It was a quiet Sunday morning. One devoid of the usual Lagos noise, as most people were laying in bed, oblivious of the sun shining in all its splendours.
Up with the rising sun was Easter-named after the Christian holiday-whose spirit was high as she sang praises unto God, while fixing breakfast for her family.
She recalled the previous night. A wonderful one she had had in a long time. An experience she had almost forgotten. She knew marriage was not always an easy thing, but never anticipated that it would plunge into the gloom like it did. Not after the promises and vows.
But should man really be trusted to keep promises? Man, a creation that can change with time and tide? Only one is unchangeable; the creator. Glory be, for He is not man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent. Has He spoken and would He not bring it to pass?
No doubt, God was still on her side. She sang louder, recalling the intimacy of the previous night and looking forward to a Sunday with her husband. After church service, they would come home and consummate their love life.
Lost in thought, she did not hear the kitchen door open and Richard stepped in. He regarded her spitefully for a while.
“Take care”, He said, “I ‘m going out”.
She turned suddenly, loss of words.
“what?” He asked rather stern.
“I was hoping you’d go with us”
“To Church?” He blurted out as though it was an abominable thing to do. Do I go with you before?” He asked seeing her nod her head, “or is this your new way of making trouble?”
“Honey, God is—“
The hand moved like lightening, striking her across the cheek and shutting her off before she could finish her sentence. The force of the slap sent her staggering unto the bowl of flour on the kitchen cabinet.
“God is what?” He snarled like an enraged animal, kicking her legs off the floor and she fell to the ground with a thud; her face a mask of flour.
“I’ve told you not to mention that name in this house anymore.”
Like the fury of a mad man, he rammed his tennis shoes again and again into her sides as her cries of pain filled the house.
“You can go to your church if you want to, but don’t you ever try persuading me again!” He let up at last, breathing heavily, eyes blood-shot, as he stared at her with disdain written all over his face.
He took a step backward and turned to leave but came face to face with their seven-year old daughter who was glaring at him in fear. He could sense some animousity behind those frightful eyes, as tears built in them.
However, even that could not deter him from going out. He stormed out and Deborah ran to her mother in tears.
They sat in a corner of the little inn; one of their many get away spots. He could afford bigger and better Hotels but chose to meet with her in remote places where their whoredom would not come to light. At least to those who knew him. Places where the deceit and evil imaginations of in their hearts were played out to reality.
He ordered more drinks as excitement or what he thought it was, enveloped his total being. He was a prideful man, unbending in his beliefs and desires, regardless of who gets hurt.
Richard looked across at Ronke. A big, almost massive woman that is ready to do his bidding anytime, anywhere for a few contracts. A woman, who though beautiful enough to have a husband of her choice, chooses to remain single and unattached and even brings other women to him! A married man? He did not understand, nor did he care, so long as she came, when he called.
He had had his heart seared with a hot iron (1 Tim 4:2), leaving the path of uprightness and delighting in the ways of darkness, of ignorance, all in the name of fun.
“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” -1 Tim. 4:2
She picked her glass of black-foamy-beer, her eyes glistering with the euphoria of the moment.
“When are you going to approve my contract, Richard, I need money urgently”.
“I told you that there is a new company policy that prevents me from awarding or approving new contracts till the backlog of debts are cleared”. He answered, reaching for his drink, “Of course you can be rest assured that yours will be first I’ll approve”.
‘I need money to finish the work in my supermarket”.
“Sorry, my hands are tied there, I can’t help you”.
“Or would you loan me some, handsome” she cooed, robbing her legs against his under the table. He smiled.
“Even if you call me pretty, that will not swell my account”.
“But tell me, Richard,” she started rather seriously, “what do you do with your money, I know you hardly touch your salary; not with the fat bonuses contractors give you?”
“Do you give me? Or are you not a contractor yourself?”
“Ah!” she uttered with a pout. “But I give you more than just bonuses! “she reached across the table and touched his cheek lovingly.
The effect on him was instantaneous.
“How much do you want?”
“Three hundred thousand naira”.
Many men spend more outside , on strangers that would not be there for them tomorrow; especially in their hour of need.
This is also true of some women.
But, is this a manifestation of the untamed greed in all of us?
What do you think?
I would like to hear from you.
God is a God of covenants. He said unto Noah:
“And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you.”
– Gen 9:9 (KJV)
To Abraham He said:
“And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.”
– Gen 17:2 (KJV)
David said of Him:
“He always stands by his covenant, the commitment he made to a thousand generations.” – 1 Chron. 16:15 – New Living Translation.
“I said, Lord God of heaven, the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps His gracious covenant with those who love Him and keep His commands.” – Neh 1:5 (HCSB)
“Then I said, “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands.” – New Living Translation
In covenants as with every other agreements or contract, both parties have roles to play; God keeps His side of the covenant when we keep ours.
David said of Him:
“You are always loyal to your loyal people, and you are faithful to the faithful.” -2 Sam. 22:26 The Contemporary English
“With the loyal thou dost show thyself loyal.” – (RSV)
God Himself said that if we shall hearken unto His commandments and do them He will give us the rain of our land.
“And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.”
– Deut 11:13-14 (KJV)
“And it will be that if you truly give ear to the orders which I put before you this day, loving the Lord your God and worshipping him with all your heart and all your soul, then I will send rain on your land at the right time, the early rains and the late rains, so that you may get in your grain and your wine and your oil.” – Deut 11:13-14 (BBE)
God repeated a similar promise in verses 22 and 23 of the same Chapter 11, that if we keep His commandments, He will drive out our enemies from before us.
We have to faithfully keep our side of the covenant before God’s faithfulness can fully manifest. The manifestation of God’s faithfulness depends on our obedience to His covenant.
Note the word “IF”. A conjunction that, when met, “then I will give you follows”. David when speaking to his son Solomon said concerning the promise of God.
“And so that the Lord will carry out His promise that He made to me: ‘If your sons are careful to walk faithfully before Me with their whole mind and heart, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.”
– 1 Kings 2:4 (HCSB) Emphasis Added
“If you do this, then the Lord will keep the promise he made to me: ‘If your descendants live as they should and follow me faithfully with all their heart and soul, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.”
– New Living Translation. Emphasis Added
The conjunction “IF” is the cementing or binding force on which the promise is made. All of God’s promises carry conditions, which must be met. He said:
“If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” – Isaiah 1:19 (KJV)
“If you willingly obey me, the best crops in the land will be yours.” – CEV
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” – 2 Chron. 7:14 (KJV) Emphasis Added
If we are “willing and obedient” to keep this first commandment of Jesus Christ which He gave before His ascension to heaven, “TARRY YE AT JERUSALEM”, we will “eat the good of the land.” The “good” is the supernatural power which “follows” those who believe. And the “Land” is our vocation, job, business or Ministry. Our part of the covenant is to be willing and obedient to “observe to do” all, not some, that He commands us (Deut. 6:1) so that we may live, multiply and posses the land. God has blessed us to:
a Live: to endure, to last through our various calling with strength, vigour and joy, and to emerge victorious. No matter what trials or tribulations that would rise up against us in the land (our vocation and call), God empowers us not only to endure but also to overcome .
“Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Don’t tremble with fear. I am your God. I will make you strong, as I protect you with my arm and give you victories.”
– Isaiah 41:10 The Contemporary English
“But praise be to God who gives us strength to overcome through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– 1 Cor 15:57 (BBE)
“Great are the troubles of the upright: but the Lord takes him safely out of them all.”
– Psalms 34:19 (BBE)
Nothing therefore can cut short our vocation and Ministry! No matter what we go through! No demon can! No devil can!
(b) Multiply: Not only are we to succeed, we are destined for increase in the land of the gospel. It involves physical and spiritual growth; in anointing, power, wisdom, in goods (material prosperity), in the fruit of the Spirit, fruit of the body and the fruit of the ground.
“And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee.”
– Deut 28:11 (KJV)
Promotion is a part of this as the true believer finds himself not in the company of mere men but in the midst of kings and princes. Whoever God pronounces this blessing of multiplication upon is:
“Like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season (every preaching of his bears fruit); his leaf also shall not wither (he never gets tired); and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Not only in preaching but in every other thing he does)” – Psalms 1:3 (KJV) (emphasis mine)
“They are like trees growing beside a stream, trees that produce fruit in season and always have leaves. Those people succeed in everything they do.” – CEV (Emphasis added)
With this blessing, one waxes stronger in work and ministry and rather than diminish, the depth and scope of the vocation gets enlarged. However, this is subject to Divine or Kairos time.
(c) POSSESS: This blessing gives one control over the ministry. Put simply, the ministry becomes established as God grants not only victory over trials but also dominion over every obstacle.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea (mermaid spirits), and over the fowl of the air (witches and wizards), and over the cattle (natural creatures), and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” – Gen 1:26 (KJV Emphasis added)
This blessing enables one to exercise the full power of heaven making it possible for demons, situations and circumstances to obey.
“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”
– Mark 11:23 (KJV)
These three blessings pursue and overtake the believer to do “greater works” than those which Jesus did.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do (casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, working of miracles, signs and wonders) shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
– John 14:12 (KJV Emphasis added)
The power of the end-time believer is unlimited! If Jesus shook the earth when He was here on earth, He assures us that the end-time believer shall do greater works! However He was quick to add the condition attached to this.
“If ye love me keep my commandments.”
– John 14:15
Obedience is the key! God is no respecter of persons. He is just and impartial. It does not matter how long one has been born-again or how zealous one is to do the work of God. Without knowledge of how to do the work of God, we perish, in life and ministry, like the sons of Sceva.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” – 2 Tim 2:15 (NASB77)
It is rather in “observing”, “learning”, and “studying” the why’s, when’s, how’s and where’s of the word of God and “doing” what was learnt.
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock.”
– Matt 7:24 (HCSB)
The reason we are not able to evangelize or fail to effectively evangelize despite our long years of being born again is because we do not have the power! And this is so because we have fallen short of this great command! If we genuinely seek to tap into the vast deposit of power and walk in the miraculous, let us obey this command of Jesus!
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” – Luke 24:49 KJV
Gideon had the presence of God, but did not know it!
“If God be with us ……. “ he said. (Judges 6:13)
Today, many have the presence of God so mighty in their life, yet they do not know and consequently do not follow His leading! God gives grace – His power, ability and presence – to the humble.(James 4:6).
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” – James 4:6 KJV
Gideon was exceptionally humble! He claimed to be from a poor and insignificant family in Manasseh, whereas his family was notable and influential! His father erected the altar to Baal where the people of the city went to for sacrifice and worship. They were well known in the city. But like Moses, Gideon did not regard the wealth of his family as something to be proud of. Even he had servants…., yet said he was the least! He was unique, an original! He never followed people’s opinions. Though he listened to them, he allowed the inner voice of Spirit to lead him. He valued himself.
(3) PLACE VALUE ON YOURSELF!
I placed value on myself. I knew I could not compare with the others in terms of being in vogue fashion-wise, yet I believed in myself. Believed in yourself. People won’t believe in you until you first believe in yourself. If you wait for people to value you, you will amount to nothing and come to nothing. Gideon had to be encouraged to place a value on himself. The Prodigal son learnt the hard way and re-valued himself. No one told him he was worth more than pigs; but pulled himself off their realm. If he hadn’t, no one would have related to him. That was were circumstances placed him, because he cooperated with the circumstances. But after he discovered himself and took charge of his life, he was not only accepted in the realm of men, he was celebrated. You too can be celebrated!
Place a value on yourself before expecting others to have a regard for you.
A person without self-esteem is like a man in a coma. He could be the richest man on earth, however until he regains consciousness, he has no control over his riches. A bad self-image of yourself denies you of your God given entitlements. You are a book read by others!
“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men.” -2 Corinthians 3:2 KJV
Like one would dump a boring book, even your friends would forsake you as in the case of the prodigal son. Your true friends are those who remain with you when you show your true worth.
A low self-esteem is contrary to the word of God in 2 Corinthians 3:18 which says you ought to change from glory to glory. The least you can ever get is “glory!” And that is your starting point! God has put so much in you, and He expects much from you. But a low self -worth will make you live below capacity and your input or investment in the Kingdom of God fall short of expectation.. According to Romans 12:3, God has given you a level of faith. Grow it, don’t hide it!
Someone said, “the way you are dressed is the way you are addressed.”
When you stop whining in self-pity and place a value on yourself, you will value your decisions and stand by them; taking full responsibility for those decisions whether they turn out good or bad. That is a mark of maturity, a mark of a leader; that is true beauty!
The prodigal son said “I will say to my father, I have sinned …..” He took responsibility for his actions. He did not try to pass the blame like Adam, and like many do today; blaming others instead of blaming themselves.
Believe in your self and take responsibility for your actions!
(4) PUT ACTION TO VALUE.
Gideon, recognising his worth in God, put an action in the knowledge. He gathered an army of 36,000 men and without fear or doubt, listened to God and sent home 35,700! Suggestions and advice could have been given him, yet he believed in the value God placed on him.
The prodigal son took an action after placing value on himself. I took an action of neatness.
No matter how “current” or expensive your dressing, you can never be fully confident when your clothes are dirty and rumpled. Cultivate the culture of neatness! Keep your finger nails clean, short and well manicured. If you wear your finger-nails long, give them some extra attention. What is the point in keeping long nail only to hide them under some table? Most men wash their hair everyday, I wash mine every other day, and I have a particular brand of hair cream I use. Groom your hair!
If you are a woman, do not stay too long before going to the hair salon. And whatever you do, don’t over-grease your hair, be it long or short! Be modest in your use of make-up. You certainly don’t want to look like a painted devil!
Your confidence will rise enhancing your value as you apply modesty in your appearance.
“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.” – 1 Timothy 2:9 KJV
When you can afford it, buy a sweet smelling perfume, bless it and use it. It is not a sin!
Do not put up a false appearance by borrowing clothes to wear as sometimes this can bring you embarrassments. And do not go after things too expensive for you.
Be modest! Be strong! Be courageous!
Manifesting your beauty will give you a joy so priceless it cannot be bought with money.
But it starts with discovery; of who you are. What are the things you enjoy doing? Don’t despise those things, so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others. What clothes bring out the best of you? Are they neat? And not offensive to the public? Wear them! They do not have to be in vogue, or expensive!
As an original, you become a leader because others who have not discovered themselves will begin to copy you.
Remember, there’s is a beauty in you that needs to be discovered.
Gideon was a young man completely empty. He was empty of pride, status, power, ambition, influence, achievement, ego, power, etc. He was completely empty of self! Yet the angel of the Lord called him “mighty man of valour”!
There was something in him that he never knew was there! The call was for him to look inward and discover the beauty hidden in him.
Jesus said “the Kingdom of heaven is within you”. There is something in us that is waiting to be discovered. Until this discovery is made you cannot look beautiful and admirable to your neighbours. Again Jesus said
“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” – Matthew 22:39
You have to first discover the measure to which you love yourself and extend the same to others. You cannot love others when you have not discovered the depth of love in you. To love your neighbour as yourself, you need to do a personal discovery first. It has to be in you, resident in you. Till you master yourself, your beauty, your worth does not come out!
(1) DISCOVER YOURSELF
I discovered myself. That was how I became a pace-setter. I did not compete with any of the others as I knew I could not compare to them financially. While the others bought clothes that were in vogue and in magazines off supermarket rack, I went bending down for fairly used clothes at Yaba, Lagos. The clothes were neat, modest and fitting. I never allowed anyone to despise me for my mode of dressing. I was bright, smart and confident in my dressing, and carried myself as though my dressing was worth more than any other’s.
As write this, I remember a song by Dolly Parton, “the coat of many colours”, in which she told the story of a girl whose mother was so poor she couldn’t afford to buy her any clothes. She could only stitch pieces of different clothes together and the girl wore it proudly everywhere, even to school. Though others laughed at her, she knew every stitch of that dress was made in love.
Like that little girl, I wore my clothes proudly. And why not? It is the man, the carriage of the man, that makes the cloth, not the cloth making the man. Before long, I noticed that others were copying me! When I began parting my hair, a neighbour laughed at me, called me odd and old-fashioned. I ignored her. One month later, it was the in- thing!
(2) BE IN CHARGE!
I was responsible for my appearance! No one, no magazine and no situation dictated to me. I was lord and master of my dressing.
Until you charge, you are not in charge! In your life, you are first-class! Don’t surrender that first-class to the second-class of another person’s imagination.
The prodigal son almost missed it when he submitted his originality to the imagination and dictates of so called friends. They praised him, hailed him and he got swollen headed, lived their expectation, not his, and ended having the carpet pulled from under him!
Thanks to God, he discovered and became in charge of himself after the friends had left! (Luke 15:11-32)
“And when he came to himself ………” – Luke 15:17 KJV
This was the time he made the decision not to allow others rule his life. See the end; not only was he restored, he was given a ring, which signifies authority. Something his brother did not receive.
What about Jacob? He became unique after he wrestled with God, and lived no more by other people’s imagination. Not only was his name changed, he became a nation!
Discover yourself, and be in charge! Are you short, tall, fat or slim? What shape of face do you have; oval, flat, round, square? Do you have high-cheek bones? What is your skin type; oily, dry, etc.
Your beauty is in your hands. Discover yourself and be in charge!
……… to be continued.