Mass Choir.

Don’t miss the explosive 9th edition of Fusion Concert on February, it going to be Virtual . 27, 2021
1pm EST, 12 noon CST, 6pm WA, 5pm Uk
On Facebook live: Hope music
YouTube: pastor Hope David music tv

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