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/
“And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:4-5.
At creation Adam was bright, he was a star.
Jesus called us the light of the world.
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” – Matt 5:14
Adam, the light of the world, went off into darkness when he disobeyed God; and Man consequently went into darkness. He was naturally alive; he could move, talk, do things but eternally dead. He could only survive in his immediate environment. Even there, in his environment, he died slowly.
In His love for us, God sent Jesus to restore the life to us. So,
“…in Him was life” – John 1:4a.
That means that the life we live now is not the real life! The real life is in Jesus!
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” – John 10:28 KJV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16 (KJV)
“Whosoever believes.” It is by covenant, by agreement; not a must, nor by force.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” – John 1:12 (KJV)
This covenant life is beyond dying in an accident, or being killed by witches, or agents of darkness. No! This kind of life – ZOE – is above and beyond the dark powers!
“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” – John 1:5 (KJV)
This covenant life is more than surviving in this life.
Again, this kind of Life is beyond living in eternity. Everybody lives in eternity, even the wicked!
This kind of Life refers to the quality in THAT life! Not the quality attached to our natural life, such as cars, houses, clothes, perfume, etc. You cannot carry any of these into eternity.
WHAT IS THIS COVENANT?
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” – John 17:3 (KJV)
God desires that we know Him. Whoever fails to know Him is rejected!
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” – Romans 1:28 (KJV)
God rejects whoever refuses to retain Him in his/her knowledge; one who fails to know Him. This is what He desires of us: “know Me!”.
“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6 (KJV)
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” – Hosea 4:6 (KJV)
This is not knowing the word of God, but knowing Him. It is not preaching the word of God, but knowing the God of that word. Moses knew His word but asked to know Him; regardless of miracles. Paul knew His word but asked to know Him; regardless of revelations.
Knowing Him is more than knowing His word. It is experiencing Him, being in awe of Him, giving Him honour; walking with Him, talking with Him and obediently doing His will.
Taste Him and see!
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF KNOWING HIM?
1) Your degree of relating to God will be greatly enhanced.
“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” – James 4:8 (KJV)
Your degree of relating to all of creation goes beyond your immediate environment.
“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” – Proverbs 16:7 (KJV)
3) The above point makes it possible for you to survive everywhere as all of creation will be in harmony with you. Creatures die when taken out of their natural habitat, but with this higher life, you survive in places others die; having passed from the finite to the infinite realm.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” – John 5:24-25 (KJV)
4) Your present life becomes fuller and richer as all creation become responsive ans sensitive to you. No struggle.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 (KJV)
5) You become more fulfilled; happier, because this is God’s purpose and intention for you.
HOW DO WE MAKE THIS COVENANT ACTIVE?
“Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me.” – Luke 22:28-29 (KJV)
FELLOWSHIP WITH HIM IN SUFFERING!
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” – Phil 3:10 (KJV)
One of the greatest prayers of Apostle Paul for the Church is that our eyes of the spirit be opened.
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” (Ephesians 1:18).
More often than not, our natural eyes stand against us. Most times they join up with the enemy, and are in fact the greatest weapon in the hand of the enemy against the Children of God.
True, we see with the eyes, yet what they interpret is the greatest undoing of the human race!
The eyes are the foundation or starting point of most vices: adultery, starts from the eyes! Idolatry starts from the eyes, envy, jealousy, hatred, greed, etc, find entry to the soul through the eyes. Even failure and defeat, are offsprings of sight!
The major reason most Christians are weak spiritually is the lack of spiritual sight. We have become like the Israelites in the wilderness, who fell because of spiritual blindness.
“And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” (Exodus 32:1).
They took Moses as their god; now he could not be seen, neither did they know what could have befallen him, for him to delay this long. He had never delayed like this before, and this made them uncomfortable; they needed to see their god, to be assured their god was with them. They could not endure not seeing Moses, so “up Aaron, make us gods! ” What we can see!!!
Journeying to our promised land through the wilderness called earth, many Christians cannot see God in their situations, their homes, jobs and businesses, and have not only “heaped pastors to themselves”, they have pressured them to make gods that they can see and follow: the god of success, “mammon” the god money, the god of technology, the god of cars, of fame and affluence. This has weakened Christians; we have a name, the form “Christians” but lack the power!
Spiritual blindness weakened the “desert Church” by robbing her of the presence and power of God, and here we are, the Church of the New Testament and New Covenant, being robbed of the same!
Moses endured trials and contradictions because he saw beyond the natural eyes; he saw beyond sight!
“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27).
Most Christians buckle and fall at the slightest trial because they are not seeing beyond natural sight.
When Moses noticed the nakedness of (departure of God’s glory from) the people, he went to the entrance of the camp and called “who is on the Lord’s side come to me.” The tribe of Levi went to him. So why did they go to join Moses? What put them “on the Lord’s side”, because at this time they had not been chosen to represent God before the people? They saw what others could not see, not even the first born sons that God had chosen to represent Him!
What did they see? They saw and felt the presence of God in the camp, and also saw the consequence of walking against Him!!
In the presence of our earthly fathers, and filled with the consciousness of their presence, we would not do things we know they will not approve. This knowledge of their presence makes us uncomfortable and sort of paralyzes us from getting involved in any vice, no matter how much we would have desired to.
The Sons of Levi saw both the presence of God and the consequence of acting outside His approval. So they did not get invinvolved!!!
We see Pastors and Ministers, but do we see the Lord Jesus in His house, and at every gathering of the Saints? Do we see Him in our homes, our jobs and every areas of our world? He is our greater than Moses, presently “on the mountain”, in heaven interceding for you and I. Can we see Him in the “Camp”, the Church? Spiritual coldness is a product of spiritual blindness. Christians are almost begged to go to Church!
Why are we not able to stand and resist the enemy? Why are Christians so afraid: afraid of the devil, of lack, of failure, of sickness and all? If I know my Father is with me, I should not be afraid, knowing He would take care of me and all that concern me. That is Faith!! In other words, Faith cannot be in operation where spiritual blindness operates!
Look at the Church. Can we really say there is faith? Jesus spoke prophetically when He asked:
“I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? ” (Luke 18:8).
If faith is lacking, it is due to the absence of spiritual sight. Because faith comes only by perceiving through the Word of God.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17).
Jesus, our Lord, Master and Example, endured because He saw!
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2).
No servant can be greater than the master. If our Lord endured and triumphed by what He saw, we need to see God’s way. This does not come by prayer. Prayer is done by revelation; after you have seen. And revelation is spiritual sight.
Only the Word!
A deep hunger and thirst for the Truth is the eye salve that opens the eyes. God will pour water on the ground that is parched and thirsty. When you begin to be dissatisfied with lies and seek after Truth, genuinely; not for what you can gain for yourself, the Holy Spirit shall open your eyes.
“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.
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.