If God has no complete claim of what people own, then He has no complete control of their lives.
This was the submission of the Ven. Godfrey I. Ekpenisi, a Priest of the Basilica of Grace, Gudu District, Abuja during this year’s annual harvest of the Chapel of the Advent (A.K.A. Primate’s chapel), Wuse zone 5, Abuja. He added that the moment individuals declare that what they have is theirs, it means such they have separated themselves from God’s control. He explained that God is interested in the resources of men because those who recognize that all they have belongs to Him have indeed acknowledged Him as Lord of their lives. According to him, Jesus and the Church are interested in people’s wealth, resources and prosperity because money can be dangerous; adding that riches can make a man act independent of what God thinks about his action.
The Cleric cited the example of the rich man and Lazarus in the Bible and stressed that the rich man felt that his wealth belonged to him, therefore he controlled whom to share it with; hence his refusal to help Lazarus. Ven. Ekpenisi further quoted Matthew Henry’s commentary about money, where he said, “There is a burden of care in getting riches, fear in keeping them, temptation in using them, guilt in abusing them, sorrow in losing them and burden of account at last to be given concerning them.” The Preacher therefore concluded that money can be dangerous adding that even the Bible did not mince words warning the rich to be very careful.
While speaking on the theme, ‘A fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice pleasing to God’, the Cleric noted that the Church is in dire need of people that are ready to give sacrificially. He quoted copiously from the Bible pointing out instances where offerings were described as having a sweet smelling aroma that was pleasing to God. One of which, he said is the story of Solomon who offered a thousand animals in one day to God, who in return visited him that night and granted him even more than Solomon himself desired. Therefore, Ven. Ekpenisi charged all present to endeavor to offer to God offerings that would cause heaven to respond.
The guest Preacher observed that out of the Thirty Eight parables that Jesus told in the gospel, sixteen of them referred to money and material possession; hence, he opined that wealth and possession are important to the Lord Jesus Christ. He expatiated further by citing the instance where Jesus sat in a position where He could see the offerings that people gave in the Church explaining that Jesus was interested in the way the people gave because it was a reflection of their heart. Ven. Ekpenisi added that even the devil has dedicated a demon called mammon to be in charge of money to make sure that people neglect God when they become rich. Thus, he charged the congregation to give in obedience, trust and faith in God; give in love for God, the Church and what God is doing in the midst of His people; give to meet a need and give willingly and cheerfully.
He said that whether as a Church or a people, there is a call for everyone to give sacrificially adding that the nation, Nigeria is in need of individuals that are ready to be dedicated to give and offer to move the nation forward; and not those seeking for what they would gain. He ended his message by emphatically stating that no one gives without being blessed adding that when one gives, one receives; but when one withholds one loses his blessings.
When asked to address the problem of unemployment in the society, Ven. Godfrey Ekpenisi said that people must realize that the decay in the nation did not start in one day and therefore it will take a process for it to end. Thus, he enjoined the leaders to endeavor to start the process which according to him, should start with the improvement of the power sector of the country, so as to restore industries that have gone moribund due to epileptic power supply. He called on Nigerians to be patient and continue to pray for the nation.
Meanwhile, the Chaplain of the Primate’s Chapel, Ven. Princewill Ireoba in an interview said that although every Christian ought to thank God constantly, thanksgiving is a special time to gather together and reflect on the goodness of God and show appreciation for His many blessings. He added that many a time people forget the good things God has done for them and remember only the bad things that have taken place in their lives. Therefore, he called Christians to the realization that even when bad things happen, God has promised that all things will work together for the good of those who love Him. And to him, that is why he is unperturbed by the negative happenings in the society because he is assured that God will lead this country to the place, He wants it to be.
Highpoints of the harvest include the cutting of the thanksgiving cake and donations for the work of God in the Chapel anchored by the Director of Communications, the Ven. Foluso Taiwo; and the thanksgiving offering which was done according to Archdeaconries. The cake was cut by the wife of the Primate of all Nigeria, Mrs. Nkasiobi Okoh who also represented her husband, the Most Rev. Nicholas D. Okoh who was unavoidably absent, Dr. and Barr. Tim Menakaya, former Federal Minister of Health Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Harvest Committee Chairman, Ven. Joseph Unuayan JP and the Chaplain of the Chapel, Ven. Princewill Ireoba. Also in attendance, were Major General Tummy Dibi and Miss Ijeoma Okoh who both read the Bible lessons for the day. The event was well attended by Priests, dignitaries, representatives of the Parishes and Archdeaconries in Abuja diocese and the staff of the Episcopal House, Abuja. It was indeed a glorious service, a harvest to remember.