A Word of Exhortation for 2013 by Daniel Adebayo IselaiyeChairman, ECWA USA DCC
A few years ago I was invited to preach in a Pentecostal church. I enjoyed worshipping with the congregation. The service was vibrant and inspirational even though I did not feel at ease with the so-called spiritualists. These men and women came forward to prophesy and narrate visions they claimed the Lord had revealed to them. There is nothing wrong with vision, dream, and prophecy. It is our portion. Thus it is written, “In the last day, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:17-19). While I believe this to be true for us today, it is wrong when we fake it or stage- managed all forms of spirituality. Sophistries and pseudoscience are very much in use today in some churches. Nothing, not even our wisdom can take the place of the Holy Spirit. My judgment concerning anyone who tries to squeeze God’s hand or force Him to give a particular spiritual gift did not come from me at first but from the pastor of that congregation and this was during my second visit.
My second visit was at the end of the year. You know it has become a tradition for many churches to enter the New Year with praying and fasting. So, I was with other worshippers from December 31st to January 1st. It was not only a good experience but a memorable one. I did not know that towards the end of the worship service the pastor was expected by the congregation to prophesy. It was an important ritual to jump-start the New Year. First, the spiritualists came forward one by one to narrate their visions. All that I heard was about personal things; not national and not about how to move the mission of the church forward. The second part of the ritual involved the head of the church (the pastor). It was the expected moment and a holy one. He came forward wearing a dress of dignity and distinction. Everybody listened with rapt attention should one’s name be mentioned in the prophecy. This is the summary of what the spiritual leader said regarding his New Year prophecy:
Some of you have come to me to ask me if God has given me a vision for you. You indeed want me to see vision about your life. Let me be honest with you, I cannot force myself to see vision or prophesy if God has not given a vision or the word to prophesy. Therefore, stop coming to me. Listen to God’s Word. It contains all the prophecy that you need.
While some worshipers were highly disappointed, a few people were happy and I was one of them. It was a good start for the New Year. There are many church leaders today who think that they have to act like a soothsayer or fortune teller in order to take their local congregations forward into the New Year. As I have already said, it is alright to prophesy, see vision and dream. All these have been declared as a part of our heritage. They are good gifts. A good number of people shop around for churches for things they should not have and cannot have. God’s message as to that says, “Be still, and know that I am God ….” (Ps. 46:10). Jesus says,
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-29, THE MESSAGE).
As we take our cross and follow Christ this New Year we will indeed find that God-given rest, the peace that the world cannot take away from us. Our blessings shall be permanent! King David witnessed this and said, “The Lord gives strength to His people, the Lord blesses His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11). The Lord puts it this way through Prophet Jeremiah,
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord (Jeremiah 29:11-12).
The bearers of Christ’s yoke come together because they have one thing in common that impels them to work together. They all have the love of Jesus Christ. By it the world knows that they are one. They are not divided. They have learnt from their Master who said, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand (Matt. 12:25). When conflicts arise within the ECWA Family the fellowship does not break, if it is a real family in Christ. An adage from Kenya says, “Members of a family are like calabashes. They knock together but do not break.” I have seen that in Nigeria when trucks are loaded with calabashes coming from the farm through bedeviled roads with potholes. You hear very loud noises as these calabashes are knocking together but when you get home none has broken, not even a crack on any of them. This is what Paul has said about it,
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39, NIV).
I see more and more people understanding the concept of love brought down to us by Christ who is the embodiment of the divine community. More blessings are coming for the ECWA Family in the year 2013. Your step of faith will attract God’s blessings. Here is my biblical foundation for this claim:
It was reported to King David that God had prospered Obe-Edom and his entire household because of the Chest of God. So David thought, ‘’I’ll get that blessing for myself,” and went and brought up the Chest of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David, celebrating extravagantly all the way, with frequent sacrifices of choice bulls. David ceremonially dressed in priest’s linen, danced with great abandon before God. The whole country was with him as he accompanied the Chest of God with shouts and trumpet blasts. (2 Samuel 6:1-15, THE MESSAGE).
Read the whole story from 2 Samuel 6:1-23). While the whole earth is full of God’s blessings – God’s unfailing love (Ps. 33:5) there are things we must do to catch those blessings. God is going to bless you in a special way as you bring ECWA Church or Prayer Cells into your home. To anyone who has already done so, I speak God’s blessings into your entire household. King David did not look at the Ark or the Chest of Yahweh with levity. According to John Ruskin, “The question is not what a man can scorn, or disparage or find fault with but what he love, and value, and appreciate.” King David loved the Ark of God (that represented the presence of God with the Israelites in the wilderness). ECWA USA is a significant part of Christ’s Kingdom. It must not be viewed with levity. Say like David, I’ll get that blessing for myself.” King David loved, valued and appreciated the presence of the Ark of God in Obed-Edom’s household. He appreciated God’s blessing for Obed-Edom’s household. This is about the only competition the Bible endorses. In Romans 12:10, we are asked to outdo one another in showing honor. David did it. To honor in this context means to regard highly or have a high esteem for something. It is a competion of honoring God or taking the lead in honoring others. In this sense, the context has nothing to do with jealousy. Blessing comes to us when we honor what pertains to God. Jesus knew this when he said, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). You will surely be blessed.
We know that there are hindrances to God’s missions. When that happens the blessing of God eludes us. We must, as a result, take heed to this biblical injunction that says, “Quench not the Spirit,” “Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire,” “Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.” All the versions have the same message. We take it further as we read 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22: Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.” Let us support our youth with prayer. I see them forming a very powerful and well connected fellowship group. Believe with me that the Spirit of God is going to use them to transform ECWA USA. Praise the Lord for our young people!
Our Women Fellowship has a vision. They should remember the Word that says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV). Women should not fear to plan and execute their God-given missions. God wants to use them to accomplish His mission to enhance the success of ECWA ministries. If this Fellowship remains dedicated the impact will be great! Our Lord says, “I will be with you.” Amen!
Our Men’s Fellowship has a few men who know how to move our District Church Council forward. It is believed that there are hindrances. In consultation with elders and pastors they should go ahead and begin right where they are. The message of God comes anew for you, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
I urge pastors and ministers to remember Jesus’ style: Jesus went about preaching the Kingdom. He did not preach any other thing. Whatever we do or say must be for Christ and His Kingdom. This idea knows no tribe, race or gender. We must keep an open mind that knows that God can use anybody and no one is indispensable in the service of God. God is going to use our ministers and elders to foster spiritual renewal. You are quite aware of the fact that you are not paid or well compensated for what you have been doing. Your spirit is commendable! You are in a better position to say, “Let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich because of what the Lord has done for me.” God has ordained you to build yourself up in faith. You are called to speak God’s Word over your life. Yes, there are many problems, even great ones. I remember what President L. Johnson said in 1964, “Our problems are many and great but our opportunities are greater.” Successful Christian leaders understand this very well. Let the word of God give you strength. We know that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
I enjoin you all to show your love for ECWA as David honored the Chest or the Ark of God. I’m quite aware of the fact that many of us have already been attached to other local churches that are not of ECWA denomination. While you remain where you are, we need you. Show your support. Pray with us. Call in during our monthly teleconference prayer meeting. Attend our conferences. Contact us. Visit our website. Let’s know where you are. Keep in touch. Support our EMS missionaries and pastors. Three or more brothers and sisters may decide to form a prayer-cell fellowship at a particular location which they may decide to rotate. Should you offer your house for such a meeting, you will be doing what Obed-Edom did and your household will surely be blessed. Let the secretary or I know when the Lord is using you to accomplish such a thing. Remember the story of the Mustard Seed. Your house may become the humble beginning of a great thing. The Lord is going to do a great thing! Let it start with you. I see it coming and I am quite excited.
My focus is on the overall mission of ECWA USA. Our unfailing love for the truth is ever sure. The truth as preached by us has stood the test of time. We preach the gospel in its totality, holding fast the faithful word (Titus 1:9). We preach not ourselves. The church that preaches itself dies. It may be a mega church but remember bigness or largeness (in number) is not greatness. We preach Christ crucified and that has nothing to do with the fleeting prosperity of this present world. A church that is devoid of the true gospel is often packed full with gimmicks. Let God use you as missionaries to restore Christian spirituality from the grip of satanic forces. Let God use you to change someone’s life for the better. We put God at the center of each family. We recognize the sovereignty of God. God’s blessing awaits you!
In closing, let me bring to you the words of an old hymn written by Charlotte Elliot in 1836 and put into song by William H. Monk in 1868:
Christian! Seek not yet repose. Hear thy guardian angel say: Thou art in the midst of foes. “Watch and pray.”
Principalities and powers, mustering their unseen array, wait for thy unguarded hours; “Watch and pray.”
Gird thy heavenly armor on, wear it ever night and day; ambushed lies the evil one; “Watch and pray.”
Hear the victors who o’ercame; still they mark each warrior’s way; all with one clear voice exclaim, “Watch and pray.”
Hear, above all, hear thy Lord. Him thou lovest to obey; hide within thy heart His Word, “Watch and pray.”
Watch, as if on that alone hung the issue of the day; pray that help may be sent down, “Watch and pray.”
You shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth his fruit in his season. Your leaves shall not wither and whatsoever you do shall prosper. May God bless you with a happy life that’s filled with joy and love!