|Sunday, March 8, 2020|
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
t is with delight and great joy I welcome you to this month of March our Month of Flourishing! You shall flourish financially, materially, physically, in health, matrimonially, academically and most importantly spiritually. This is the word of God for you: "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing"(Psalm 92:12-14.) Note the two conditions for flourishing. Are you the righteous? Not yet, it is a free gift, receive Jesus now and acquire that status. Are you planted in the house of thy Lord? Not yet, do it now. Salvation is a free gift, being planted is your choice and takes hard work and discipline.
What does it mean to flourish?
To flourish is to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment. Biblically to flourish means 'to break forth. 'Synonyms of flourish include thriving, successful, doing well, blooming. Even though flourish appears severally in the Old Testament it appears only once in New Testament in Philippians 4:10 meaning to put forth anew. This month your life will flourish anew in Jesus name.
The symbolism of Palm and Cedar trees.
Believers are often likened to trees in Scripture: "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalm 1:3). "I am like a green olive tree in the house of God" (Psalm 52:8). "His branches shall spread, and His beauty shall be as the olive tree, and His smell as Lebanon" (Hosea 14:6).
In the text message specifically of Psalm 92, the righteous are compared with two trees Cedar and Palm Tree. Benson Commentary says 'The cedars in Lebanon are immensely large, being some of them thirty-five, or even forty feet in the girt, and thirty-seven yards in the spread of their boughs. They flourish for ages, and are always green; and, when cut down, yield a most beautiful kind of wood, inclining to a brown colour, solid, durable, and, in some sort, incorruptible.' Similarly, Pastor Henry Morris articulated the usefulness of Palm Tree as follows.
"The palm-tree figure is especially intriguing. In Scripture, the palm tree is always the date palm, stately and beautiful. It has extremely deep tap roots-called a root ball-and thus can flourish even in the desert, growing tall and living long. It is perhaps the most useful of all trees, not only producing dates, but also sugar, wine, honey, oil, resin, rope, thread, tannin, and dyestuff. Its seeds are fed to cattle and its leaves are used for roofs, fences, mats, and baskets. Its fruit is said to get sweeter as the tree grows older, and this is compared to the believer in a beautiful verse.
When a palm tree is cut down all of it can be used. The wood makes good beams for building; termites do not infest it, but it produces 'edible worms'. In the days when we used to live in Warri edible worm was one of my wife's favourite meat. I cannot pass through Sapele (that seems to be the world headquarters for edible worm and not buy for my wife!) The Palm Tree roots are used to make ink and a pithy part of the root is used to make medicine. The leaves can be used as paper and also to make roofs for booths (temporary shelters), huts and poorer people's houses. In Africa we make brooms from Palm leaves.
Significantly, It was palm branches that padded the path of the Lord Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem on the ass's colt on that first Palm Sunday long ago (John 12:13; Matthew 21:8). This itself was a picture in miniature of the great multitude of the redeemed and resurrected saints who will greet the Lord Jesus at His throne, "clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands"; crying, "Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb" (Revelation 7:9,10).
How do you flourish?
Every human being desires to flourish but not all flourish. God's plan for humanity is to flourish. "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion." "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Genesis 1:31: Jer 29:11. But you and I know that if wishes were horses' beggars will ride. Flourishing in life like many things in life has some underlying principles you must imbibe.
Though everything has spiritual undertone, spiritual undertone is not enough to make any one flourish. That is why you see people who are not religious or Christians flourish why some Christians don't. That is why you see some continents who don't have churches and go to church as we do in Africa, continents like Europe and Asia yet they flourish why Africans wallow in poverty. Many years ago I went to England to minister and a Nigerian lady said in Yoruba language- Oyibo ki ngba adura sugbon adura won ngba! (Meaning The white people rarely prays but they flourish somehow!) Apparently referring to the way they succeed in human endeavors.
Go beyond prophecies.
The story was told about two young men who went to seek for vision about their future. The prophet told Adam he will flourish in life and be wealthy and Barry will die as a pauper. Adam took the prophecy for granted and began to play truancy. Living an irresponsible life of drinking and womanizing relying on prophecy. On the other hand, Barry went to bury himself in hard work, just to see how he will survive. Eventually Barry became wealthy and Adam went down the drain. It is like the case of Ephraim that Jacob crossed hands to bless at the expense of Manasseh his grandson. At the end of the day, Ephraim joined himself to idols and Manasseh showed up among the 12 tribes in heaven, Ephraim's name was conspicuously missing. Rev 7:5-8.The significance of this story is that it takes more than spirituality, prophecy and laying on of hands on your head to flourish. There is nothing wrong with prophecy, just realise that prophecies are road maps, GPS. (God's way of Salvation) Let us look at some of the principles that will help you flourish in 2018.
1. Be established in Christ.
Read the key verses again and between the lines. 'The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God' Psalm 92:12-13. The Christ component is essential in flourishing because life is more than having things .In fact the bible says" what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?" That is why the Lord gives two clear, unambiguous and realizable conditions for you to flourish in this scripture, (1) Be righteous, (2) Be planted in the court of the Lord. In other words, to flourish is to be established in the Lord. To be established is to be committed to godly principles. Each new level of flourishing requires a deeper level of commitment. To flourish means 'grow or develop in a healthy way, the stronger your establishment with Jesus the greater the prospect of your flourishing. This month, more than before give your life to Jesus if you have not and commit yourself to Christ by practicing the spiritual exercise of studying the word, prayer, fasting and fellowship. Are you established in a local church where you can receive guidance, encouragement and thrive in your gifts and talents? Television and social media could be channels to edify yourself in the Lord but they are not substitute for local churches. There is need to put your talent, money, treasure, energy to use. Refuse to be a parasite on others! Be an asset not a liability on the body of Christ.
Also, "Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.14 But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matt 7:13-14. It is not all that go to church that will flourish in the Lord, only those who are pursuing the narrow road!
2. Develop Healthy Relationships
Whatever level you are at right now if you desire to flourish you need people. No man is an island. There's plenty of research pointing to the value of relationships for our happiness and well-being. After establishing a strong relationship with God, practice building positive relationships at work, church, school, industry and at home by creating more positive interaction with people and weeding out the relationships that are harmful to your overall wellbeing as well as your emotional health. We started The International Gathering of Eagles Conferences in 2003 we have not reached the optimal but by the grace of God it is flourishing. We started small with a yearly gathering every September in Toronto. By the grace of God since 2009 we have held the conference in over 42 nations. Every year we hold the conference in over 10 nations. 2017 we held the conference in twelve (12) nations namely: England, Ireland, Sweden, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria and Canada.2019 we held it in 11 nation including Canada namely: Sweden, Norway, Italy, Spain, Holland, Kenya, Cameron, Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria How do we get these conferences going? Simply by building relationships, building bridges across the aisle. Connecting to people, locally, nationally and globally. Getting speakers, hosts, and leaders is by strategically getting connected to people. This year connect with dream helpers and destiny makers. Rebuild broken relationships. Go and reconcile with your estranged spouse. Your ex-is fantasizing to hold you again. Many of you are on self-inflicted pains. Some people will swear-"I will never talk to that person again!" Ask yourself who is suffering emotionally you or that person? You go to church you hear about forgiveness you behave as if that is an archaic component of life or the bible. Give me a break. Be real. Forgive. Your in-laws are part of your marital equation. Stop piling up enemies in your office, you will need those bosses, colleagues, subordinates in the journey of your life. That person you meet at the bus stop, airport, in that aircraft, on your way to the farm, during that vacation, in your church, school could be the ladder to your flourishing build a relationship this year. Don't get me wrong not everyone will be your friend or be willing to help you, some will work out on you, some will even spit at your face, my point is work on bad relationship and repair old one and build new ones. Healthy relationship is a key to your flourishing. "Never forget where you've been. Never lose sight of where you're going. And never take for granted the people who travel the journey with you" Anonymous.
3. Prepare to flourish.
To be successful and flourish in any human endeavour there are stages and categories of preparation that you will have to go through. The quicker you realize that, the better off you will be. It would be wonderful if we just woke up one morning and everything God had promised us had come to pass, but the truth is there is a process to reaching greatness and success. Every promise of God has a condition attached to it including the famous John 3:16! There are things as men and women of God that we will go through before you become all that God has called you to be. Bishop David Oyedepo said 'for something to work somebody must be working' My own way of saying is that things don't just happen they are made to happen.
Many people get excited over their destiny and prophecy, but many times become frustrated over what they must go through to arrive there. Prophecy is a road map, you must get your car ready and drive to get to your destination. There are nine (9) areas I recommend that you prepare yourself to flourish. What I call personal, relational, professional, family, financial, physical, social, educational and spiritual preparation that you must understand and inculcate into your life curricula for you to flourish. I could write a thesis on each but time and space will not permit for now. Preparation is different from planning, planning is theoretical and conceptual, preparation is practical, it is a step beyond planning and very critical and necessary to make that dream come through. You want to make soup, don't just fantasies about the aroma when made, go and get the money, go to the groceries store and get the ingredient! For Solomon to flourish build temples and palaces, his father David prepared materials for him. 1 Chr 22:5). Unfortunately, you may be your own David to prepare what you need to flourish. To get a good job get the education. To pass that interview prepare. To make your marriage work learn how to clean and cook!
My advice is fasten your seat belt and get ready for the ride! God will do what He promised you, but you will have to finish the process. When you do the possible God will do the impossible. You will go through adversity as you travel on the road to flourishing. Paul says "For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries." 1 Cor 16:9. There are adversaries, enemies of progress on our way to greatness we must overcome them by laying great foundations and making great preparations. The things that qualify a person for flourishing, greatness and promotions in any endeavor are great tests. How do you flourish? One step at a time! One preparation after the other!
4. Embrace hard work. Don't Embrace Laziness
The bible says - go to the ant thou sluggard. "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man." Prov 6:6-11 A sluggard is a lazy person, it's an indolent person. Indolent means - avoiding pain. Lazy people want to avoid pain. Forgetting - the saying no pain no gain. Just as the story above in any chosen career path hard work is sine qua non and a major prerequisite to flourishing. I am a proponent of prayer and God's help, but I am also a strong proponent of hard work! Thismonth purpose to work extra hard and very smart to enable you flourish. The ant has no overseer but works very hard in summer for the winter. I wrote a book called-Dream Dreams and have Dominion. One chapter in that book is titled -Do IT. Whatever legitimate job you need to do to flourish, do it, and stop procrastinating! Get up and do it. I launched that book in UK in 1999.A lady bought a copy and in year 2000 she gave me a big envelope. Curious to know why, she told me I have this business idea for a long time, and your book was a catalyst to get me started, this is your blessing. I am not begging you to buy my book, I am teaching you principles of flourishing. Do nothing and flourishing becomes an elusive dream. Work hard and you smile to the bank. No more debt but credit.
5. Observe and learn.
We are told to 'go' and 'consider' in order to 'be wise'. Whereas we are told to observe 'the ant' it has a larger application to life. We are to be observant through creation. It means observing other people. Observe others, examine others, learn from others and discover valuable wisdom, for flourishing.
Observe, consider, learn, listen, and be wise. There is rarely nothing you want to do that someone hasn't done before. Get connected to the person who can show you the way. Some people seem to take pride in trying to discover everything for themselves. Someone recently missed his flight from Nigeria to Canada. He waited in the hotel for 5 days trying to get another flight during the busy Christmas season. He couldn't. He said-"It would have been better for him to learn from others the effect of missing flight than for this harrowing experience." Only fools learn from their mistakes, wise men learn from mistakes of others!
If, for example, you're trying to build a business, go to somebody who has had success in a similar business, consult with them. Before you start that church, learn and serve under a discipler and mentor. Ask them about their greatest challenges, and obstacles, their greatest rewards and successes, and most important lessons they have learned. Observe, learn and become wise. Have you ever wondered why Mary when she was pregnant for Jesus went To Elizabeth her cousin, because Elizabeth was 6 months older with the pregnancy of John the Baptist? This year, think outside the box, be creative, and be innovative. Think of those who flourished in the bible, the likes of Abraham, Isaac, Joseph and Solomon, to the contemporary the likes of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg. You can fast forward and reach your flourishing state if only you will observe and learn.
6. Apply wisdom take a positive action.
Wisdom is applied knowledge; it means knowledge put into action. There are people who have more degrees than a thermometer but cannot put their knowledge into action. Real wisdom knows what to do, when to do it and how to do it and gets right down and does it. You cannot flourish in any human endeavour by acquiring knowledge, without applying it. Right action at the right time is called wisdom it produces great results. One of my favorite quotes of Jim Rohn is "Don't let learning lead only to acquisition of knowledge, let it lead to action"
7. Be Authentic.
Be yourself. Accept who you are and be proud of it. You are at your best when you are yourself. Believe in yourself. You can do it if you choose to believe in yourself. You have all the power you need to achieve whatever you want in life. 1Pet 1:3. Choose to be happy. Yes, you can choose to be happy. To flourish in life, you do not need to keep looking like a giraffe, looking over your shoulder copying others. You are uniquely unique. Learn to handle situations as they come. Drop that low esteem and inferiority complex.
Be resilient through good times and bad times. Develop your three Cs Capacity, character and consistency. Developed capacity and ability to handle challenges. You will be naive to think life is free of challenges. Do you tend to uproot and run away from challenges? When the heat is on or storms come, stay planted. The righteous are planted in the courts of the Lord and they shall flourish says the Lord.
Conclusion. Realise there are seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring Summer, each season brings its own peculiarities, but they don't overlap. It is your season to flourish, apply the keys shared above and keep flourishing.