by Pastor Toks Oshokoya
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Psalm 103:1-2
God’s benefits (blessing) in our lives are so numerous, and we are enjoined not to forget them. This is so that we can praise and worship God, share the testimony of His benefits all around, and have our faith boosted in the face of challenges, when we remember His benefits. A major reason we should not forget God’s benefits in our lives is that it keeps us remembering why we are indebted to Him.
What you sow, you will reap (Gal. 6:7). There have been things that happened in my life which I found out were not as a result of what I did, but were rewards of what my parents did in the house of God. What about you? What have you done or what are you doing for God? If you live anyhow, your life will not count before God. It is not enough to just go to church or to just be born again; you must live responsibly to God.
Many people enjoy the promises of God, but forget that for every benefit God gives us, He expects a reciprocal responsibility. When Pentecostalism came, it did not come with only miracles, signs and wonders, it came with responsibility, and people were taught character. I have seen people whom I knew as “accidents waiting to happen” because they have character defaults that are waiting to crash them later in life.
I have seen young people who are in school and so think that academics is everything, but they have no character. They drag their feet and slant their bodies in funny postures, all in the name of “it’s in vogue.” Some boys sag their trousers, not knowing that sagging originated from American prisons, where inmates are not allowed to wear belts so that they would not strangle themselves or other prisoners.
Over the years, some preachers have tampered with the truth and they have watered down what is called righteousness. They have told us that as Christians we need to be broadminded so as to receive anything. But let me ask you: can a car carry a train? Of course not! Except the train is a toy train. If a Christian should be broadminded, how broad should it be when that Christian is walking through the narrow way? Let us be careful that our broad minds will not turn our narrow way to a broad way.
You cannot be a Christian and wear just anything you like; you cannot be a Christian and paint garishly; you cannot be a Christian and walk anyhow. If as a Christian I choose to have a broad mind and try to walk in a narrow way, it is either my mind will be broken into pieces, or else I will not be able to enter that narrow way. Any righteousness that allows immorality is not righteousness; it doesn’t matter how many Scriptures are used to back it up.
When our parents were coming up in Christianity, everything they knew was about heaven. They talked about heaven, sang about heaven, taught about heaven. Which Pentecostal church have you heard sing songs like Jerusalem My Home, in the last ten years? There was a time when the songs you will hear in churches is Jim Reeves’ Never Grow Old. How many churches still talk about heaven these days?
Truthfully, God in His mercies knew that there are other things to do on earth, so He brought the message of the kingdom on earth, to balance it. And so, 20 years down the line, God brought men who started teaching about divine health, about how to be relevant on this earth. God began to teach us how to enjoy the kingdom on earth too while anticipating the kingdom of heaven. This brought a balance to the way our parents held the gospel, thus teaching us to be heavenly minded and of earthly relevance. So, even though you are heavenly minded, you can help your neighbour, you can make a meaning in your office; you can do things that men will say it is because you are a Christian that you can do such things. So, we thank God for the balance He has brought into the gospel.
In the same vein, I have found out that the church is also swinging to the other extreme, so already the church is now earth-bound in no time. Motivational speakers pushed the original anointed men of God out of focus on the pulpit and they now started talking about Excellence! Excel! Succeed! Succeed! Excelling and succeeding are good, but they have talked about it until excelling and succeeding means making money and having a name among men. The people who used to be our heroes were Paul, Timothy, David; but our heroes today are now Bill Gates, Warren Buffett. Do you know that Pastors use Mike Tyson to give example about excelling in life?
When God spoke to me about this message on Making Your Life Count, I did know that was the week Michael Jackson was going to die. As the Lord was expounding this to me, He said, “Make your life count. You enjoy God’s promises, but do you know that time is going? For every promise you claim and enjoy, I will ask you, what did you do with it?” For everyone of you that God spared your life, the life you are to live now should be lived in extra-productivity, because you are living on borrowed time, if you live it the way you lived before, you will soon be cut off, according to the Scriptures.
As we have read in Psalm 103, which says “bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” whatever we ask from God are our benefits, but there is a responsibility that comes along with it. So, if you are asking God for a wife, it will come with a responsibility for you.
Abraham needed a son, and for years he waited until he got tired and asked God to bless his servant Eliezer, to be his heir, but God said no. Eventually Abraham had a son and you know what happened to him? In the morning, noon and night, all he talked about was Isaac. Before Isaac came along Abraham would sing and praise God, but since the birth of his son, all he sang about was Isaac. So God had to ask Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac unto Him. What God was doing to Abraham was to return him to his first love. And because Abraham loved God, he obeyed. He was about to cut Isaac when God stopped him and gave him an animal to sacrifice. From that moment on, when Abraham looked at Isaac, he knew this was not his son, his own Isaac had died. And on the part of Isaac, he felt Abraham would have killed him. So from that time, Isaac knew that his true father is Abraham’s father that is the Lord God Almighty.
I want you to know that whatever a man sows, he will reap. Michael Jackson was my age-mate. By the age of 8 or 9, he had started performing and by the time he was thirteen, he was already known beyond his state. At 17, he had touched the whole world. But how many people knew me in 1975? By the time Michael Jackson graduated from just being ‘teacher’ to an ‘evangelist’, I was one of the members of his “Mickee-wacko” church. Do you know that he was an apostle? Michael was a five-fold minister for the devil. He touched several nations, and the day he died, little children in Japan and South Africa cried. But who knows me?
There are prophets, evangelists and apostles on God’s side and they are also those on the devil’s side. Paul was explaining that when fallen angels get mixed up in a person’s life, such a one becomes a messenger; no wonder Satan’s angels are transformed into angels of light. When Bob Marley was singing he said, “how long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?”
I spoke in two churches, not knowing that was the week Michael would die, (one in Johannesburg and another in Pretoria) about this comparison between Michael Jackson and myself, and I said “if God decides to take one of us now, which one will his life count for eternity?” Will your life count in eternity? Whether you like it or not, you will die; and if you don’t, the Rapture will take place. Whichever be the case, this life will be terminated. And also, everybody will live forever, either in heaven or in hell. So settle it now, this world will end, and where you go – heaven or hell – is determined by what you believe. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you will not go to where those who believe in Jesus will go. It does not matter how many times you can pray and bow down in a day.
If you are born again, you will go to heaven when you die, but that does not mean that everybody will be in the same level or receive the same reward. What you believe determines your destination, and how you will live in your destination. If after you get born again, you start living carelessly, you may get to heaven, but you will be there, poor and wretched. I am sure you are wondering if there will be poor and wretched people in heaven, I tell you, yes. Haven’t you read in Psalm 84:10 where David said he would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God? Do you want to be a doorkeeper in the kingdom of God? It is okay if you are one here on earth, but woe on you if you get to heaven only to be a doorkeeper, because you will be a doorkeeper from eternity to eternity. Your choices here on earth, determine where and how you will spend eternity.
You may say that you are already working for God in one department or the other, so God should be satisfied. Who says that because you are in the choir and you sing, that you cannot go out and evangelize? Do you think you have done enough for God? Just as God gives you all His benefits, so also you ought to give your all to Him. Do you decide to pay your tithes only when it is convenient for you, or do you give just a tenth of your all to God? Remember in this New Testament everything you have belongs to Him. Hear the word of God: whatever you are doing now is not enough for God.
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.” Mat. 25:14-15.
Note that this man first gave goods to his servants, before he gave them talents. He is the owner of the goods, his servants did not own any. In the same vein, we own nothing, all that we have is given to us by God. If you are beautiful and you become a beauty queen and then you think it is by your own making, let me tell you, just a single accident will disfigure you.
The man in the above Scripture gave goods to his servants, but we are not told what the goods were. Let us assume that these goods are all the benefits of life. God has given you life. He then gave you time, from the day you are born to the day you are buried, that entire span of time is God’s whether you live 21, 42, 100, or 250 years. 250 years is just quarter of a thousand years, which is just a day in God’s sight. A thousand years is incomparable to a million years, a million years cannot compare to a billion years, which in turn is incomparable to eternity. The amount of time it will take a three year old to walk from Isolo to Bar-beach Ocean with a teaspoon, fetch water in it and walk back to Isolo until she scoops away all the water in the ocean is comparable to eternity.
In the Parable of the talents, we have always inferred that the talents given to the servants were spiritual giftings, but the Bible makes us understand that those talents were money. We may say that the Master did not share those talents equally, but He actually did, because he shared it according to their several abilities, not just according to ability. And at the end, we saw how He rewarded them.
You must know that God is measuring your several abilities, so you must be careful not to live your life irresponsibly, because you will be rewarded by how you live. If the master of those servants gave them talents according to their several abilities, it then means that He had judged their abilities before that time. We are expected to produce maximally.