Let me specially thank Rev. Dr. Israel Akanji FAR The current National President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention for the kind invitation to the 109th Annual Session of the Nigerian Baptist Convention with the theme “Entering into Newness with Praise and Thanksgiving”.
I also bring to the Church, the warm felicitations of His Excellency the President of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari who congratulates the Nigerian Baptist Church on this year’s Convention.
God is pleased with thanksgiving from His Children! Indeed, it is a good thing to thank the Lord according to Psalms 92:1. He says that in Isaiah 57:19: “I create the fruit of the lips.” In other words, I am the one who creates the reason for thanksgiving. That is why the writer of Hebrews in chapter 13:15 admonishes us “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
Dear Brothers and sisters, the coming together of the saints like in this Convention is always a time of incredible spiritual occurrence; a time of supernatural blessings, breakthroughs and the birth of new things. The Word of God makes it clear that he will do a new thing which shall spring forth suddenly (Isaiah 43:19).
There are many reasons why I have this conviction.
First, the Word of God makes it clear that even where only two or three of us are gathered in His name, He is there with us, and should we agree on anything, He, our Father in heaven will perform our requests. Let us all therefore be expectant at this gathering because the expectation of the righteous shall not be disappointed. Secondly, this is a gathering of believers, we believe in the priesthood of the believer, that every believer is an anointed priest of God. So, unlike any other gathering such as a gathering of politicians or members of a club, those of us here, are led not by the flesh, but by the spirit of God.
We rely on the inerrant, infallible word of God, not speculations or rumors. Indeed, for us, the foundation of truth is the Word of God. His Word instructs us to give thanks in all circumstances. When things are good or even when the situation seems complex. Our God is the God of complex situations. He steps in when things get really complicated. He is not a man whose options are limited, He has no limits, no boundaries, no quotas, He is God. This is why I am completely convinced that the future of our nation is very bright, very bright indeed..
In the very beginning of creation, God demonstrated that He is a God of the most complex and difficult situations.
In Genesis 1:1-4: “1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.”
So even at creation, there was confusion, the earth was without form, it was bleak, dark, it was void. Darkness was on the face of the deep and we are told that the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, “let there be light! And there was light.”
Then what happened? God spoke!
In verse 3, it says, “then God said let there be light and there was light.”
This is the point. God spoke! The word He spoke transformed the darkness, the insecurity, the fear, the conflicts, to light, to peace, and to joy. He spoke and the situation was transformed.
If we want our personal circumstances to change or we want our country to be at peace, and to prosper, we the saints of God, must declare it! We must speak! Speak the reality we desire.
There is divine power in the spoken word of the saints. Scripture says “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
In verse 4, God saw the light and it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness.
Now we must realize that even at creation, there was confusion. The earth was without form, it was bleak, it was dark and void. There seemed to be hopelessness and despair. But in all the confusion, the same verse says that God was right there. The spirit of God, was hovering around the face of the waters, even in the confusion.
Let me point out to us that, despite all we are seeing in this nation, this Annual Convention reminds us that the spirit of God is hovering over the face of Nigeria.
Accordingly, as believers in this Unlimited God, we must know that things are going the way God operates. This is the reason why our Praise and Thanksgiving would lead us into newness of life and joy. We cannot speak unbelief, hopelessness, despair and helplessness as others who do not believe.
Jesus demonstrated this when He raised Lazarus back to newness of life from the dead. Although, Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus felt the situation was hopeless, helpless and forlorn, Jesus proved to them that with Praise and thanksgiving to God, even that which had died and be buried can receive newness of life. He says He would restore all the years the locust has eaten.
Accordingly, when He got to the tomb of Lazarus, a man who had died four days before and, was since buried, He simply gave thanks to God and called him back to life:
John 11:38-39,41-42 states that “Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days…. Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”
Let me conclude by reminding us that just as Jesus directed them to take away the stone, we have been empowered by the Spirit of God who is hovering over the Convention and the Nation, to use our Praises and thanksgiving to roll away the stones of insurgency, kidnapping, economic hardship, unbelief, fear and hopelessness facing us individually or as a nation remembering His promises that:
“Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.”
“Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders, but you shall call your walls salvation and your gates Praise” (Isaiah 66:18).
So, we bind all forces of evil, hate, fear, division and of injustice, and we release prosperity, love and justice in this land in Jesus’ name.
The glory of the latter temple shall be greater than the former. The church is coming to its season of greater glory, of peace, and of victory, you are also coming to your time of elevation and victory in Jesus’ name.
Thank you and Happy Convention!
Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN