The child of God, having gone through His fire, becomes a new creature; his attitude and character changes even his thought and manner of speaking reflect Christ. Moses, an orator (Acts7:22) emerging from God’s refinery, became a stammerer. No one will remain the same after passing through the Refiners Fire. It’s in the fire that the heart is circumcised and the person comes out “another man.”
That is why Paul could say “I live, yet not I …”
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20 (KJV)
What I was before, I am not anymore; a change has taken place. I no longer hate, I love. I am not aggressive anymore, I’m gentle. Rather than the proud and haughty person I was, I am “meek and lowly of heart.”
The outer man, the flesh, “dross”, having been peeled off, the inner man, renewed after the spirit, is manifest. Like John the Baptist said, that “he may decrease and He increase.” This is the whole essence of “denying self”, which is indeed a very hard thing to do, but nevertheless a major requirement to having fellowship with God.
Paul was so proud of his new person; the person he had become that he counted his former person as nothing and his previous achievement as “dung”.
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” – Philippians 3:7-9 (KJV)
He willingly lost “all things”, not some, but “ALL” things: his family, because of his new faith, disowned him and excluded him from the family wealth; his educational and Pharisaic attainments he also set aside for the excellency of knowing of Christ. His was a radical change.
Some of the things we should discard from ourselves if we are to have fellowship with the Father are in Galatians 5:19-21
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:19-21 (KJV)
A careful observation of the above scripture will reveal that these acts originate from the heart!
“And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” – Matthew 15:16-20 (KJV)
Sin and uncleanness go beyond the act. They are products of the heart and start from thoughts and imaginations!
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” – Luke 6:45 (KJV)
The heart of man, being open to two sources of information, should be guarded with all diligence! And yes, we may not completely block out negative thoughts and imaginations, because the heart of man is wicked, yet we owe God the responsibility of pulling down every thought that does not conform to the word of God!
“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 (KJV)
Without the cleansing of the heart, one would not be admitted into the place of fellowship, and consequently cannot have fellowship with God!
….to be continued.
….. continued from A JOURNEY THROUGH HELL
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.
Sometimes missionaries get blinded to the voice of reason, just because they believe God for a soul. I stuck my head out for Benjamin and signed a surety with the motor company to the tune of two million Naira! My wife was like, “what have you done?”
Though he used to send his tithe to Church, he seldom came to service despite all we tried, so I sent a message through the wife that he should stop sending the tithe; that the Lord is more interested in him than the money.
We continued to believe God to touch the heart of the couple when the instruction came, to relieve her of her school work!
Ah me! How can I do that? It is a hard decision for me!
This was someone who though I discourage it, called me “daddy!” I began to imagine the anger against Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s “Things fall apart”, who beheaded Ikemefuna, a boy that called him “nna” (father).
How would I tell people in that community that God is love? Would they not ask me “which God? That God that asked you to sack a woman from her job thereby taking away her meal ticket?” How do I defend the gospel?
But the Master of masters has given His instruction. Obey or disobey!
I know if Brother Isaiah was here he would say “don’t be lead by your emotions. Let the Spirit lead you”.
“And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.” – Isaiah 11:3-4
I wondered what I would have done if I was with them in the wilderness, and as member of the tribe of Levi, when Moses gave the instruction to go into the camp and slay everyone his brethren! Sometimes God pokes at our emotion to test our maturity and obedience.
Undoubtedly, God loves her more than anyone could ever do. There has to be a reason! Of course, God is not One to always give you reasons why He does what He does. He answers to no man, rather we all answer to Him.
“Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?” (Job 9:12).
Experience has taught me however that God does not go into a debate. Promptly, I called my wife, asked her to call Judith and to come with her to the office. Calmly as I could, I broke the news to her. It was not an easy thing to do! If asked I would say this so far, is the most difficult message I had ever delivered!
She pleaded and even sent people to plead on her behalf. I was torn between obedience to God and compassionate care for Judith, a sister in the Lord!
We tried encouraging her with the word of God. But how do you encourage someone you just fired? The only encouragement she expected was that we give her back her job!
Like Shakespeare said, “there is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.” (Macbeth – the book)
Indeed only God knows the thoughts and intents of every heart.
“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” – Jer 17:10 (KJV)
While thinking good of others, only God knows what thoughts they have for you. That was what distressed David more than the rebellion of Absalom.
While she continued to come to Church, as usual, her attitude began to change. She had withdrawn her children from school, and now began a campaign against my wife and the school!
Believing to be her pastor, I went to her and counseled her not to involve her children, by turning them against her perceived enemy. I cited instances from both the bible and in this modern days, how God reinstated people who humbled themselves: that God alone knew why He asked me to relieve her of the job. That rather than go to people and discredit my wife and school, she should go to God in prayer. I believed God wanted to do something in her life, she should go to Him.
She claimed to have heard. On the children’s school, she admitted her husband asked her to bring them back to school. Yet she kept them away through out the term.
….. to be continued in https://jimout2002a.wordpress.com/2017/11/05/a-journey-through-hell-3/
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)
Foundation no 8
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you faasely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” – Matt 5:10-12 (KJV)
To persecute means to suffer some harsh treatment because of one’s belief; especially, religious belief.
A true Christian to whom the “substance” of the Word is revealed, and lives them without conforming with the standard of the world, would be hated by the world, and persecuted.
“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” – John 15:19 (KJV)
Being rejected by the world like Jesus was; and like Him stand against opposition, he exercises Faith over oppositions and overcomes. Resting in God, he laughs at persecutions.
A man of Faith dwells in heaven – -the secret place – prepared for the righteous. This is the foundation of Faith.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” – Gal 5:22 (KJV)
Outside these foundations one is like the unbeliever; because the difference between the Christian and the non-christian is the Christlikeness which is formed or produced by the “meekness” (Matt 11:29), the character of our Lord Jesus.
He called us to learn His character, to be like Him. That calls for the foundations, which like a jigsaw puzzle, fits together as THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, a must in the life of every child of God.
May the help of the Lord be ours as we confirm our foundations. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Foundation no 6
Every Christian message is all about involving the heart in worship of the one true God; the pledging of allegiance with the heart wholly to God. This is the greatest emphasis of Jesus’ teachings. Outside this, one is religious.
Without a pure heart, one cannot stand in the presence of God.
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” – Psalm 24:3-4.
A heart is pure when it dwells on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, praiseful, etc.
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8.
Jotham (2 Chronicles 27:6), prayed for an undivided heart and became powerful. An undivided heart proves our love for God, a love that is focused on God and God alone. An undivided heart is one that is anchored and trusts in God despite all odds.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3).
Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:2), did what was right in the eyes of the Lord however, not wholeheartedly.
Being outwardly correct, yet divided inside reveals a disloyalty to God and this leads to a downfall.
Paul calls this foundation LOVE.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.”
– Galatians 5:22. (Emphasis added)
A heart of love beats toward God and dwells in all things bright and beautiful.
FOUNDATION NO 7
This is the foundation of Peace.
The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary describes Peace as a “state of being free from war, civil disorders; it is a state of rest, quiet, calm, a state of friendship and harmony.”
God had an occasion with man. Yet He took the initiative, the first step; He came down from heaven to reconcile man to Himself. God is ever searching for man, to make peace with him, though it was man that offended Him.
As many as have this foundation are like their Father “…… called sons of God”.
A life of peace is a must for every child of God, and is in fact a proof of righteousness. It goes beyond foundation no 5, forbearance. While forbearance stops at forgiving in advance, peace goes further to help the offender.
“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” – Isaiah 32:17.
Let us pursue it.
“Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.” – 1 Peter 3:11.
“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12:11 & 14).
Paul identifies this foundation in its Matthew 5:9 name – “PEACE“. Gal. 5:22
“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).
FOUNDATION NO 4
We continue our relaying of the foundations.
Now at the fourth, which is about RIGHTEOUSNESS!
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” – Matt 5:6 (KJV)
Righteousness means right standing with God; a clear conscience devoid of offense. A conscience that thrives on uprightness; that seeks to do “the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:2 (KJV)
This Foundation does not take sides with anyone or anything that is not standing right! Whoever and however close the person may be: spouse, child or relative; this Foundation would not pervert justice or twist judgment. It is not found “walking with the ungodly”.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” – Psalms 1:1 (KJV)
Everything good inspires him: honesty uprightness, etc. He derives joy, and is filled with standing right even unto death.
Paul, in Galatians 5:22 calls this GOODNESS!
Let us desire to do good all the time.
FOUNDATION NO 5
This Foundation is the virtue of FORBEARANCE. It is the ability to hold back from inflicting punishment upon an adversary.
It is the attitude of ready forgiveness. Unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness corrode the soul. They are like acid to the soul.
This virtue in the Christian makes him or her ready to forgive, even in advance, without waiting for repentance from the other. He or she remembers that God has forgiven and is ever ready to forgive. The individual in whom this Foundation is well developed could go helping the offender in prayers and in every other ways.
In Galatians 5:22, Paul called it TEMPERANCE, which is self-control.