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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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IT IS NAILED!

This once-prosperous town was now a ghost of its former self. The big factory that had fuelled the growth and prosperity of the city had been closed for years now. The population suffered bitterly, with no work to do. But a movement was afoot to remedy the situation, as a group of believers took it upon themselves to pray life back into the dead city! They fasted and prayed over the city and its people. One morning, the people woke up to an unusual sight: A naked man was stranded at the top of the long chimney of the factory.

They managed to get the man down and asked how he got up there and why he was naked. The man narrated that he was a part of a group of sorcerers who were responsible for the factory shutting down. He said that every year, they would renew the covenant they had made against the factory, and the night before, he had gone to the factory to renew the covenant. But as he finished his business and was about to fly back to his house, he suddenly lost all his occult powers and landed at the top of the chimney, naked.

Colossians 2:13-14 says “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had [l]disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through [m]Him.” (NASB)

WOW!!! What we’re told in this passage of Scriptures is powerfully illustrated by what happened in that town! Evil decrees were made against the factory, its workers and the entire city by evil rulers and authorities of the occult, until the day the Lord Jesus arose and nailed their decrees to the cross and literally made a public display of them by arresting one of them upon that chimney!!!

Brethren, understand who you are in Christ! Understand the meaning of the finished work of the Cross! In that work, the Lord took care of EVERY possible evil that the devil and his people can do in this universe! Any decrees, incantations, agreements, sacrifices, etc., made against a believer has already been nailed to the Cross the moment The Lord pronounced that IT IS FINISHED! (John 19:30)

So why does this finished work not seem to be evident in the lives of believers? Why do so many believers still suffer under the weight of various forms of oppression? It is because we fail to act on it! We fail to do what we need to do in order for it to work in our lives. That’s one powerful lesson that can be learned from the story of the factory: As long as no one called on the Lord to apply His finished work unto that city, the city remained dead! Someone had to pray that the finished work of the Cross be applied to the situation the city was undergoing. GOD HAS DONE HIS PART, WE MUST DO OURS!!! He has made a provision for destroying the works of evil, but we must now make use of the provision ourselves!

Here’s a crucial thing to understand about Christianity: When a person becomes saved, the finished work of the Cross does not automatically go to work on its own to destroy the various bad conditions that the person has been dealing with. Rather after becoming saved, the believer is expected to begin to apply BY FAITH the truth of the finished work to the various issues in his own life. This is why ‘faith without works is dead’. The believer must now begin to put his faith to work by applying his faith to the various areas of his life, and believe in the Lord to help make them better.

By faith the group of believers called on the Lord Jesus to heal their city. By faith they invoked the fact that according to the Scriptures, whatever was killing their town had already been taken care of on the Cross! And because they set out to stand on that belief, the power in the finished work was released upon the issue they were dealing with, and it was destroyed!

So brother, sister, I don’t care what it is that you might be dealing with, begin to call upon the fact that The Lord has already destroyed that issue on the Cross! By faith in the finished work of the Cross, tell that issue that it cannot remain in your life! As you stand on this belief and release your faith into it, it WILL be destroyed!

Another crucial lesson from the story of the factory is that WE HAVE A JOB TO DO! People are suffering all around us, being shackled and tormented by the devil. As long as no one prayed about the situation in that town, the situation remained. And as long as you and I do not pray about the situations around us, they will remain. How tragic!

So child of God, arise and be a son/daughter to your heavenly Father! Be active in taking care of your Father’s business! His business is to make this world better! His business is to heal the sick, set the captives free, make lives better! BUT HE NEEDS YOU TO DO THAT! He needs your prayers. He needs your faith. It is only the prayers of the saints that can release the power of the finished work upon a situation and enable it to reverse the situation!

We’ve all heard that evil prospers where good men do nothing. It’s evermore true that evil prospers where Christians keep quiet! Determine today to do something about the evil and suffering around you! Begin to call upon the Lord to release the power of His finished work upon the bad situations you see in people’s lives. Do your job of helping to set the captives free!

God bless you as you do His work!

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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YOU NEED THE PRESENCE OF GOD IN YOUR LIFE!

One of the greatest tragedies in Christianity is the fact that most believers absolutely lack any understanding of what it means that the presence of God is with them. One of the Lord Jesus’ names is Emmanuel, which means God-with-us. Therefore, by receiving Jesus-Christ into one’s life, one receives ‘God-with-us’, which means that one receives the in-dwelling presence of God into one’s life, commonly known as the presence of the Holy Spirit.

There’s an event that took place in the days of King David that gives us a powerful revelation of the significance of the presence of God in an individual’s life. It’s the story of the time when King David attempted to bring the ark of God back to Jerusalem from the land of the Philistines where it had been held in captivity for years. David and his people set the ark on a cart and headed back to Jerusalem. We read in 2Samuel 6:6-12:

  And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and said, How shall the ark of the Lord come to me? 10 So David would not remove the ark of the Lord unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite. 11 And the ark of the Lord continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months: and the Lord blessed Obededom, and all his household. 12 And it was told king David, saying, The Lord hath blessed the house of Obededom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom into the city of David with gladness.” (KJV)

The major points of this story are:

  • David became afraid to bring the ark into Jerusalem, lest it kills more people.
  • He decided to leave the ark in the field of a man named Obed-Edom.
  • God blessed Obed-Edom within the space of 3 months.
  • The blessing was such that even King David heard of it!

Here’s what powerful about all this: The name Obed-Edom means ‘Obed of Edom’, or ‘Obed the Edomite’. Therefore, Obed was a descendent of Edom, that is, Esau, Jacob’s brother. This means that there was a serious curse that operated in Obed-Edom’s life: The curse of Esau. This curse put every descendent of Esau under every descendent of Jacob. For this reason, the Edomites who dwelled among the Jews were treated as second-class folks. So much so that when King David became afraid of the ark, he decided to leave it on the property of Obed-Edom, with the reasoning that if the ark must kill people, let it kill those in Obed-Edom’s house. That’s how insignificant the lives of Obed-Edom and his household were to David because of the curse at work.

So when the Presence of God came into the house of Obed-Edom, it broke this curse and turned the situation around between Obed-Edom and David in such a way that if not for the eternal covenant that God had with David, God might have let Obed surpass David! God had planned before the creation of this world that David’s throne would be eternal since Jesus would come into this world through David’s lineage and reign forever. For this reason, God granted David mercy and grace and arranged for him to hear about what was happening in Obed-Edom’s house. This is why David ran to get the ark out of there! And it is also why he danced so hard when he finally brought the ark into Jerusalem. He had seen how powerfully the ark could bless people, and rejoiced because he was bringing this great Presence of God into his own city!

Kings don’t usually hear about every little thing that’s happening in the kingdom. Court officers only share important information with their kings. So what God began to do in the life of Obed-Edom was so powerful that King David’s officers felt the need to tell him about it! In fact Obed-Edom’s case is a classic example of the saying ‘the stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone!’ Here’s how this saying apply to this case: In the days of the kings, a person’s wealth determined his status in the society, and the very wealthy one were treated like kings. The common people flocked to the wealthy people for help with all kinds of matters, including passing judgment between them, just as they would go to the king. This is why, when Absalom wanted to dethrone his father King David, he went and sat at the King’s gate and directed the people to him for all their needs and issues. He helped them with their needs, and judged between them. Thus, he usurped his father’s office and position before the people. Instead of fighting his own son over the power of the kingdom, David chose to abdicate and leave the palace for Absalom. If Obed-Edom had been left alone with the ark in his house, he too could have grown in power and influence over King David.

In order for you to grasp the enormity of what happened in Obed-Edom’s life, consider this: It is the work and power of the curse of Esau that we are still witnessing today in the Middle-East between the Israelis and the Palestinians. No United Nations intervention and no deals brokered between the Israelis and Palestinians by anybody will ever break the hold that the Israelis have on the Palestinians. Isaac said to Esau that if he succeeded in breaking off the yoke that the curse has placed on his neck, then he would become free from it (see Genesis 27:40). The uprisings that the Palestinians engage in today is called ‘Intifadah’, which means ‘break off’.  As we know, they keep trying to break off the Israelis’ hold on them, and never succeed!

This is why it is such a powerful thing that God was willing to break this curse in the life of Obed-Edom. Here are some powerful lessons from this:

  • Whom God curses, no one can bless!
  • Whom God curses, He can turn around and bless!

Think about this: Could God bless someone while keeping his curse on the person? He had to first of all cancel the curse of Esau in order for His blessing to work in Obed-Edom’s life. THIS IS THE AWESOME BENEFIT THAT BELIEVERS GET TO ENJOY FOR HAVING THE PRESENCE OF GOD IN THEIR LIVES! He comes into our lives ready to destroy every curse that may have been operating in our lives, and to replace it all with His awesome blessings! This is why if God is with you, who can be against you??? If God’s presence is with you, how can any curse work against you? How could He stand idly by while some curses are waging war against you?!? Rather He moves in and looks around your life, and sets out to destroy everything in your life that has been causing you trouble! In Obed-Edom’s case, verse 12 says “The Lord hath blessed the house of Obededom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God.”

The keyword in that passage is ‘pertaineth’. It means that God went to work to bless Obed-Edom everything that even remotely pertained to the man. If a matter concerned Obed-Edom in any way at all, God dealt with it on his behalf to give him victory in the matter! This is what God wants to be able to do in the life of every single child of His in this world, and it pains Him so much to see His children suffering at the hands of various curses, all because we fail to live lives that would be conducive to His divine and Holy Presence!

Brethren, I pray that as you read these words, you develop a deep hunger for the presence of God in your life, and that you determine yourself to walk in holiness and righteousness, that the Lord might be willing to dwell in your life. You simply cannot make it as a Christian without his holy presence in your life because, as we know, the kingdom of God – Christianity – is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17).  It is only His presence in you that can place His righteousness on you, and enable you to have His supernatural peace and joy flowing in you.

Make your life conducive to God’s divine presence, and begin to see His awesome power at work in your life, to His glory!

 

 
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Posted by on June 3, 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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