The Most Rev'd Dr. C. A. Manduoma (JP)
The Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province
and Bishop of Ideato
Calendar
Event Title...SYNOD Saturday, April 25, 2020 02:00 PM 313 Days

Osina Women at the Diocesan Women Conference 2019

Monday, April 1, 2019 1 Corinthians 7:1-11 SEX AND MARRIAGE

The Corinthians had written to Paul, asking him several questions with respect to sex and marriage (v.1). They had suggested that it is good for a man not to marry. Paul, in response said “yes” but advised that because of the prevalence of sexual immorality at Corinth, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband (v.2). According to Paul, staying married or unmarried are both gifts from God. Paul was not saying here that the sole aim of marriage is to curb immorality but within a culture saturated with sexual immorality, marriage provides God’s way to satisfy these desires which are normal and natural. So for those who are gifted to marry, not marrying is exposing themselves to sexual temptation and immorality. For it is better to marry than to burn with lust.

In marriage, which of course, must be monogamous as recommended by Paul in verse 2, the husband and wife have a responsibility to fulfill the sexual needs of each other. The only ground for abstinence is on the consent of both partners. The unmarried should abstain from all sexual relationships until they marry. Finally, verses 10 and 11 make it clear that divorce is not the will of God.

PRAYER: Father, the author of marriage, please help me to enjoy and maximize the gift of marriage. Tuesday, April 2, 2019 Matthew 3:1-12 REPENTANCE, THE MISSING STEP OF SALVATION

John the Baptist was a voice crying, ‘repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ He preached repentance. Jesus, in Mark 1:15 says, “Repent and believe in the gospel.” In Acts 2:37-38, on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached repentance saying, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Paul also in Acts 20:20-21 said: testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Repentance is one of the great doctrines of the Christian faith. Repentance is the first move of any man in returning to God. Religion is not a substitute for repentance. Except you repent, you will perish (Luke 13:1-5). Repentance is decision, followed by action. It is not mere emotion. We all need to repent (Isaiah 55:6). We may not have committed immorality or stolen, but we have all turned our own way. The entire human race is guilty of iniquity (rebellion/self-will). Unfortunately, many are confessing faith in Christ without repentance. The story of the prodigal son is one of the clearest examples of what repentance means (Luke 15:11-24). It is decision followed by action. Note that repentance is not a once-and-for-all thing; the more light comes to us from the word of God, the more we repent to align ourselves with the revealed truth.

PRAYER: Father, please open my eyes to areas of my life I must repent of. Wednesday, April 3, 2019 Matthew 3:13-17

ARE YOUR “HEAVENS” CLOSED?

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. What a distance it took Jesus to go for water baptism. John tried to prevent Him but Jesus insisted: “permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.Jesus went through the rigours of baptism to fulfill all righteousness, even though He did not need one. It will not be an assumption to say that the reason for Jesus’ submission to water baptism was to set us an example and to affirm this very important fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. Christian baptism is a public confirmation of what has happened in the inside, a changed heart. Baptism is essentially a commitment. It is identification with Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6). It is a commitment to discipleship (Matthew 28:19-20).

Notice that as soon as Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened unto Him. Identifying with the death and resurrection of Jesus and commitment to practical discipleship, marked by a life of obedience, opens the heavens over a man. It makes a man secure the favour of God, and leads to living a life that pleases God. Are the heavens closed to you? Does it look to you that God is not well pleased with you? Check your life of obedience; insist on walking in obedience to the will of God that you know.

PRAYER: Lord, help me yield to You unreservedly. Thursday, April 4, 2019 Matthew 4:1-11 VICTORY OVER TEMPTATION

Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (v.1). It would seem that to the Holy Spirit, the journey to temptation is an upward journey whereas in the mind of the devil, it is a journey downwards. God allows temptation for our promotion while Satan tempts us for our demotion. Jesus, our Master, was tempted by the devil and hence, none of His disciples is exempt from temptation. We must approach temptation as an opportunity for growth or promotion as James observed, calling it the trial of faith.”

Satan tempts us most in the area of our greatest hunger/desire (vs. 2-3). James affirms this truth (James 1:13-14). It is also important to note the nature of temptation from the passage: temptation is progressive, if the devil fails at the first attempt, he tries the second and the third and when these fail, he waits for an opportune time. Hence, one does not outgrow temptation nor does one gain victory over temptation once and for all (vs. 3-10). Moreover, the temptation of Jesus reveals the three natures of Satan’s temptation of man: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The instrument Jesus used to defeat the devil and overcome temptation is the word of God. The word of God and prayer are the two key instruments for fighting temptation (Psalm 119:11; Matthew 6:13).

PRAYER: Father, grant me grace to be victorious over temptation.

Friday, April 5, 2019 Matthew 4.12-17 PREACH THE GOSPEL

Following the imprisonment of John, Jesus went and lived in Capernaum. His time there was so effective that the conclusion was that those who sat in the region of darkness saw a great light. It was by his lifestyle that Jesus preached first. How did He live that people around

concluded that “Light has dawned?” Are you living out the principles of God’s word in your environment? Can those around you conclude that your life is bringing the light of the word of God to them?

Verse 17 tells us the beginning of our Lord’s ministry among men. He began to preach and to say, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It is important to note that there is no work as important to the souls of men as the preaching of the gospel, no office as honourable as that of the preacher. It is the office which the Son of God was not ashamed to take up, the office to which He appointed His twelve apostles and the work which Paul, in his old age, charged Timothy to do. It is for the conversion and edification of souls. We must keep praying for Nigeria that the preaching of the word will go unhindered. And because of the importance of preaching in the church, nothing must be placed above the preaching of the word.

Prayer: Father, please give Your church great utterance for the preaching of Your word in these last days.

Saturday, April 6, 2019 Matthew 4:18-22 DISCIPLES AND DISCIPLE-MAKING

Jesus, from the onset of His ministry, not only began to preach (v.17) but also began to search and call men whom He trained to fish for other men. This is very instructive for us because no man is everlasting and no man can be everywhere at the same time. So, when we preach the gospel, we must also be committed to raising men that will be able to do what we are doing. The gospel spreads faster this way and it also guarantees continuity.

Notice the class of men whom the Lord Jesus chose to be His disciples; it included fishermen. Anyone can become a disciple and a fisher of men; willingness to hear the voice of Jesus and follow Him is the basic requirement. Ordinary people turned into great soul winners. That is what discipleship can achieve. We must therefore not only be engaged in the preaching of the gospel but also in the making of disciples who can do what we are doing. The sons of Zebedee left their boat with their father and followed Jesus. What do you need to leave to follow? Are you dragging a boat of self-righteousness that is not allowing you see how much you need Jesus in your life? Are you dragging a boat of self-sufficiency that is not allowing you to see your need for a discipler over your life? Check!

PRAYER: Father, please make me a disciple indeed. Sunday, April 7, 2019 John 12:20-32 THE GLORY OF THE CROSS

Some Greeks sought Jesus. Jesus had just been hailed as the coming King and Messiah by teeming thousands. “The world is gone after Him” (John 12:19). Some Greek pilgrims who had come to attend the Passover Feast wished to see this Jesus who was being proclaimed King. What Jesus did was try to correct the misunderstood idea of the Messiah held by the world. He wanted to prepare both the Greeks and those standing around, for His death. He wanted to teach that the way to glory is not through triumph and praise, neither was it through domination and subjection but through death to self and through service to God and man.

The cross is the glory of the Messiah (v.23). The cross brings forth fruit (v.24). The cross demands man’s death to self (vs.25-26). Man must lose his life to bear eternal life. The cross fulfills Jesus’ cause (v.27). The cross glorifies God’s name (vs.28-30). The cross judges the world the prince of the world (v.31). The cross draws all men (vs.32-33). To dodge the cross is to miss the crown. The way to glory is the way of the cross. To follow Him, we must take up the cross daily. Determine to boast in nothing save the cross of Christ.

PRAYER: Father, please help me to carry my cross daily; may the power of the cross and its glory be manifested in my life.

Monday, April 8, 2019 Matthew 4:23-25 HOLISTIC PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL

Jesus’ ministry drew a lot of people, not simply because He was Jesus but because His ministry was holistic. He went about Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sicknesses and diseases among the people (vs.23). Jesus was not only interested in the prosperity of their soul and spirit but also in the prosperity of their body (health). This was the character of Jesus’ ministry. We must also seek this kind of ministry if we must be relevant in this generation.

However, it is important to note the underlying motivation for Jesus’ healing of the people with diverse kinds of diseases and illnesses. He did not heal simply to show off His power but His actions were motivated by a heart of compassion and kindness towards the people. Healing power is not limited to Jesus alone; it is available to all believers as He promised in Mark 16:15-18. Jesus brings complete salvation; believers in Him must also live and preach this full salvation. Is your preaching holistic? Are you saved? If yes, thank Him. If not pray and receive Him now.

PRAYER: Father, revive your Church to the preaching of a holistic gospel that brings complete salvation.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 Matthew 5:1-12 KINGDOM LIFESTYLE

The verses in our text today are part of what is called the “Sermon on the Mount.” It is important to note that every word of the Lord Jesus ought to be most precious to professing Christians. The “Sermon on the Mount” reveals to us the following: (i) What kind of people Christians ought to be (ii) the character Christians ought to exhibit (iii) the outward walk and inward habit of a follower of Jesus.

It is wisdom to often study these teachings, ponder each sentence, and prove ourselves by it. For example, The Lord Jesus calls them blessed, who are poor in spirit (v.3). He means the humble, and the lowly-minded, the self-abased. He means those who are deeply convinced of their personal need for God. The Lord Jesus calls them blessed, who mourn (v.4). He means those who sorrow for sin, and grieve daily over their own shortcomings. The Lord Jesus calls them blessed, who are meek (v5). He means those who are of a patient and contented spirit. They are willing to put up with little honour here below. They can bear injuries without

resentment. They are not ready to take offence. Blessed are such! They are never losers in the long run. Can you be called blessed?

Prayer: Lord, I commit to a growing knowledge of these principles of the life of the kingdom.

Wednesday, April 10 , 2019 Matthew 5:13-16 SALT AND LIGHT

In these verses, the Lord Jesus deals with the character which true Christians must support and maintain in the world. True Christians are to be in the world as salt. Salt has a peculiar taste of its own, unlike anything else. When mingled with other substances, it preserves them from corruption. It imparts a portion of its taste to everything it is mixed with. It is useful so long as it maintains its savour. True Christians are to be in the world as light. It is the property of light to be distinct from darkness. The least spark in a dark room can be seen at once. Of all things created, light is one of the most useful. Without it, the world would be a gloomy blank. “Salt” and “light” evidently imply peculiarity, both of heart and life; of faith and practice.

Have we grace? Then it must be seen. Have we the Spirit? Then there must be fruit. Have we any saving religion? Then there must be a difference of habits, tastes, and turn of mind, between us and those who think only of the world. It is perfectly clear that true Christianity is something more than being baptized and going to Church. We must dare to be singular and unlike the world, if we mean to be saved.

PRAYER: Father, please help me to be the salt and the light of the world as You desire.

Thursday, April 11, 2019 Matthew 5:17-26 JESUS OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS Jesus taught about the character, blessedness and influence of the citizens of heaven (vs.3-16). Here, He talks about the righteousness expected of His disciples. He begins by correcting the false impression that He came to abolish the Law and the prophets. Jesus came to fulfill the Law and to show us its meaning by His obedience which becomes our very source of salvation. He fulfills the Law in His death – in which we see the reality of the Law’s demand for holiness. He fulfills the law in us, too, by His grace and by the work of the Holy Spirit, through which He writes again, God’s Law on our hearts. He fulfills it by living the quality of life which the Law aspired. The Law, therefore, implies far more than the Pharisees' safe interpretations. Man looks on the exterior, but God examines the heart, which is often the root of sin.

Friend, no one can be righteous or be saved through the Law but only through Christ Jesus, who is our Saviour and righteousness. He has fulfilled the demands of God on our behalf by His death on the cross. When you believe Him and put your trust and hope in Him, you will find acceptance before God as there is no other way of becoming righteous apart from Christ!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me to daily conform to Your image and be clothed in Your righteousness.

Friday, April 12, 2019 Matthew 5:27-37 A CALL TO FAITHFULNESS In today’s passage, Jesus speaks of the need for faithfulness in our lives, through fulfilling our commitments. This is essential to God, who sometimes measures our love for others by checking if we have fulfilled our commitments. Jesus here talks of our commitments to marriage and to the promises made to one another. Being married to a person is not itself the commitment, but remaining sexually loyal to one’s spouse in practice and even in sexual thoughts. Concerning promises, Jesus instructs that we make clear promises and keep them. We should not undermine such promises in small ways but be faithful in every way. If we are unfaithful, we become associated with Satan - the father of lies. There is no blessing for unfaithfulness, but judgment! Think about your relationship and commitment to God. Are you faithfully committed to Him? What of your commitment to your spouse, parents, children, neighbours, fellowship and the body of Christ? Do you destroy their precious peace, lives and even souls, through unfaithfulness? Can people rely on your words? When you say you will do something, is it as good as done? Where you have failed, there is hope in Jesus Christ hope of salvation, of healing and restoration! Commitment should be part of a full life, even in uncertain situations. Keep commitments, no matter how small, in the biggest way possible. PRAYER: Lord, give me grace to be faithful in my walk with You, in family life and public life.

Saturday, April 13, 2019 Matthew 6:5-18 FUNCTIONAL PRAYER One of the privileges we have as children of God is prayer. Through prayer, we receive mercy and grace to help in time of need and find peace that guards our hearts and minds. But this privilege does not mean that God must answer all prayers. In today’s reading, Jesus talks about two basic kinds of prayer. The first is “showmanship” prayer by which the person praying draws attention to himself seeking to be known as spiritual and holy. The second is relational prayer - one that seeks time with the Father. This prayer is offered to be seen and heard of God according to a pattern (as taught by Jesus) and with a merciful heart. God answers such a prayer. Is your prayer marked by humility and pleading for mercy or do you make a show out of your prayers? Do you talk with God when you pray or you talk to yourself? Remember, God is not swayed by quantity of words, but by quality of the heart! Most important is the fact that if you do not have a private prayer life, there is no good praying publicly. If you believe that God hears prayers and rewards those who diligently seek Him, then make sure you offer the kind of prayer that God is pleased with.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me to pray from a pure heart in accordance with Your will and in faith.

Sunday, April 14, 2019 Matthew 21:1-13

(Palm Sunday)

HOPE IS COMING

When the two disciples brought the colt and the donkey, they placed their coats and garments upon the young colt to serve as a saddle for Jesus. The people were all excited, hoping that Jesus was coming to overthrow the power of Rome and liberate them. Jesus was not coming to destroy the Romans, but rather to deal with the issue of sin in our lives. His agenda is to lead us into a deeper relationship with God, so that He might change our lives, and we will receive that which is truly important in life. Depending on the hope they had, they responded to Jesus differently. One group took off their coats and clothing and laid them down the pathway as a royal carpet for the animal to walk on to honour Jesus. Another cut palm branches and laid them down as means of honouring Jesus. A third group simply stood alongside the road and cheered briefly and went back to their businesses.

Today Jesus our hope for peace and eternal life is marching into hearts. The hope you have in Him will determine how much of your heart you allow Him take possession of. He desires to make every heart His home but will not force it upon you. With Jesus in your heart, you have hope!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, my hope is in You. Help me surrender wholly to You.

Monday, April 15, 2019 John 18:1-18 (Monday of Holy Week) A SWORD OR A CUP? Jesus crossed the Kidron, fully conscious that Judas would betray Him, and went to Gethsemane to surrender to the Father’s will. His disciples had affirmed their devotion to Him and Peter here, proved it by drawing his sword for a fight. Jesus said to him, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" Peter had a sword in his hand (symbolizing rebellion against the will of God) but Jesus had a cup to drink (symbolizing suffering and His submission to it). Peter was resisting God’s will and hindering the work that Jesus came to accomplish, but Jesus was submitting to it. Peter made mistakes, used the wrong approach/weapons and accomplished the wrong result! He was sincere, but sincerely wrong, perhaps due to his prayerlessness. Remember Jesus had asked them to pray with Him but instead, they slept. What is in your hand todaya sword, or a cup? You may not have a physical sword but that of intellect, wealth, wisdom, resources, power, certificates, position, strength, etc. Do you use them to oppose and struggle against the work and will of the Lord? Like Jesus, you must learn to submit to the will of God for your life, using everything you possess. The surest way of doing so is through prayers! PRAYER: Father, help me to stop struggling against Your will but to be submissive to show forth Your glory.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 John 18:28-40

(Tuesday of Holy Week)

CHOOSE LIFE

Jesus was taken from the Garden of Gethsemane to Annas and then to Caiaphas where selected members of the Sanhedrin gathered. False witnesses came forward to testify against Him. During the examination, no evidence was found against Him. But instead of dismissing Him, they proceeded to hold an illegal court where they condemned Jesus to death on the charge of blasphemy. They took Him to Pilate - the Roman governor where they changed their charge against Jesus from blasphemy to treason! Pilate examined Him and attempted to release Him because he knew that He was innocent, but the people pushed for His death. When given the opportunity to choose whom he should release to them, the Jews chose Barabbas a notorious prisoner, a robber, a rebel, a murderer! They chose to have a murderer and robber live among them than Jesus, the giver of life. Barabbas was set free but the King of glory was sentenced to die!

Today, the choice before us is the choice between eternal life and eternal death. Jesus offers eternal life but the world and its pleasures offer eternal death. You have a choice today. Choose Jesus Christ and you will reign eternally with Him in heaven. This choice begins with a humble confession of your sin and invitation of Christ into your life!

PRAYER: Eternal God, give me grace to choose Christ today over and above all others.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019 John 19:12-30

(Wednesday of Holy Week)

EVERYTHING IS COMPLETE Pilate was convinced of the innocence of Jesus and sought to release Him instead of yielding to the malice and envy of the people. But the Jews insisted! Pilate did not want to lose the favour of Caesar or be considered unfaithful, so he delivered Jesus into their hands. They took Jesus away and crucified Him. When He asked for water, they soaked a sponge in vinegar and gave Him. Jesus looked up to heaven and cried, “It is finished.” By this, Jesus is saying that His job of saving the world has been completed. His sacrifice was not only perfect but acceptable to God. Sin has a devastating effect of separating us from God. Jesus had to deal with sin and restore our relationship with God so we can have hope of heaven. He died on the cross to get rid of the power of sin. By His death, He reconciled us to God, paid the price of sin in full cancelled all debts, procured complete peace, pardon and forgiveness for us. He has finished the task and nothing else needs to be done or added to what has been done. Salvation is complete. All that is needed of you is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Have you believed? If not, you can do it today. PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Your death has given me hope of life forever. Help me to believe You with all my heart.

Thursday, April 18, 2019 1Corinthians 11:17-34

(Maundy Thursday)

A FITTING MEMORIAL

We are often advised against looking back. Yet there are times when we must look back and recollect. The Lord’s Supper is such a time. Each time we commemorate the Lord’s Supper, we look back to the night when Jesus was betrayed (v.23) and also at His death. We also look ahead to His return the blessed hope of the church (v.26b). Moreover, in the Lord’s Supper,

we look within (vs.27-28, 31-32) to examine our hearts, judge and confess the sins in our own lives before God exposes them. If we eat and drink in an unworthy manner, we bring judgment on ourselves. Finally, in the Lord’s Supper, we look around (vs.33-34) to discern the Lord's body and demonstrate its unity.

The Lord’s Supper is a time of remembrance, repentance and renewal. In it, you can find the reason for your existence as a believer and hope for your future. It is God’s way of getting us to keep the cross of Christ central in our lives and nourishing and refreshing our souls for eternal life. Each time you partake of the bread and the cup, remember that Jesus Christ took your hellso you might have His heaven. If you receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour, the Holy Spirit reminds you of this memorial each time you commune with the Lord! What a fitting memorial!

PRAYER: Thank You Lord for the memorial ordained for my benefit. Grant that it does not take the place of Christ in me.

Friday, April 19, 2019 Romans 6:1-14

(Good Friday)

DEAD TO SIN BUT ALIVE TO GOD!

Paul’s main point in today’s passage is: “Consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive to God through Christ Jesus(v.11). When Jesus died to sin on the cross, we died to sin too! His death on the cross paid and atoned for our sins. The old, fallen, wicked and sinful nature was put to death on the cross and rendered ineffective. The flesh, the world and the devil have no control over the children of God. Sin’s penalty is cancelled and its dominion and power broken. When Jesus arose in victory, we also arose in victory - alive to God! The resurrection power makes it possible to live outside sin’s dominion. Many Christians live in a state of defeat and misery. But this does not have to be true in your life! A man who has received the forgiveness of sins on account of Christ’s crucifixion but who goes back to sin is crucifying Christ all over again. You have been set free by the Lord Jesus Christ and eternally liberated from the power of sin! Do not present your body to be used in any way by the enemy of your soul. To do so is spiritual treason! Instead, yield your life to the Lord Jesus (vs.12-13), as an instrument of glory in His hands today.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me to reckon myself dead to sin and to live a victorious life by the power of Your resurrection.

Saturday, April 20, 2019 2Corinthians 4:16; 5:1-8

(Saturday of the Holy Week)

DON’T LOSE HEART

In today’s text, Paul draws our attention to the common struggle we all have with our “outer man” (our earthly bodies). Like tents, they are flimsy, insecure temporary living quarters - being destroyed, corrupted and ruined every day. Every one: saved or lost, will waste away and die. We suffer physical, emotional, verbal hurts and pains, which make us prone to lose heart as our outer man is being destroyed. But Paul says he has found the secret to staying focused in the Lord and never losing heart, giving up, giving in or giving out! His goal is to be home with the Lord (2Corinthians 5:1,8) in a building made by God, an eternal house in heaven. He therefore refused to be distracted from the purpose of God for his life. Like Jesus did on the Cross of Calvary, he committed to fulfilling that purpose.

Friend, what is God’s purpose for your life? Are you committed to fulfilling it? Are you on the verge of quitting because of the struggles with your outer man? Remember, you will stumble and may fall. You will be discouraged especially by the terrorism, persecution, unemployment, nepotism, godlessness, etc., which confront us on every side. But do not lose heart. Do not be distracted. Do not quit! Remember, this life and body is temporary!

PRAYER: Lord, give me grace to focus on the glorious certainty of my future so that I may not lose heart in difficult times.

Sunday, April 21, 2019 John 20:1-18

(Easter Day)

LIVING FAITH

Today, we are reminded again that Christianity is a living faith in a living Messiah. The resurrection of Christ from the dead, distinguishes Christianity from all other religions. No religion in the world can boast of a Messiah that loves the world enough to die for it, and is so powerful enough to rise in victory over death. The resurrection of Jesus Christ implies many blessings for believers in Christ. These include: (i) Victory over the fear of man. Christ’s resurrection shows that God, not man, has the final decision over the lives and destiny of believers. (ii) Victory over the fear of death and the grave: Naturally, most people would not wish to die. But the resurrection of Jesus shows that death is only a transition to a greater glory. (iii) Victory over the power of sin: No one who has encountered the resurrection power of Christ continues to live a purposeless, sinful life. The power of Christ in resurrection brings the believer to a place where sin loses its power over the soul.

Remember that Mary saw the risen Lord. Have you “seen” Him – His salvation, peace, love and compassion in your life? If not, pray fervently now; refuse to let go until you see the manifestation of His presence in your life.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to know You and the power of Your resurrection and the fellowship of Your suffering.

Monday, April 22, 2019 2 Corinthians 5:9-17

IF ANYONE IS IN CHRIST

Today’s passage connects as a build-up to the message of resurrection. Verse 17 says: “therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (ESV). This passage brings to us the message of God’s grace, both as a privilege and a responsibility. It is a privilege because, being in Christ means total forgiveness and redemption from our sins. It means we no longer have to be afraid of the coming judgment over the rest of the world, because we have been justified through Christ (Acts 13:38&39).

But the grace of God also places a huge responsibility on us, the beneficiaries. A Christian who has been saved by grace, no longer lives to please himself or anyone else; he lives only to please God (v.9). The utmost desire of the redeemed is to always bring pleasure to God’s heart. Another responsibility that the grace of God places on us is that of “persuading others” (v.11). A truly redeemed person is not contented with his own salvation alone; he pushes and

labours at every opportunity, for the salvation of others. Furthermore, being in Christ means to be controlled by the love of Christ. Are you being controlled by this love?

PRAYER: Lord, thank You for Your redeeming power at work in my life.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019 Galatians 2:15-21

JUSTIFIED BY FAITH

Justification has continued to generate debate among theologians. The message of God through Paul here is simple: everyone (circumcised Jews as well as uncircumcised Gentiles) is placed in a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. In other words, apart from faith in Jesus Christ, there is no other means of salvation for mankind (see John 14:6). Unfortunately, many, up till today, still believe that salvation should be achieved through efforts, because in their minds, insisting that salvation is through faith in Christ alone is tantamount to making salvation appear cheap. We must, however, remember that true salvation is not cheap: it was paid for by the death of Christ on the cross.

Our responsibility, therefore, is to believe in and accept the sacrifice that Christ made for us to be saved. Good works do not save a man, but a saved man must naturally bring forth good works. So, good works is not the root of one’s salvation, but the fruit of one’s salvation. Therefore, a person who is saved by faith in Christ demonstrates that he or she is saved by being good and doing good works. Remember that the mark of a truly saved person is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Are you truly saved? Does your life show such evidence of salvation?

PRAYER: Lord, may my life bring forth the fruit of salvation today and always.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 Colossians 2:11-17

ONCE DEAD, BUT NOW ALIVE!

One of the wonders of the Christian faith is that it consists of men and women who were once "dead" but are now "alive"! This is very clearly stated in verse 13 of our reading today. The death spoken about here is not physical but spiritual. The beauty of the Christian faith is that we are all a congregation of forgiven sinners. God’s gracious ability to forgive does not have limits, as Scripture says: “...having forgiven us all our trespasses” (v.13).

Maybe you’re struggling under the weight of loads of sin and the feeling of condemnation, without hope. The word of hope for us today is that God is willing and able to forgive us all our trespasses if we come to Him and ask for it in total humility. You need to realize today that you have no business groaning under the weight of sin and satanic influences, because Jesus has already gained the victory for you (vs.14-15). When we are in Christ and put our faith totally in Him, we triumph over sin and Satan. Unfortunately, not all of us realize this that is why even with our confession of Christ as Lord and Saviour, many of us still continue to live as slaves to sin and Satan. This ought not to be!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, grant me grace to live above sinful habits that threaten to derail Your grace in my life.

Thursday, April 25, 2019 1Corinthians 15:1-11

BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Our study this morning will be focusing particularly on verse 10. Grace means “unmerited favour.” What does this mean for us today? We may not be able to understand what this means unless we try to understand what it meant for the Apostle Paul in his day. Saul, later Paul, was a Pharisee who believed that God’s salvation must be achieved through tedious human efforts (Philippians 3:1-7). He eventually became one of the harshest persecutors of the early Christians. In fact, he described himself as the worst of all sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Despite all, God still forgave him! Not only did God forgive him, but God also took him and shaped him into a great apostle. This is “unmerited favour”!

God is willing to do the same to each one of us who truly turns to Him. The unmerited favour of God does not, therefore, give room for pride, as Paul himself points out here: “but by the grace of God, I am what I am” (v.10a, ESV). A prideful person is a person who does not really understand the workings of God’s grace. God’s grace is meant to humble us (no matter who we are) and to motivate us towards selfless living and service, as Paul says in verse 10b. Knowing and encountering the grace of God should motivate us to hard work and selfless service.

PRAYER: Lord, fill me with the spirit of humility and service.

Friday, April 26, 2019 1Corinthians 15:12-28

THE HOPE OF RESURRECTION

Paul, in today’s passage, is gradually getting to the conclusion of this first letter to the Corinthian church. But he still had a very critical issue to address the resurrection of the dead. It appears the Christians at Corinth were becoming increasingly confused about what happens after death. Many of them were beginning to be deceived by the lie of the devil that life on earth is all there is. The danger, therefore, was for people to begin to live lives anyhow, assuming that there will be no judgment after death since there is no resurrection of the dead!

God inspired the Apostle Paul to address this matter. God’s verdict is very clear: if Jesus Christ rose from the dead (and He did), then definitely humanity will also rise from the dead - some to honour, some to dishonour (John 6:39-54; Matthew 16:24-27). The truth is that if life were to end only on this earth, Jesus would not have bothered to come and to lay down His life for the world. But He died so that we who trust in Him might have hope, not only for this life, but also for the life after resurrection. Let us, therefore, live each day as a rehearsal for the life to be spent in eternity with Christ.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for the sacrifices of Your Son, Jesus Christ for me. Help me to live each day with eternity in mind.

Saturday, April 27, 2019 1Corinthians 15:29-34

LIVING WITH ETERNITY IN MIND

Further on the subject of the resurrection of the dead, God’s word has set out for us some of the things that eternity-minded people do. They “die daily” (v.31): This is re-iterating what Jesus Himself had earlier said: “...if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). The truth is, those who will go to heaven will not end up in heaven by mistake. In the same way, those who will go to hell will not end up in hell by mistake. Each one of us, by our conscious daily choices, is deciding where he will spend eternity whether in heaven or in hell.

Furthermore, eternity-minded people endure through the struggles of life, and they are prepared to fight the good fight of faith. Paul, because he was certain of eternity with Christ, endured persecutions and even fought “with beasts at Ephesus” (v.32). Eternity-minded people are not afraid to be persecuted. They hold on to the faith against all odds. They strive to please God. In addition, eternity-minded people carefully select their friends, partners and companions, knowing that “bad company ruins good morals” (v.33). Finally from this passage, eternity-minded people do not "go on sinning" (v.34). They know that sin is enmity with God.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to live always with eternity in mind. Help me overcome every sinful habit.

Sunday, April 28, 2019 Luke 24:1-12

(Easter 1)

WITNESSES TO THE RESURRECTION

All the four gospels give accounts of the resurrection. Here we are told that the women, who obviously were devoted to their Lord, arrived with spices at the tomb, only to find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty! Why was the stone rolled away? Was it to let Jesus out? No! With His glorious body He no longer needed physical openings in order to find access. He could walk through locked doors (John 20:19). So, obviously the stone was rolled away in order to let the "witnesses" (the women and the apostles) in so they could proclaim the resurrection. In verses 5 and 6, the angels gently rebuked the women for failing to remember Jesus' predictions about His death and resurrection, which is the reason why, they were "looking for the living among the dead!"

As Mary Magdalene lingered by the tomb weeping, Jesus appeared to her and commissioned her as a witness to the resurrection (John 20:11-18). Amazingly, all the four gospels agree that women were the first to witness to the resurrection of Christ. The Gospel of Christ must break every barrier: ethnic, gender or race. When we encounter the resurrected Christ, we must in turn become witnesses of the same to an ignorant world.

PRAYER: Father, may my life bear witness to the fact that Jesus is alive.

Monday, April 29, 2019 Acts 15:36-41

(St. Mark’s Day)

HANDLING DISAGREEMENTS

Paul and Barnabas had been working as partners for years, planting churches and spreading the gospel together. However, even partners do disagree sometimes. The disagreement between Paul and Barnabas brings some things to the fore. Paul’s reason for refusing John Mark to go with them on this mission was because he had deserted them at some point on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:13), perhaps out of fear, exhaustion or discouragement. Paul and Barnabas are two dedicated men who had just helped bring unity to the church, and yet here they could not settle their own disagreement!

Disturbing and painful as these conflicts are, they have often been found in the church throughout history. Good and godly people in the church do disagree; we must accept this fact. But we must be careful that our disagreements do not hinder the work of God. Perhaps for Paul and Barnabas, it was a difference of perspective: Paul looks at people and asks, What can they do for God’s work?” while Barnabas looks at people and asks, “What can God’s work do in them?” Both questions are important to God’s work and a lot of times, it is hard to keep things balanced. As a result of the contribution of Barnabas to the growth of Mark, Paul came to love and appreciate Mark quite fondly (Colossians 4:10; 2Timothy 4:11; Philemon 23-24). Never write anyone off.

Action: Find someone to urge on in faith today.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019 1Corinthians 15:35-49

CARING FOR YOUR SOUL

In furtherance of the discussion on the issue of resurrection, Paul made the very important point that resurrection does not entail the reconstruction of our earthly bodies. In other words, when we are buried in the ground, our earthly bodies will decay, only the soul is indestructible. The soul is what will appear before God on Judgment Day (in a new body!). It is good to take care of our physical bodies, but more important to care for the soul. Unfortunately, many of us can do anything to decorate, feed and nurture our physical bodies, yet pay little or no attention to our soul.

When last did you really spend good time to feed your soul on the word of God and prayer? When last did you really allow God to work in your life and bring the much needed transformation? Paul is saying here that as far as eternity is concerned, our earthly bodies, no matter how beautiful they currently look, have no place in heaven. God will cloth the soul with a new body that is suitable to that heavenly environment! Knowing this, we must give our soul over to God that He may feed and nurture it and cloth us in the end for eternity with Him.

PRAYER: Lord, help me from now on to dedicate my soul and body to You in preparation for eternity with You.

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The Most Revd. Nicholas Dikeriehi Orogodo Okoh

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Akokwa Women at the Diocesan Women Conference 2018.