Elimelech had left Bethlehem with his wife Naomi and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion, to the land of Moab to escape the famine that had come upon the land.
There at Moab, where the economy was better, things suddenly took a new and ugly turn when Elimelech died. Not long afterwards, the two sons who had married also died and things became difficult for Naomi. To survive, with her two daughters- in law, she sold off most valuables, yet…
Going back to Bethlehem she said:
“I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” – Ruth 1:21(KJV)
They had fared well in Bethlehem before the journey to Moab. The famine forced them to move. Had they looked back to what they were before God picked them and filled them with testimonies, perhaps the tragedy that befell them could have been averted.
Some lessons could be learnt here as we approach the end of the year. We need to look back from the beginning of the year till now to see the mighty hand of God at work in our lives. This will help us humble ourselves.
(1) They could not see the hand of God at work. They must have attributed their success to their own efforts. So when the famine came, “common sense” dictated to them to move.
Let’s remember that whatever we may have become is the doing of the Lord. And if He delights to bless us in any land, no famine can overtake us as the Lord will be there to deliver us.
(2) They did not see God where they were. Jacob said, “God is here and I knew it not.”
“And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.” (Genesis 28:16).
They did not appreciate where God planted them.
We can be so busy we fail to see God in the place we are and consequently, not appreciate Him for the place He has placed us. Let’s learn not to think or talk evil or negative of the place we are. Neither should we agree with people who run down where we are.
It is only when we praise God that the land will open its treasure to us.
(3) The fact that God is there does not mean you cannot have a famine; headaches, and challenges.
Where God was Jacob slept on hardness; without comfort: on a pillow of stones!
“And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.” (Genesis 28:11).
Stick in there through thick and thin!!! God is there!!!
Your bones may be screaming and your joints shouting their protests, stick in there!!!
Your stay at the place proves your faith in Him. Naomi and her family proved faithless despite God’s blessings to them before their journey to Moab. And without faith, it is impossible to please God or receive from Him. No wonder they lost everything and she came back empty!
(4) Joy does not come because you have things you want! No! Joy comes when you thank God for the things you have now!
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” – 1 Timothy 6:6
Great gain; joy!
As we look back to the outgoing year, let us be mindful of where we met with God and return there again and again; if possible like Peter would say, make the place our dwelling.
Lesson no 3
God chooses us whilst still in the fire of affliction.
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10).
And not everything can pass through the fire and remain the same. Most things would change or be mangled, yet this is where we are chosen.
As in the case of Hezekiah when God pulled back to watch his reaction:
“Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.” (2 Chronicles 32:31).
God watches His children as they pass through the fire to see their reaction.
Would you change as you go through the fire? Would you be deformed or mangled when you come out at the other side of the fire?
This tells if you are matured or not for promotion.
God watched to see if we would allow the enemy take away our joy, our confession, the thought in our hearts.
Would we engage in character assassination, fight tooth for tooth and eye for an eye?
Or would we keep standing holding firmly to His word and praying for those who persecute us and despitefully use us?
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; ” (Matthew 5:44)
Would we change? That is why it is a trial!
Walking with God can be demanding sometimes, especially when it has to do with relating to others; and most especially if they have hurt you so deeply you decide to “avoid” them; not necessarily malice but holding them at arms length, not to be hurt again by them.
After publishing post four of this serial, God spoke to me at five-thirty (5:30) am.
I do morning cry from 4:30am to 5:30am. This day, Thursday 16th of November I spoke from the gospel of Matthew,chapter 25, the Groom and the ten Virgins. I spoke particularly on the trimming of the lamp and the significance of the wick. Rounding up with a prayer at 5:30 the Lord broke forth with a command to go to Judith and pray for her and her house hold!
Ah! Why Lord? With all that she did? Not that I haven’t forgiven but to go there?
My wife and I have learnt over the years to forgive even in advance but not give room to be offended a second time.
But God rules in the affairs of men!
“But God”, I argued, “I have been there twice before and no good came out of it.”
“Go and pray with her.”
“Lord is this really you or is it my mind?”
God will not go into an argument..
Many Christians cast aspersion on the Prophet Jonah for running away to Joppa.
Honestly I felt like running away! What would people in that little community think of me? The flesh was speaking. Especially knowing Judith would announce I came to beg her!
Unknown to me, I was to put in motion that age -old principle that says the way of victory is the way of the cross; the way of shame!
The hurdle is always the flesh!
I told my wife and left to Judith’s. To the glory of God her husband was home but she was not.
He was shocked seeing me. Nevertheless I told him my purpose of coming. I thought he would not accept my prayer. But he did.
As I left their house and started for home, I saw Judith coming so I waited. After praying for her, we had a little discussion. She had gone to call a nurse for her most Junior daughter who was ill.
Asking if they would permit me pray for her, they ushered me into the room where she laid.
Afterwards I said goodbye to them and left.
Back home my joy knew no bounds. I sensed in the spirit that God was up to something!
It is in the darkest hour of the day, that light shines the brightest! God within this season, opened up a door of ministry that we never saw. Details will be given but not now; at the maturity of the testimony.
May we not change but keep doing good. For whatsoever we sow we shall reap.
Three months passed before i made up my mind that pearls should not be given to pigs.
“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” – Matthew 7:6 .
I called a lawyer to write a disclaimer and submit it on my behalf to the motor company as I could no longer trust Benjamin! Moreover, I do not know where he stays in the city! Just a phone call and his family would join him there leaving me to stew in his juice?
It was a mighty deliverance the Lord worked for me! After the disclaimer was delivered and acknowledged, Judith stopped greeting me. She had stopped greeting my wife but manages to greet me; but now she stopped altogether!
Her anger was that I delivered myself by Freeing myself from the “bondage” of the surety. The bible was explicit about this but, like I said, I thought I was doing it for a brother. But he proved to be a stranger!
“My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. Do this now, my son, deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.” – Proverbs 6:5
We learnt some valuable but very bitter lessons at this time.
(1) Except God touches a soul no good done to such soul can transform them!
Man can only be willing in the day of God’s power.
“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.” (Psalm 110:3).
(2) That men are more united in evil!
Empty vessels make a whole lot of noise just as evil is more appealing to natural man. People will readily believe a lie spoken against you than seek the truth! This shows indeed that what people are is what they believe others are! Even people you hold in high esteem as matured Christians!
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. ” (John 3:19).
Judith was at work! This time she and her group suspecting that a teacher has entered our premises, would go wait for them at the entry of the community (the community has only one entry point as it is hedged by water, and the teachers came from outside the community). Their minds would be poisoned causing them to not come back! What were they up to? What have we done to them that they act this way? Apart from Judith that we sacked, we have no negative dealings with anyone; even others in her group. In fact as the bible enjoins we live peaceably with everyone in the community; young and old. So why did they do what they did? Why did they set themselves up against us? Just wickedness! The heart of man is deceitful above all things and indeed, desperately wicked!
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
God made us know what was going on through a teacher whom we would call Meg. Meg was the very first to join us; she laboured with us under the rain and under the sun, even when still breastfeeding her baby!
She would strap the baby at her back while obediently carrying out her work in helping to set up the school; she was appointed the head teacher. Judith hadn’t joined us then.
When she did, she refused to acknowledge Meg’s position. Rather, she went telling parents she would not allow Meg be her head. All these came out after she was asked to go.
Meg was her first victim. Believing they were friends, they had an agreement to have carried out together but Judith betrayed her making us terminate her appointment with us. Consequently the position of head teacher became vacant.
Judith, an ambitious woman with the spirit of “Diotrephes”, who loves to be first (3rd John1:9-10), continued to claim head teacher! Several times my wife warned her to stop, especially as she was not a qualified teacher.
Judith, unknown to us, went to the parents, lied to them that children were not being taught in the school, but rather play! She claimed that was the reason she withdrew her children! She encouraged them to do the same! Till now, it beats my imagination how she was able to sway the parents that gave heed to her suggestion. Couldn’t they think? Children are not taught, they only play? And her children were there for about three years, the senior daughter who struggled with reading got polished and learnt to read? The younger daughter also improved tremendously, and all unnoticed by those parents? Perhaps I concluded, she uses some means – “African-jazz”?
Anyhow, only her kind would believe her.
Her activities nevertheless, made most parents hold back school fees. It was tough going! But God is ever faithful!
Judith covered her activities so well it took the Lord to expose her! After Meg came to know Judith as a back-stabbing liar, she regretted her action and renewed friendship with us. Through her, many would discover the scheming nature of Judith. Though she had taken up employment as the head teacher in another school, she sent us a teacher: a female teacher. Judith happened to her and like others before her, did not resume. She sent another, a male teacher, who like others did not resume.. Living close to this male teacher, she visited him to know how it all went; if he has been given the job.. While there, Judith’s group member approached the young man again, called him aside to give him more lies, not knowing who Meg was. Coming back to Meg, he narrated what he was told to the chagrin of Meg who debunked the lie.
Worried, my wife went to Meg to tell her that both teachers did not resume. She opened up and told my wife what happened. That was how we knew!
…….to be continued.
.….. continued from “A JOURNEY THROUGH HELL 2”
She claimed to have heard. On the children’s education, she admitted her husband asked her to bring them back to school. Yet she kept them away through out the term.
The women of the Church had their programme. Prior to that they met, planned and rehearsed as all activities of the day would be handled by them. But, here came Judith’s daughter wanting to lead praise and worship! My wife stopped her, she was just a girl of twelve, meanwhile three women were scheduled to take it.
Because of this the girl refused to lead praise on the next service day when called; even when the brother told her I called her to lead; she shook her head. This happened in Church, just after the opening prayer! We later found out it was her mother’s advice she acted upon.
I felt a churning in my stomach; God was grieved.
“And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.” – Rev. 10:10.
Rebellion is one spirit I know God does not tolerate. Before going into the Word I told her that God was grieved by her action, which was an open and glaring rebellion. She has been barred for a while from coming up the altar.
Meanwhile, her brother who also had been cautioned severally before, kept walking up and down, from the drums at the altar to the pew, out of the hall of service, and back again. What was he doing? He was attending his phone!
I could be very patient: even to a fault. But I could not contain it anymore. I barred him from the drums after reminding him of previous warnings. There has to be orderliness in the house of God. Though we trust God for souls into His house, certain practices should not be encouraged. Moreover, warnings had been given.
God is no respecter of persons. The same God that sent Moses ambushed him to kill him.
“And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.” – Exodus 4:24
His standards must not be compromised.
Judith and her family stopped coming to Church . This was when her real nature surfaced!
She gathered a little group of people in the small community and they went round sowing seeds of hatred in the hearts of the members of the community; all based on lies!
Those that made up her little group were parents that had brought her report to us earlier. She went to them claiming we were responsible for what she did! They went further to teachers, said some untrue and unkind things about us, making some disrespectful to my wife and leaving eventually!
We began to understand how an Angel could sow evil seed, and pollute one-third of Angels in heaven!
Sowing seeds of discord is another thing that God hates; it is even an abomination!
“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” – Proverbs 6:16-19
We became short of teachers, and consequently forced to combine classes. We made contacts for teachers. They will come, attend interview, given appointment but will fail to resume! Judith was at work!
“ For the wicked have strung their bows, drawn their arrows tight against the bowstrings, and aimed from ambush at the people of God” – Psalm 11:2 TLB
This time she and her group suspecting anyone entering our premises to be a teacher, would go wait for them at the entry of the community (the teachers came from outside the community). Their minds would be poisoned making them not to come back!
….. continued from A JOURNEY THROUGH HELL
We were thrilled when he had a job prospect with a motor company (whose name I will not give for discretion). However he needed a surety! Due to the relationship, he came to me when no one was willing to help.
Sometimes missionaries get blinded to the voice of reason, just because they believe God for a soul. I stuck my head out for Benjamin and signed a surety with the motor company to the tune of two million Naira! My wife was like, “what have you done?”
Though he used to send his tithe to Church, he seldom came to service despite all we tried, so I sent a message through the wife that he should stop sending the tithe; that the Lord is more interested in him than the money.
We continued to believe God to touch the heart of the couple when the instruction came, to relieve her of her school work!
Ah me! How can I do that? It is a hard decision for me!
This was someone who though I discourage it, called me “daddy!” I began to imagine the anger against Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s “Things fall apart”, who beheaded Ikemefuna, a boy that called him “nna” (father).
How would I tell people in that community that God is love? Would they not ask me “which God? That God that asked you to sack a woman from her job thereby taking away her meal ticket?” How do I defend the gospel?
But the Master of masters has given His instruction. Obey or disobey!
I know if Brother Isaiah was here he would say “don’t be lead by your emotions. Let the Spirit lead you”.
“And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” – Isaiah 11:3-4
I wondered what I would have done if I was with them in the wilderness, and as member of the tribe of Levi, when Moses gave the instruction to go into the camp and slay everyone his brethren! Sometimes God pokes at our emotion to test our maturity and obedience.
Undoubtedly, God loves her more than anyone could ever do. There has to be a reason! Of course, God is not One to always give you reasons why He does what He does. He answers to no man, rather we all answer to Him.
“Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?” (Job 9:12).
Experience has taught me however that God does not go into a debate. Promptly, I called my wife, asked her to call Judith and to come with her to the office. Calmly as I could, I broke the news to her. It was not an easy thing to do! If asked I would say this so far, is the most difficult message I had ever delivered!
She pleaded and even sent people to plead on her behalf. I was torn between obedience to God and compassionate care for Judith, a sister in the Lord!
We tried encouraging her with the word of God. But how do you encourage someone you just fired? The only encouragement she expected was that we give her back her job!
Like Shakespeare said, “there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.” (Macbeth – the book)
Indeed only God knows the thoughts and intents of every heart.
“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” – Jer 17:10 (KJV)
While thinking good of others, only God knows what thoughts they have for you. That was what distressed David more than the rebellion of Absalom.
While she continued to come to Church, as usual, her attitude began to change. She had withdrawn her children from school, and now began a campaign against my wife and the school!
Believing to be her pastor, I went to her and counseled her not to involve her children, by turning them against her perceived enemy. I cited instances from both the bible and in this modern days, how God reinstated people who humbled themselves: that God alone knew why He asked me to relieve her of the job. That rather than go to people and discredit my wife and school, she should go to God in prayer. I believed God wanted to do something in her life, she should go to Him.
She claimed to have heard. On the children’s school, she admitted her husband asked her to bring them back to school. Yet she kept them away through out the term.
….. to be continued in https://jimout2002a.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/a-journey-through-hell-3/
Serving as a missionary is perhaps one of the most difficult part of Ministry. Having served in the city as a pastor, and serving now as a missionary, I can tell the difference!
In the city, you are in the midst of fairly civilized people, if they are not. You have people who understand ministry and ministers; a mixture of people which includes those that will accuse the minister and those that will defend him. It is not always so in a small community in the outskirts of the city, where most are unlearned and under exposed! They only want to accuse you! It is tough!
The journey started when the Lord asked me to relieve a woman of her duty in the school. For discretion, I will call her Judith.
My wife and I, to the glory of God, run a school where Judith worked with us as a teacher.
She and her family had joined us in Church. She used to come sweep and arrange the Church on service days, yet would not come till toward the end of the message; if she manages to come. Every month end, the Church gave her a stipend to assist her.
We took Judith and her family as part of ours: not just as Church family but as our own family. We opened our doors completely to them; even gave our keys to them!
The bonding was there to the extent we exchanged meals, the children stayed with us a couple of days when their parents traveled.
Though not a qualified teacher, my wife picked her as she had no job, to come assist in the school as a way of further helping her: at the end of every month she would earn a salary. We believe there is a lot of confidence in what you earn than in what you are given.
My wife groomed her and constantly monitored both her and what she taught the children; for she was given the kindergarten class.
In Church, she was not frequent, but we believed God to touch her as He touched the children. The eldest, a boy, in the secondary school, learnt to play the drums and the second, a girl, God groomed and blessed with the gift of leading praise. Apart from the eldest, the rest of Judith’s children schooled with us.
Their father, we will for this writing call Benjamin, used to drive a commercial bus, but was not making ends meet.
We were thrilled when he had a job prospect with a motor company (whose name I will not give for discretion). However he needed a surety! Due to the relationship, he came to me when no one was willing to help.
….. continued in https://jimout2002a.wordpress.com/2017/10/29/journey-through-hell-2/