WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
AUGUST 23, 2020
TOPIC: TURNING ADVERSITY INTO ADVANTAGE
BY T. O. BANSO
“I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’ and, ‘What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea’” (Revelation 1:9-11 New King James Version).
The apostle John was exiled to the Island of Patmos, not for committing any crime, but for preaching the Gospel. Ordinarily, he should have been lamenting about his condition of loneliness, idleness, pain, possible death, etc. However, he refused to have a negative attitude.
Obviously, the season the world is in is not the best. We can all choose to be negative, speak negative words, and hope for the worst. But that will not be the right attitude in the present circumstance. It will only accelerate the aggravation of our already depressing condition.
We can learn from Apostle John’s attitude when he was in exile and even during his ministry. Hear him: “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’ and, ‘What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea’” (Revelation 1:9-11 New King James Version).
John said he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day – that was despite the tribulation he was going through. Therefore, God gave him the entire book of Revelation. If he had been in a bad state spiritually, lamenting, grumbling, and blaming God for his negative condition, generations after him would have missed this wonderful Book of Revelation, except God used someone else to write it. But John chose to be in the Spirit.
This season, despite what the world is going through, the disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon everyone, as a child of God, you should be in the Spirit. Complaining, grumbling, lamenting, etc. is not going to solve any problem. It won’t help you. However, you can turn adversity to advantage when you choose to be in the Spirit, when you walk in the Spirit, when you allow the Spirit of God to control you, not the flesh or the sinful self (Romans 8:9). Galatians 5:16 says walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Acts 8:1 says, “At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (New King James Version). Though the church was scattered, that was not the end of the church. Rather, the early believers took advantage of the situation to advance the Kingdom of God. There was no online church or radio and television, but the dispersal of the believers didn’t lead to the end of their faith in Christ.
The Bible says, “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:4-8 New King James Version).
Phillip was a deacon, but he got to Samaria and became a mighty evangelist. He took Samaria by storm so much that Jerusalem heard about him and had to send Peter and John to confirm what they had been hearing. Remember there was no mass media or the internet then.
Phillip’s job while in Jerusalem was to serve food with the remaining six other deacons appointed for that purpose (Acts 6:1-6). There is no record that he ever stood before people to preach the gospel, led any Bible study group, or performed any miracle! But when he got to Samaria, and there were no apostles, he preached the word and miracles began to happen.
Though the door of your church auditorium is shut, will you remain a Christian? This is the time for Christians to make use of what they have been taught in their various places of worship over the years. They should turn adversity to advantage and make their houses places of worship. The family head should become a pastor to his family in addition to the online ministration by his pastor if there is any.
The Bible talks about the church of God meeting in Philemon’s house (Philemon 2). Acts 2:46a says the early church worshipped together at the Temple each day and met in homes for the Lord’s Supper. If your family is born again, you already have a church in your house. Even if there is no house fellowship holding in your house or it cannot meet there because of lockdown or curfew, fellowship together with your family.
Turn adversity into advantage. Pray and sing praises to God together. Share with them the Word of God that you know. Don’t compare yourself with your pastor or anyone. Give every family member an opportunity to share the Word of God or make a contribution. Stop lamenting or grumbling; it won’t change anything.
Paul and Silas were not criminals; they were ministers of the gospel jailed in the course of doing God’s work (Acts 16:16-24). Their offence was delivering a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination whose masters were using her for fortune-telling and making a huge profit.
However, they didn’t mourn in prison or regret. They maintained a positive attitude; they prayed and thanked God. Acts 16:25 says, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (King James Version). They turned adversity to advantage.
That led to the supernatural opening of the prison doors and loosening of the prisoners’ chains. In addition, it led to the glorious salvation of the jailor and his household. Eventually, Paul and Silas were released with an apology because they were Roman citizens jailed and humiliated without trial.
Don’t waste the opportunity this time provides you. Don’t concentrate on the negative aspect of this season alone. Though we cannot deny the losses the human race has suffered and continues to suffer because of this pandemic, we must look at the positive side. How can you make the best use of this time that you’ve been forced to stay at home?
This is the time for you to do the spiritual retreat you’ve been talking about for long. It is the time to study your Bible more and write down what the LORD is telling you – get revelations from the Word of God. It is the time to pray on some important issues of your life or seek God’s direction. It is time to prayerfully make some life-changing decisions. Use this season to pray for your spouse, your children, your family, the COVID-19 pandemic, and life after the pandemic.
Paul was imprisoned during his ministry, but he said that his confinement or restriction actually turned out for the furtherance of the Gospel (Philippians 1:12). He turned adversity to advantage by having a positive attitude. “For everyone here, including all the soldiers in the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Chris” (Philippians 1:13-14 New Living Translation).
Instead of lamenting his restriction in prison or house arrest, Paul was writing insightful letters to the churches and his associates, which are now part of the Bible. You, too, can start writing that book you’ve been talking about or complete the book (s) you’ve started writing.
Don’t waste this season of lockdown or sit-at-home. I believe something good can come out of it for you. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28-29 New Living Translation).
Don’t spend all your time thinking and talking about the pandemic. Do something productive, beneficial, or rewarding. This season shall soon pass away.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, help me to make the best use of this trying time the world is going through. Stop the spread of this plague in the nations of the earth where the plague is still ravaging. O LORD, stop the deaths. Father, open doors of provision for those that have lost their jobs or businesses because of this pandemic. Help the governments of nations to come up with policies that will reduce the negative impacts of the pandemic on their people.
(For over 300 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T .O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
WhatsApp No: +2349081295947