“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart, for out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” – Luke 6:45
Nightfall was fast approaching; she shivered. Her fear of the dark had steadily grown like a colossus; so monstrous that she dreaded it.
Where would she run to? Where would she hide? If only she could lay down without shutting her eyes in sleep. that would be better. But sleep is a natural thing that no man can resist.
Even with her husband in bed with her, the horrors of the dark still haunted her. She thought that once married she became one with her husband; morally and spiritually right to share every intimacy together.
Did God not create them one? Man and woman created he them? To share not only the intimacy of the home, bed, children and office but also the night?
Or does it mean that there is somewhere that the husband and wife cannot share together despite their heavenly permission? A place so intimate that it is lonely?
She just could not understand. Her husband would be fast asleep, peacefully by her side, oblivious of the prey that she had become in her dreams. A quarry to be crushed and exterminated by the marauding beasts from the deep dungeons of hell. While he eagerly looked forward to nightfall, she prayed in futility that it would not come.
They had done all what the Christian belief permitted; so they thought. They had fasted, prayed, tarried, done all to stand but the nightmare persisted. It was so visible, that she lost some weight.
She believed she was haunted. Earlier she had thought it was the house that was bewitched and because of this, they moved from one house to another without any change or improvement. Now, she thought, she was under a curse.
Many a night she stayed awake, watching her husband snore. Tears became her constant companion as her eyes blazed with the pain of sleeplessness. She became tired, confused and discouraged.
That was when a friend brought her to me for counseling.
Listening to her, I found out she was in bondage in her mind.
“But their minds were blinded! For until this day remaineth the same Vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament, which is done away in Christ.” – 2 Cor. 3:14
She was in bondage to fear as a result of negative thoughts and imaginations.
And so are many today.
…. to be continued.
Ife stirred awake. Lazily he looked at the bedside clock, 9.30am. Like a bolt, he jumped out of bed having a 10.30am appointment to keep.
With the Lagos traffic, he knew he ought to be on the road now. To be composed when ushered into the office of the Senator.
He, being a busy man, is a stickler to time and if he, Ife, missed the appointment would take almost six months to fix another.
Hurriedly he brushed his teeth, washed his face, no time for a bath, he got into his clothes which he heavily perfumed, and ran out of the room. It would take a miracle to meet the appointment; one he must not miss.
No thanks to his friends who kept him up late last night. No matter how he protested, they refused to go home; rather they teased him the more. Now he would have to deal with the rush alone.
His eyes were red and pepperish, and he prayed no one would notice his sleeplessness or the fact that he did not have a bath. This was one of the few situations that prompted him to pray; for a traffic-free road, and for God’s favour.
Surely God was on his side, for evidently the traffic was light and moving. He heaved a sigh of relief as he drew near the office.
Not being truly composed, his heart thumped louder with every step that took him nearer the Senator’s office. He looked at his wrist watch; a few minutes more. His strides became longer as he tried to cover the few yards with a few steps.
“Brother Ife, you’re just on time”, the Secretary told him as he entered the reception, “the Senator will see you now.”
“God!” he breathed quietly, walking to the door to the Senator’s office; no time to rest or catch his breath. He knocked at the door.
“Come.” A deep voice invited.
He turned the knob and suddenly found himself in the massive, posh office of Senator Ken. The man’s presence was intimidating. From the Secretary’s office, he began to feel the man’s presence; powerfully strong and intimidating.
Rivers of sweat began to cascade freely under his singlet, and he prayed it would not show on his shirt.
“Sit”, the man told him without looking up from the file on his desk.
But he kept standing; transfixed by the energy of the man’s presence. His perfume, aura and personality combined as a whirlwind emanating from him, that he felt like running away. What was he doing here? He suddenly forgot the reason for the visit, feeling like an insignificant pest in that massive office that even the butterflies he felt in his stomach seemed to seek an escape route.
No doubt you have felt like that some time. But that is just in the presence of a mere man.
This is one thing we often overlook or forget as we go into His presence, either because He is not really there, or we have become too familiar with Him. This portends a very dangerous trend for us as Christians.
Jacob said “The LORD is in this place and I know it not”. Many of us enter into the place of prayer not knowing that God is there. We are so full of ourselves and our fleshly requests, we fail to acknowledge Him in the place of prayers. It is like walking in a bright and well lit room where there is a pillar, but being occupied with other things, one bumps into the pillar.
Jacob eventually knew God was there. Do we eventually?
Many do not. Neither are they troubled or bothered. We play religion; make some noise called prayer, work up sweat as we jump up and down the prayer room with a zeal that has no foundation or substance.
It reminds me of the prophets of Baal who prayed, cut themselves, jumped up and down the altar producing sweat, yet producing no fire! All because the presence of God was not with them.
That partly explains why we hardly produce fire today, as Christians. Because there is no presence of God in most prayers. He who fills heaven and earth IS there in the secret place or prayer room. But we fail to connect Him! We ignore and despise His presence!
HOW DO WE CONNECT HIM?
(1) Draw high to Him and He’ll draw high to you!
“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
This is a deliberate action, not forced by the situation or circumstances that sometimes threaten us like Ife who was forced to pray as he walked along. Nothing is wrong with praying on the road, but let it not be the only time we pray. Such prayers are not only hastily done, but are not focused because of distractions; our heart needs to be fully on Him.
We need to deliberately make time for the secret place, not to run in there when situations threaten. Many Christians, like Ife, only remember prayer when situations threaten! And we do so hurriedly. It should not be so!
(2) Treasure Him.
We place a high value or premium on things we treasure, and our heart gravitate around them.
Whatever is dear to us is constantly on our minds. We place it on a scale of importance above every other thing.
One of the reasons we do not connect God in our prayers is because we do not treasure Him enough.
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” – Mark 12:30
Most often we forget the one to whom our prayers are directed, placing value on other things, and making Him jealous.
Love Him, treasure Him above your vocation, even if it threatens your life!
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.”
– John. 21:15
(3) See Him through the eyes of faith.
Entering the place of prayer with spiritual blindness stands against our receiving. What we see, we receive.
Elijah said to Elisha that receiving his request would only be possible if he saw. If Elisha failed to see Elijah, the one from whom the request was made, he would not have received his desire.
Till you see God in the secret place you cannot receive what you ask!
God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. You have to seek Him in the secret place before you can receive your request. Seek Him for Who He is, not just for the solution of a situation at hand; seek Him diligently and with all your heart then you will find Him and be rewarded. Jacob could not inherit Canaan till he had wrestled with God.
See Him first then He would usher you into inheritance.
Let your eye be single, no distractions; for God will never share His glory with any man or situation. Disconnect from external things; they distract! Peter began to sink when he regarded the boisterous wind.
“But when He saw the wind boisterous, He was afraid; and beginning to sink, He cried, saying, Lord, save me.” – Matthew 14:30
(4) Use The Power Of Imagination.
This is the only time I advice the use of this power.
Paul’s advice is that imagination should be used only on things that honour God, else, don’t use it!
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5
Imagination can kill, and it can make alive! It is in Man, what the tree of knowledge of good and evil is in the garden of Eden.
Imagination can lead you into adultery! It can inspire you to steal, to kill and to destroy! What you imagine, rather than restrain you, will empower you! That is why Jesus said that whoso looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery; that imagination if not dealt with will grow and become real!
That is my grouse with “motivational” speakers or preachers. The “word” motivation, is relative! A robber can be motivated! A murderer can be motivated! An adulterer can be motivated! Motivation can be good or evil. What direction are we motivating ourselves!!!
The mind is home to motivation, and thrives on imagination. Imagination can produce what you direct it to.
But ask Nimrod and all in Genesis 11; they had results, but because the results were not of God, they did not last! Do you still wonder why your blessings don’t last?
Even the strong-willed Christian will fall if he employs his imagination outside the leading of the Holy Spirit, because imagination would always conquer the Will when pitched against each other. Like in the military we are not called to think for ourselves but to obey instructions.
Its only but a matter of time and you will be overtaken by your imagination! As much as it is possible, do not use this power!
But in the secret place (prayer room), and in the direction of God, yes; employ your imagination. See Him through the eyes of faith, seated upon the throne, and you at His feet in humble adoration!
Imagination can connect you to God if directed to Him. It can also disconnect you from Him if directed to any other person or thing. Train and use the power of imagination only towards God.
The Secret Place is the only place no one can follow you, not even your spouse. Like Ife in the Senator’s office, you have to be alone in the presence of God. The direction of your heart has a lot to do in your appointment with Him. Fill your heart with the joy of His presence and let not your heart be troubled.
Remember, He is your Father.
“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 has always been interested in the decisions of man. Even in the naming of animals, God was there. He watched to see what Adam would name the animals. And what he named them, they became.
The decisions you make in your everyday life has an impact in your relationship with God, and has effect in what you get out of the relationship.
Adam, by naming the animals gave them their characteristics. He defined the animals; what they became is the result of the naming.
“And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what He would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” – Genesis 2:19
Destinies are locked in names, and so the creatures became what Adam said they were; he decided what the creatures would be. You can say that Adam gave them their destinies.
God came to see what he would call them. He was interested and has always been interested in man’s decisions.
God is interested in your decisions.
They would either glorify God, or bring dishonour to His name. And because God is jealous over His name, every decisions of man attracts Him. Nothing on earth escapes His attention.
When the sons of men made the decision to build the Tower of Babel God was not only interested, He came down to see what they built. Any decision whatsoever that is not in line with His plan and purpose, gets frustrated.
Isaiah said He frustrates the token of liars and He makes diviners mad.
“That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish.” – Isaiah 44:25
A Lie is anything that is not sourced from or agrees with God. That is why Jesus called Satan the father of lies; the source of lies and rebellion.
Whatever is not in the plan of God shall not stand. At best it stands for a short while then fades away. Only the plan; the counsel of the Lord that shall stand the test of time.
Decisions are to be made based on the counsel of the Lord.
“In ALL thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” – Proverbs 3:6 (Emphasis added)
“All”, not some, not many but all our ways; which includes our decisions, should be directed by the Lord. Every decision taken should be founded on the direction of the Lord.
Elijah echoed the voice of God when he challenged the people to take a stand.
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” – 1 Kings 18:21
On what do you stand to make decisions? On the ways of men or on the way of God?
What decision are you about to make? God is interested, and watching!
Our decisions are determined by the information available to us: what we read from books and magazines, what we hear on television and radio; but mostly from what we hear through counsel or advice.
The heart is like a pot placed on fire. In it goes all the condiments: pepper, meat, onion, fish etc. The aroma coming from the pot is the combination of all that entered the pot.
The decision coming from your heart is the mixture of all the information you fed it. Some mixtures produce clarity of mind, some produce confusion.
A good and experienced doctor will give you a wrong diagnosis if you feed him a wrong symptom. Your decisions are based on information available to you.
Some information are cheap! They don’t exact anything from you. The bible says “woe to them that are at ease in Zion.” Man wants the easy way. Whatever will not “stress” us is what we go for.
Beloved, nothing comes cheap! You want the best? Be ready to pay the price of it. Not as in “works” or as in monetary terms of exchange, but you have to prove your desire! Even Faith is “work”, for faith without works is dead! Work here is not in you striving to achieve but in striving to receive. (This is an issue for some other time.)
David said he would not give God what would cost him nothing. Your desire must be proved!
Most often, these cheap counsel or advice, these information that would not place a demand on us, are the ones we go for. They don’t ask us to “examine ourselves if we are still in the faith”, or that we should amend our ways, or that we “acquaint” ourselves with Him. No.
We believe nothing can be wrong with us. The trouble is with “them”! We don’t need to amend our ways, they should! So, we do not examine ourselves; a lie that we can’t be wrong.
Better counsel or advice are those that will cost you something; they will place a demand on you: your lifestyle, your manner of speech, your perspective and interpretation of situation, and your actions. Good and Godly counsel makes you look at yourself! The bible says commune with your own heart upon your bed.
Ask yourself questions, not necessarily on your bed but in the deep recess of your mind where no one or situation can disturb or influence. Are you in any way responsible for what is going on? Did you fuel the situation? Could it have been averted? What then can be done?
Good counsel starts from you! And it will drive you to your limit in upholding Truth and Honesty. Jesus decided His Apostles by first separating Himself.
In this deep self-search, the still-small voice would be heard telling you what to do.
“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” – Isaiah 30:21
Decisions based on the leading of the Lord would never go wrong. Let God lead you, even in decision making. People may think you a fool, Isaiah says even a fool on The Path would never err.
“…………..the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” – Isaiah 35:8
However, this still-small voice needs a heart filled with the Word of God. That is why you need to uproot and destroy “thorns” from your heart; they choke the Word and make it unproductive.
“Thorns” are ungodly words, spiritual weeds that if left to fill the heart, will produce death and decay.
The Word of God is life.
The more you fill your heart with His Word, the more “thorns” are destroyed from it. Filling your heart with the Word of God makes your heart alive and sensitive to hear the still-small voice and receiving directions that would become your decision.
Nineteen years in marriage and with all kind of storms, through joy and sadness, through pleasure and pain, good times and bad times, we keep getting better and stronger!
His counsel works!
What is your testimony?