Speaker: Austen Ukachi
“Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who delights greatly in his commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches will be in his house, and his righteousness endures forever….” (Psalm 112:1-8).
Today is the last Sunday in 2014. It is only befitting that we all give thanks to God for all his kindness and mercies to us in the year. Beyond any shadow of doubt, God has been good to everyone of us.He has given us life, good health, families, work, hope, joy, etc. Some, out of ingratitude may doubt the extent of God’s blessings on them. To these, I remind them of the words of a hymn writer who once wrote:
“COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS,
NAME THEM ONE BY ONE.
COUNT YOUR BLESSING
SEE WHAT GOD HAS DONE….
AND IT WILL SURPRISE YOU WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE”
THE THRESHOLD OF A NEW YEAR
However, as we thank God for 2014, let us also remember that we are standing on the threshold of a new Year, 2015. A new year comes with new hopes, aspirations, expectations, challenges and opportunities. As believers in Christ we must look to the new year with a sense of hope and optimism, fully assured that God will grant us the grace to scale through all challenges in the New Year.
TODAY, we are also celebrating the 80th birthday anniversary of our dear mother, Mrs Janet Umeh. Mrs Janet Umeh is the mother of many of us in this Church. We feel honored to host her thanksgiving service today.
OUR TEXT FOR TODAY
There is the wrong notion that it does not pay to be righteous in a crooked world in which we live. But the Psalms refutes this thinking. When we read Psalms 1:1-6; 37:23-26; 112:1-10 and 128:1-4 among others, they confirm the fact that though the godly and the righteous may go through trials on this earth, eventually they are blessed by God on this earth.
For the purposes of today’s service, which is, to thank God for the life of our dear mother, Mrs Umeh and to celebrate the fruitfulness of her life, we shall focus on Psalm 128:1-4. There is a similarity between Psalms 112 and 128, they are both addressed to the godly and righteous. They are filled with promises that attend the life of the man or woman who seeks after God. Psalm 128:Verse 2 reads, “When they eat the labour of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.” In this verse, God promises happiness and good well being to those who fear him.
Verse 3 of the same Psalm is very graphic and spiced with the metaphor of the vine and olive plants. “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table.” Let us bear in mind that this metaphor and promise is not for everyone, but for those who fear the LORD.
What is the significance of using these two plants for illustration by the Psalmist? The vine supplies wine and is a symbol of fruitfulness. Some vine plants are fruit bearing while others are not. In the Old Testament, the vine is used to compare to Israel’s fruitfulness (Psalm 80:8-16; Isa.5:1-7). The Psalmist in 128:3 likens a godly and righteous woman to a fruitful vine synonymous to wine which gives joy to many people. In Genesis 49:22, Joseph is likened to a fruitful vine (NIV edition). And in John 15:1, Jesus uses the metaphor of the vine to describe himself, “I am the true vine…” He says.
On the other hand, the Olive tree is the source of olive oil. The olive tree is known to be rugged, resilient, enduring and survives any weather. It is a symbol of peace, an ever green and long lasting plant. The Olive plant is one of the few plants that survived the Noahic flood. The children of the godly and righteous woman are likened to the olive tree. This means they will be tough, enduring, ever green and fruitful on the earth. In Psalm 52:8, the Psalmist likens himself to an olive tree, “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God…”
GOD BLESSINGS TO MAMA
In many ways, Mama’s life and family experiences fits into these metaphors of the vine and olive plants. God has granted you long life in a nation where the average life span is 50 years. In addition, He has given you good health. The Lord has also given you godly Children, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, grand children and great grand children. What more, he has given you five male and female pastors in your family. Indeed, you are a blessed woman.
Today, I can imagine you Mama re-echoing the words of the Psalmist in chapter 116:12, “What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits towards me?” David’s response to all of God’s benefits towards him was to come before him with the sacrifice of thanksgiving. This is what our mother, Mrs Janet Umeh has come to do today. We rejoice with her on this great day of her life.
Let me use this medium to congratulate Mama, and the entire family on this great occasion. I thank God that you are alive to witness all these blessings. Congratulations.
To everyone else who is in church today, or those who may read this blog. I pray that God will make you a fruitful vine in the coming year. May you be like the Olive tree, ever green, rugged and fruit bearing. Like the olive tree, may you be a symbol of peace in our broken world riddled with hatred, disunity and conflicts.