PROGRESS BY FORGETTING

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus!” (Philipp 3:13-14)

We have here Paul’s wise theory of life — progress by forgetting, by letting go of the things that are past. The word forgetting also means to blot out of memory or to cut loose from. We cannot go back to the past mistakes and sins. But we can bring these to God who is able to bring glory to Himself by making new wisdom for us.

I heard of a story; a traveler found a place beside the sea, where many ships were dashed upon the rocks. Beautiful houses were built from pieces of wreckage gathered from the shore.

That is about the best many of us can do. We have little else to bring to God but wreckage — disobediences, broken commandments, mistakes, sins. Yet it is a wonderful thought that even with such materials, if we are truly penitent and repentant — our Master will work, helping us to build beauty in our lives. Sins forgiven become lessons for us. Out of a past full of failures, we may make a future full of strength and beauty — through the grace of Christ. We cannot forget our sins, but we may be wiser and better for them. Praise the Lord!

Lake-Huron-shipwreck

In the picture: Lake Huron is one of the five Great Fresh water Lakes of North America,  on the border of Canada and the United States. About 1000 ship wrecks lie in the depths of these lakes. The people around the lake dived and retrieved materials to build their beautiful homes from the remains of these ship wrecks.

PRAISE REPORT

This evening I remember a very interesting story. More than 20 years ago, our youngest daughter Jemine went with her dad to a social and family party in Sapele, Nigeria. She was about 6-7 years old and she was invited to sing a song at the microphone. Many ‘big’ men, rich men, politicians and traditional rulers were in attendance. She loved to sing and dance. Unlike me, she was never shy in public. It just happened that I thought our children the Ten Commandments that week. I never knew that the youngest will have an opportunity to preach the Word!

She saw many people kneeling down before the big men. She took the microphone to sing. Suddenly, just before the song, she paraphrased from Exodus 20 saying: “Uncles and Aunties, It is not good to kneel down before men! Kneel only before God! For God is a jealous God!” Then she sang a song of praise to God. The people were shocked at the boldness of this little girl. We still meet people who remember that event. Nobody knows how the seed of life spoken by a 7 years old saved the souls of many! To God be all the glory!

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Ex 20:4-6)

DECEPTION DESTROYED (2)

“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control” (1Tim 2:14, 15)

In the natural, women have a tendency to be deceived more than the men. This is the story of how Bathsheba, was deceived, when her son, King Solomon, was not (1Kings 2). This is a great lesson for us all because she is the almost perfect woman described in Proverbs 31. It is another example how a good woman can fall to deception.

This is the background of the story.  One day, Adonijah comes to Bathsheba with a request. He wants to marry Abishag, his late father’s nurse and last ‘wife’. Bathsheba agrees to talk to her son. Hearing about Adonijah’s request, King Solomon suddenly becomes angry and refuses his mother’s intercession. He judges Adonijah’s actions as ‘evil’ and kills him for it. Read this royal drama and discover how Adonijah deceived the Queen Mother. She was not a young woman. She was the widow of great King David and now their son was on the throne. She was used to the palace intrigues and politics. So how was it that she did not detect this evil deception? How does deception come?

*Deception comes thru flattery

It is interesting to note that Adonijah’s mother’s name was Haggith, which in Hebrew means to celebrate, to entertain or to dance in circles until others get dizzy. His mother might have been someone who knows how to seduce men with her lustful dance. She reminds us of Salome, the daughter of Herodias, who thru entertainment gained the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Her son Adonijah is a skillful actor. He flatters Bathsheba saying that her son will always grant her every wish.

*Deception comes wrapped in the ordinary things of life

Adonijah did not sound like a wicked schemer, or a corrupt politician. He said that he wants to marry. He was addressing the emotions of Bathsheba as a mother. He knew that all good mothers will like sons to marry. On the surface, nothing is wrong. That is how deception hides. But by taking his late father’s youngest ‘wife’, he is claiming the throne for himself. Rebellion and evil is still in his heart. That is why Solomon rebukes his mother for being deceived by his wicked older brother. He judges his request as a proof that his brother is still a schemer, a rebellious man who wants to kill him and take his throne. “He who plots to do evil will be called a schemer” (PV 24:8). This request for marriage is Adonijah’s death sentence. Solomon kills him and now ‘the kingdom is established in his hands’. In Hebrew, the word ‘established’ means to stand erect, to have victory, peace and prosperity. Solomon, who wrote the Book of Proverbs, tells us what to do in similar situations. “Remove wicked officials from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness” (PV 25:5)

HE WHO BUILT THE GALLOWS SHALL HANG ON IT

“Then his wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Let a gallows be made, fifty cubits high, and in the morning suggest to the king that Mordecai be hanged on it; then go merrily with the king to the banquet.” And the thing pleased Haman; so he had the gallows made” (Est 5:14)

This is the story of God’s justice. The righteous shall be rewarded and the wicked shall be punished. God’s name does not appear in the Book of Esther. But His providence is clearly seen in the whole story. At this time, Esther is already set to do the will of God. Judgment must come on the wicked Haman. Esther invites the king and Haman to a banquet in her royal quarters. That pleased Haman, for only the most intimate friends of the king can attend such a party. That made Haman even more proud. This pride made him blind to any revelation of God’s will. He lacks any sensitivity to the leading of God’s Spirit.  Haman is happy. But the only thing stopping Haman to be completely happy is Mordecai the Jew, who still does not bow to him like the others. This is a good lesson: the proud wicked ambitious people are never totally happy and they never have complete peace, day or night!

His wife and friends advise him to build a very high gallows to hang Mordecai as soon as possible. This gallows is three times higher than a normal one. This is so that all men see what will happen if men disobey the ‘big man’. The wicked Haman has invited his friends to a house party getting ready for the long planned self-promotion. They rejoice in their wickedness. Like crazy drunkards, Haman, his wife and his friends are so deceived, so much out of the will of God that they have no idea that he is building his own judgment. In few hours, he will hang on the very gallows he has built in the central square of Susa. This is the Word of God: “If you set a trap for others, you will get caught in it yourself. If you roll a boulder down on others, it will crush you instead” (PV 26:27)

May God forbid marriage with an ungodly spouse! May God separate you from all ungodly so called friends! May God deliver you from all evil, pride, deception, foolishness and worldly ambition! May God bless you with a godly marriage and godly friends! In Jesus name, amen!

NO FALLING DOWN

“A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain and a corrupt spring” (PV 25:26)

I had learned many things from Mordecai the Jew, Queen Esther’s uncle. I learned not to bow down to the devil or to his agents. I learned how to confront a situation with God’s wisdom and strength.

In the scripture above we are told that if a righteous man falls down before a wicked unbeliever that troubles the heavens. How can a born again believer ‘fall down’? He may fall into sin; he may backslide. As the wicked men witness the backsliding of a believer, there is ‘trouble in paradise’. The ungodly man rejoices to see that the children of God can fall into sin. That is what the devil wants to see. He is ready to pay any amount to watch such a disgraceful defeat of a child of God. The backsliding of the believers is top entertainment in hell.  Another way is for a believer to fall down in worshipping the money or the status of a wicked rich man; or to give up his faith because of the oppression and persecution of wicked men. This trouble affects the source of the water-springs. The waters become bitter and poisoned. Many others die as they drink water down the river. Backsliding is a serious offence staining the name of God among men. It emboldens the sinners and discourages the believers. God forbid!

Long ago I made a covenant with God that He should never allow me to backslide, even if want to do it or pray that I should do it. I told Him to keep me close to His bosom and chastise me if I ever want to distance myself from His presence.  I told God that I prefer to die and go to heaven than to disgrace His name in my life. That covenant works for me. I passed thru many trials because of my faith. But even when the fire was hot enough to ‘kill me’ I just could not think of backsliding. The very thought of it offended me as it offends my Father in heaven.

May God the Holy Spirit encourage you this hour! Do like Mordecai! Do not bow down to the rich and famous! Be faithful unto death and you shall receive the crown of life!

THE TOWER OF VICTORY IS FINALLY BUILT

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?” (Lk 14:26-30)

Tonight we had a wonderful prayer meeting. It was made wonderful, not by us, but by the presence of the King of kings in our midst. We are still praying for an encounter with God, with Jehovah Jireh. We praised God and we prayed. I hope you feel the anointing, the fire of the sacred flame! Then the message came.

The scripture above describes a man who wants to build a tower. This is not an ambitious sky scraper for all to see and bow to the latest architecture. Our Lord is talking about a watchtower the man wants to build in his vineyard or his garden (Is 5: 2). What is the background of the story? This man observes that there are losses in his business. Thieves come and steal his fruit. These can be human beings or wild animals. There is need for a watchtower to prevent such losses. The man lays the foundation and then he has no money to finish it. Who will rejoice? It is the thieves, of course. They may take his name to the ju-ju priest to place a course on that tower. Then the thieves can continue their stealing. In fact the vineyard belongs to the thieves now. This evening we identified with the man who has a vineyard and who suffers losses. We want to put a stop to it! This is the question: Who are these thieves? They are men and women close to you, familiar faces you will never suspect that they can steal. They can be ‘your mother, father, wife, children, brothers, sisters and even yourself’. All these people can steal from your own blessings, they can take your business for granted; they can take without your permission and without giving thanks to God. We refuse to sponsor thieves, even if ignorantly. Tonight marked a new beginning of blessings in our lives and businesses! Tonight, God gave us the grace to ‘Catch… the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom” (SS 2:15)

That is why tonight we repented from loving others more than loving God who has been so good to us. We repented of speaking in doubt, of quoting worldly proverbs that glorify doubt. For example: ‘A bird in the hand is more than a thousand in the bush’. That is the wisdom of the world and of doubt. We let go the only bird we have and we receive the thousands God has for us. We surrendered all to Jesus tonight. We let go of all loves for family and friends, that we receive God’s love everlasting. In this way our lives and business are secure and they can only be blessed!

Finally we sang:
“All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all”

Yes, God has blessed tonight the work of our hands! The prophetic watchtower of protection, peace and victory shall be built! The hands that laid its foundation shall finish the roof, with shouts of ‘Grace! Grace!’ (Zech 4) This is our confession this evening! To God be all the glory!
In Jesus name, amen

THE WOMAN BEING DECEIVED

HAPPY WITH CHURCH TONIGHT
We’ve just ended our women’ fellowship; by any standards it was a good meeting. We praised God, prayed and testify to His goodness and faithfulness. We talked about deception. I was telling them about a friend of mine. She was a successful career woman now retired. She was happily married. She and her husband bought a big plot of land. They built a small house at the end of the land. She told me that is the ‘boys’ quarters’ (In Nigeria, where I live, it is quite common to have a little house behind the main house where the domestic staff or the helpers live). She told me that soon they will start building the real house, their dream house. For now, they decided to move in the boys’ quarters so that they do not have to pay rent anymore.
Then her marriage suffered a serious damage. Her husband left her for other women and for some years she lived there alone. She suffered serious depression. After many years, the husband apologized and they reconciled at last. But she still lives alone in the same little house. That old dream with the ‘dream house’ died in the process. The devil attacked and she was deceived to compromise. She settled for her ‘second best unable to pursue the dream of her youth. It is a sad story…
We prayed that God will have mercy and revive our dreams. We rejected all deception! We prophesied that we are the daughters of Sarah, the Princess and not of Hagar, the slave! Then the Word of God came:
“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control” (1Tim 2:14, 15)

The study of spiritual warfare against deception is useful for all believers, but in particular for us, the women. This is because in the history of humanity, Eve was deceived by the devil when her husband was not. Adam fell into sin not thru deception, but thru open rebellion. This is the spiritual X-ray of the fall in the Garden of Eden. The devil was able to deceive Eve, but not Adam. He chose to disobey God’s command to ‘preserve’ his marriage with a backsliding wife. In this way, both fell in the same time. This is the story of the ‘original sin’. This is a great lesson for us all, especially for the married couples. The devil has not changed his strategy. He will attack the marriage by trying to deceive one of the two. If the wife falls to his deception, the chance that the husband will also fall is very high. It is the same if the husband is deceived first. It is only by the grace of God that the wife will be able to stand firm in faith and to remain faithful to God.

To better understand the devil’s intent, let’s study the word ‘deceive’. It means to cheat, to defraud someone of something dear or valuable; to deprive someone of his rights and privileges; to mislead others far away from truth and safety; to flatter with intent to ensnare; to be sexually unfaithful; to betray, to abuse the confidence of a friend, to take advantage of the trust of another; to insult, to be cruel, to disappoint or to make a fool of another. To deceive it also means to confuse, to exploit, to manipulate, to seduce, to frustrate, to entice or to entrap.
The opposite of deception means to speak the truth in love, to be faithful, to help another, to be honest, to be generous; to protect, to release from a snare or bondage, to save and deliver another who is in trouble.

The devil will try to deceive one so that the other will remain ‘stranded’ spiritually. Deception destroys the unity of the Spirit. Deception is the hidden root of division and divorce. Generally, the women being more emotional than men have a greater tendency to be deceived by others. They are careless with the duty of prayer especially when they make friends or when they want to marry. They do more things they later regret. They become ‘silly women’ burdened by foolish guilt and unconfessed sins. They end up in depression, bitterness, fear and inferiority complex.

We reject all lies of the devil. We reject all deceptions! We plead the Blood of Jesus over our lives, marriages, children, ministries, the work of our hands and our destinies! God’s will be done! We vow to glorify God for His wonders in our lives! In Jesus name, Amen!