“Finishing strong is not only a matter of how you run, but IF you finish.” Pastor Mary said as she stood in the Name of the Lord.
This was after a steamy session of praise and worship led by Brother Adino, with Mrs Itachomi and Sister Favour on back up. A praise leader is indeed a praise leader! He was dripping with rivers of sweat at the end of the praise session which left everyone basking in the glory of the Lord.
“God is not looking for runners,” Pastor Mary continued, “neither is He looking for the fastest runners. He is looking for finishers!”
She told the story of the race between the hare and the tortoise, whom no one thought would win. But overconfidence made the hare loose the race. She encouraged that we should not be full of ourselves but to be filled with Christ; like Saul who fell from himself and rose filled with Christ.
As in the first day, she pointed three things from Philippians 3.
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” – Phil 3:13-14 (KJV)
(1) Forgetting the past. We should not allow the situations of the past: what we suffered, achieved, lost etcetera, to stop us from finishing our race.
(2) Striving forward. With God the Holy Spirit in us, we should reach, strain, and strive to reach the end of the race, even if it takes all our strength. This, she said, is a mark of Christian maturity; that God wants for us to keep moving, growing up spiritually.
(3) Press on. We should know that the enemy is out to hinder our finishing the race. That he would throw many obstacles on our “lane” in his bid to stop us. We are not to be ignorant of this because many have made a shipwreck of their race due to ignorance. This she said, will help us keep our faith.
Further, she reminded us of King Joash (2 Chron. 24), who started his race well, raised up in the house of God but did not finish strong.
Being in a race, we should be unique, minding our race and not follow the crowd.
Day One. As the day slowly began to turn to evening, at 6:10pm a brother, Chuks, took the opening prayer. Sister Franca came up afterwards for the praise and worship, backed up by sisters Favour and Miracle. Wao! It was an awesome time as everyone danced to His glory! An exhortation was given, charging the atmosphere the more, as we were reminded of the power in the Word of God and how powerful a person is, that executes the Word. Pastor Yinka was then invited to the altar. He ministered from 1 Samuel 8:1-9. He told how man does not want to loose any material thing, yet would not seek or God. However, God is still in control and should He want someone to have a taste of something, it will come to pass no matter the prayer or prayer mountain one goes.He challenged that we might be finishing if not the will of God. And mentioned how much Jesus desired to finish the work God sent Him to finish.
He encouraged us to locate the will of God for our lives that we might finish same. He also reminded us from the book of Lamentations 3, how children of God could be afflicted, yet stand and not pull back. He finished by giving us 3 keys to finishing strong, taken from 2 Timothy 4:7-8 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). (1) We should know that we are in a battle and though the enemy does not want us to, we should fight on the side of the Lord; the good fight of faith. (2) We should search out what lane of the spiritual race God has called us to run and believe Him for strength to finish our course. (3) Above all we should keep the faith. This is what the enemy wants; to steal, kill or destroy. Like Paul, we should hold firm to the end and not drop our confidence which has a recompense of a reward. Even after closing and sharing the grace at 8:35pm, no one wanted to go!!! We look forward to day 2. Join us; if you can. Remain in His love.
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).
Living close to this male teacher, she visited him to know how it all went; if he had 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 know why neither of the teachers resumed. Meg opened up and told her everything. That was how we knew! Meg promised to bring the teacher; which she did. Unknown to us when she came with him, this member of Judith’s group saw them and attacked them even while they were still atop an “okada” (motorcycle)! The member of Judith’s group, we learnt later, pulled Meg’s hair as they rode past her on the motorcycle.
“Okada” is a popular means of transportation
Fortunately there were eye-witnesses which included our former landlady! May God continue to plant witnesses for His children in Jesus Name.
Almost falling, Meg jumped off the bike and with that anger went into a fight with the member of Judith’s group.
Again, I wasn’t there, but eye-witnesses report that Judith was with her friend to whom she gave a plank with which to fight!
But to what end? Why the hatred? Why the animosity? Why? She did not try to separate them but meant to fuel the fight which took a greater dimension, becoming brutally fierce! Meanwhile my wife and I were at home not knowing a fight was on on our behalf!
Meg and the young man eventually got to our place, looking like people that fought a lion! We queried their look and were given the full gist. Before leaving our place, Meg carried a thick rod which she said she’ll use to defend herself! Why? The other party threatened to wait for them! But God raised people that ensured a safe passage for them! Amen.
God took up our battle. He raised people that fought for us; and with witnesses. That was our first victory over the evil that Judith imagined against us. May God raise men that will secure victories for you, “pressed down, shaken together and running over”, the robust kind of victory that will leave no one in doubt, in Jesus Name!
We kept watching the drama unfold. As children of God, we could not go from house to house, as that will make us the same as her. We could only trust God.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” – Isaiah 26:3.
She rented an uncompleted building in the community and started school. Going from house to house, parent to parent again, she asked that their children and ward be withdrawn from us, and registered with them.
People in the community watched with keen interest to see what we would do. But our trust is in the Name of the Lord!
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” – Psalm 20:7.
The fight was brutally fierce!
Meanwhile, Benjamin her husband, would come on weekends and go back to his workstation on Monday mornings. He acted as though nothing happened. Close as we were, he did not come to find out what transpired. Two different Saturdays I went there to try and make peace, meeting only the wife and children. They told me he was not around.
I suspected he was around but was told that he did not come. My wife on one of those Saturdays saw him, confirming he was present. He supported his wife against us, not minding my #2m surety on his behalf. Three months passed before I made up my mind that pearls should not be given to pigs.
…….to be continued.
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!