FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF APOSTLE PAUL (4)- PHILIPPI, GREECE 

‘From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days’ (Ac 16:12)

Today, is a Sabbath day. We are in Kavala, Greece. This afternoon, my husband and I visited the ruins of the ancient city of Philippi, Greece. The area is filled with massive stones, columns and broken walls. We saw the amphitheater where people came to be entertained with the famous Greek dramas. We saw streets with houses, market places and public baths. We imagined Apostle Paul walking there. But what impressed us the most where the ruins of three churches and the prison where Paul and Silas were detained. It was Sunday afternoon. Before going out we worshipped God watching the church service from our church, Father’s House in Warri, on the Internet. The sound and the pictures were so clear that for a moment we thought we went back to Nigeria. Later, as we sat down on the stony ‘pews’ in the ancient church at Philipi, we tried to feel what the Apostle Paul felt when he came to this town. Many of the stones that littered the grounds had the sign of the Cross on them.

We went to the museum and saw the sculptures of men and women from that era. They placed them on their tombs. Many of them had the sign of the Cross on their foreheads. This was because they wanted to be sure that anybody who saw them, even after thousands of years, they will know that they lived and died as Christians. Very interesting…

We then went to the prison cell where Paul and Silas were thrown into. This was because they delivered a slave girl from an evil spirit of fortune telling. As you know, Paul and Silas sang praises to God until the gates scattered. To me, this was a reminder that in every situation as praises go us to God, deliverance, freedom and breakthrough comes down. Praise the Lord! It was here that the jailer and his family got converted.

We left the ruins and went to the nearby village now called Lydia. We went to the river bank where Paul sat down to pray. It is now called Zigaktis River. It was here that he met some women willing to listen to the Gospel. One of the women, Lydia, got saved there. Even today, the river flows fast and happily. Out of many Biblical sites we have visited all over the world, this was one of the most anointed. The Holy Spirit is clearly here as a witness to this wonderful story of salvation to the Gentiles. As your remember, Paul had a vision. He saw a man pleading with him to come to Macedonia (Greece) to preach the Gospel to the people here. Paul obeyed. Led by the Spirit he came to this spot and he preached the Gospel to this woman, Lydia. The Holy Spirit ‘opened’ her heart and she believed! She was the very first convert in Europe!!! I like this! A man interceded and a woman answered the call! Glory!

The grounds around this very spot are very clean and beautiful. There is a little ‘grotto’ in the memory of Sister Lydia. There is a little church, still functioning, built to the glory of God and to the memory of Lydia’s conversion. This beautiful church garden is the Spirit’s gate to Europe!!! The grass is green. The flowers are bright in color. There are many butterflies and birds singing. (Let me add this… It is a private matter… The public toilets are very, very clean). The walnut trees, the olive trees and the fig trees are heavy with fruit on their branches. To tell you the truth, I was very proud to be a small woman of God visiting the memory park of another great woman of God. The cleanness of the garden, the beauty of the flowers, the fruitfulness, the peace, the palpable anointing and spirituality of this place, is a wonderful memorial to the blessings women (and men) have found in Christ. There is peace and joy here on earth. This was also a hope glimpse of glory we shall have in heaven. Wonderful God I praise You!

Coming back to the hotel in Kavala, I saw the smallest church built by the side of the road. They said it was the place where a Christian man died. They said that it was his dream to build a sanctuary for God before he dies. He died an untimely death and his family built this little church in his memory. It is a reminder that a small dream fulfilled is better than none. It is also a reminder to be humble and trust God to the end. Today is a good day for us! We increased our store of Biblical memories and marriage wine joy. Thank You Lord Jesus!

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MAY GOD GRANT YOU A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE! 

“A five stars marriage is like a five stars hotel: expensive, but worth it. True love unlocks doors and opens windows that were not even there before. A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person” (Mignon McLaughlin 1913-1983)

Esther

(In the picture Mr and Mrs Jacob, members of our church, who are happily married for more than 45 years! Praise the Lord!)

WE ABIDE FOREVER

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him… And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1Jn 2:15-17)
 
This is a difficult letter for me to write. The memory of my sinful foolish past, as a woman, wife and mother, is not pleasant. But thank God for Jesus! This letter is also a testimony given to the glory of God, to the shame of the devil and for the encouragement of other parents.
 
This is our story: My husband and I are medical doctors by profession and now, full time pastors. For about twenty years we had a very successful medical private practice called Lily Clinic in Warri, Nigeria. We made money and fame but we were not saved. Our three children grew up in a financially stable home, were the parents could provide what they needed. They went to private schools. We had drivers and house servants. This was normal in Nigeria. Few homes were ‘better’ than ours. But though we were rich, we did not spend money foolishly. Maybe it was my Romanian (Communist) background that made me love a simple life. We choose not to buy the latest fashion clothes, the most expensive cars or TV sets. We preferred reading books than watching TV programs. We preferred cooking at home than going to restaurants. That was more than 30 years ago…
 
Then the devil attacked. Our children made friends with other children from wealthy homes. They came back talking about the latest toys, computer games and expensive things they saw in their friends’ houses. Little by little, they started loving other homes more than ours. My husband and I became worried. We had two options: to stop our children visiting these homes where the parents were extravagant or to buy our own ‘big flat screen TV’, to compete with others. We choose the first option. We put boundaries on who our children should visit. That created anger in the hearts of our children. The devil made them believe that expensive things should be valued more than ‘cheap’ family love. This was very painful for all of us…
It was only after my husband and I became saved that we could start the process of healing and repairing the damage ‘the love of this world’ has done to our family. It was not easy because at that time our children were already grown. We started praying for healing, for deliverance, for a new vision of unity in the family with Christ as the Chief Cornerstone. We prayed daily (I mean every day) for our children, that they too may be saved. We prayed that we should be able, by the grace of God, to love them more now, as adults, than when they were little. The grace of God was working and the rainbow appeared on top of the flood.
 
God has blessed my husband and I with spiritual and material blessings beyond imagination. But even now, we are not extravagant in the things we choose to buy. We value our relationship and love more than what money can offer. Our children see this and they slowly learn to appreciate peace and joy in Christ more than material things. But the battle is not yet over. As pastors, we are parents to many spiritual children too. Our example is a light in the darkness to many. This light must continue to shine to the glory of God!
 
This is a great lesson I had to learn in a painful way: Materialism is a vicious demon. It can destroy families and marital relationships. I hate this demon! He is my enemy and I too I am his enemy! We can never ‘settle’! In Christ, our victory is sure! Christ is truly more than silver and gold! His gifts make many rich and they come without sorrow.
As a family, we are now much better. We are ‘a work in progress’ – as they say, but the light of God is already shining and the evil darkness can never quench it! This is our testimony! Glory to God for the unbeatable new life and unfailing love He has injected into our wounded family! We are now happy grandparents too! We now love Jesus more than money! We love ministry more than fashion! We love the grace of God more than the latest car! This is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and in our family!! We freely and joyfully acknowledge that God has done it for us! Because we do the will of God, according to the Bible, we now ‘abide forever’! “We worship You, Lord ! Hallelujah!”
 
I use our testimony as a point of contact to encourage other families, couples and people, who struggle with the love for material things, the poison that destroys loving relationships! There is hope in Christ! Fast and pray! I claim healing, deliverance, restoration and victory in your lives! The name of Jesus is above every other name! Rejoice for what God has done and what He will do! It is well! Praise the Lord!

TESTIMONY OF FRUITFULNESS 

God has just blessed my family in Romania. My only sister’s only son, Mihai Alexandru and his wife Georgiana Alexandru had a baby girl called Iulia. They waited for this baby for years. They are both medical doctors but they had problems to get pregnant. Medical science said that they can never have their own child. But against all odds, Georgiana got pregnant and now they have a beautiful daughter. I am so happy for them! To God alone be all the glory! I use them as a point of contact to pray for other couples who trust God for the fruit of the womb. With God all things are possible! Praise the Lord!

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WE WILL NOT FEAR! 

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (Ps 46:1-3)

“Although I am dust and ashes, Lord, I am tied to You by bonds of love. Therefore I feel I can speak freely to You. Before I came to know You, I was nothing. I did not know the meaning of life, and I had no understanding of myself. I have no doubt that You had a purpose in causing me to be born; yet, I thought that You had no need of me, and on my own I was no use to You. But then You decided that I should hear the words of Your Dear Son, Jesus Christ. And that as I heard His words, You enabled His love to penetrate my heart. Now I am completely saturated in His love and faith, and there is no remedy. Now, Lord, I cannot change my attitude to my faith; I can only die for it. I can never go back! I fear not what men may do to me! In life or death I declare that Jesus Christ is Lord!

O Lord our God, who raised up Your servant Hilarius to be a champion of the Catholic faith: Keep us steadfast in that true faith which we professed at our baptism, that we may rejoice in having You for our Father, and may abide in Your Son, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit; who live and reign for ever and ever. Amen”

This is a prayer by Bishop Hilarius of Poiters, 310-367, AD. He was born in a pagan family. He was well educated in the Greek philosophy. By the grace of God he became gloriously saved. The Christians in the city of Poiters, were so impressed with his conversion, his wisdom and courage, that they unanimously voted him as their bishop. His wife and his daughter got saved too. As a family they suffered much persecution for their faith. The religious leaders sent them to exile. The Christians they left in Poiters prayed him back. After five years in exile he and his family came back to continue the work of God. He wrote many books that became a great encouragement to Christians at that time. Even now, his words are filled with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Thru it all Bishop Hilarius and his family remained faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ until the end! Child of God, be encouraged today and praise the Lord!

St. Hilarius of Poiters

JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE SON OF JOSEPH

 

 

“Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, the One the prophets foretold–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph…They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” (Jn 1:45; 6:42)

 

Last Sunday we celebrated ‘Father’s Day’. There is one holy man in the Bible that I admire a lot. My choice may surprise you. I am talking about “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ” (Mt 1:16). He is one of the most neglected characters of the Christmas story. But his life is a treasure of encouragement to me.

 

What is his story? Humanly speaking, Joseph’s life was not easy. He had to deal with much disappointment. First of all, as a husband, he heard that Mary, the girl he loved and planned to marry, was pregnant!!! Of course the Angel told him that she got pregnant by the Holy Spirit. But in his flesh, it was not easy to accept this ‘good news’. ‘The joy to the world’ meant silent sorrow (at least for some time) in the heart of Joseph. As a father he had his own pains. His sons with Mary did not believe that their older brother is the Messiah. “For even his brothers didn’t believe in Him (Jesus)” (Jn 7:5). Because Joseph was a believer in Christ, to have unbelieving sons, that was not an easy fact to deal with. Until he died, Joseph did not see his sons converted to Christ. Then there was also another painful issue he had to accept: his loss of social status! Joseph descended from the direct lineage of King David. In the history of Israel, the people of God became rebellious against God. They needed to be humbled. God sent them to Babylon for seventy years. When they came back to their land, they came without their royal mantle (read Matthew 1). They ‘lost’ their crown in the wilderness of Babylon. They came back as ordinary men. If it is not for the rebellion of his people, Joseph could have been ‘His Royal Majesty King Joseph’. He could have lived in David’s palace in Zion, married to a Queen and with many servants around him. But that dream died and was buried in Babylon. Instead, Joseph was known as the village ‘carpenter’, too poor to bring a lamb when his Son was dedicated at the temple. He could only bring two doves, the offering of a poor man.

 

But thru it all, with all these losses and disappointments, I do not see any trace of bitterness in Joseph. He was a man of God! He was a good caring husband to Mary. He was a wonderful father to Jesus and to his other sons. He was a righteous man, a wise, patient and spiritual man. God spoke to him thru dreams and he obeyed God with all his heart. He was led by the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit chose Mary to carry God’s seed in her womb. God also chose Joseph to be a father to Jesus for many years. The greatest achievement of Joseph was that he was called the father of Jesus!!! He lost his crown but his adopted Son was the King of kings!!! What a vindication!

 

What are the lessons for us today? Be born again! That is the first and most important lesson! As a child of God you can live a life of humility and thanksgiving, no matter the difficult circumstances around you. There is no need to look back, at what could have been. There is no need to compare yourself with others. If you are saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, then you shall be free from inferiority complexes, depression, doubt and bitterness. Your greatest achievement, your heritage and gain is your relationship with Jesus! In the light of His glory and grace, nothing else matters! Hallelujah!

Joseph and Baby

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(In the picture, you see Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus, wonderfully played by Mr and Mrs Joseph Alika (and baby) who are part of the drama organized by our church every Christmas and called ‘The Nativity’)

MY LITTLE EXPENSIVE MISTAKE 

‘Wisdom is more powerful
than weapons,
yet one mistake can destroy
all the good you have done’ (Ecc 9:18)

Today I learned another lesson in a painful way. My husband and I were planing to go out. I wanted to finish my notes on our trip to Phillipi. I was very Impatient to write as fast as I could. I finished my letter. Then I pressed ‘copy to paste’. By mistake, because I was in a hurry, I pressed ‘delete’. All my good work for the past one hour disappeared in less than a second. I was shocked! I wanted to hate my phone… It was very painful. For a moment I thought that God is not ‘fair’ to me. I could smell the devil coming close to attack my spirit… Jesus!!!! I quietly but firmly rejected the anger that wanted to enter my heart!

We went out. Later, the Holy Spirit reminded me that impatience is able to spoil much good work, especially in ministry. I remembered the scripture that said ‘a little mistake spoils much good work’. God’s Word is right! Always! God is not ‘fair’ to the flesh because the flesh must die! God is always fair to the Spirit! Finally, I ‘forced’ myself to thank God for the fulfillment of His Word. My pain turned to worship. I came back home and I wrote the notes again, this time I was patient and careful, as I should have been! Good lesson for me! The pain was only for a moment but the lesson is for a life time! Thank God for reminding me of the power of His Word! Hallelujah!!!