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THE GOD OF THE THEN AND THE NOW

I hope you know this song:

“The God of the mountain, is still God in the valley,

When things go wrong, He will make them right,

The God of the good times, is still God in the bad times,

The God of the then, is still God in the now.”

There are two principal messages in this song. One is obvious, and the other, though more crucial, is less obvious.

The more obvious message is that God, who was with you ‘in the mountain,’ where His presence and power can be strongly felt, is still God in the valley, where it sometimes feels like you’re on your own. The Bible makes references to God dwelling in the mountains, and to the need for men to go there to seek His face and help.

But He is God everywhere! Even in the valleys, which refer to vast open places that aren’t as secure as the mountains. Valleys represent those times and places where we find ourselves beset by troubles, and it feels like God is far from us. When you find yourself in such a place, remember: HE IS GOD EVERYWHERE! Right there where you are, HE IS watching over you, and is taking care of issues on your behalf, though it may not look or feel like that way!

Psalm 46:1 says it all: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (NIV) He is God in the good and the bad times! If He did it then, He can do it now!

The other message is rooted in the words “is still God”!

Never forget this supreme fact! No matter what, where, when, GOD IS GOD! Believe it! Stand on it! Hence the message:

PRAISE HIM BECAUSE HE IS GOD! Whether things are going great or not, whether you can feel His blissful and comforting presence or not, PRAISE HIM BECAUSE HE IS GOD! In fact, the reason you don’t feel like praising God is the very reason you should! When trouble assails you and doubt and despair weigh you down, be careful! Those are times when you should muster all the faith that you can find within you, and burst out in praise of His holy name! Because come what may, rain or shine, HE IS GOD! A mature believer is one who has learned to praise God when he doesn’t seem to have any good reason to. He doesn’t only praise God when things are going great for him. Rather he praises God because He is God, and is ALWAYS deserving of our praises!

Maybe God is simply allowing the issues to buffet you to teach you to love and praise Him no matter what. Maybe it’s just the devil attacking your faith in the hope to break you and cause you to abandon your God. I pray that you will always prove to your father in heaven that you are His child, and that come what may, He can count on your absolute faith in Him, and on your heartfelt and joyful worship and praise of His mighty name!

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2015 in ATTITUDE CHECK!

 

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AND GOD SHUT HIM IN!

‘Per ardua, as astra.’ That’s Latin for ‘through adversity to the stars.’

So Noah got all the animals and his family into the ark and shut the single door of the ark behind him, and they all settled in and got ready for the foretold deluge to hit the ground, right? Not quite!

According to Genesis 7:16 “… the Lord shut him in. (KJV)

After Noah, his family and the animals got into the ark, GOD HIMSELF shut the single door of the ark from the outside! By shutting that door Himself, God assumed total responsibility over Noah and everyone and everything that were inside the ark!

Here’s one of the powerful things to understand about what happened in the story of Noah: When the flood started to inundate the earth, people began to drown, and those who could get into boats did so. But eventually, their boats proved to be incapable of withstanding the force of the raging floods. The boats broke apart and the people in them perished.

There was another factor in play: atmospheric pressure. The flood had swelled to such a level that, as we read in Genesis 8:4 “…and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.” (NIV) So the flood had risen so high that it carried the ark to such a high altitude that after the flood began to recede, the ark came to rest on top of a mountain!

Now, note that this event took place in an era so primitive that there was no way Noah could have built the ark in a way that the ark could have survived the effects of atmospheric pressure! Every other boat that existed at that time was destroyed by the elements of nature except Noah’s ark! Why? Because God had assumed responsibility over it!!!

So here are some powerful lessons from all this:

1. Noah’s ark is a representation of Christ, therefore, of Christianity.

As that ark was the only means of escape from the flood provided by God, so is Christianity the only means of escape from the coming judgment that God has provided for mankind. As every other boat eventually failed to save its occupants, so will every other faith in this world fail its followers in the end. Christ is the only way to escape both the floods of this current life, and the condemnation that leads to hell.

2. The single door of the ark is a representation of Christ.

God had commanded Noah to build only one door on the ark (see Genesis 6:16). It was thru that one door that they all went into the ark. So does Christianity have only one way into it, which is Jesus-Christ!

3. The storms of life are never meant to kill a believer in Christ!

The heavy rains beat upon the ark, but never harmed the people inside. As the heavy rains fell, they gathered up under the ark and formed a raging flood that could never capsize the ark. So do the storms and floods of life beat upon God’s people, but can never destroy them, because they are hidden inside Jesus. Apostle Paul said it best in Acts 17:28: For in him we live, and move, and have our being (KJV) So just as the storms beat up on the ark and not on the people inside the ark, neither can the storms of life harm us, because we are hidden in Christ. Therefore, fear nothing in this world!!! Any harm that would come upon a believer would have to go through Christ first! As we know, that’s impossible!

4. Rather, the storms of life are meant to lift the believer to greater heights in life!

The flood lifted the ark to a level so high that when the ark started coming back down, it rested upon a mountain. So do the floods that God allows to come upon our lives lift us up in life! God is a Master Planner! Every hardship He allows into your life is always designed to lift you up in life! And note that the ark was carried around by the flood, so that in the end, the ark ended up at a different place than where Noah had built it. So are the hardships God allows into our lives designed to move us from where we have been stagnant, to new and higher places!

5. The storms are God’s teaching and training tools

Being ‘shut into Christianity’ means to abandon oneself into God’s hands, and allowing yourself to be constrained within the confines of Christianity. It means saying to Him: Have your way with me, Lord. I will only do what you say I should do, and will never do anything you say not to do. I will follow your ways only. It means depending on Him for everything in life, and aspiring to be nothing else in life but that person that He purposed for you to be here on earth.

Dependence on God is no easy thing, and must be learned, and God uses the difficult situations that He allows to come upon us, to teach us to trust and depend on Him for help, provision, well-being, protection, etc.

One example of this from the ark, is the fact that the ark had been subjected to the rigors of atmospheric pressure due to the high altitude that it had been carried to. So this must have created a severe panic in the hearts of Noah and his people, as they feared and wondered whether the ark would be able to sustain the effects of atmospheric pressure. This is the kind of fears that believers encounter when they find themselves in situations where God is telling them to be still and know that He is God! Pressure builds from every side against us, and the attacks from the enemy can get so intense, and all we can do is wait on the Lord to see us through. Just as Noah was not driving the ark, and must have feared that the ark might smash into a mountain or fall off a cliff, we have absolutely no control over the situation we’re dealing with, and have no idea if we would make it to the end alive. Like Noah, we can only trust that God knows what He is doing. But like the ark and everyone in it, we do survive! Because Jesus, in whom we have entrusted our lives and look unto, can protect us and hold us together in the face of any kind of pressure! Jesus was that ark that carried and protected Noah and his people, and He can protect against anything in this universe!

Another powerful lesson from the ark is in how God is able to provide for, and sustain His people. At high mountain altitudes, it becomes harder to breathe because there is less oxygen in the air. But Noah and everyone in the ark had no trouble surviving up there when the ark was carried up to the mountain levels. So does our Lord make sure His people never succumb to the lack of anything, no matter how scarce the hardship they’re undergoing tries to make things in their lives! He provides them with what they need! Haven’t you read that “God is our refuge and strength; an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NIV), and that “…those who seek the Lord lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10, NIV)?

6. We must build our Christianity right!

Brethren, here’s one extremely crucial thing to understand from all this: The ark ‘worked’ because God had accepted it. Had Noah not built the ark exactly the way God had commanded, God wouldn’t have approved of the ark, and would not have been with Noah and his people inside the ark. Like the ark, our Christianity must be ‘built’ according to the design that Christ has put forth in the Bible. And what is our ‘Christianity’? Our relationship with God. Every believer has his own personal relationship with God, and this relationship must be based on the ways that God commanded us to relate to Him. Take for example, the fact that God told Noah to build only one door into the ark. Our Christianity must have only one door: Jesus. But some of us have other doors, through which they can escape when things get tough for them. That’s the kind of believers with one foot inside Christianity and one foot in the world. When things get tough, they still try to do things the way the world does it, instead of relying firmly on the God is showing them. We must be perfect in building our Christianity – our relationship with God – the way He wants it. By commanding Abraham to be perfect before Him (see Genesis 17:1), God made it clear that we must be perfect in our walk with Him. We must be perfect in following His commands! And if we do so perfectly, then we WILL see His power and glory at work in our lives, just as Abraham and Noah saw it!

7. We must die ‘the required death’!

Noah and his people ‘died’ when they went into the ark. When they marched into that ark and let God shut them into it, they literally died to the lives they had been living, and abandoned their lives into God’s hands. Likewise, Christianity is about dying to the life you once lived, and letting God shut you into a new life that He alone has total control over! That’s the death the Lord Jesus said we must die in John 12:24-26Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My father will honor the one who serves me.” (NIV)

There are principally two kinds of believers out there: Those who have agreed to let the Lord shut them into Christianity, and those who haven’t. The story of Noah is all about COMMITMENT. It’s the story of a man who was totally committed to the will of God. God showed him something that was about to happen, and told him what to do to escape the coming calamity. He heard what God said and committed himself to obeying to the letter, the instructions that he received from God. That, in turn, made it possible for God to be God in Noah’s life. That made it possible for His power and glory to manifest in Noah’s life. That’s what the Lord promised at the end of the passage quoted above, that “my Father will honor the one who serves me.”

This is why the majority of believers in this world are not showing forth the glory and power of our great God. They are not as committed to following His lead in their lives as Noah did, and as did the great heroes of faith that we find in the Bible! They fail to abandon their lives to His divine care as Noah did. They refuse to let God shut them into Christianity, therefore, INTO HIS DIVINE CARE! And the sad result is that they fail to allow the power and glory of God to manifest in their lives.

CONCLUSION:

Because Noah died to himself and agreed to live the life that God had for him, Noah produced many seeds indeed by becoming the father of all mankind! That’s what the Lord explained in John 12:24: ‘If it dies, it produces many seeds’. Because Abraham agreed to die to his old life and live for God only, he produced many seeds indeed and became the father of nations! The Lord Jesus agreed to leave His throne and come to earth to live the life that the Father has planned for Him. He died to His throne above to live in obedience to God on earth (see Hebrews 5:8-9). As a result, He has produced countless believers for the last 2000 years and counting!

You who are reading this, what’s your excuse for not being productive for God??? If your Christianity has been built the way God commands, and you have truly died to yourself and are alive only for Christ, where’s the evidence? Where are the fruits produced by your death! Where are the souls that are being won over by your life? If you are indeed laboring for your Master Jesus, where are the harvest produced by your labor?

The greatest irony in the Church is that every believer would love to see the power of God move mightily in his or her life, but the majority are not willing to do what it takes to see that power at work in their lives. They’re not willing to die the death that allows the power of God to go to work in a believer’s life; they’re not willing to allow God to shut them into the kind of commitment in which he can be their all and all.

Christianity is not easy. That’s why the Lord made it plain that anyone who decides to follow Him must know what he is doing. He said in Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

Deciding to follow God all the way, to let Him shut you inside Christ, is not a small decision. It wasn’t small of Noah to decide whether to build the ark or not. It wasn’t small of Abraham to leave his whole world behind and set out for Canaan. But they decided to be obedient to their God, and they lived to enjoy the fruits of their decision! That’s why I started this message by quoting ‘Per ardua, as astra’: Through adversity to the stars. Allowing oneself to be shut into Christianity brings one into a world of adversity ordered by God Himself. But it is through those very forms of adversity (floods) that God takes one to great heights in life!

Therefore, I challenge you, dear brethren, to allow God to shut you inside of Christ! Allow Him to be your all and all. Give Him absolute control over your life. Do that and watch Him take you to heights that you can’t even imagine! The world needs to see the greatness of God in you so that they might believe in Him. Allow God to use you to showcase His greatness to the world! Allow Him to shut you in!

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE..?

Maybe you’re old enough to have been there. At those times when a person can hardly wait to grow older for one reason or the other, mostly so he can do things that he can’t do now because he isn’t old enough. Then before he knows it, he comes of age to do those things. But, even faster than he can realize it, he begins to grow old and begins to lose the ability to do much of anything.

As believers, this is the same process that our spiritual beings undergo in the realm of the spirit. When we receive Christ, our spirits are born again and we start off as babies in the Lord, and it is expected of us that we should grow and mature spiritually, the same way we do physically.

A spiritually immature believer is like a 40-year-old child; like a 40-year-old individual who failed to grow both physically and mentally.

This is the single biggest problem the Church of our Lord Jesus-Christ has suffered from since her inception.

A 40-year-old man or woman is expected to be actively productive in every way possible: Married with children, generating income, raising the children well, make good contributions to the community in some way, etc.

Likewise a believer MUST mature into a productive individual who is producing results in the kingdom of God! THERE’S NO EXCUSE FOR A BELIEVER NOT TO BE DOING SOMETHING TO ADVANCE THE WORK OF THE KINGDOM!!!

In the parable of the sower, the Lord Jesus said that of the seeds that fell on GOOD soil, some reproduced 30 times, some 60, and some 100 times. (see Mark 4:1-8)

THE POINT IS: THEY PRODUCED SOMETHING, even if it was just 30 times. The single thing that differentiated the seeds that fell on good soil from those that fell on bad soils was the fact that they reproduced and multiplied, while the ones on bad soils were hindered from producing by various factors.

As the world is littered with grown men and women in their 40s, 50s, 60s, etc., who are looking around their lives and can’t see achievements that they can be proud of, and are wondering where the time has gone, so is the Church full of believers who couldn’t show you the fruits of their labors for the Lord. They have no personal ministry, no means by which they are sharing the knowledge of God with the lost, and no means by which they are battling the evil that they see in the world around them. Even their lives are not good examples of how a believer in a holy God ought to live. It doesn’t matter at all to them that there are places in this world where the Holy Bible is unheard of and unavailable.

How old are you spiritually? For how long have you known Christ? Would you consider yourself a baby or a grownup in Him? If you see yourself as a spiritually mature grownup in Christ, can you identify any ways in which you have been productively impacting even a small portion of this world for Christ?

You’re not getting younger, but older, and will soon find yourself too old to even go out to hand out gospel tracts in the streets. Therefore, serve the Lord with everything in you NOW THAT YOU CAN! So that by the time you’ve grown too old and weary to do the work, you would have raised other mature believers who are busy carrying on the work of the Lord!

Don’t let it turn out to be that you were either a rocky soil, or a thorny soil, or a shallow soil, on which the word of God that has been spoken to you could not germinate and reproduce. Rather let it be that the word of salvation and love of God came into you and bore great fruits as you shared it with others and allowed God to use you to do His mighty works!

Don’t find yourself wondering in latter years where the time has gone. Rather go and be great for God!

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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BE NOT A CHILD BUT A SON OF GOD!

What does God desire the most from us believers? It is that we would all become sons and daughters to Him, not just his children. Because there is a world of difference between being a child and being a son or a daughter. A child is an immature human, and a son is a mature human. A child cannot be very useful to a father because he cannot help the father take care of business, whereas a mature son can.

Apostle Paul admonished the Galatian brethren that “…As long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces[a] of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b]Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” – Galatians 4:1-7

Now, the main point Paul sought to make here is that though all men are made in God’s image and are therefore, His offspring, an unsaved man cannot operate as God’s son because the sinful nature of the unsaved man makes it impossible for him to relate to God as His son. So Paul likened this to a child whom, though he is his father’s son, does not yet live up to his proper and expected role as a son to the man, because there’s something still standing in the way: childishness and immaturity. And in the context that Paul used the analogy, what is standing in the way of a man being recognized as God’s son is sin. Therefore, the salvation from sin that Jesus has provided has made it possible for men to be fully recognized as heirs of God, as through salvation:

  • The nature of God is restored in men, and we can now call Him Father.
  • The power and authority of God is restored in men.
  • The ability to take care of God’s business as His sons is restored in men.
  • The ability to represent God on earth as his sons is restored in men.

So while that was the context in which Paul made that admonition to the Galatians, there are more contexts in which more understanding can be gained from that admonition. The story of the Prodigal Son provides one such context in that in this story we have the father and his sons representing God and His children, and the father’s estate representing God’s kingdom. [Please refer to Luke 15:11-32 for the full parable of the prodigal son]

This story reveals a number of issues that prevent God’s children – born-again believers – from being God’s sons, namely:

  • LACK OR INADEQUATE AMOUNT OF LOVE FOR GOD
  • SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY
  • LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF WHO WE ARE AS HEIRS OF GOD
  • SPIRITUAL CARELESSNESS

Though the prodigal son and his older brother were their father’s sons, they behaved more like children even after they had grown to the age when they should have behaved like sons unto him. As we know from the story, their father had a huge estate; the kind that requires that he appoint people in important positions to help him run the affairs of the estate. But his sons fell short of such important positions. Likewise do the majority of God’s children woefully fall short of expectations that God has of us, for the reasons listed above.

Though the prodigal son and his older brother had two very different personalities, both were very immature sons who lacked understanding of who they were in their father’s house. The prodigal son’s issues were more obvious than the older brother’s. The prodigal son didn’t care about their father at all, and simply wanted to go and live his own life for himself, at his father’s expense. Meaning that he didn’t have a sense of ownership over their father’s estate like a son would, and therefore, didn’t care to help grow the estate. Many in the church are like this man. We only see God’s kingdom as His kingdom, and not ours as well. We don’t see it as our Heavenly Father’s property that we must take part in helping to grow in this world. But most of our prayers are about asking God to give us our piece of His riches.

Had the prodigal son loved his father, he would have lovingly stayed and helped to build the father’s estate, and wouldn’t have even thought of the inheritance. And had he been wise, he would have understood that in helping to build the estate, he was building his own estate; that he was building his own future. Because you see, had he been wise, and had he loved his father, he would have waited for his father to die before receiving his inheritance. For instance, let’s say that his share of his father’s estate was 20%, and that the estate was worth 100 million dollars on the day he received his inheritance. That would mean a share of 20 million dollars. But then let’s say that their father got to live 20 more years before dying, and that at the time of  his death, his estate was worth 1 billion dollars. The prodigal son’s inheritance at that time would have been 200 million dollars! So had he been wise, he would have stayed and worked to build up his own inheritance!

If only we believers were wise to understand the glorious stake that we have in our Father’s kingdom!!!

The Lord spoke to me one day, and asked me “those mansions that I said I’m going to prepare for you in heaven (see John 14:2), what do you think I’m building them with?” He then proceeded to explain to me that it is the work that we do for Him here on earth that produces the resources that He uses to build our mansions in heaven. In other words, as we serve in His kingdom here on earth, we get paid both here on earth, and in heaven for our services, and the Lord uses the payments that we receive in heaven to build our mansions for us. This is why He told us in Matthew 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (KJV)

Here’s an illustration: Many Africans who live abroad endeavor to send money to their home countries to build houses for themselves. When I was living in Nigeria, a cousin of mine who lived in Germany came home one day, expecting to find a fully-built and furnished house waiting for him. He had been working hard and borrowing money to send to one of our uncles to build a house for him. But when he got there, there was no house. That’s an example of a man who tried to lay up treasure for himself here on earth, and the treasure was stolen from him. Had he endeavored instead to lay up treasures in heaven by investing all that hard-earned money into the work of the kingdom, he would have given the Lord the resources to build him a mansion in heaven. And the Lord would not have cheated him!

Now of course I’m not saying that one should not build houses for oneself here on earth. But I am very much encouraging us to re-evaluate our priorities in life! Because it is a fact that we believers do spend AND WASTE the resources God gives us on personal things, instead of spending it on things that concern and benefit the Kingdom.

  • A TRUE SON OF GOD IS ONE WHO UNDERSTANDS THAT KINGDOM MATTERS COME FIRST IN HIS LIFE!
  • A true son of God understands that he is only a steward of whatever God puts in his hands, and that paying tithe of 10% doesn’t mean that the remaining 90% is for him to spend as he wishes. Rather He asks God how he is to spend every red cent that comes into his hands.

So much more work would be accomplished in the kingdom of God if more believers committed their possessions to serving God with it first.

Brethren, so many people will be shocked when they get to heaven and see the mansion that was built for them. Those believers who spent their time on earth pursuing their own things, seeking fulfilment in their own ways, serving God how and when it pleased them, will be shocked to see what they got. And they will be even more shocked to see the greater mansions that were built for those who selflessly and tirelessly served God! Those who gave Him their all here on earth, WILL go to heaven to receive their great rewards! All because they were wise enough to understand that their reward up in heaven is the more important one.

Proverbs 11:30 says “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. (KJV)

I used to wonder a lot about the meaning of the second part of this verse; I mean it’s obvious that winning souls is a good thing to do, which all believers are expected to do anyway. But what has wisdom got to do with it? I used to ponder this issue until the Lord gave me the understanding about the relation between serving in His kingdom and laying up treasures in heaven. If the work we do for the kingdom here on earth is the means by which we’re paid in heaven, then you’ll agree with me that a person who denies himself much personal pleasure here on earth in order to devote himself to the work of the kingdom is a lot wiser than a man who doesn’t, because he is wise enough to look ahead and build up a treasure for himself where it truly matters – in heaven – where he will get to enjoy the fruit of his labors FOR ETERNITY!

So we can see how the prodigal son lacked insight into the future, and was not wise enough to make the best decision for himself. ALL BECAUSE HE DIDN’T CARE ABOUT HIS FATHER’S AFFAIRS! Believers who spend their earnings on themselves and neglect the affairs of the kingdom are no different. True sons of God are mature and wise believers who know better! Who understand that true fulfilment in life is in helping to build their father’s kingdom by helping to populate it with His lost sons and daughters! Who understand that if they don’t do it, nobody else would! If they don’t do it, who would? The unbelievers? The careless and unserious believers who don’t have time for God?

So from all this we learn that a true son or daughter of God:

  • Loves God and wants to serve Him out of love and devotion, not for what he can gain from God
  • Sees God’s Kingdom as his own, and devotes himself to helping build it
  • Is wise to understand that worldly gains cannot be compared to eternal gains in heaven, where it truly matters. Like the prodigal son who would have gained much more if he had stayed and served his father to the end, we stand to gain so much more if we serve wholeheartedly, and never stop serving to the end!

Let’s now take a look into some of the older brother’s issues, which are summed up in his angry comments to his father when he said: “‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’” (Luke 15:29, NIV)

By his own admission, the older brother was so immature that he didn’t understand who he was in his father’s house. He saw himself as a slave, though he owned the estate. He served his father, not as a heir to his father, but as a slave because that’s how he saw himself. Not as a co-owner and co-builder of the estate, but as a slave. Hence another lesson from Paul’s statement to the Galatians that “as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.

The employees at a multi-billion-dollar retail chain don’t have a sense of ownership in the company as do the owners of the company because they are not heirs to the company. And by owners I mean the man or woman who owns the company along with his/her children. They’re the ones enjoying the billions. The employees only get their fixed salaries, so it’s understandable that they couldn’t care any less whether the company is doing well or not, because as far as they’re concerned, even if the company went down, they could go somewhere else and get another job making the same salary. But if the heirs of the company’s owner are grown up and are working in the company, they would take their jobs and positions more personally than the employees would, and the wellbeing of the company would mean everything to them.

We believers must see God’s kingdom as our very own kingdom because it belongs to us. We are heirs to it; so what concerns it MUST concern us! We must take personally the affairs of the kingdom of God. The church we belong to does not belong to the pastor-in-charge or the overseer, but it belongs to us because it belongs to God our Father. What concerns the church MUST concerns us deeply. The needs of the church must be our needs. We must love the church as Christ loves her, and avail ourselves to be used by the Lord to see that the affairs of the church are running smoothly.

If an heir to the retail company needed a 60-inch TV set, all he would need to do would be to order that one TV set be brought to his house from one of the company’s stores, because he knows that  the TV set, along with everything in the stores, belongs to him. The prodigal son’s older brother didn’t even have this understanding. He didn’t know that he had the right to order a servant to kill a goat for him to enjoy with his friends. He was waiting for his father to see him working hard one day and tell him to reward himself with a goat, when he himself was in the position to see one of the servants working hard and tell the servant to reward himself with a goat. But if he didn’t even know that he could reward himself with a goat, how could he tell the servants to reward themselves with one?

Brethren, if you don’t know who you are in Christ, how can you tell others who they are in Him??? If you don’t know who you are in Christ, how can you know what rights, authorities and powers you have in his kingdom as co-heirs with Him??? How can you call yourself a son??? It is a child who goes about his father’s house not understanding these things, because he is a child. Which is why the father assigns servants to care for him and provide him with things that he needs but doesn’t know how to get for himself. But it is expected that with time, the child would grow into a mature man who knows what rights he has as his father’s son, and begins to exercise his authority over the estate. Likewise MUST a believer grow into a son or daughter of God in whom now dwell God’s power and authority, and who knows how to use this power and authority to perform his God-assigned duties in the kingdom!

And just as a small child cannot be expected to work alongside his father to help build the family estate, neither can an immature believer successfully work with God. So it is expected that a believer MUST mature into a son whose existence on earth is all about working alongside God-the-Father and our Senior Brother Jesus, to help build and advance the kingdom!

This is why Romans 8:19  says “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” (KJV)

Not the manifestation of the ‘children’ of God, but of the ‘sons’ of God! Only true sons of God have what it takes to manifest His power and glory for the world to see and believe in Him!

Lastly, we see the same lack of love in the older brother as well. In fact it’s not at all surprising that with all his immaturity, the older brother would also lack love, because a mature son would be man enough and loving enough to graciously welcome back his wayward brother. One of the greatest failures of the Church is in the way newcomers are treated sometimes. The existing members can at times be incredibly hostile to newcomers. Whether they realize it or not, they react as if they aren’t happy to see a lost soul come home to the Father. But a true believer is a son of Love. God doesn’t just have love, HE IS LOVE! So as His children we are children of love! And as we grow into sons, we grow to become sons of Love! Love MUST be a defining trait in a true son of God. AS GOD IS LOVE, SO MUST A TRUE SON OF HIS BECOME LOVE! The ability to love ALL men unconditionally and to readily welcome them into the kingdom must dwell in a son of God! Our lives must be all about working to reconcile our lost brethren to our Father, out of deep love for our Father and for our lost brethren!

WHO THE BROTHERS BECAME

In the parable, the Lord did not say what happened after the prodigal son returned and was accepted back into his father’s house as a son. But as we can see from the story, he and his older brother were subjected to some serious life-changing lessons on who they ought to be in their father’s house. The older bro found out that his father’s possessions were his to use freely, and that he was not to see himself as just one of the servants. And the prodigal son became a different person from who he was before he left.

As a result of this transformation that took place within both sons, they could now truly be sons to their father! How so?

The prodigal son was now a broken man. He had had his fun in life and was no longer interested in having fun. All he wanted before was to use and abuse his father’s wealth, but now he was ready to be useful to his father! HE HAD ‘DIED’ AND WAS BORN ANEW into a reformed and responsible person who could be counted upon, as a true son! The experience that he had gone thru was the kind that gives wisdom, and produces in a man the right kinds of personality traits, such as humility, wisdom and understanding, graciousness, dedication, selflessness, temperance, etc… Therefore, I can imagine that he must have gone to his father the next morning and asked where he could be of service on his father’s estate! And we can be sure that WHATEVER he was told to do, he would have done it judiciously and excellently, as he was now selflessly dedicated to the service of his father!

This is the kind of brokenness – and resulting reformation to our personalities, that God seeks to produce in believers that He is looking to make into sons! This is why He takes His time to put us thru harsh ordeals that are akin to the hardship the prodigal son endured.

The older brother also underwent a transformation that day, stemming from the understanding that had just been handed to him by his father. Here’s how his own future might have changed: From the way he saw himself, and the way his father spoke to him, it is doubtful that the father had given him a befitting position of responsibility and authority in his estate. Let’s remember the statement “As long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father…

Their father had servants who occupied positions of authority and helped him run the estate, instead of his own sons. One son had run away, and the older one who had stayed was unfit to take on such important positions. Just as the father waited for the day his prodigal son would come back and be a son to him, he waited for the day his older son would overcome his shortcomings and become a son to him. Therefore, if the father’s words to the older brother had had the right effects on him, then the older brother would have had the kind of change of heart, change of perspective, and change of self-view, that would have transformed him into the person his father had been waiting for him to become: A grown man who knew who he was as his father’s son! It is to such a son that their father would assign a position of importance within his estate.

The ‘new’ older brother would be a new person in that he would no longer be insecure and resentful of his younger brother and his father. His anger towards both men would dissipate and turn into love. And this love would produce in him the gentleness and graciousness with which he could lead the servants and treat them well and justly. He was already dedicated to serving their father; but while he used to do it with bitterness and resentment, he would now do it out of love and devotion to his father, and would happily and lovingly serve alongside his reformed brother.The Lord is not looking for slaves in us! He is looking for dedicated sons and daughters who CHEERFULLY seek to serve Him because they have grown to love and value Him above all things!

CONCLUSION

We will conclude this teaching by pointing out the powerful role that righteousness plays in all this discussion about sons. BECAUSE RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE SOURCE OF THE POWER IN A SON OF GOD!
We’ve mentioned that a son of God must be holy. But holiness is simply man separating himself from sin, and the simple fact is that no matter how much we try to be holy before God, we could never attain the standard of holiness that God has. Therefore, God devised a system by which He puts His own righteousness upon us once we believe in His Son. That way, He overlooks our imperfect state by looking at us thru His Son’s own perfection, and sees us righteous.

This presence of God’s righteousness in us brings us into an incredible position! In fact the greatest tragedy this world has ever known is the fact that believers do not understand the kind of position the righteousness of God brings them into in this world! Imagine a homeless vagrant with no good name and origins, no possessions, nothing whatsoever to boast of in this world. One day, a wealthy and powerful man takes in the bum, adopts him and confers upon him his own powerful name, then places him in a position of power within his estate. This is literally what happens when God confers His righteousness upon a man! His authority and power are suddenly placed upon the man!

Now imagine that the only condition placed upon the bum is that he be faultlessly obedient to the man who has adopted him and made him his son. That’s exactly the condition that sons of God MUST meet without fault! The secret to the Lord Jesus’ success is simple this: He was always obedient, even to the point of death!!!!! (See Philippians 2:8) As long as He was obedient to the instructions that He received from God the Father, the power and authority of the Father were upon Him and worked for Him. Likewise, as long as every single person in the Bible whom God had worked with, had been obedient to God, His righteousness was upon the person, and produced the mighty manifestations of the power of God in the person’s life!

God’s kingdom belongs to God!!! He decides how things are done in it. His Church belongs to Him. He decides how it is to be built! His sons are his servants. Therefore, all that is expected of them is to listen attentively to His instructions and do as instructed. Nothing else and nothing more or less!!! If the Lord Jesus came to earth and did nothing other than to receive instructions from the Father and then do strictly as He was instructed, how much more we whose righteousness comes thru Him!?! As long as the prodigal son and his older brother obediently served their father as instructed, he would be pleased to maintain his authority and power on them. The day any of them disobeyed in any way, his position of authority would be in jeopardy. The estate belonged to their father, and he had a specific vision for where he wanted to take his business. The sons were there to help him take his business where he wanted, and the only way they could do so was by receiving their father’s instructions, and strictly doing as instructed. Even if they never understood where he was taking the estate, they would obey faithfully because they now believed in their father, that he knew best, and they loved and respected his judgment.

So brethren, God is looking for sons and daughters of His who have grown into mature believers who have learned to be obedient to His every command, for therein lies the secret to their success as sons and daughters of God! EVERY SINGLE SON AND DAUGHTER IS UNIQUE! Therefore, the way God works with one son or daughter is not the way He works with another. Every church or ministry is unique. Therefore, God has a way that He plans to build every church or ministry. Watch and learn the way God works with you to build what He has committed to your care, and determine to follow His lead no matter what the cost of doing so may be! Seek out and faithfully follow His instructions no matter how ludicrous, crazy, unpleasant or scary they may sound! Therein lies the key to your success as a son or daughter of God!

If you’re a man, be a SON unto God! If you’re a woman, be a DAUGHTER unto God! Go and be great in our Father’s kingdom and vineyard! Be blessed!

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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WHAT DO YOU WANT, AND HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT IT?

Stray dogs have no home and must, therefore, fend for themselves by visiting dumpsters. Now imagine a stray dog that has decided that it will only eat from the best dumpsters, no matter how hard it may be for it to do so, and has found a rich man’s house whose dumpsters are full of exotic food leftovers, ie. $100/lb steaks imported from Japan, lobster flown in from Maine, caviar from Russia, desserts from Paris, etc… But rich neighborhoods don’t usually tolerate stray animals; so the dog takes a huge risk by venturing there. The rich man’s servants are sure to kick, spit on, and verbally abuse the dog when they see it hanging around the back of the house near the dumpsters. But the dog knows what it wants, and is willing to put up with it all!

So while most of this dog’s friends go to the easy dumpsters, it goes to the better, though more dangerous, ones, and ends up looking better than them because it eats better food! Because you see, the leftovers of a $100/lb steak still carry pieces of the $100/lb steak. The leftovers of lobster from Maine still carry pieces of that succulent lobster. And the leftover from the Parisian cake still carries all the heavenly goodness of the original cake. So by eating all this better food, the dog looks better than the rest!

ONE OF THE BIGGEST HINDRANCES TO THE SUCCESS OF CHRISTIANITY AS A FAITH IN THIS WORLD is that its followers have not learned to do what it takes to become who God has in mind for them to be! We all want the blessings promised in the Word of God, but we are far too unwilling to pay the price for those blessings.

During Jesus’ time, there was a woman who knew what she wanted for her daughter, and was willing to pay whatever price in order to get it. Here’s her story, as told in Matthew 15:21-28:

“Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”  (NIV)

The divine plan for the salvation of mankind was that Jesus would bring it to the Jews first, then make it available for all other peoples after His death and resurrection. Therefore, He concentrated His ministry on the Jews only. But here came a woman who was not of Jewish descent, and who needed healing for her daughter. And she came to the Lord to ask of Him divine healing, which, at that time, was exclusively reserved for the Jews. And in order to remind her of this, the Lord gave an analogy in which He basically likened the woman to a dog. But the woman reacted to the insult by agreeing with it, and made a plea for JUST A CRUMB of the thing she needed.

If every believer in this world learned how to attract even just a crumb of the Lord’s power in their lives, Christianity would be so much more effective than it has been, because the power of the God that Christians call upon would be so much more evident in their lives! And this evidence would validate Christianity as not just a religion, but as the place to find the one true God who is real, and who does great and mighty things in the lives of those who believe in Him!

The point of the story of the stray dog is that good things do not come easy! And since the things that come from God are the BEST OF THE BEST, they couldn’t possibly be expected to come easy! With this understanding, every believer ought to determined himself to do whatever it’ll take for him to obtain what he needs from the Lord. All over the Bible we see stories that teach us that there are prices to pay to get the results we need in life! The Canaanite woman in this story had to put up with being called a dog in order to receive the healing for her daughter! The stray dog had to put up with all manner of abuse and beating in order to eat the better food that it desired! Hannah, the mother of the great prophet Samuel, had to put up with being called a drunk by the high priest in order to receive Samuel! Blind Bartimeaus had to put up with insults from the crowd in order to get the Lord Jesus’ attention and get Him to heal his blindness.

Here’s a story I love to tell of a young woman who desired to change her life from one of poverty and lack, to one of prosperity and abundance. When she heard about the principle of sowing and reaping, she decided to sow her meager salary for the next 6 month. So the next time she got paid, she faithfully took her entire salary to church and sowed it. She did the same with her next 5 paychecks. Was this easy for her to do? NO!!! She got kicked out of her apartment for her inability to pay her rent, and had to move in with friends. Feeding herself and affording the basic things a person needs in life obviously became a serious issue for her as well. She had to endure abuse and insults from people who thought she was stupid and crazy to take her entire salary and give to the church – for 6 months!

Sometime after she did this, the chief of the community where she lived heard about what she did and decided to honor her actions by giving her a parcel of land. Then shortly after this, the representatives of a big multinational company came to that community to buy a piece of land on which to build a factory. The woman’s land happened to be exactly where they wanted, and they bought it for a very substantial sum. The woman invested the money into a business deal that made her a millionaire. This is how the young woman went from being a poor office worker to becoming a millionaire.

So I ask you, dear brethren, what do you want in this life, and how badly do you want it??? Badly enough to put up with the tough price that you might have to pay in order to get it? The Lord Jesus made this one thing clear to us in Luke 14:28, where He said “…for which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (KJV)

Some of the major things that prevents people from doing what it takes to follow divine principles are: lack of knowledge, fear, indiscipline, carelessness, spiritual weakness, etc…
– Lack of knowledge of what to do. So many churches do not teach the divine principles that are hidden throughout the Scriptures. If that young lady had never heard of the principle of sowing and reaping, she would not have tried it. This is why the Lord lamented in Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (KJV)
– The fear of the hardship that comes with doing what it takes; the fear of what people might say…
– Indiscipline, which prevents those who do know of the principles, from properly following the principles, and seeing the results.
– Carelessness of those who don’t care about the way their lives reflect on God. They don’t understand that their lives must give glory to God, and so they don’t care to put to work the divine principles which would help to conform their lives to that which would give glory to God. and because they don’t care, they don’t hate their life situations enough to want to do what needs to be done to change it.
– Spiritual weakness, that prevents so many believers from tackling tough spiritual issues. Under this category come factors such as weakness in prayer, in fasting, in the study of the Word, etc… WITHOUT SPIRITUAL ENABLEMENT FROM GOD, a believer cannot live victoriously in this world!!!

So once again, I ask you, what do you want, and how badly do you want it? Badly enough to determine in your heart and mind that nothing, not the fear of hardship, of humiliation, of pain, of uncertainty, of having to wait on God’s time, of going on long fasts, of praying for long hours, will stop you from doing what you need to do in order to see a change in your life? I hope so! And I pray that our good Lord would pour His grace upon you to help you do what it takes to get what you need, to His glory!

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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YOU ARE GOD’S LOVE LETTER TO THE WORLD!

Over the years in ministry, the Apostle Paul had begotten many sons and daughters in Christ. Among them were Philemon and Onesimus. Onesimus was Philemon’s slave, but he ran away from Philemon, and in his flight he ran into Paul, became saved, and became useful to Paul and very dear to him as a spiritual son.
And as it happened, Philemon was Paul’s spiritual son as well.

Paul would have loved to keep Onesimus, but had to do the right thing and return him to Philemon. But knowing how angry Philemon must be with Onesimus, Paul decided to write a letter to Philemon about Onesimus.

POINT #1:
In his running, Onesimus ran into Christ, who transformed him into a better person.
His name means ‘useful’, but as a slave he had been useless to the point where he even ran away. But after finding Christ, he became a useful person! He now could fulfill his destiny as a ‘useful’ person.

=> LESSON: Like Onesimus when he ran away, we are all runaway slaves: Running from the devil and from all manner of issues that we need to rid ourselves of!
And like him we ran until we found Christ, who now gave us the power to go back and face our slave masters and become free from them!
Some of us are running right now! Running from sin, from your background, from bad associations, from what people think about you… You’re running because you don’t want to be a part of those associations anymore; you don’t want to be known by your background anymore; you don’t want to dwell in that sin any more…
CHRIST, who turned Onesimus’ destiny around and restored it into what it was supposed to be, will turn yours around for good as well!!!

POINT #2:
In the letter Paul basically put Philemon in a dilemma where Philemon couldn’t really do to Onesimus what he might have wanted to do him because in the letter Paul pointed out to Philemon that even though Onesimus was once his slave, he is now his brother (in Christ)!
So Paul put Philemon in a situation where his Christianity was tested!
He told him: Yes, I know he did you wrong; and he might have even done something that cost you money. WHATEVER it was, I’ll pay for it. Just forgive him and take him back AS YOUR BROTHER!

=> LESSON: Every now and then we find ourselves in situations where our Christianity is tested in so many areas. In this story we see 3 main areas:
1. FORGIVENESS: When we find ourselves confronted with the need to forgive someone who did us wrong in a big way. ESPECIALLY if that person is now a brother or sister in Christ! Either way, we must forgive them and move on!
THIS IS GOD WORKING ON YOU TO HELP YOU RID YOURSELF OF A BAGGAGE THAT YOU SIMPLY CANNOT CARRY AROUND AS A BELIEVER WHILE HERE ON EARTH, AND CANNOT CARRY INTO HEAVEN WHEN YOU DIE!
Also when you’re asking God for mercy and second chances, He’ll remind you, or put you in a situation where you need to forgive and give someone else a second chance, as a seed for you to sow into the request that you yourself are making of Him for a second chance.
2. BROTHERLY LOVE: Onesimus used to be Philemon’s slave. But now he was Philemon’s brother in Christ. Would Philemon still only see him as a slave, or would he accept him as a brother?
=> As Christians, do we still hold people captive to the way we used to know them? Do we still just see the former prostitute for who she used to be, or do we now see a sister in Christ, blood-washed like ourselves, and called into the same glorious light, freed by Christ to become a great person! Do we go around feeling holier than others, instead of humbly recognizing that we are all saved by grace?
3. FREEDOM IN CHRIST: Philemon ran the risk of jeopardizing his relationship with Paul AND WITH GOD, if he failed to forgive and accept Onesimus! So by forgiving and setting Onesimus free, he would have done the right thing by God and would have not only been setting Onesimus free, but he’d be setting himself free as well before God.
=>By forgiving someone, it is not just that person that you would be setting free. It is you yourself as well! Because as long as you refuse to set that person free in your heart, you are chaining your own self to the sin of unforgiveness and rebellion against the will of God.

POINT #3:
Why did Onesimus run from Philemon? Because he felt that he was better than being a slave! And you will agree with him that he was indeed destined to be greater in life than he could ever have been as a slave! HE COULD NOT have fulfilled his destiny if he had remained captive to Philemon!

=> LESSON: SOMETIMES YOU HAVE GOT TO RUN FROM WHAT’S HOLDING YOU CAPTIVE IN ORDER FOR YOU TO MAKE IT IN LIFE!
===> Paul himself acknowledged this to Philemon:
“15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.” (Philemon 15-16, NASB)

Note that I said ‘sometimes’. Because we don’t always have to run from every tough situation we find ourselves in. After Joseph was sold to Potiphar as a slave, he could have run away and run home to his father. But he did not need to run from Potiphar to fulfill his destiny. In fact he had to stay there in order to do so. BUT HE HAD TO RUN FROM THE CAPTIVITY THAT HIS JEALOUS BROTHERS WANTED TO KEEP HIM IN!

So we always have to be careful to know what’s ‘good’ captivity, and what’s bad captivity. Good captivity is when God Himself puts us in situations that we hate, and from which we might wish to be freed from. So be careful about wanting to escape from tough and unpleasant situations. If it’s God who’s keeping you there, STAY! Stay there and grow spiritually by patiently learning the lessons that He seeks to teach you by placing you in that situation. But if the captivity is of the devil, or of people who don’t want your progress in life, the first chance of escape that you find, RUN!!!

SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO RUN FROM WHERE YOU CAME FROM! Because the people there will forever want to hold you captive to how they know you.
YOU NEED TO RUN FROM BAD INFLUENCES; FROM BAD FRIENDS, from those people who want to forever hold you captive to the kind of friends you all used to be together, and keep on doing the foolish things you used to do together.
YOU NEED TO RUN FROM BAD BOSSES who have been limiting you, who do not see your potential, and have no plans to help you grow in your career!
This is why when you become a believer, it’s imperative that you change your entourage! That you change the friends you keep! Stay away from those who would tempt you to keep on sinning. From those who can hinder your spiritual growth. From those who can hinder you from fulfilling your God-assigned destiny in Christ!

SO RUN AWAY! FROM ANYTHING OR ANYBODY THAT SEEKS TO HOLD YOU CAPTIVE TO THE WAY YOU USED TO BE, THAT SEEKS TO KEEP ON LIMITTING YOU! There’s greatness in you that needs to come out, and you need to carry that greatness and run to where you can be free to develop that greatness and be great for God!!!

Remember what Paul told Philemon in verses 15 and 16. Onesimus needed to get away from Philemon, who was limiting him as a human being, in order for him to go and become somebody better, who could be far more useful not only to Philemon, but to God and the Church as well!
Likewise we all need to get away from the people who limit and hinder us, so that after we have gone and grown in the Lord, we can come back and help to make their own lives better as well!

POINT #4:
Apart from the fact that Paul wanted to do the right thing and return Onesimus to Philemon, Onesimus himself needed to do the right thing and return to his former master as well! There’s that thing called RESTITUTION! When a person becomes saved, sometimes he must make restitution for wrongs that he had done as an unbeliever. God could not have allowed Onesimus to go around preaching righteousness when he himself had a wrong that he had done to his master, and that he needed to make right. So Onesimus needed to go and ask for forgiveness and receive freedom and blessing from his former master in order for God to be willing to use him.

=> LESSON: GOD CANNOT USE YOU AS LONG AS YOU BELONG TO SOMEONE OR SOMETHING ELSE! If you have restitution to make, you’re not free. You’re still captive to the issue for which you need to make restitution, and this will stand in the way of your relationship with God and prevent Him from fully using you!

POINT #5:
THE POWER OF FAVOR! So Onesimus had to go back to Philemon. But in doing so he faced a serious risk: Philemon could have had him killed! That’s how it was in those days. A slave’s life belonged to the master to do as he willed, and runaway slaves were summarily killed, or at least severely punished, to make example and deter others from thinking about running.
HENCE Paul’s letter, by which he basically told Philemon: I am sending your former slave back to you, and I am asking that the favor that you have for me, show it to your former slave, whom surely has no favor before you.

=> LESSON: Sometimes God will touch the heart of somebody who has favor with Him, but with whom you have no favor, and set that person up to show you favor!

POINT #6:
SO THE ONE THING THAT SAVED ONESIMUS’ LIFE WAS THIS LETTER!
Because of this letter, HE WAS ABLE TO BE FREE TO FULFILL HIS DESTINY!
It is said that he went on to pastor Timothy’s old church. HE WHO WAS BORN A SLAVE ended up a great pastor! All because of a letter that freed him from captivity, and made it possible for him to become the great person that God had purposed for him to be!
Onesimus couldn’t be useful to Philemon while he was a slave because Philemon was only using him then; A PERSON CANNOT BE FULLY USEFUL AS A SLAVE, because as a slave he can only be used and abused. BUT AS A FREE PERSON, HE CAN SERVE WITH ALL HIS HEART AND MIGHT AND GIVE OUT HIS BEST!

POINT #7:
FROM PAUL’S ACTIONS IN WRITING THIS LETTER, we can see that love is:
1. A PEACEMAKER; A TRUCEBREAKER.
In this story we see that Paul had found himself caught between 2 of his sons who were at odds with each other, and he had to step in to broker peace between them. A bad father would want to keep the 2 sons at odds, so he can profit from their division. But that’s not the way of love! It’s not the way of God. Love unites; love makes peace.
2. A TRANSFORMER: Love will allow you to change for the better. A master who loves a servant will allow the servant to grow and flourish as a person, and not seek to limit the servant in order to be able to keep on exploiting him.
As slaves in Egypt, the Israelites were severely limited by the Egyptians in what they could and couldn’t do. They had to be prevented from growing in power so they could be easily exploited. When the Israelites left Egypt, they left as runaway slaves. When they got to the Red Sea, they did so as runaway slaves, with their masters in hot pursuit behind them. And when they got into the Red Sea, they did so as runaway slaves. But once they got to the other side of the sea, they were free!!!! The sea had swallowed their captors and closed up behind them. They knew that no one was coming after them anymore! Thru their crossing of the water, they were transformed from captives to free people!

=> LESSON: This is what happens at baptism! You go into the water as a condemned sinner, but come up from it a free person, with old things passed away! You go in as an estranged child of God, and come up from the water restored as a child of God!
=> That’s what Paul sought to accomplish in the lives of both Onesimus and Philemon. He sought to set them free from the animosity that kept them apart and hindered their ability to be free to grow into the sons of God they were supposed to be!

3. AN EMANCIPATOR: An emancipator works to set captives and slaves free! AND PART OF WHAT THEY DO IS THEY NEGOTIATE FOR THE FREEDOM OF SLAVES! There was no way Onesimus could have gone to Philemon on his own and ask to be set free. Paul’s letter served as the letter of emancipation! Through that letter, Paul negotiated the freedom of Onesimus by actually offering to pay for it.

POINT 8:
From all this we can see one powerful thing: Paul’s letter is a representation of Jesus-Christ! ALL MEN SINNED AND WERE CONDEMNED TO BE CAPTIVES OF THE DEVIL UNTIL JESUS CAME AND PAID THE PRICE FOR OUR FREEDOM! JESUS IS THAT LOVE LETTER!!!

For God so loved the world that He sent…Jesus His love letter to set men free!!!

You see, what we’re supposed to do is to simply take the LOVE LETTER that is the Word of God and present it to Satan and declare to him: Look! This Letter from God says that my sins have been paid for!!!! Satan you have no choice but to set me free!!!!

NOW GET THIS: As the words of a letter are carried inside an envelope, so did God’s letter of love unto men come wrapped up in the person of Jesus! So IF THE LORD HAD SHUT UP and not shared the word that He carried inside, you and I would still be lost today! But PRAISE GOD that the Lord opened Himself up as an envelope, and released ‘His contents’ in 2 major ways:
1. By spreading the word of love from God
2. By being transpierced on the cross, which released out of His body (out of His envelope) the blood which cleanses us of sin, and the water by which the Church was born.

Paul’s letter carried the words of the letter, and also a promise of payment. Likewise within the Lord’s envelope, he carried the word of God, and the payment for our debt – His blood, which, once He spilled it, declared that IT IS FINISHED!!!

==> LESSON: YOU AND I ARE NOW THE CARRIERS OF THIS WORD!!! We are the envelopes that carry God’s love letter to the world!!!
YOU AND I NOW CARRY THE LIVING WATER THAT GUSHED OUT OF THE LORD! That’s why He declared unto us in John 7:38 that “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (KJV) It is by that water that the Church was born, and we are to go about this world releasing that water upon people, thus multiplying the Church.

SO MY BELOVED BRETHREN, DON’T BE CLOSED ENVELOPES! RATHER SHARE GOD’S LETTER THAT HE HAS PLACED IN YOU TO SET THE CAPTIVES FREE!!
GO AND TELL PEOPLE THAT CHRIST HAS PAID THE PRICE FOR THEIR RELEASE!!! That He has paid for their salvation from sin; for their healing; for their prosperity; for their wholeness in every area of their lives!
SET PEOPLE FREE BY SPEAKING WORDS OF LOVE TO THEM! Tell people words that will encourage them in life; words that will build them up and help them grow in life; words that will help them see how important they are to God!

What would have become of Onesimus and Philemon if Paul had neglected to play this role in their lives? Their lives would have been hampered by the presence of the conflict that set them at odds with God’s plans for their lives.
So brethren think about this: How do you think the Lord will react when we show up before Him after going thru this life not opening ourselves up to pour out His words of love, of liberation, of transformation, of empowerment, of beautification, upon the people around us who badly need it?
It shouldn’t be hard to imagine that He would say “DEPART, YOU UNFAITHFUL SERVANT” to any such believer. Let that not be you!!!!

Now get this: No matter how battered and tattered an envelope may become, as long as the letter inside remains intact, that’s all that matters. Likewise you and I have no excuse for not sharing the word that we carry, because no matter how imperfect our envelopes (our bodies), what matters is that the word of God inside us “is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV)

No matter what physical limitations we might suffer from, let us endeavor to find ways to share the love of God with others! So long as we are willing to be used, God WILL find a way to use us! He will make ways for us to release his water that we carry within us! That’s why He put it there in the first place!

May God bless you richly as you open yourself up to be pour out unto others, to His glory! Amen!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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IS YOUR FEAR OF THE LORD INTACT?

We all know about the event called ‘The Transfiguration’, during which the Lord Jesus was revealed to Peter, James and John in a higher dimension. We read in Matthew 17:1-8:

“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us[a]make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” 8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” (KJV)

The crucial thing to understand about this event is the reason for which it took place. And that reason is found in the very preceding chapter, Matthew 16, towards the end of which we have the story of the time when Peter dared to rebuke the Lord after the Latter had told His disciples of His upcoming suffering and death on the cross (see Matthew 16:21-23).

The fact that Peter could dare talk this way to the Master made the Latter realize something: His disciples were getting too familiar with Him, and were beginning to lack the level of respect that He deserved from them. So the Lord had to do something about restoring the appropriate level of reverence that His disciples were to have for Him, and what He decided to do was to reveal to His top three disciples who He truly is in the spiritual realm.

Witnessing the Transfiguration – seeing the Lord  in the spiritual realm wearing a garment that was whiter than white, and conversing with spiritual giants like Moses and Elijah – did the trick alright! After that kind of divine encounter with the Lord’s true image, Peter’s fear of, and respect for the Lord were solidly reestablished!

Has the wrong attitude toward the Lord been hindering you from truly worshipping Him in spirit and in truth? Has it kept you from seeing Him as your all-and-all Master and from giving your all to Him? Have religiousity and denominational doctrines blinded you from understanding His words in the proper light? Have political correctness and the fear of offending people kept you from seeing Him as a sovereign God whose sometimes unpopular laws must absolutely be kept by His true followers?

Before the Apostle Paul found Jesus, he was highly zealous in the ‘things of God’. He was as zealous as a man can be in the service of ‘the God of Israel’. Except, he was serving God under the wrong terms. But then came the day the Lord decided to reveal Himself to Paul, as narrated in acts 9. Verses 1 to 6 say:

“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”

Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.[a] It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”” (KJV)

And verses 17  and 18 say:

17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,[b] who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.”  (KJV)

When the Lord shone His light on Paul, the light blinded him; and in order for Paul to see again, scales fell off his eyes. Though this happened in the physical, there’s a more significant spiritual dimension to it, in that as the scales fell off his eyes, he began to see and understand ‘the things of God’ differently.

It took a divine encounter between Paul and the Lord for Paul’s eyes to be literally opened to see Jesus in His glory, and for him to fall in love with Jesus with a passion that led him to declare that his most earnest desire is that he “…may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10, KJV)

So I ask you again, what is dimming your sight of the Lord??? What scales have covered your eyes and are preventing you from being in a constant state of awe and utter reverence towards Him?

I plead with you to cry out to God and beg Him to bless you with the kind of spiritual encounter with Him that will produce in you the right kind of attitude towards Him – an attitude of total awe, love and deep devotion and commitment.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in ATTITUDE CHECK!

 

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