“For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. “ – Jer 31:11 (KJV)
Our text suggests that Jacob was in trouble.
He had sold himself to people more powerful than he is and would ever be. Either by indebtedness or by any other means, he had mortgaged himself, his life forever without any possibility of him being able to save himself.
God decides and declares that he has come to his rescue. The word redeem from where we got redeemed, means to recover by an expenditure of effort or by a stipulated payment.
Jacob served Laban, his father-in-law because he had no money to pay dowry and other expenses. One can, like Jacob in such a case, buy back himself by serving if he does not have the cash to do so.
And the word ransom implying the same means money demanded or paid for the release of a prisoner. The only difference in this is that the person (prisoner or slave) is not directly responsible for his freedom. It takes another, a guarantor, a bailiff, to deliver him. In either case, Jacob needed the intervention of another.
In this case, however, God was not referring to physical issues such as we have between Jacob and Laban, but between Jacob himself and the spiritual forces that made him “Jacob”, sup-planter, cheat, etc. He was up against forces that no amount of physical labour could quantify to pay for his release.
I remember a story I read about a horse that a man bought for a member of his family. They all fell in love with the horse, but it was not in the compound most times; always found in the lawn of their neighbour whose family had also fallen in love with the animal. In the fear that the horse might stir up a cold war between the man and his neighbour, the owner sold her to a Jockey.
When both families heard the horse was to compete in a race, they went to the race course to cheer the horse. Both men found themselves at the side of the Jockey who had mounted the horse, enabling the horse one more time to hear their beloved voices which I believe spurred her not only to clear all the hurdles set before it but also to beat all the other horses to return first.
The following day, the man woke to see the horse in his compound. Both families rejoiced at seeing the animal but that was before the Jockey came looking for it. The horse had to be bought back from him, even twice the amount they sold it to him. Why? The worth of the horse had appreciated!
The devil is the accuser of the brethren. We all know this. But one thing we do not all know is that in accusing us the devil puts us up in the spiritual slave market, to hand us over to the taskmaster that promises the most gruesome persecution and pain. That was exactly what happened to Joshua the high priest.
“And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.” – Zech 3:2-3 (KJV)
Joshua was “a brand plucked out of the fire”. He was on fire, burning for God, Who makes His angels wind and His ministers a flame of fire.
“Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire.” – Psalms 104:4 (KJV)
“And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.” – Heb 1:7 (KJV)
He was in the spiritual state of godliness, with the fear of the Lord in him yet the devil “plucked” him out of that state and clothed him in filth, in rubbish and shame! The filthy garment certainly would have been upon him by a demon making his life miserable. Oh, let him that thinks he stand take heed!
God intervened by sending His angel to rescue him because he was valuable to God. If you were put up for sale in the spiritual slave market, how much would you be worth to God? Would God so value you, that He would give lives, or kill people just to redeem or ransom you? Would God readily give nations for your sake?
“For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” – Isaiah 43:3-4 (KJV)
Generally, God loves us all; and this is recorded in John 3:16. God is not partial and does not take sides. He is not committed to people, race, colour or language. He cannot be bribed or bought over either with our tears, words, thought or deed. However, He is committed to Jesus.
….to be continued.
In Economics we are told that human wants are many but with scarce means of meeting them. People have resorted to different kind of ways to meeting those wants.
Made in God’s image and likeness, we carry His nature,
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” – 2 Peter 1:4 (KJV)
That means His ability works in us.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” – Phil 2:13 (KJV)
So, just as He calls those things that be not, we should equally call those things “that be not” instead of resorting to evil means; robbery, lies, prostitution, ritual killing and every other evil ways in the bid to acquire or meet our need. His power is at work in us. Lets believe and there would be a performance!
“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. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” – Mark 11:23-24 (KJV)
God has created all things. Nothing is new or lacking. The things we do not see, exist in the spirit realm.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” – Eph 1:3 (KJV)
While we dwell in the natural realm, these needs are in the spiritual (heavenly) realm or place; that’s why we can’t see them! Like our Father would do, we should call those things from the spiritual realm where they are not visible, to our natural realm where they become visible and could be seen and touched. Jesus did what He saw the Father do. We should follow in His footsteps. This is Faith!
We talk and teach Faith. Yes, without Faith we cannot receive from the Father.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Heb 11:6 (KJV)
However for Faith to be effective, we need the Word!
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17 (KJV)
Furthermore, our “calling”, “asking” or “praying” must align with or agree with the plan or will of God.
“Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.” – Job 22:21 (KJV)
As a carpenter, why ask God for a stethoscope? You certainly do not need it! It is not in God’s plan for you! No matter how hard you bombard the store room of heaven, you will find no stethoscope in your name! James will tell you you asked amiss!
“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” – James 4:3 (KJV)
Let us know that God planned our path on earth even before we were born. Let’s quest to know His will for us as individuals, as families, as communities; Church or secular, not comparing ourselves and His peace that passes all understanding will be ours. In Jesus Name. Amen.
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).
The fear was incredibly thick that it became an open door for satan to come into our lives. Did God not say He will confound us in the presence of the enemy if we feared?
“Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.” – Jer 1:17
We had various forms of attacks; of roaches: big, black, hairy roaches, swarming in hordes, through windows that had mosquito nets, while the multi-tenement kitchen, just next door had no net on the window, yet no invasion of roach!! Scorpions were discovered in the house, a small wall-gecko that though it could not come in because of the net, stayed upside down on it for one week and released a vibration that affected my man-hood.
I felt embarrassed and frustrated, especially as we were only a few weeks into marriage!
Even after a cup of boiling water was poured on the gecko, it came back some minutes later to the same spot, and in the same position: upside down!!!
Indeed we should not war with the weapons of the flesh!
One night my wife found a live gecko under my pillow!!!
All these and more, are true-life experiences God used to groom us!
Having given room to satan through fear, we sold our precious sleep. Every night, either birds or pussycats will come in our window and cry like new born babies!
Like a barrage of machine guns we would rain curses at them, calling down fire and brimstone thinking that we were engaged in a warfare being “spiritual giants”. Whereas it was God who had confounded us in the presence of the enemy due to the fear in our hearts. God did not give us the spirit of fear, but of boldness.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
The mind is a dynamic force that does not sleep. Solomon said,
“I sleep, but my heart waketh.” – S.O.S 5:2
The heart continues in the night with the thought that the individual dwelt on during the day.
If you sow your thought into negative news, you will reap a harvest of nightmares and masquerades. Sow your thoughts into positive news and you will reap a harvest of sound mind and sweet dreams.
That is why we are warned to guard our hearts with all diligence.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life .” – Prov. 4:23
WATCH YOUR THOUGHTS
What thoughts have you been dwelling upon? They would either make you or mar you. You are a product of your thought.
“As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” – Luke 6:45
You need to review your thoughts. Until the meditation (thought) of your heart is acceptable (pure) before God, demons will continue to oppress you.
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14
Think only of things that are lovely, that are positive.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8
A young man took a lady out to an ice-cream bar, settled at a table, before going to get their order. He returned with two cups of ice-cream, placed one in front of her before sitting opposite, across the table.
They talked a while, eating from their cups of ice-cream, when suddenly, she jumped to her feet, almost throwing out a mouth-full of the cream, in her struggle to bring out whatever she ate with the cream.
That was his cue. The young man was on his knee as she brought a ring out of her mouth.
“Would you marry me?” He asked.
He had asked the bar attendant to bury the ring in the ice-cream.
It was indeed a surprise for her.
That is the kind of surprise God has for us as we pass through trials.
“We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” – 2 Cor 6:1 (KJV)
The third thing to know is that with every package of trial, there is an attachment: grace!
In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul asks us not to receive grace in vain, and encourages that we stand through storms and trials.
There is certainly a connection between grace and trials.
I do not dispute that grace is God’s riches at Christ’s expense, but I believe it is more than that.
Grace is power; the power and ability of God manifested to help us stand and overcome. Like the Holy Spirit raising a standard against the flood of the enemy, grace is stirred up when we go through trials; when we KNOW it exists!!!
However most do no know that grace is available with every trials and persecution. We see and feel only the pain and discomfort. Not knowing grace abounds therein. Satan blinds us from this to make us think God has abandoned us!!!
Paul learned in 2 Corinthians 12, when faced with an infirmity which he prayed thrice to be removed, and thrice too, the Lord Jesus asked him to hold on to the grace which was abundantly available.
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Cor 12:7-9 (KJV)
Knowing grace was available, he would then “most gladly rejoice in infirmities”, knowing that in his weakness, God’s power (grace) takes over!!!
Tapping into Grace.
Finally, we need to know how to tap into grace, as it would be available, yet in vain.
In vain because we do not know how to draw from it!
Peter and James agree with Paul that only by humility can we tap into God’s grace.
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” – James 4:6 (KJV)
“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” – Peter 5:5 (KJV)
Let us learn not to think too highly of ourselves, so that the power of God would sustain us through trials.