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I believe myself truly blessed to have participated in lectures / Seminars by 2 of the world’s finest teachers of eschatology (Study of events associated with the end time) – Dr. Hilton Sutton of Hilton Sutton Ministries and Pastor (Dr.) Azuka Obi of the Assemblies of God Church. This is one of the benefits one enjoys as a Christian seeker / searcher who having crossed over from another religion, in his quest for a deeper understanding of Christianity, Christendom and Bible prophecies especially for this end time period, attaches himself to several interdenominational Christian organizations like the GIDEONS INTERNATIONAL, DANIELS INTERNATIONAL, FGBMFI (Full Gospel Business Men Fellowship International), etc. These are gospel based interdenominational bodies showcasing various shades of doctrines and Christian thought. In some cases the doctrinal nuances and foibles between contending Christian denominations within these extra – Church gatherings are so infinitesimal that one wonders often why they are even said to be different denominations at all, in the first place. One irreverent but seemingly objective observer and commentator actually suggests that the reasons such separation and labored efforts to establish distinct identities even when there are no apparent doctrinal differences, could actually be found in the moods, tempers, whims and caprices of the founding fathers. But this is a topic for discussion another day. Before the erudite gentlemen tackle the subject of deciphering the messages inherent in the end time prophecies, to help their audience readily grasp the subject at hand, they try to provide essential information on a variety of happenings as a backdrop against which their messages would be easily absorbed. This sometimes turns out to be another complete message on its own.

In the case of Pastor Azuka Obi whose 3 day Revelation Conferences are a mighty blessing for every serious seeker, he first of all delivers a message on FORGIVENESS before zeroing in on the Book of Revelations and other prophecies for the end time from Genesis to Revelations – the entire length of The Bible. For some reasons I could not initially explain but which I came to understand later he never conducts his Revelation Conferences without first giving his message on FORGIVENESS. He insists that forgiveness if well understood is the key to a lot of things, not least the growing of the local church. Anywhere there is ready forgiveness, there must be tolerance in copious measure. In an environment made up of people from different background and culture, forgiveness and tolerance combine to weld everyone together in a union of purpose and spirit, the warts and short comings of the individual member notwithstanding. This is further cast in bolder relief if the group of people so gathered are said to be in quest of spiritual enlightenment.

This is why the role of the third person / office in the Godhead, The Holy Spirit cannot be overemphasized. For a successful Christian living that is honest and sincere the Holy Spirit must be allowed to be in control at all times. Luke 6:29 “And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.” Mt 18:22 “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” These 2 very “foolish and weak” responses to someone offending you especially repeatedly can only be powered by the third person in the Godhead – The Holy Spirit. I doubt that there is anyone who on his own can obey these injunctions from Christ. The degree to which one is able to follow cheerfully these injunctions coming directly from The Master’s lips must reflect the spiritual condition of the inner - man. The Lord knew the serious challenges following his disciples and other believers converted through them under the ministration of The Holy Spirit. For them to be truly victorious in the race they were called to run, He commanded them to wait for The Holy Spirit and POWER. Luke 24:49 “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” John 7:39 “(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.).” In seeking profound Christian experiences, I have never waited for any denomination to lead me. What I always did was to hold God to his word. My most frequent method was to say something like this in prayers – “Father I read today in Acts 2:1 – that the apostles were baptized by the Holy Spirit and endued with power as Jesus Christ commanded. In Matthew 16:17 and Luke 24:49 a similar phenomenon is mentioned. If this is true of the Christian experience today, I want it because I know it will greatly help me in this my walk with you. Please give it to me in Jesus’ name. Amen.” I usually may add some fasting so as to accentuate my prayers and accelerate answers from on high. Nobody should wait for anybody. I certainly do not wait for any denomination before asking God for pragmatic doctrinal experiences. I simply lift it straight from Scriptures and point it out to God in prayers. He is always faithful to answer. Without a solid presence of The Holy Spirit no one can forgive 70 x 7 times or truly turn the other cheek for another dirty slap to report on your face. Yet Jesus Christ meant every bit of his spoken word. Those who claim symbolism here are nevertheless agreed that what the Lord advocates here is great if extra - ordinary sacrifice.

Forgiveness dished out very “foolishly” the way our Lord commands, first of all releases the offender creating an atmosphere of divine grace in and around him, and helping to mend his ways, then returns to the offended releasing, blessing and positioning him to receive untold grace from The Throne of Grace. This is so because the offended now has an unshakeable Locus Standi – (you see what making friends with lawyers can do to you?) to confidently ASK in prayers to God now that he has demonstrated his own readiness at all times to forgive. “Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me.” Matthew 6:12. You see the relay race? If Abraham had refused to give God his ONLY son Issac, would God have given us His own ONLY son Jesus Christ? Only God knows, but thank God that Abraham did not refuse to give God, Isaac as commanded by God. And thank God who now gave us his own only son Jesus Christ, as Abraham willingly gave Isaac. This law of giving and receiving is what Christians today must learn to thoroughly understand.

I had cause to visit a cousin of mine who was the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering in a university where my first son was reading Diplomacy and International Studies. As I had not seen this cousin for a very long time, I decided to call on him. We suddenly found ourselves discussing spiritual matters after other issues like politics. I stressed the fact that if we as human beings could not forgive others, we did not have any right to ask God to forgive us. He vehemently opposed me and insisted that only God was expected to forgive in such a “foolish” manner because He is GOD. He ended by saying that there are some things people would do to you which are impossible to forgive. I tried to get him to see the relay element in us forgiving others so as to trigger God’s own forgiving of our own sins; in giving to others so that God can give to us; in being kind to others so that God can be kind to us; in kissing others so that God can kiss us; and in slapping others so that God can slap us. If we are not able to forgive readily we do not have the standing to confidently ask God to forgive us; - especially if we have benefited from hearing the gospel of Christ taught to us in our homes, schools or Churches. To whom much is given, much is expected. And the deep must call to the deep. My very educated cousin, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering stood his ground. I stood mine. I did not see him again until he died 2 months later of what I was told was pneumonia. Apart from the pain of his death, I was unhappy that he could not easily see that very simple law in creation. The intellect has nothing to do with spiritual things. The 2 indeed are mutually antagonistic. To cut a long story short let me quickly explain that my said cousin like his father’s many other children, I believe had an axe to grind with his step mother. He could not bring himself to forgive her. So I knew his problem which is really not a problem if you let the Holy Spirit rule your life. After God has blessed you to the point of greatly succeeding in your chosen career to the envy of many of your peers, I believe that you should find it possible if not very easy to forgive anyone who you perceive to have played any negative roles in your life, especially if any form of apology is expressly offered or implied. Maybe I am too generous, but this has been my position and I believe I have God’s approval in this matter. If the offending person is really dangerous you still can forgive but never leave yourself open. It is wise to forgive; but wisely separate yourself from such a dangerous person. He may repeat his attack if you give him the chance to do so to you or your children.

“The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. {worshipped him: or, besought him}Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. – {the Roman penny is the eighth part of an ounce, which after five shillings the ounce is seven pence halfpenny; about fourteen cents}. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. Mt 12: 26 – 34. Following the Lord’s way is not a tea party. It is better not to know the Lord at all than to know him and not learn the secret of forgiveness, as he has taught it.

Recently a brother had cause to send the following note to a sister in the church he had offended by failing to “Blind Send” an email. He had sent the email in such a manner as to reveal the email addresses of everyone he had sent the same email to. It is to be noted here that this same brother had been sent several email in which his own email address was conspicuously displayed for all to see. He did not complain and did not read any devious meaning to this. He simply accepted it in the firm belief that even Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Napoleon Bonaparte put together would have no power over it to do him any harm. What had started as an absent minded click on the wrong button was to sadly evolve into a storm in a tea cup and further develop into flow of sentiments and emotions registering varying degrees of intensity depending on who was expressing it on behalf of the aggrieved sister who unwittingly and or inadvertently had quietly recruited, seduced or simply convinced them to join the fray as it were on her side. Sad. Truly sad. A somewhat comic relief to all this played out itself in the Church when during Worship Service / Holiness Meeting the “Greet a New Friend, Shake a hand, Give a Hug” segment saw the brother and the sister dodging and weaving in between pews, the sister in desperate avoidance of the brother and the brother in hot pursuit. It was a real marvel to behold this in a Holiness Service. It would have been laughable were it not very serious. And all this is for an email address. Where is the tolerance? Where is the forgiveness? In an effort to pacify said sister, the brother has had to write the following note to her.

“I could not help noticing your discomfiture with my presence at the church on Sunday. Please forgive me for making the second mistake of not "blind sending" my email as you had advised. Believe me, it was not deliberate. I sent a verbal apology through Bro. Richmond. I hope he delivered it to you. I am sending this email just in case he did not remember to deliver it or if he did but you found it inadequate. I am just coming to terms with the computer but I am learning very fast. I am not one to deliberately offend. I hope you would find this apology adequate and acceptable.

A further act of grace after our new birth is sanctification, which together with the baptism of The Holy Spirit helps us to very "foolishly" forgive others who continually offend us as in "turn the other Cheek" and "70 x 7 times." These 2 "foolish" injunctions from our Lord can never be lived out with the natural self. We need The Holy Spirit for this type of very "foolish" forgiving or we might run the risk of being the persons now in the wrong though we were the initially offended and wronged persons. For instance your thought forms during the Sunday activities were of indignation whenever my name flashed through your mind or you saw me. This is why the Lord forbids us to think of adultery because we might already commit it in our hearts. The state of our inner - man during such holy activities is very important. That I could even remotely be the reason for this attempted dislocation of His harmonious presence, whether rightly or wrongly is too much for me to even contemplate. I love you with the love of Christ.” After the Holiness Meeting the brother tried to follow up with another verbal apology.

Sadly this only seemed to have aggravated the problem. The sister’s eyes flashed in anger as she told him in no mistaken terms to stir off. The main concern of all now should be to fill the empty pews because the Lord’s coming is imminent and we should jettison all forms of egoism. Without a forgiving spirit and the right amount of tolerance, I am afraid the soul winning aspect of our Christian duties would be impossible for us to do as expressly commanded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Several companies in the USA sell email and postal addresses. Several too, sell telephone numbers. One of such companies is called ABOUT LISTS. Go on the internet and you would find that there is hardly anything that is a secret. Such is the world in which we live today. Infact you can even custom order email or postal addresses of all names starting with “P” or of people called “Mary” or further still of people whose last names are “Zachariah.” It is crazy. But it is the absolute truth. If we give Satan a chance, he will continue to over magnifier perceived and imagined hurts and offences, exaggerating them beyond context, making mountains out of mole hills and giving a million reasons why forgiveness must be impossible with us. It is a trap every Christian must avoid. If for any reason God calls us home when we are still in such a state of unforgiving, which is really backsliding, the eternal implication is too dire for us who had once known Christ, though we were initially wronged. Our inability to forgive turns our status to that of sinner though we were the offended and wronged party initially. Trying to bring others within the body of believers to take sides too is a grievous sin.

True BROKENNESS that makes the type of forgiveness Christ commands easy to obey can only come with whole submission of ourselves to the Holy Spirit of God. Luke 9:54 “And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?” Jesus refused to give them leave to do so. If Jesus did not demonstrate his BROKENNESS, no human power would have been able to arrest and murder him. Php 2:8 “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Yes he could have declared his Lordship over man and matter; and refused to be shamefully treated, insulted, scourged and killed. But if he had declared his Lordship in that sense the plan for the salvation, healing and deliverance of man would have failed woefully. Thank God for the brokenness of Christ. He did not insist on his rights as creator who is far above his creation. It is this brokenness together with holiness that helps make our body a true living sacrifice unto God. 1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1.

Can we forgive and forget please? If it has pleased the Lord to help us swim across the vast oceans, since He called us into fellowship with His Son. An indoor swimming pool should not challenge our ankles. 2Ti 4:2 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” This is the challenge. Our brief is to help win souls, and join hands with like minded children of God everywhere to prepare ourselves and others for the soon coming Lord. 10 “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” 2 Peter 1:10. God bless you, in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

410 488 3636, 410 325 2626.

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