SERMON PREACHED AT THE INAUGURATION OF ACF LAGOS WEST/AWORI CHAPTER ON SUNDAY 8TH MAY, 2014 AT ALL SAINTS ANGLICAN CHURCH, KETU AT 10:00AM BY THE RT. REVD. DR. J. AKIN ATERE
THEME: ENDURING LIGHT
John 1:5”The light shines in darkness and the darkness could not comprehend it.”
From the beginning of creation, even before creation, there had been darkness Gen.1:2 “And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep…” v3 “And God said “Let there be light, and there was light” from the darkness (i.e. darkness was not eliminated but light came out of darkness). God called the light, “Day” and the darkness he called “Night”.
Right from creation man had been having problem with “darkness” Isa 59:9(b) -10 (a) “we look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadow. Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes” Job 12:25. They grope in darkness with no light; he made them stagger like drunkard.”
In John 12:46 Jesus said “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believed in me should stay in darkness.”
When Jesus was responding to His disciples as to the threat to stone Him in John 11:9-10 “Are there no 12 hours in the day? If any man walks in the day, he stumbles not because he seeth the light of this world, But if a man walk in the night, he stumble, because there is no light in him.”
No wonder Jesus call you believers – The light of the world” Matt.5:14-16.
We belong to the day 1 Thess 5:5-81 “Ye are all children of light and the children of the day; we are not for the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as do others but let us watch and be sober, for they that sleep, sleep in the night…But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet of salvation.”
The light till today still shine in darkness and the darkness has never put it out (John 1:5)
ACF, we should be wiser now than before, because we are more older and more matured Dan.12:3 “Those who are wise like the brightness of the heavens and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” I was a strong member of AYF that now metamorphose into ACF. The first objective of this body was “SERVICE”. Initially it was not meant to be a society. It was to be an arm of Anglican Church that will transform, transmit, promote, expand, package, renewed the spirituality of the Church. We were then at every segment and department of the Church. We even became a threat to the leadership of some parishes who could not understand our intention (although I also admit that some of us misused the privilege). We were to be the light, we were able to capture the power that promote the Church. Some of the bishops today were products of the then AYF “Train a Priest”. To be modest, this society had done much for the communion.
Brethren, it’s only the nomenclature/name that is change, the principle, aim, objective, commitment to the tenet of Anglicanism must not change. The enduring light must be sustained.
One of the people who enjoyed a sustained growth was Jacob. As soon as Jacob (Israel) encountered God and a change of name in Gen 32 (As we also have a change of name). Jacob began to move from one level of glory to another without diminishing. He never went back to being manipulator or a liar but he came into the inheritance promised to his fore-fathers. Even when his country was hit by a great famine, God sent his Son (Joseph) the present AYF) ahead of him to secure a place in Egypt and ensure that his rising was sustained. Gen.45:7 Joseph declare to his brethren “and God sent me before you to preserve you posterity in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance” Jacob and Joseph were in the same God’s project of service, so should it be between us and AYF.
What about Jehoachin (2 Kings35:27-30) the king of Judah who was removed from prison after 37 years of captivity was given a seat of honour higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. His prison clothes were removed and for the rest of his life, he ate regularly at the king’s table with a daily allowance. That’s height of enduring light, when you maintain a consistent level of uninterrupted abundance regardless of situation around you. You don’t need to worry about recession or insult or shame. For Jesus, His Church is the focus. I learnt that few have left the church for somewhere because of what has happened; I am not convince that it is so and if so, such persons are not yet mature in faith. How can a child pack to other man’s father’s house just because his father’s house is leaking? We are Anglican and there we shall remain until we are called home by the owner of our souls.
Beloved, no matter how many challenges, even shedding tears repeatedly night after night, God says you shall be given a seat of honour above your contemporaries, you shall be given divine speed to success, your garment of shame will be removed for ever and you shall live in perpetual comfort all the days of your life. God is ready to do a new thing in this society. He has a new programme, he wants to bless you and the Church. Anglican has been confirmed to be the “end time church” therefore the kingdom of Satan has been thrown into confusion. No wonder, our enemies are multiplying. The darkness is working hard to overcome the light – NO NO NO (It cannot happen. You will not allow it to happen. ACF, let me say the truth – we are slacking, that old zeal, that commitment, that love for one another and the Church, that true worship, that support for the kingdom assignment. I remember those days any parish priest who enjoyed the support of AYF got accelerated promotion. We were the richest then because we sponsored most parish projects. ACF: Arise and shine again.
We must know that God works with principles usually backed by conditions which we are required to meet. He does not compromise His standard no matter what. God still required of us holiness, righteousness, humility in service, giving, prayer and searching to know Him on daily bases.
He promised us in Job 22:28 “Thou shall also decree a thing and It shall be established unto thee.” (We love to quote this verse and claim it, but in verse 22-27 “Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart. If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles. Then shalt thou layup gold as dust, and the gold of Ophir as the stones of the brooks. Yea, the Almighty shall be thy defence, and thou shalt have plenty of silver. For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God. Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt pay thy vows. Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways.”
We have a responsibility to God and to His church, we are to defend the faith of our fathers, don’t be sweep away with pervert doctrine that cannot stand the test of time. Let’s read again verse 22 “Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart.” Let us as individual maintain a close relationship with God. If you can do this you will enjoy His support, listen to Him for instruction, God still speak to His people to give instruction, God still speak to His people and lay up His word in your heart. God will do His part if we play our own part; he is not unjust to forget your work and labour of love. Heb. 6:10.
I want to see ACF that will take church planting as priority, house to house evangelism, leading different ministries in the Church, giving to and sponsoring Church/Diocesan projects.
ACF! Go and flourish Psalm 124 “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may ACF say. It’s not by power not by might. Lam 3:23 says “If not for His mercies, we would have been consumed. Activate the light, no longer to be hidden or compromise. You have been experiencing God’s blessing before but I have come to announce to you that what God will do in this society is such that you have never experienced before. Start preparing for a bumper harvest. Lev. 26:9-10” For I will have respect unto you (I will love favourably upon you) and make you fruitful and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you and yee shall eat old store (have such a surplus of crops that you will need to clear out the old grain to make room for the new harvest) I will live among you and I will not despise you: The yoke shall be destroyed by the anointing upon you. You and your household will not be victim of kidnapping, sudden death, failure, in Jesus name. You will not be at a wrong place at a wrong time. The Lord will order your steps and you will enjoy all round victory in Jesus name. Where your head had been bowed due to unanswered prayers or any inadequacies, the Lord will cause you to walk tall by giving you an unusual testimony.
On behalf of my brother, The Rt. Rev’d. James Sola Odedeji and the entire members of Lagos West (our mother) and myself and the people of Awori, we congratulate you for today’s inauguration of the chapter of ACF.. and I say to you READY! STEADY! GO! AND FLOURISH.