Monday, November 28, 2016

Standing in the gap: prayer is listening to instruction...


I dragged myself to church on Sunday [...tired of the status quo] and one of the key things that I took away is that prayer is also listening to instructions. Sometimes when I go before God, I go with a long shopping list of the things I want Him to do for me. I run through the list, say or whisper a big amen and hurry off to the next activity. But when two Pastors on Sunday [on two different occasions for that matter] kept repeating that we should learn to go before God with the intention of "praying by listening," I felt that they were both talking to me. 

Example - Luke 5:1-8 - When Peter was hustling at work, and it looked like all was not working, Jesus gave him a simple instruction, but he didn't listen...at least that is what I see in the text...Jesus said: "Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught." What did Simon do? First he "complained" and then said, "...nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net". Jesus instructed him to take nets, but he took a net and when his miracle came in, his net could barely hold it.... I left Church feeling somehow because like Peter, I think I've many times allowed my mind muddle with God's instructions or my feet to move faster than God's instructions.
Examples of those who listened:
Joshua, when he was instructed to gather the children of Israel and march round the wall of Jericho...and shout after a certain number...anyone would have thought that was a crazy/weird strategy for winning a battle...but it worked! [Joshua 5 & 6]
David, when he asked God whether to pursue his enemies or not. God told him no. He could have as well pursued them knowing that in the past when he pursued, God gave him victory...but pursuing his enemies was not in God's strategy this time...thank God he asked and listened to instruction! [1 Samuel 30:8, 2 Samuel 5:19, 2 Samuel 5:23]

Daniel, when he sort God's face to interpret the king's dream! If he had hurried out of God's presence, he wouldn't have heard a thing. [Daniel 2]

The apostles when they had to select a new disciple to replace Judas Iscariot! Act 1:23-25

The list goes on and on!

Anyway, I thought to share this quick lesson....as we all fan our personal prayer altar this week, I hope that we'll keep in mind that prayer is listening to instruction[s]...and as we listen, may we all hear God's voice in a language that we'll each understand and obey promptly--even if the instructions don't make sense to our human understanding. And where we might have missed a turn or instructions in the past, may God's mercy help re-direct our "feet" to the right path. AMEN!


Shalom!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Why Do People Go To Church?

You might have read the six reasons why we go to church. Here is an assignment I did for school on why people go to church.

Listen to this track and feel free to share your reasons for going or not going to church.
  Shalom!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Women-only group: Standing in the gap



I am starting a women-only Facebook group for two purposes:

1. To inspire a praying culture and hopefulness that will help us maintain a fervent prayer-chain [and Bible study]

2. To get us to walk in the consciousness that we should not only be praying for ourselves but also for others-- especially the men in our lives - husbands, fiancé, boyfriend, friends, brothers, cousins, sons, nephew, male boss, mentees.

We are a dominant force that believes that "...The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much". James 5:16

I was reading the book of Genesis and for the first time realized the connection between Eve's influence and Adam's fall....and how God had to re-direct the woman's position to the place of serving her husband. I also saw the story of Abigail and how her influence spared her "foolish" husband from experiencing the wrath of king David. And Deborah, the wife of Lapidoth, who fought for Israel and won. There is also the story of Zipporah, Moses' wife and how she stood in the gap for her husband when God sort to kill him. And the slave girl who told her master, Naaman, about the prophet Elisha, where he sought healing from his leprous disease. We can mention Mary the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ...through whom God brought our saviour into being... not forgetting Mary, who worshiped Jesus with her expensive perfume.

And then, the women who supported our Lord's ministry with their wealth.

The list is long!

Bottom line, you and I as women are very influential...right from the beginning when God created Eve. No wonder the society like to suppress women...LOL.

I hope we can help one another up on our knees and also help influence the men in our lives. Please feel free to share a monthly [or bi-monthly] prayer point in this group, Bible verse or inspiration from the Holy Spirit as you are led! You don't have to...but I hope you do!

Let us grow together!

Shalom!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Protect Your Calling...


The other day at Newark Airport, a young man walked up to me and started this interesting conversation about being born again and asked about my faith. Yes, in America, that same country where faith is a private matter.

To cut the long story short, by the time I was done with my dinner, the young man summed up the conversation with the charge to stop hiding my power. *sigh

I saw this video and thought to share!

What is your calling? Beware of the shadow mission!


Shalom.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Lord, Deliver Us from Strange Doctrines!

"Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood: That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace: That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets: That our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets. Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord." 
Psalm 144:11-15.

These past months, I heard about so many religious views and saw many unChristlike actions that for weeks made me stay away from "church", church people and agents who propagate these strange doctrines to confuse believers and followers of Jesus Christ. But the experience has even challenged me to keep my eyes on studying God's word for answers instead of trying to rationalise the things of the spirit with human understanding.

There are so many doctrines and strange messages! There are many youtube links that would almost drive you crazy if you are not careful and turn you away from the gospel! Everyone of them believe that their way of "religion" is the correct way. One even said "God" is not the real name of God. And that each time we call that name we are worshipping the devil or something of that nature. 

Someone [who called me a pagan by his religious standard :-) ] used to send me hebrew names of God and all that Jewish teachings [is that legalism?] and tried to convince me to learn them... long story. I told him I will call God almighty the creator of heaven and earth by the names already revealed in the Bible-- the Holy book! But he brought on this long argument about the pope and all this and all that. Long story!

Dearly beloved, I ask that we keep praying for one another and ask for God Almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, to reveal Himself to us like He did to the prophets of old who called Him a name to express their encounter...!

But God almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, has also revealed Himself to us through His son, Jesus Christ - Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, the lion of the tribe of Judah! We must not allow strange doctrines pull us away from His light and truth! 

😳When there's no foundation.
Many people are dying a slow death because their hope lies in the traditions of the church only, and not in JESUS! Have a relationship w/ Him, not a building. Make sure wherever you assemble, that the foundation is Jesus!

Having a personal relationship with God and living according to His WORD is what will help us stay rooted in His truth! May the Holy Spirit continue to help us walk right and discern strange doctrines that may want to put a wedge between us and the love that God Almighty has bestowed on us.

....But at the end of the day, will we be asked what denomination we belonged to or what religion we practiced...? It is our faith in Jesus Christ, our impact and expression of His love towards others and our obedience, among other things that counts.

My prayer for every young believer and christian who might be struggling [including myself!]:
"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." 
Ephesians 1:15-23

Shalom!




Sunday, August 21, 2016

Is it God or the devil that is dealing with us?



Have you ever been in a situation that leaves you wondering how you got there in the first place? Like Jonah aboard the ship being tossed left and right.

Have you ever experienced a life threatening situation that left you gasping for breath? Or had your significant other rising up in your defense? Like Moses, when Zipporah stood in the gap for him.

Last week, I was thinking a lot about spiritual warfare and how we Christians are often told to rise up and arm ourselves in order to overcome, and not fall victim of the devices of the wicked.

You see, reading through the Bible, we are taught how great men and women of faith had to fight their way to victory through the help of the Spirit of God. These men and women fought for their lives, their land, their destinies in order to obtain and enjoy the promises of God concerning them. They fought and conquered. And their gains became a transgenerational blessing, one we still benefit from till date.

When Jesus Christ came into the world, one of His major goals was to reconcile us back to God. Along the way, He won us big victories over sin, sickness, shame, diseases, poverty and death! So, by accepting Jesus Christ as our LORD and saviour and having faith in God, we get to walk in that same level of victory.

BUT. That does not mean that we will not be faced with challenges. It just means that we'll be operating from a different level. When an agent of the devil comes to torment us with any familiar or strange sickness, we are able to rise up and say: The Lord rebuke you satan! And he will flee. We have that power and authority through Christ and the blood that was shed on the cross of calvary.
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will[a] have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 [Bible Gateway]
There are situations, however, when we do not need to raise our fist up in anger against the devil and his agents. There are times when all we need is someone like Zipporah standing in the gap for us because the wrath of God is upon us as a result of an unconfessed sin or a path of disobedience we chose to follow.
Exodus 4:24-26
New International Version (NIV)24 At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses[a] and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it.[b]“Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)
There are times when like Jonah we have to open our mouth and confess our disobedience and reckless living in other to save ourselves and others from destruction. Even if this will land us in the belly of a whale, we know repenting from our evil ways will pay off well in the long run. Sometimes, it looks prettier to cover our sins. But the high road is always better-- confess and repent [turn from the evil way/pleasures of sin].
"Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous. And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.” Jonah 1: 10-12 [Bible Gateway].
We also remember king David. He was confronted by prophet Nathan after he committed adultery and murder, and he repented. Psalm 51 has become one of the most heartfelt repentance many Christians read aloud today because David took the high road and repented before God.

I've been reflecting on some of these cases and the trend of spiritual warfare. What if Jonah, David, Moses/Zipporah had spent more time waging war against the devil and his cohorts instead of humbling themselves and repenting of their own sins? What if they had not been quick to discern that it was God dealing with them and not the devil? It will be a different story we are telling today!

Take a look at Saul! One of the reasons he lost everything was because even after prophet Samuel confronted him about his act of disobedience to God, he gave excuses instead of repenting! He fell from glory [when a genuine repentance would have lifted him out of the rut].

I am not trying to underplay the importance of spiritual warfare. I am just amazed that most times we focus so much on throwing punches at the devil and constantly rebuking him when we should be rebuking ourselves. Like seriously, I've consciously developed a habit of doing spiritual check-up where I have to ask myself whenever I'm feeling a cloud of darkness washing over me: "Is it the devil that is dealing with you or God?"

Take a moment to reflect:

Are the challenges you are going through as a result of a crack you left in your armour that gave the devil the foot-hold to torment your life? Or as a result of a deliberate act of disobedience on your part? Or is it God trying to get your attention over something?

  • Are you facing relationship issues? CHECK-UP: Is the guy/girl you are dating an unbeliever? Are you doing things to honor God or your flesh? Is God calling you to set yourself apart for Him but you are being persistent about wanting a relationship because the world expects you to? Take note, the trouble in the relationship might not be the devil wanting to ruin your union but God trying to get your attention back to that path He wants you to be or God working hard to get you out of that particular relationship to protect you from the danger ahead.
  • Are you facing rejection in your bid to climb up the career ladder? CHECK-UP: Struggling to become CEO under 35 [or the first this and the first that] when deep down within you know God has called you to become a missionary and help build the broken bridges in obscure communities around the world? Or to be that watchman who will sound the warning for others not to perish in their sin?
  • Do you have a disease or sickness that you have been fasting and praying to go away? CHECK-UP: is it a dart from the devil? Or did it start when you deliberately embraced an adulterous relationship? Or cheated that naive customer who was unaware of your manipulative scale?
Fellow soldier in Christ, do not be stubborn. Let us repent and turn our hearts to God. Nothing, no pleasures of sin, can be compared to the bliss of walking in obedience, in line with God's will for our lives. This is not to say that we have to be a "PERFECT T". No. As long as we learn to always be honest with ourselves, others and God, He will always help us get better and better.

Again, some trouble we face aside being devil afflicted or self-afflicted might just be God making us go through them in order to strengthen our faith. The key is patience and discernment. No point running from one deliverance ministry to another when all we need to do is to be still and fix our eyes on Jesus:
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 
1 Peter 5:10 [Bible Gateway]
It is important in this age and time to always discern. Let us always ask the Holy spirit for help. Don't go battling the devil when all you need to do is confront your own sin, repent and walk in the victory that God has given us through Christ Jesus! The sin might just be as simple as a "small" lie that needs to be corrected. Or a "big" sin like murder, stealing or adultery. A sin is a sin.

Of course, there will always be forces trying to truncate our destiny. But with faith in Jesus Christ, we would be confronting those darts with the Light in us and the victory that our Lord already set on our path[s].

Be still. Take your focus off the devil-- he is a loser already. Fix your eyes on Jesus and let Him reveal to you what exactly is the cause or purpose of your pain.

There are cases [will be cases] like Job's, when it is God who will give the devil permission to deal with us [Job 1:6-12]. Or like Peter, whom the devil asked Jesus for permission to sift [Luke 22:31-34]. But it all ended in praise because even though they both went through such painful trial and temptation, they came out of it better --broken, bruised but BETTER.

Job's wealth and family were restored - better than what he lost- and he was given the opportunity to pray for his friends who almost confused his faith [beware of the voices you listen to during your trials and temptation]. As for Peter? He fell. He denied Christ. But he repented and Jesus who already prayed long before Peter's fall empowered him to use his weakness to strengthen others. Peter grew to become a strong apostle whose story is very prominent in the book of Acts.

When next you find yourself walking through the valley of the shadow of death, and it feels like your whole world is caving in, have faith that God who is mighty to keep His promises will pull you out of it. But also be sure that you are not the one fanning the flame of darkness upon you and your loved ones through conscious or unconscious acts of disobedience.

I write this to you as I write to myself as well.

May God have mercy on our generation!

Shalom.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Lord, please close every wrong door in my life!


Today at about 2.24pm, I ran like my life depended on it. I was trying to catch the train to New Carrollton. When I heard a train pull up into the subway while I was still trying to swap my card through the entrance, the rate of my heartbeat doubled. Well, kind of. I was worried that I would miss the train. So the first impulse when I got off the escalator was to increase my speed in order not to miss it. As I got to the front of the door, the train went "panpan-pan pan" and shut the door.

Was I embarrassed! Those who had watched me race down the escalator looked in my direction-- I couldn't tell if it was pity or empathy I saw in their eyes. I looked away quickly. They could have as well been shaming me. I grinned sheepishly, at my own ridiculousness-- I raced to finish but only to miss it. I felt very bad to have narrowly missed the opportunity.

As the train pulled away, leaving me behind, I noticed that it was actually the blue line! A wrong route! In my desperation not to miss the train, I hadn't considered that the train in question could have possibly been heading another direction-- far from my destination. I had been stubbornly persistent. For nothing. 

What would have happened if I had gotten on the train? I might have realized my error and gotten off at the next stop. Or worse, not even paid attention while reeling in triumph for beating the odds only to find myself in an area I didn't plan to be- the wrong spot.

That is how life is sometimes. We are persistent, but about the wrong things. Racing through life at the speed of lightening but towards the wrong direction. In the quest to "make it", we find ourselves chasing the wrong dream, paddling the wrong canoe, punching the wrong bags. Hoping against hope, for the wrong reasons.

If we hit the brake pad of our life, we would save ourselves from much agony. Some seconds pause on that flight of escalator was just what I needed to have noticed that the train I needed to board was a minute away from the station. All I could have done was look up at the notice board, pause and wait. 

Not everyone gets lucky to have a wrong door shut in their faces. Not all of us get to realize that some opportunities we miss or lose are because they are the wrong doors! No matter how hard we work for them or how sweet they appear, I really pray that God Almighty will always shut the wrong doors in our faces when we stubbornly keep chasing them. Have mercy, Yeshua!

What phase of life are you in at the moment? Are you running at a top speed in the wrong direction? Boarded the wrong train while trying to impress folks with your persistence or "can do" attitude? Accepted a wrong job or proposal? Jumped into a wrong/abusive relationship out of loneliness or neediness? It is not too late to hit the brake and make a U-turn. Awareness is the first step to deliverance. If you are aboard already, I wish you the courage to get off and retrace your steps. You may need the help of a peer mentor or a godly counsellor to navigate your way out. Don't be too ashamed or embarrassed to look up at the notice board or ask for a guide.

There is no shame in retracing or repenting. Trust me, there is no shame in setting things right. People will laugh and shame you. But which will you rather have? A long-term applause for being on the wrong route or a short-term shame and ridicule for having the courage to retrace your steps towards the right direction?

An absolute surrender to God is what most of us need to get started, no matter how far we have strayed, or what wrong door we might have walked through, or how discouraged we might feel at the moment for missing that "opportunity". 

Mercy still speaks!! Embrace His mercy, on your knees.

Hear our good, good Father's promise:

"I will teach you in the way that you should go," says the Lord, "I will guide you with my loving eyes and watch over you." Psalm 32:8.

The next verse goes on to counsel us not to be like the mule who needs bridle and rope to keep it on track. In order words, stubborn persistence is unnecessary when we trust and obey His guide.

I hope this blesses you as it has blessed me.

Stop racing in oblivion. Slow down. Focus. Get off the wrong track.

Shalom!


--
Jennifer Ehidiamen