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grenepages_Olufemi Babalola FRESH BREAD

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Olufemi Babalola is an enthusiastic writer and inspirational speaker; who is keen about creating inspirational pieces of writing. He is committed to spreading the knowledge of the Truth as the critical solution to personal, family, corporate and societal ruin. He believes that the lack in our lives is not the lack of resources but the lack of information required to obtain the resources. People are destroyed for the lack of knowledge. His writings focus on developing sound spiritual lives, purposeful living and maintaining wholesome relationships.

As a freelance writer, ‘Femi is a columnist in a number of electronic and print media. He is the author of Fresh Bread Blogs. He also coordinates Fresh Bread Haven works and he is the editor of Fresh Bread, a top-notch inspirational magazine focused on helping people experience the life in the Word. He has written so many articles, manuscripts, studies, tracts and his writings continue to inspire several lives.

You can reach him via olufemibabalola37@gmail.com or connect with him on Facebook (fb.com/femybabalola), Instagram and Twitter (@femmybabalola)

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Are You With Us?

grenepages_Olufemi Babalola FRESH BREAD_Are You With Us?

Where was Thomas on the day Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection? Why was he absent on such an important day? What could have taken him away from the midst of the brethren at such a critical moment?

Did he go out to buy something? Was he out with his twin brother? Did he go on a visitation? Where was he? I have always wondered what kept Thomas out of the gathering of the brethren on such an important day.

John 20:24 tells us, "Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came"(NKJV).

Thomas missed this important encounter with the Lord because of his absence. The Scripture recorded what transpired between the disciples and the Lord when Thomas was away.

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." John 20:19-23 NKJV

Thomas missed all these. Well, one might say Jesus made it up to him eight days later. The question, however, is why will I postpone until eight days what I can have today? Why will I settle for a makeup when I can have the original experience?

I observe that Jesus came back purposely because of Thomas. He did not want a doubter in His camp. This single experience changed Thomas' nickname from Didymus to Doubter. Today, not many of us know him as a twin though it is written in the scriptures. We are quick to remember him as a doubter though he was not particularly called so. We are prone to judge all other things that Thomas said or did in the scriptures from this perspective. That is the cost of his absence.

Thomas had to pay this horrendous price because he "was not with them when Jesus came."

There a few lessons we can learn from Thomas’ absence;

  1. Thomas’ physical presence was questionable. Hebrews 10:25 teaches us that, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching"(NKJV).
  2. Physical absence can be a great indication of spiritual absence. One of the ways to discern someone who has begun to backslide is truancy; the fellow will become inconsistent in meetings. There will always be excuses for absenteeism. People withdraw from gatherings when their heart is no longer with the fellowship.

    There are, however, cases where the reason for our absence is genuine but we must be careful the enemy does not preoccupy us with the cares of life at the expense of the care of our inner man. This is important because there are blessings that can only be imparted to us as we have fellowship with other saints.

    Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! ...for there the Lord commanded the blessing — life forevermore. Psalm 133:1-3 NKJV.

    One more reason one should desist from physical absence from meetings is that you would not know the day when the Lord will bring your portion. Perhaps, the day you felt like staying home is the day the Lord has ordained to visit you. Thomas did not know the Lord was going to come that day.

    We must strive to work with God’s schedules not ours. He can come at any time He decides. Abraham did not know God was going to come the day and the way He came. He came as three men. Thank God, Sarah was nearby when they asked for her whereabouts. Perhaps, they would have missed what they have been praying and waiting for in 25 years.

    If you believe your spiritual portion is in the Christian fellowship you attend, beware of truancy, you may miss your spiritual portion. If you must be absent, let your reasons be genuine.

  3. Thomas’ absence predisposed him to danger. The Bible made it clear that “the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews.” Thomas was outside. He wasn’t within the confines of grace and protection. He could be lynched, stabbed or arrested by the angry Jews. No likeminded brother was there to protect him. He was outside. He was alone.
  4. This is what happens when we separate from the fellowship of the saints physically, spiritually or psychologically. When we withdraw, the enemy has a chance to trap us. When we are not in close touch with fellow brothers and sisters in the faith, we become easy prey of the devil. We are exposed to the spiritual coldness in the outside world.

    This was what happened to Dinah the only daughter of Jacob. She “went out to visit the women of the land” (Genesis 34:1 NIV, Emphasis mine). She left the roof of protection of her father. She wanted to see what was going on in the world. She wanted to see how the women of the land do it. Perhaps, she sneaked out without the permission of her nurse, mother or father. The result was tragic; Dinah was defiled. It was the last time her name was mentioned in God’s history.

    Judah fell into the trap of adultery when he left the company of his brothers and made a stranger his friend. The Bible said, “It came to pass at that time that Judah departed from his brothers, and visited a certain Adullamite whose name was Hirah” (Genesis 38:1 NKJV, Emphasis mine).

    Friend, it could be that the constant attack of the enemy on your spiritual life, finances, family life and career is the result of your absence. You are not with us even though you are physically present. Your heart has been deceived by the world though you still give to the Lord.

    These days, one does not have to be physically detached before one can go out of the fold. One can do it on the internet as you watch ungodly movies and browse ungodly websites. What you are doing may not be obvious in the physical, but the enemy of your soul knows who you are. It is time to quickly repent and return to the fold. Don’t let your case be like that of Judas who went out into the night never to return again. Come back home!

  5. Thomas’ absence created a gap in his spiritual experience as compared to the rest of the apostles. While he was away, records show that Jesus ministered to the apostles in five different ways,
    1. He ministered peace to them.
    2. He showed them his hands and side.
    3. He breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit.
    4. He commissioned and sent them.
    5. He gave them authority to forgive and retain the sins of men.

    I also observed that of the five things the apostles who were present at first received, Thomas received only two - peace and the showing of his hands and sides when Jesus returned. This was the cost of his absence. Then, while he was having his first encounter, the rest were taking the second dose.

    I have often had to wonder why certain brothers and sisters in the same gathering with us used to have a different Christian experience. It is always obvious that something is missing. I have often had to query whether they are really with us though they come to meetings consistently.

    If you are with us then your experience ought to be similar with the rest of us. Why are you struggling with sin when others are receiving freedom from it? Why are you timid when others have grown bold? Why have you not been baptized in the Holy Spirit? Why are you not experiencing the dividends of salvation just like the rest of believers in Christ? Why is it that the same word that healed and transformed people’s life had no effect on you?

    Now don't get it twisted. Being with us, as I have been saying, is not an issue of physical presence. One can be physically present but psychologically absent. The body is in church but the mind and the spirit is somewhere else.

    I have discovered that the impact of a message from a preacher or a song from a singer does not depend only on the anointing of the preacher or singer; it depends also on the state of the mind or spirit of the hearer, the more the psychological and spiritual alertness, the greater the impact of the message or song.

    This is why the same word that delivered your neighbor may not make a difference in your life. Others may be baptized in the Holy Spirit while you remain the same because in reality you are not with us even though you are there physically.

  6. Thomas’ absence is a great indication of what will happen when Jesus comes. John 20:24 says, "Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came"(NKJV). He was one of the twelve but he was not with them when Jesus came. There are also many who are currently one of us but who will not be with us when He comes. They would have broken faith with the Lord before He comes. They will be outside the fold when He comes.
  7. One can be in the choir, the ushering unit, the prayer unit, part of the pastorate or deaconate and he or she is not one of us. One can even be the preacher and he is not numbered in the common wealth of Zion. One may be in church's register but his name is not registered in the Book of life. This is why such people will not be with us when He comes.

    Now, I am thinking of that day when He will come. Oh, that I may be with them when He comes! Oh, that I may be numbered among those that will be present when He comes! Oh, that nothing will take me out of the fold when He comes!

    Thomas had another chance to see his Lord but after that day, there will not be chance to see Him again. It will be too late. This reminds me of the five foolish virgins; they were not with them when He came. By the time they came back it was too late. The door had been shut.

    Will you be with us when Jesus would come? Will you be part of the church when he comes? Thomas was not with them when he came. The painful thing was there was no tangible reason for his absence. If it was consequential, the Scripture will perhaps have told us.

    Anything seeking to rip you off the body of Christ is your enemy. It could be a job, a friend, a film, etc. Rip off anything or anybody seeking to rip you of your relationship with Christ.

Ultimately, the scripture says, “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” Nothing can compare with the joy of seeing the Lord. There is that joy that accompanies seeing the Lord daily as we spend time with Him in prayer and the word. Then there is that ultimate joy we would have when He comes; such joy that will swallow every grief. It cannot be taken away from us forever. You don’t want to miss it. it’s why you want to be within the fold and confines of His grace until He comes.

May you be with us when He comes!

 


 

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