“Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!” – Luke 17:1 (KJV)
Trials are a part of the Christian call; part of God’s will for us.
Promotion comes after successfully enduring trials: when we prove ourselves on top of the trial; when we go through trials without loosing our saltines, our goodness.
To be on top of the trials, you need to know four things.
(1) Know where you are.
You need to do an honest appraisal or evaluation of what has befallen you.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” – 2 Cor 13:5a (KJV)
Is it possible you are responsible for what befell you? Could you have done something that led to what situation you are in?
“But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” – 1 Peter 4:15 (KJV)
Be honest with yourself.
If you cannot be honest with yourself, you cannot be honest with anyone; not even with God! Self-respect comes from being true to who you are. When you respect yourself others will respect you.
Do not try to be another person or lie to yourself just because you want to avoid being blamed.
Withdraw to the deepest part of you where no man can come: your husband, your wife, your children. A place Jesus would call the “secret place”; and truly examine yourself.
“Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” – Psalms 4:4 (KJV)
Sometimes the behaviour of people toward us is actually a reaction to what we have said or done! Clear your conscience!
Repent and ask God’s forgiveness, if you find yourself guilty in any way.
But after searching and you find no fault with you, rejoice!
(2) The second thing to know is that a better and greater life is ahead of you!
The sun is always above. After the planted seed has probed it’s surrounding with its roots and settled itself (as in confirming that its darkness experience is not its making), it looks up to the Sun!
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore “ – Psalms 121:1-8 (KJV)
Look up to the Sun of Righteousness!
It shall be well! Everything will turn out to your favour!
……… to be continued.
Where are you?
“Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come:
but woe unto him, through whom they come!” (Luke 17:1).
Jesus is the door (John 10) into God’s Way.
It is easy to come to the door, but that is not the ultimate or end, rather it is the
beginning of the journey.
As Christians, we are expected not only to go through the door, but to continue
further into the life behind the door.
Many have turned back after going through the door because of the life behind it;
a challenging life, full of trials and persecutions. God dislikes those that pull back.
“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have
no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:38).
Walking in the way of God while on earth makes you an enemy of the world.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the
world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Walking with God makes you a candidate of trials and persecutions.
How you react in the dark tunnels of tribulation would tell if you are matured for
promotion into the next level or not.
As you pass through the fire of affliction, would you change; mangled from what you profess to be (a Christian)? Do you loose your saltiness and drop every goodness? Or do you maintain
who you are?
Spiritually it tells if you are on top of or below the trial mark.
Adam fell beneath the trial mark when he dropped every goodness by blaming Eve, refusing to take responsibility; even when given a second chance.
Cain, reacted violently when God asked him for his brother Abel. Even when God made him know He knew what he had done, there was no remorse or goodness in him.
Abram, Called to walk with God, could not retain the word of God when the pressure of childlessness became too great for him. He followed his wife’s advice and acted according to the “culture” of the people. God “killed” Abram, and called forth Abraham.
Elijah lost his ministry to Elisha, when he allowed despair to change him from a man of Faith to a man of fear.
Hezekiah, went through a trial when on the issue of the ambassadors from Babylon, God left him to see what he would do. He got carried away by fame and affluence and could not repent of going into friendship with the enemy.
The list is endless!
However, Joseph, despite all he went through, from the pit to slavery and prison, did not stop doing good. He remained on top of his trials.
Moses, shamefully ejected and rejected from Egypt, could have charged against God for not giving him support when he tried to “liberate” Israel, walked the serpent and scorpions infested desert. Yet, in his hunger and weakness, the good in him could still be seen as he fought for the helpless daughters of Jethro.
Jeremiah, was tempted to drop the will of God, and quit the ministry to go into business. But no; he had to be the man God wanted him to be.
Steven forgave his killers, despite the pain he went through.
Our ultimate example, Jesus, went through a battle at Gethsemane. A trial that made His sweat as droplets of blood. And on the cross, with all the pain, refused to change from Whom God wanted Him to be.
We are all being measured, even through trials.
When trials come, do you lose your saltiness and change from good to bad?
to be continued …..
That was yesterday.
She sat presently in her office, worried to her stomach, hand on chin, eyes glued on the computer screen, yet seeing nothing. Somewhere deep in her heart she knew that the pastor was right. That it was just a passing phase. But the reality of the situation was getting too much for her to bear.
“I could almost hear your work screaming out loud.”
She was startled.
“What’s the matter with you Easter?”
“Oh nothing really. I’m okay.”
“You’ve not been yourself of late”. Harriet stated.
“Just a state of the mind, it will wear off soon”
“I sure hope so”. Harriet turned and walked to their office locker, “you’ll be amazed what worry can do to you”. She turned to Easter. “Want some coffee?”
“Yes please. Thanks.”
Harriet pulled open the locker, brought out a flask and poured two cups of coffee as Easter admired the wine-coloured skirt-suit of her colleague; a beautiful spinster of 31.
“Come to think of it, what could be your worry?” Harriet inquired. “You have a good job, happily married to a very handsome man—“
She started towards Easter who interrupted her.
“That could be my worry; but I have no fear. I have someone greater than all that.”
“You humbug you!” Harriet placed a cup of coffee on her table “someone I know?”
“You’ve heard about Him. But you don’t know Him; yet.”
“Who could he be?” she asked excitedly, leaning closer, eager to hear the name of the new man in her life.
“The living God, He’s more than able”. She smiled.
“Oh come, don’t start this religious thing again!” She turned away in disgust. “I’ve been a Christian all my life; born into a Christian home I should know God!”
“Should? That’s more like it. There’s a whole lot of difference between being born a Christian and being born again”
“You could be impossible sometimes”. Harriet shot her a glance taking her seat at her table close to Easter’s. “But I’m glad you’re out of your worrisome mood”. She started at the computer keyboard.
“Who knows, the Lord could have sent you to pull me out of it. Thanks anyway, I feel better.”
But what has righteousness with unrighteousness? Or light with darkness? Why would a believing child of God go sharing her challenges with an unregenerated person? What kind of advice or counsel will come out of that?
Most often in our desperation to find solutions to the challenges facing us, we veer away from godly counsel and open up a portal or doorway that ought to remain shut. And it is he that opens (breaks) the hedge that the serpent bites.
We feel we can always handle whatever we hear, forgetting that words are spiritual seeds, and as such may not bring forth fruit there and then. But in the long run, after perhaps some months, and even years, bring forth fruits that would threaten our Faith.
Who do you share with? God is interested. He asked Adam
“who told thee thou wast naked?” -Genesis 3:11
“Who have you fellowshipped with?” God seemed to ask. For His name’s sake, He is interested in the company you keep and what information you share.
He asked Hezekiah, through the prophet Isaiah,
“what said these men? And from whence came they unto thee?” -2 Kings 20:14
Who are you speaking with? God is interested! Sometimes we think they don’t matter, yet they do! Man fell when he shared certain information with a stranger. Daniel, Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego and other Jewish children were carried into captivity because their forefather, Hezekiah entertained strangers.
Who are you sharing your deepest challenge with? A work colleague? A neighbour? A relation? Or a God-fearing pastor?
God loves you and has sent you His servant, the Pastor. Share with him. We all need to unburden our hearts sometime,but not just to anybody. That is why God gave you THE pastor, he is the best person to speak to. Take your challenge to God through your pastor, but rest your faith in God.
Christ, the burden bearer will surely, lift the burden off your shoulders.
Meanwhile, a powerful church service was in session with Esther and Deborah in attendance.
After he left that morning, she cleaned up the flour-strewn kitchen. It was then she decided to see her pastor for counselling.
This is one opportunity that believers seldom use. They suffer in silence, not sharing their burdens with anyone; not even with their pastors, but the Bible enjoins us in Galatians 6:2 to bear one another’s burdens thereby fulfilling the law of Christ, which is love.
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” – Gal 6:2 (KJV)
However, most Pastors, Elders, Deacon and Deaconesses are so engrossed in their private affairs that they have no time for their brothers and sisters in the Lord. Some that give audience do so in a hurry. And some do so to have tales to tell; to see the skeleton in other people’s cupboard and have what to preach. And things spoken of in confidence, become the root of malign rumors. In the house of God! Where then is the love that Jesus stands for? The love He so preached in the book of John 13:34 and 35, that we should love one another even as He has loved us; for by that love would people know that we are His disciples?
Her pastor was different though; caring, loving; a full time pastor who made time to attend to his flock, individually.
“He hardly gives me money anymore for the up keep of the house” Easter lamented in the pastor’s office.
“How then have you been coping?” Eunice, the pastor’s wife was alarmed.
“Only on my salary but that is not what I’m worried about. He’s getting more and more unattached to the family. He seem not to care anymore”.
“Listen to me Easter”, the pastor started gently. “You have no worries. It is only the devil trying to make you believe you have problems or worries. Put your trust in God and you will overcome.” He studied her a while. “Or have you forgotten His word in Mathew 11:28, ‘come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest’. There is no better place to rest than in the Lord. Just submit yourself totally to His will and commit everything to Him in prayer”.
“I do but it’s taking forever!”
“Don’t despair, Easter, God’s time is the best”. Eunice encouraged. “The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:11, that He makes all things beautiful in His time. Don’t forget you are not the one fighting the battle. He does, but gives you the victory”.
“Precisely, He sees everything that is going on. He knows everything. Just commit all to Him in prayers.”
Today, Christians have become dismembered. We stand alone as individuals, rather than together as a “body”, needing one another. We keep situations of agony and pain to ourselves, and this hurt us. Many are dying in silence.
The command is for us to share with and be interested in the welfare of fellow brothers, that we may perhaps be used by the Lord to bring them solution. But we have everyone, dismembered from others because of the fear that we might be made a laughing stock. This has also further deepened the disunity of Christians brought about by denomination.
Yes, true. Many leaders are flippant with their tongues, but I think we still need to share; else the burden will not only remain but become heavier. God did did not create us, saved us and called us to be “islands” in Christ. No.
Beloved, share your burden with someone: don’t carry it alone! If the person becomes a backstabber, he or she will have the Lord to answer to.
Remember, a problem shared is a problem solved.
To be continued
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.
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.