Friday, August 29, 2014

Thirty Years On…Still Growing in You.

The Universities were on break. I was back home for the summer vacation. It was August 1984. I had spent two years in the university already. Brought up in a religious home with a Preacher for father and a Teacher for mother, I had a very strict upbringing. I was like a bird escaping from the cage when I got into the university—freedom at last was my singsong. I used my freedom to the fullest. I followed my own rules while maintaining an appearance of Christianity by going to church on Sunday mornings, even after an overnight party.

My immediate junior brother who was born again already, persistently invited me for the Vacation Christian Fellowship organized by UNILAG Students at the Shepherd’s Hill Baptist Church, Obanikoro, in Lagos. Ibukun Williams is now Pastor of Jesus House (RCCG), Melbourne, Australia. Repeatedly, I rebuffed him. I didn't need anyone “brainwashing” me or hindering my quest for fun. On this occasion, towards the end of August, I obliged him—for my sanity sake. The minister that evening admonished us to be totally committed to God and to Christ, “You need to be totally committed,” he said over and over again.

 His words rang in my head throughout that evening, and left me restless and without sleep that night. It broke through the hardness of my heart and led me to ask questions on how I was living my life. I fell on my knees by my bedside and committed my life to Jesus Christ. I asked Him to come into my life and make me His own. He answered my prayers, gave me peace in the inner mind and made me truly His. And Jesus became my Lord and my Saviour.

Thirty years down the road, I am still scratching the surface of knowing Him. The more I know Him the more I want to know Him more. I look back to August 1984 and I can sing:

I don't feel no ways tired
I've come too far from where I started from
Nobody told me that the road would be easy
I don't believe He brought me this far to leave me
(Mighty Clouds of Joy – “I don’t feel no way tired”)

Indeed, the road has not been easy, but I must confess God that prepared me ready ahead of time for the path He chose for me. I was about three months old in the Lord when during my Bible Study, He ministered His word into my heart from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4;

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

His Word to me was, “I will comfort you with the same comfort with which you will comfort others.”

I knew there and then, that in whatever I go through in my walk with God, He will comfort me. So that I can with the same comfort minister His comfort to others. I had no clue what the future had in store for me but I had the reassuring confidence that He will be there with me through it all, come what may!

It was with this confidence that I returned to the University, I knew my lifestyle had to change. Old things had passed away, and all things must become new. I needed new friends. I needed “clean” music to listen to. I needed a thriving environment for growth.

So I joined the Ibadan Varsity Christian Union (IVCU) at the University of Ibadan. That was where the foundation for my growth in Christ was built up. That was where I became firmly grounded in the faith. I bless God for the diverse and rich words I received through the likes of Pa Elton, Prof. Adesogan, Dr. Durojaiye, Friday Bekee, Moses Aransiola, Emiko Amotsuka and many others.

Because I love to sing, I became a member of the Jesus Revolution Voices (JRV). I thank God for those who groomed me and encouraged me in this ministry – Abraham Aiyelabowo, Adebowale Salako, Sis Toyin, Victor Okoruwa and many others. We had a great time ministering God’s love through songs at concerts (Living Springs, OAU, Ile-ife) and in campuses. I will never forget the almost 700km drive through the night, singing all the way from Ibadan to Kontagora to minister at the Crusade organised by the Polytechnic.

God blessed me with new friends who encouraged me in my walk with the Lord. With them cheering me on, I grew in the faith. I am still in close contact with many of them today. It is also a joy to find many of my old friends have come to the knowledge of God’s saving grace. Praise be to God.

The road has not been easy, but then, nobody told me it would be. God raised me up to stand on the mountains. He raised me up to walk through the storms. He has been with me through the valley of the shadow of death. He has been there with me in the fiery furnace of trials and affliction. He never for one moment left me alone, abandon or forsake me.

Through it all, I learnt to trust in God, I learnt to trust in Jesus, and I learnt to depend on His Holy word and on His Holy Spirit. He has been faithful to fulfil His promise made to me in October 1984, that He will comfort me in all my trials and afflictions with the same comfort with which I will comfort others. No event in my life has been in vain. God is using every single one of them to touch lives, to inspire hope and to encourage His children.

Thank You, Lord for making me a living testimony of Your faithfulness and loving kindness.

For all that You've done, I will thank You
For all the You're going to do
For all that You've promised
And all that You are
Is all that has carried me through
Jesus I thank You

Thank You for loving and setting me free
Thank You for giving Your life just for me
How I thank You. Jesus, I thank You
Gracefully thank You. Thank You.
(Hillsong – “Thank You”)

I thank God for my Pastors and Fellowship leaders at Shepherd’s Hill Baptist Church, Lagos; IVCU, Ibadan; Oritamefa Baptist Church, Ibadan; Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship; UCH Christian Fellowship; Christian Corpers Fellowship (Bida, 1986); Christ Chapel, UCH Ibadan; Lighthouse Church International, Tamale Ghana; RCCG Victory Center, Geneva; Maadi Community Church, Cairo; and Tower of Refuge Church International Geneva. And the many men and women of God who have enriched my life over the past 30 years.

My dearest husband and Chief Encourager, I am so grateful to God for the privilege of running the race with you by my side.

Dear friends, if you are yet to know God in the way I have described here, in a deep and personal way, please

Don’t let this moment pass you by
Jesus is waiting with His arms open wide
He is waiting to supply all the needs in your life
Take my advice, don’t let this moment pass you by.
-          Kristle Murden

 It has been a joy knowing and serving You, my dear Lord. I am strong when I am on Your shoulders. Do keep me going strong in my race until You come back for me. I long to hear You say to me; “Well done, thou faithful servant…” on that glorious day when You call me home to be with You in Your glory for eternity. Until then, give me the grace to run this race victoriously to the end, and to fulfil Your calling and purpose for my life.

How did you come to know the Lord and how has been your journey? Share your story and encourage others.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Memory Making Moments

There are moments in life that are amazing. Some, simply beyond amazing. Moments that cannot be captured by the shutters of a camera. Moments of intense joy captured by our soul and etched in our memories, creating reflections of God’s amazing blessings, mercies and grace.
Azgek |
We had many of such epic moments during the six-week period of our family vacation, first in our home country, Nigeria and later in UK. That’s why I have been absent from the blogosphere since July 1st.

Despite all my good intentions and with much to share, it was very difficult for me to find the kind of time I needed to write and post our experience on the blog. Therefore, the next couple of blog posts will be devoted to these precious memory making moments we had during our trip.

It had been four years since I last visited Nigeria and seen many of my family members and faithful friends. They have all been praying along with us and supporting us with fervent prayers during the dark season of our lives especially in last seven years. It was, therefore, appropriate that these who travailed so much in prayer on our behalf should also have the joy of sharing in our praise and thanksgiving to God for the awesome work of deliverance and restoration He brought to pass in my life.

The first thing we wanted to do upon our arrival at home in Nigeria was to have a thanksgiving service in our home church, Christ Chapel, UCH, Ibadan. The story of my twenty years of being tried in the crucible of affliction began there at the University College Hospital, where we both lived and worked in the early 1990s. It was there the doctors made the initial diagnosis of the lung disease and potentially debilitating neurological disease. It was also our brethren in the Christ Chapel who supported us and upheld us in prayers at that initial phase of dealing with the problem. It was, therefore, apt for us to return to where we started from—this was truly a homecoming event for us.

And they praised God.
The testimony elicited spontaneous and unadulterated praise to God. We were overwhelmed, amazed and astonished at genuine joy and gladness expressed by our families and friends. Their joy and thanksgiving on our behalf was intoxicating. Their appreciation of God’s faithfulness was authentic. The praise they offered to God is simply beyond description, indeed beyond amazing.

They lifted their hands in adoration; they bowed their heads in worship, and they danced as David danced unto the Lord. This experience was replicated everywhere God gave us the opportunity to share the testimony of His divine intervention in our lives. Many listened with amazement. Many wept, but it was tears of joy. Many were inspired to hold on and not give up on hope. Many simply stared in awe, too overwhelmed to utter a word. Many were encouraged to stay strong through their trials. I heard a number of people commenting that if God can sustain us through the twenty years of our trials and afflictions, He can surely keep them through their valley experience. The message of God’s amazing grace resounded through it all.

 Luke 5:26 says:
The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, “We’ve never seen anything like that!” (MSG).

Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!” (NLT).

Matthew 9:8 says;
When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man. (NIV)

Luke 7:16 says;
They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." (NIV).

And they gave glory and praise to God. That was indeed, the case for us. Our families and friends saw me walking free of all the paraphernalia and encumbrances of the many years of affliction, they heard of the manifold grace of God, which kept me, and they perceived God’s acts of wonder in my life. AND THEY PRAISED GOD—offering unadulterated sacrifice of thanks and praise. They were filled with awe; they marvelled saying “We have heard and seen remarkable and amazing things today.

I was awed at the manifold grace of God in turning our trials and afflictions of the past years to life-touching testimony. I was awed at the genuine warmth and love shown towards us.

Amazing Opportunities:
God surprised me with amazing opportunities to share my story and our testimony, and for many more people to join us in giving glory and praise to Him.

One of such was at an event tagged, “Women Worship Without Walls 2014” organized by Just Praise Ministries Worldwide in Ibadan on July 17th, 2014. The program, anchored by Oluwatoyin Adegunle, was a gathering of women from all works of life coming together to offer one day of praise to God. Many renown Praise and Worship leaders from different churches and cities were there to lead the people into the presence of God in praise. The atmosphere was electric—charged with the Holy Spirit as over 2000 people praised and worshiped God in unity.

It was before this crowd that I shared the testimony of God’s grace made abundantly available to keep me and my family through the years of struggle with the chronic lung disease that literally drained life out of me. I shared the story of the grace that sustained me living with hope after the amputation of my feet following the complication of the surgery to replace my lungs.

The praise they offered to God was resounding, the intensity of which, simply can’t be captured by any camera, but are etched in my memory. Every remembrance of these memory making moments brings bouts of praise to my heart and causes me to reflect on God’s awesome mercies and grace to me.

My prayer for you today, my dear friends, is that you will experience the amazing and sustaining grace of God in your circumstances. I pray His grace put on display in your life and your situation will cause men to be astonished and to give praise to God on your behalf.

May the shouts of praise resonate in the heavenly places as people see the awesome works of wonder performed in your life by our gracious Father God.

I will share with you more memory making moments I experienced participating in the Return of the Helpers 2014 Conference in Lagos and the precious memory making moments my husband, sons and I shared together as a family as we dwelt in close proximity during our travels.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lessons They Taught Me On Generous Liberal Giving_Part 3

It was the second day of shopping. My first son was driving. The previous day, we did two shops in a record time. My son is a shoot the bull’s eye shopper—go in, pick the stuff on your list and head to the cashier. Typical shopping tactics of most men. It was the same on this day. It took the joy out of shopping for me but I dared not complain, my son was becoming support-fatigued.

The last one month had been packed with several back-to-back events, and I was directly involved in organizing them. The next one was in two days. I depend heavily on my family to support me in executing every activity I commit myself to and they know I don’t do half-measures.

We picked up my second son from school on the way home. And that began a discussion between the boys on how much Mum takes on. At the end of the last event I organised, they had asked me why I had to take the lead in every event that needs to be organized. My mother responded while I was still thinking of an appropriate answer, “When God gives you a gift, you have to use it to bless others.”

“Hmm! But why does it have to be Mum all the time?” he asked his grandma.

I responded this time, emphasising that we are expected to use the gifts, skills and talents God gave us to serve others (1Peter 4:10). But I heard him loud and clear. Each time I commit myself to something, I commit my entire family, sometimes over-committing them and requiring some sacrifice on their part. So on this occasion I knew where the discussion was going, or so I thought.

As we discussed the plans for the coming days and what I would require of them, they did not ask the same question again, they simply stated, “Mum is involved in so many things.”

“I am a Proverbs 31 woman,” I chipped in. That’s who I aspire to be.

“And we are compelled to be Proverbs 31 children without a choice.”

Whoops! I caught my breath. I thought carefully before going further. “Well, whatever we do, we must do as unto God. God loves a cheerful giver, so I really pray that you will also be cheerful Proverbs 31 children. God doesn't owe any man, He will surely reward your labour of love.”

My children were learning another hard lesson on sacrificial giving of self in the service of others, this time not of their own volition, but imposed on them by their mother’s passion to go the extra mile to be a blessing to others.

As I write the concluding part of Lessons They Taught me on Liberal Generous Giving today, my sons are uppermost on my mind. Noting that as we relentlessly pursue the goal of liberal generous giving, it will come at a cost. Not only for us but also for the significant people in our lives. Therefore, they need to be on board with us so that it does not become a drudgery for them. They also need to know that the seed of the righteous shall be blessed.

Giving, cheerfully and generously with a willing heart, has to be a way of life for the Christian who understands the grace of God. The person, who understands like David, that everything we have comes from God and that his life does not consist of what he has, will be a liberal giver. We are merely giving back what He first gave us. We know that for us to dwell in the full dimension of grace, where God causes all grace to abound to us, we must be willing to abound in good works as well, which requires generous, liberal, and often sacrificial giving.

Before became King over Israel and while he was still running from Saul, David exhibited the ability to be a generous and considerate giver. In 1Sam 30, we observe that David recognized that it was God, Who gave him victory and the ability to recover all he lost without fail and with interest, he was therefore willingly to graciously share of the plunder (vs. 25). He also remembered those who ministered to his needs during his season of wandering. This is the dictate of a grateful heart—to remember your helpers.

David affirmed in 1Chronicles 29:14, that all things come from God. He and his people considered that they, who were once slaves in Egypt and in poverty, had attained such affluence that they had liberal hearts and willing spirits to give in such a noteworthy manner, because all they have was given to them by God. They acknowledged God as the Fountain of goodness. David then prayed that God will keep this generous spirit alive forever in his people with their hearts firmly set on God (vs19).

It is my earnest prayer that God will keep alive a generous, liberal and willing spirit in us and our children always.

When David, in his bid to escape from Absalom, came to Manahaim. Three chieftains took care of him and his men. Barzallai was one of them. They said, “The people have become hungry and tired and thirsty in the desert… (2Sam 17:27-29). And they provided them with beddings, pottery and diverse kinds of food. They recognised a need and responded to it.

Another point to note is that Barzallai was an infirmed and very old man with great wealth. He considered it an honour to be of service to the King at his time of need. I learnt from him that old age or infirmities are no barriers to generous and liberal giving.

He proved that no one is too old to give, just as the young boy who willing gave his lunch of five loaves of bread and two fishes in John 6:9, proved that no one is too young to give sacrificially. This young boy gave his lunch for five thousand men to be fed with left over. I imagine that he must be one of those who went home with one of the twelve baskets left over.

The Wealthy Shunamite Woman:
She had a lifestyle of giving and hospitality. She willingly opened her door to the Prophet of God and displayed sensitivity to his needs. She went the extra mile to provide for his comfort.

She taught me to be on the lookout for those who might be in need of my support.

The Queen of Sheba:
Another wealthy woman. She blessed Solomon in his abundance. She sowed liberally the seeds of abundance into his life. And she did not return home empty-handed.

She taught me that I can be a blessing, not only to those in need but also to those who have abundance, in a way that will impact their lives.

“Those who consider God as the Giver of their abundance will dispose of it with fairness and liberality.”

The Proverbs 31 Woman:
She is very generous. She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her filled hands to the needy. She works very hard to have enough to give to others.

This is the woman I want to be. She is a woman after my heart.

Hallelujah! How blessed is the man, how blessed is the woman, who fear God, who cherish and relish His commandments. Their children shall be robust (successful) on earth. And the homes of the upright shall be blessed. Their houses brim with wealth. And a generosity that never runs dry (Ps 112. The Message paraphrased). There is a blessing and reward awaiting liberal generous givers and their children after them.

All for God’s glory:
God must receive the all the glory for all the gifts He blessed us with, including the ability to be liberal and generous, the grace to be a giver. Everything we have and everything we give, we have received from God’s generous hands, these we must give back cheerfully and with a willing heart

Dear Friends, it has been illuminating for me to share with you these lessons I am learning on generous and liberal giving. I have been given a second chance at life. By the grace of God, I want this precious gift of life to make a resounding impact on lives to the glory of God.

My charge to you:

“Make your gift of a life count by deliberately choosing to live an extraordinary life, such that the world resonates with the echo of your impact.”
(From 2014 Return of the Helper’s Conference Facebook page)

I encourage you to live an extraordinary life of generous and liberal giving that never runs dry but keeps going on and on. It is a lasting legacy that will last forever, setting up your children for God's blessings.

This piece is dedicated to my two sons who selflessly and sacrificially give their energy and time to support me to fulfil my calling and live my dreams.

Ose and Ehi, your sterling and solid qualities shall impact lives for good always, in Jesus name.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lessons They Taught Me On Generous Liberal Giving_Part 2

In my last blog post, I shared the first part of the Lessons I learnt from generous liberal givers in the Bible. The comments and feedback I got from families and friends were overwhelming. In today’s post, I will start with the lessons I learnt from the Ultimate generous and liberal Giver—the Lord God Almighty, the Giver of life, hope and all good things.

There are many reasons for doing so. Let me share two here:

-          On Monday, June 2, I celebrated one year of my brand new life. Life without external support for breathing, life without compressed oxygen blasting into my nostrils and its hissing sound in my ears, and life without the encumbrances of oxygen bottles, concentrators and reservoirs. This is because God gave me a second chance at living life to the full and to the overflowing. I simply can never thank God enough for this, even if I spend every breath I breathe praising God.
-          For seven years, my siblings and I, and our spouses prayed and interceded over an intractable family issue. At some stage, things went from bad to worse and we could not see light at the end of tunnel, save with the eyes of faith. We knew without a doubt that it would take God’s direct intervention to turn the situation around. The answer to our prayers began to unfold in March. To the glory of God, we saw the full manifestation of the answered prayers last night. It is a dream come true and far beyond our wildest imagination.

God, the Ultimate Generous Giver:
God delights in blessing His children. He does it with unmatched excellence. He is the Giver of good gifts. Every good and perfect gift, and all generous acts come from God, the Father of heavenly lights, in whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning. He is unchanging and there are no alterations in Him or His ways of doing things.

He gives us all good things to enjoy. There is nothing too small or too big to ask of God. My mother read Bedtime Stories to us when I was a little child. I learnt from these stories how to pray about everything and to ask God for whatever my heart desires. The story of a little girl who lost her penny and prayed to God until she found it left an indelible mark in my memory. It taught me that God cares so much about everything that concerns us and there is no minute detail of our lives that does not concern Him or any sphere of our lives where we cannot experience His liberal generosity.

Having such a generous liberal God as my Father, tells me that I also have generosity and liberal giving as components of my DNA. I cannot but be a generous liberal in the image of my Father. We derive the grace and ability to give from the Ultimate Giver. His giving are as diverse as the expanse of His creation. He gives without holding back (see Give Without Holding Back). He is the epitome of giving. It behoves me, who has been given so much, to give back as generously as He gives me the grace.

I learnt from my Father that giving must be with delight and joy. It must be done with a high standard of excellence. I learnt that there is no need too small or insignificant, or too big for us to respond to. God responds with delight to all our needs.

The Women Who Supported Jesus Ministry:
Jesus went from town to town, from village to village, preaching God’s Kingdom and spreading the Message. The twelve disciples were with Him. There were also some women in their company who had been healed of various afflictions and illnesses. Mary Magdalene, from whom seven demons were casted out; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s manager; and Susanna—along with many others (Luke 8:1-3).

These women used their personal resources to minister Jesus and His disciples, and to provide for their needs. They helped to support the ministry with their personal belongings and out of their own means. These women had been forgiven much, they have been delivered from much and they have received much blessing from Jesus. Their response was positive. They were eager to be of service for the Kingdom and to use their resources for the glory of God.

They showed their gratitude to God for what has been done for them by giving generously. Two things struck me about these women:

        Though we know that Joanna is likely to be a woman of means, her husband being the manager of Herod’s household, but we don’t know anything about Susanna nor the financial means of Mary. I want to believe that these women worked hard to ensure that they have the means to support the ministry.
-          Whatever the source and magnitude of their resources, they did not hold back. They gave out of a grateful heart. And their names were immortalized for their generous giving.

The Bible says that God will generously provide all we need. So that we will always have everything we need and have plenty left over to share with others (2Corinthians 9:8). I have a sure promise that I will be enriched in every way so that I can always be generous. And when my gifts get to those who need them, it will result in praise and thanks being given to God.

The righteous gives without sparing or holding back (Proverbs 21:26). I know from the word of God that anyone who is stingy when it comes to the agenda of the Kingdom of God, cannot operate in the fullness of God’s grace. I also know that God loves it when the giver delights in the giving just as God delights in giving to us.

Here’s my declaration:

“I am a giver. I have the DNA of generosity and liberal giving. I am endued with grace to be a giver and a dispenser of good. I am a giver because I carry the blessings of God in my life.”

Here’s my prayer:

Thank You so much, dear God, for all You have done for me. I ask You to open my eyes to see the best ways I can be of service to You and to the body of Christ. Grant me the grace to use every gift, skills and talent You blessed me with to touch lives for good and for Your glory.

Dear Friends, are you a recipient of God’s rich blessing? Is your giving with delightful joy? What is your declaration? Share with us and let us encourage one another.

In the concluding part coming next blog post, I will share lessons I learnt from David, Queen of Sheba, Barzallai and the little boy who gave his lunch.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lessons They Taught Me On Generous Liberal Giving

This blog post was conceived a few months ago after studying 1Sam 30. Three groups of persons emerged in the chapter based on the way they managed abundance and wealth:

-          The squanderer
-          The hoarder
-          The liberal giver

I was so intrigued with the liberal giver that I searched for as many of them as I could find in the Bible, to see what I could learn from them. I knew a number of them before; it was inspiring to reflect on the lessons I learnt from them in the past. They have fired me up again. I will share with you in this post and the next, the lessons I learnt from these liberal givers.  I will reserve the squanderers and hoarders for another day.

To set the stage, let me share some thoughts on liberal giving.

A liberal giver is like a farmer who sows abundant seeds on a good field. Liberal givers sow seeds of goodness into the lives of people connected with them.

Seeds have great potentials, and when nurtured, they produce an abundance, greatness and significance. Within the seed is the potential for multiplication, so seeds multiply. No seed is ordinary, no matter how tiny or invisible to human eyes as it may be. Every seed is a seed of destiny because it can influence destiny. Every seed is a seed of significance because it has the potential to make a difference. Every seed is a seed of promise, because it carries a promise to bring about a bountiful harvest.

Except a seed falls down and dies it cannot live and bring forth fruit. A seed must fall into the ground and die to bring forth fruit. Unless the seed is sown, it cannot bring forth harvest, it remains alone (John 12: 23-25).

As a seed must fall away from the hands of the farmer into a fertile soil to bring forth a good harvest, the gift also has to be separated from the hands of the giver. There must be a letting-go for the giving to be a blessing.

A liberal generous giver is a person who recognizes God as the Giver of everything he has. He knows God as the Source of the favour and blessings he is enjoying.

There are many examples of liberal givers in the Bible. As believers are God’s children by covenant, we are called by God to be a blessing. God in His covenant with Abraham declared; “…I will bless you; I will make your name great, AND YOU WILL BE A BLESSING (Gen 12:2), that is, a dispenser of good—one who dispenses good to others. Liberal generous givers are a blessing to others.

There are many lessons to learn from Abraham as a dispenser of good. His life was a blessing to others. The way he allowed Lot, his nephew, to make the first choice of land. Then he went the extra mile to rescue Lot in Genesis 14, and he interceded on behalf of Lot when God decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins. These are classic examples of the generosity extended to someone who does not appear to deserve it.

In Genesis 18, Abraham offered hospitality to three strangers. An added dimension was the fact that he hastened (he ran) to ensure the food was prepared with speed. His giving was with great enthusiasm, cheerfulness and without holding back. He went over and beyond the bread and water that was necessary, he provided meat, curds and milk to the strangers.

He taught me to be magnanimous by giving consideration to others first. He taught me that generosity can be extended to those who don’t deserve it—since I am also a recipient of God’s unmerited favour—grace. I learnt from him that I should go the extra mile in my giving, not just the minimum required because there is a blessing in going over and above the minimum. I learnt also to give with enthusiasm and with great attention to details.

Her generosity to Naomi is an example of sacrificial giving. She sacrificed the security of marriage among her people and sacrificially committed to living her life with Naomi to take care of her (Ruth 1:16-18).

Sometimes those in need are resistance to our help and may want to be left alone in their misery and loneliness. But our sensitivity to their needs and concerns driven by our passion for God will lead us to let love and faithfulness override their resistance. Ruth refused to give up on Naomi despite the insistent persuasion to be left alone. When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

She taught me to be sensitive to the needs of those around me and never to give up on them even when my efforts are resisted or even rejected. She also taught me long before I got married; never to go to my mother-in-law empty-handed. When she was given food to eat, she reserved some for Naomi after she was satisfied (Ruth 2:18). I am glad today that I learnt this lesson early enough. I cannot begin to recount the blessing it brought me.

Ruth’s sacrificial and generous giving went before her. Boaz heard of it before he met her and pronounced a blessing on her: “May the Lord recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord…” (Ruth 2:12).

After his brothers had thrown him into the well-like pit, they sat down and ate the lunch Joseph brought for them (Gen 37:24). I can imagine that he must have been very frightened down in that pit. I can imagine him hearing his brothers’ voices as they ate. And I can imagine how he must have pleaded with them to show mercy. But they hardened their heart to their brother’s plea.

When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, there was no trace of bitterness rather he wept and so loudly that the entire household of Pharaoh heard him. He forgave completely without holding back; “Come near to me, I pray you…” (Gen 45:4).

He sowed the seed of forgiveness and showed mercy to the same people who withheld mercy from him. He willingly shared his largess with his brothers and gave them a possession in the best portion of the land.

Jacob at his death pronounced an astounding blessing on Joseph. He declared that he is a fruitful bough (denoting extra-ordinary increase) by a well, spring or fountain. He is well-watered like the trees by the rivers of living waters. He brings forth bountiful harvest of fruits, and his branches run over the wall (Gen 49:22).

Joseph was an inexhaustible dispenser of good, and the giving of his fruitfulness transcends beyond the usual boundaries of an enclosed garden. He spreads his largess abroad. The blessing of God on him was great. I learnt from Joseph that there is no limit to the blessings we can dispense to others irrespective of how we have been treated. He gave liberally and generously the gift of mercy and forgiveness.

Dear Friends, do you know more of such liberal givers? We all have been blessed with seeds we can sow into lives, what are you doing with your seed?

Liberal givers dispense goodness, they sow seeds of goodness into the lives of others.

May God’s grace richly abound to you that you may abound in every good works. 

To be continued.