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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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APPREHENDED TO BE BLESSED

In the message titled APPREHENDED FOR SERVICE (previously titled ‘Apprehended For What?’) we explored what it means for a man to be apprehended by God for His service, and we alluded to the fact that every believer would love to hear that God’s hand is upon him, because it means that God’s blessings are flowing upon him. [NOTE: It is highly recommended that you read APPREHENDED FOR SERVICE before reading this.] So in this follow-up message, we will explore the ways in which the Lord’s blessings flow upon the man whom He has apprehended.

 Someone said “everybody want go heaven, but nobody want dead” (sic). This is very similar to the attitude that believers have towards God and His blessings. We all want His blessings, but not many of us want to do what it takes to attract his blessings, and that’s where the problem lies because His blessings are reserved for those who serve Him. Like an employer who remunerates his workers, so does God rewards those who work to advance His kingdom here on earth. Simply put, God apprehends to use and bless! Here are some of the ways this works.

 SERVING AS AN AMBASSADOR OF HEAVEN

 An ambassador is a person that has been appointed – apprehended – by the head of a state to represent him in a foreign nation. When the ambassador enters a room, it is considered that the head of the state that he represents has entered the room. He speaks for, and carries the authority of the head of state. Everything that belongs to the ambassador – his residence, office, vehicle, hotel room, luggage, mail, etc. – are ‘sovereign property’ that are considered to be the property of the state that he represents. Thus, being inside an embassy of France in any country means being in the state of France. The laws of France apply inside that embassy, not the laws of the host country. The embassy and all the folks that work therein, from the ambassador down the guards at the gate, enjoy the full backing, protection, provisions and authority of France. 

 This is the kind of privilege a servant-believer enjoys for having been apprehended to be a servant of the kingdom of God. He is made a representative, an ambassador of the kingdom of heaven! Any believer who dedicates himself to serving the Lord in the specific ways the Lord leads him to serve, WILL see the hand of the Lord at work in his life! If human heads of state know how to support and care for the ambassadors they send out to represent them on foreign lands, how much more our great God!!! Wherever he sends a believer to serve Him, He is faithful to provide for every need that believer might have!

 It is crucial to understand something: The Lord knows what tools, equipment in order for us to effectively and efficiently render our services unto Him, and He is more than willing and ready to supply them. But the reality is that so many servants of His seem to be struggling to make ends meet, and to adequately equip their ministries or originations. The reason for this is always that we, the servants, fail to properly attract His blessings and provisions. How? 

  • By failing to be obedient. An ambassador NEVER does anything that he was not asked or ordered to do by the president who sent him. He does not set his own agenda, but is given an agenda by the one who sent him. And he must strictly follow any measures given him on how to execute the agenda. So must we believers learn to strictly obey our Lord’s commands and follow His directions very faithfully. If we do this, WE WILL see his rewards in our lives.
  • By failing to apply the principles provided in His word. An ambassador must know the rules, regulations, international laws and treaties, that regulate that way embassies must operate in foreign lands. If not, he would fail at utilizing to the fullest extent the rights afforded to him by the existing international laws and treaties, and would thus find himself in unpleasant situations that he could simply get out of by invoking the appropriate law or treaty. Likewise, the glory of the great God that we believers serve is not seeing in our lives the way it ought to because we fail to successfully apply the principles that He has set forth in His word. These principles govern the affairs of this world, therefore, knowing and following them faithfully is the key to having dominion over ALL sphere of life in this world!
  • By failing to ask for the right things. An ambassador will be provided with things that he needs, not things that he wants. The responsible state will supply even private aircraft to some of their ambassadors if they deem it necessary for their service to the state. Likewise, our God is known to provide aircraft for some of His servants, and I will submit to you that He is more than willing and ready to supply more of His servants with aircraft if only we would give Him reason to do so, and if we would properly call it forth!

 SERVING AS A COLT FOR THE LORD TO RIDE ON

 The story of the colt upon which the Lord Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, shows us a powerful thing about the way God’s servants get to enjoy His blessings. We read in Mar 11:7-10:“And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.>And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” (KJV)

 The Lord Jesus needed to enter Jerusalem in a triumphant way, as prophesied about Him long ago. In his day, the donkey was the ride of kings. So he ordered for one to be literally apprehended and brought for Him to ride on. Now as He rode on the donkey, the people wanted to honor Him by laying down their cloths and branches along the way. But who got to walk to walk on those clothes and branches? The donkey! In fact even before the Lord sat on the donkey, the disciples dressed the donkey with their garments, in order for it to look good enough for the Master to ride on.

 Likewise, it is as a believer, who has been apprehended by the Lord, serves the Lord, that the believer gets to enjoy some of the blessings that are actually directed at the Lord. Like the Jewish priests and their families enjoyed the gifts that the people brought unto the Lord, so do his servants today get to enjoy the various gifts that people bring unto the Lord. It is a common thing for people to sow financially into the lives of God’s servants. It is God whom they really wish to bless, but since they can’t throw the money up to heaven for God to receive, they have to bless him by blessing His servants. And these are some of the ways that He provides unto His servants.

 This is why the irony of those who criticize God’s servants for having aircraft is that they only see the aircraft, but don’t see the Jesus that the servants are carrying on their backs. They don’t understand that the people who are financing the aircraft’s operation are doing so because it’s the Lord Jesus’ work that they seek to finance. It’s just that it’s the servants who are carrying Jesus on their backs who will get into the planes and go where the Lord wants them to go and do His work.

 SERVING AS A CARETAKER OF GOD’S AFFAIRS

 The story of Obed-Edom and King David offer a powerful example of the way God rewards those who take care of His belongings. We read in 2samuel 6:6-12:“When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God. Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.[e] 9 David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household. 12 Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.” (NIV)

 This is a popular story of the time King David tried to bring back the ark of the covenant from captivity in the land of the Philistines, to Jerusalem. But he followed the wrong procedure for transporting the ark, and as a result, a tragedy ensued. In anger, David decided to abandon the ark in the field of a man name Obed-Edom.

 Who was Obed-Edom? From his name we can understand that he was a descendant of Edom, meaning, a descendant of Esau. And David of course, was a descendant of Jacob. This means that Obed-Edom carried the curse of Esau, which states that the descendants of Esau must serve the descendants of Jacob. Because of this curse, the descendants of Esau were treated as second-class folk in the land of Israel. This is why when David became afraid of the ark and decided not to bring it into the city, lest it kills more people, David decided to leave the ark in Obed-Edom’s compound. The point was that if the ark was going to kill anyone else, let it be the people in Obed-Edom’s household that would be killed. That’s how insignificant the lives of Obed and his family were to David, because they were Esau’s descendants.

 But instead, the opposite happened. The presence of the ark in the midst of Obed-Edom’s household caused his household to prosper! In fact, God prospered Obed-Edom in a way that his prosperity became a threat to David’s kingship! Which is why after David learned about it, he ran and took the ark away from Obed’s place. The Lord was set to prosper Obed in a way that would have surpassed King David’s prosperity and power in the land, and the only reason the Lord didn’t go that far was because of the covenant that He had made with David that his throne will be established forever! It was only the grace that God had on David because of this covenant that saved David’s throne!

 Why did the Lord bless Obed-Edom so much? Because Obed took care of God! The ark of God carried God’s presence. It wasn’t just a box. It was God Himself! The Lord told me that when David abandoned the ark in that field, it was He Himself that David had abandoned like that. David did not make even a single provision to care for the ark, meaning, to care for God. He just left God like that in the open field for the sun and the rain to beat on Him. But Obed-Edom took care of God, and that’s why God blessed him the way He did! We don’t know exactly what Obed-Edom might have done to care for the ark, but it’s easy to imagine that he probably pulled the ark into a barn, away from the sun and rain, and fed the oxen that pulled the cart upon which the ark rode. It was this act of caring for the Lord’s affairs that caused the Lord to bless everything Obed-Edom had!

 Now get this: The curse of Esau that was on Obed-Edom dictated that David shall be greater than Obed. And it was so. But because of the great service that Obed-Edom had rendered unto the Lord by tending to His affairs, the Lord broke that curse and turned it into blessing in a way that if not for the covenant that He had with David to establish his throne forever, He would have made Obed-Edom greater than David!

 Brethren, I urge you to take all matters concerning the Lord very seriously! Consider yourself apprehended by Him to care for His affairs. Who else do you think is going to do it? The unbelievers??? The church you belong to, whose responsibility is it to care for it? Who is going to make His voice heard around the world? The unbelievers? Who is going to represent and defend his name in the society? The unbelievers?

 I urge you to make it your personal responsibility to see that the work of God is done in this world! Love God with all your heart and love to tend to any matter that pertains to Him. He will bless you for it! The story of Obed-Edom teaches us that we cannot serve a big God, and remain cursed in life! You can’t be an ambassador of heaven and be small in life! You cannot carry the Lord on your back and let Him use you to accomplish His mighty deeds, and be small in life! God is no man that He would use a person and not reward the person. As He rewarded Peter with a great catch of fish after using Peter’s boat, He WILL be faithful to reward anyone whom He uses for His kingdom work. He apprehends to use and bless!

 Go and be great for God in His service, and watch Him bless and prosper you on every side!

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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