From Intergrity, and Reputation, to Corruption and Restoration. A Testimony from a Disciplined Heart
by Caleb Ochieng
Scripture verse: Luke 21:34. Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.
Introduction: This is something that is coming from my own heart. Something that I have practically walked through. By November 2010 I will be 15 years old in pastoral/preaching ministry. And by March this same year I will be 36 years old in this world. I started preaching and pastoring at 21. I started on a good note, trusting on God for everything in my life. A kind hearted brother, Peter, having noticed my zeal and calling to the preaching ministry, recommended me to go to a Bible School that believed in the Holy Spirit.
For nearly one year, I together with some 30 young men were involved in something that was more than a Bible School. I could call it a school of ministry. It was a time of constant prayers, bible study, training and manual work. The mentoring was so real and biblical. Fresh from the Bible and Pastoral Theological College, Eldoret, I was to start get into another training school, this time on a daily basis. I was enrolled straight away, from that very moment, without knowing, into the pure school of the Holy Spirit. I have been into this school on an off.
As a young man ready to pastor the first church in my life in another land and language, away from my tribe and comfort zone. I had no idea about pastoral responsibilities. I only knew a little bit about delivering a sermon to a few people but not taking care of a whole church. While I was both fearful and excited at the same time, I asked God to lead me in this path.
Two things came out as I prayed: integrity, good reputation. I did not know how to keep church records, I did not know how to handle elders and women and all that which is in the church. So I resolved to do two things; walk in integrity and keep a good name. Little did I know that God was planting in my heart the secret key to successful ministry as a young man. The Spirit of God planted in my heart the ability to consciously walk in Integrity and high reputation. I admit that I have never experienced an effective ministry in any other place as it was with these precious people, in that rural setting of the Kisii people.
It was a ministry full of inspiration, revelation and authority. I wrote these two words on the front page of my Bible as daily reminder. Each time I picked up my bible, I could see these words and they reminded me on what God wanted me to uphold as a young minister/preacher. On the ceiling of my sleeping room I wrote the five things that a young pastor should set as an example to his flock according to 1 Timothy 4:12. (In word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity). As I could see later on after many years this was a very humble but good beginning spiritually in my pastoral calling.
A few years before all these, I had, on a certain day, at 4.pm, marched straight from girls and all those worldly friends I had in high school and went straight to the platform where Pastor Wilfred Uhuru was preaching and received Jesus that very evening. God’s message through him was very piercing and challenging. I had no other time to waste again in sin. The urgency of God’s call to salvation in my heart was serious. The grace was so plenty that evening and I knew something strange was happening to my life.
The first thing I experienced in my life that evening was a kind of peace I can not explain about. Even as a high school going boy, I had been involved in drugs, alcohol, reveling and was toying around with the idea of trying the occult. But Jesus saved my life from all those. Within some two years into this new life, two of the girls that were in my life (they were many) and another male buddy died of HIV Aids related cases. One man was murdered in the night of reveling and several others developed insanity as a result of using hard drugs for many days.
The Lord would later on, again, and again, deliver me yet from getting involved with women who were not morally faithful as you will see later on in this booklet. I could have become something else had the Lord not showed mercy and full grace to me. He was also to protect me from very accurately, satanically planned road accidents and night robberies.
There is a time God warned me as I was traveling, from using specific two public transport vehicles. I obeyed grudgingly, and took a different one, but almost one hour later, those two vehicles having gone a head of ours with about fifteen minutes time space, got involved in a very grisly road accidents and I watched in horror as good Samaritans tried to pull a man out of the wreckage of one of the vehicles in the very place I was offered to sit. At another time, the Lord impressed it upon my heart to move from where I stayed and into another location/estate. The urge was so urgent. We moved from a two-room house into a single room. That is what we could find.
My wife was not happy with a small single-room. We had very few earthly properties we had gathered through much pain and suffering. Almost a month after relocating from that place, thugs raided it twice and robbed residents of TV sets, money, mobile phones and other valuables. When I heard this, I could only look back and see the two hands of God in our relocation. God was so good and still He is. He was, like with Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah calling us to flee to the mountain to escape the burglary and robbery that was to occur afterwards.
I have let Him down more than ten times, but He is constantly good to me on many fronts. I have witnessed first hand the great workings of our God in many areas of my personal life and in the lives of others. I used to suffer from boils and tetanus frequently but I did not know where that all went after salvation. God had saved my life and healed my body. I saw God turning vain fellows into mighty men and women of faith. I saw God change lives with the power of His great Word spoken in humility and faith. I experienced first hands the goodness that God gives to his beloved children.
In one of the evenings in the Bible College, as I stood at the corner of the prayer room, my hands lifted up and my mouth pouring prayers unto God, I experienced God’s special AWESOME visitation in that tiny room. Something like a powerful cool breeze filled the house from the left side of where I was standing. It entered into me from my left side of the stomach and engulfed my whole being. My whole body started shaking terribly and tears of fear rolled down my cheeks. The room was FULL AND DREADFUL. But it was also peaceful in my heart.
In this great terror, scared out of proportion and not knowing what it was that filled the room, I quickly closed down my prayers by saying, “ in Jesus Name I pray and believe, then dashed out at lightning speed, and went into the dining room where other students were already seated and relaxing after dinner, meanwhile I was gasping for breath. I went straight to the far end of the dining hall right behind all the rest of the students, took a seat with my eyes looking straight at the entrance to the hall. I was so scared and afraid of whatever I had just experienced.
My strategy for sitting behind all the rest and looking at the door was to be prepared for any eventuality which could follow me from the prayer room to the dining hall. Within that short time, I had thought quickly, of ways to be safe. I thought that if the dreadful “thing” follows me right into the dining hall, then it could start by dealing with the people who were in front. By the time it reached where I was, I could have made some other arrangement for escape. But then I discovered I was seated next to the back window of the hall, and that was not a “good” place to be, I thought.
Fear told me, “it is not going to come through the main door but will go round the hall so quickly and catch up with you through this window. I looked at the window while making my way to the midst of the hall. I got a seat and sat quietly and trembling greatly. I could not eat, talk or even afford a smile. One of the boys show that I was disturbed and asked, “Brother Caleb what is wrong with you?” I said “nothing” with a shaking voice. It is a long story but in brief, I had just fled away from the mighty visitation of God in that prayer room. Having not been taught about it, I had no idea on what can happen to a believer in a prayer closet.
I realized that this visitation took place as soon as other people who were in the same room with me left. I remained behind to spend a little more time with the father in prayers. That is when it happened. The Lord closed in on me and I became afraid and fled from His presence- so to speak. I learned that tarrying a little longer in God’s presence is a worthwhile effort. Later on I was graced to have a two second vision yet again while still in the same school about the glories of heaven that would forever place a permanent conviction in my heart.
I had just come from the prayer room which was behind the church hall, at 9.30 p.m and was preparing to sleep. I was sleeping on the upper deck and as soon as I had rolled my blanket over my face and closed my eyes, I saw something that flashed across my face like a lightning and disappeared. The shock and the scare threw me off the bed and I went down flat on my back to the floor, recollected myself quickly and rose up again. Other students were saying, “Sorry, sorry, while others thought I was epileptic. I was so scared but at the same time excited about whatever I had seen. I don’t have words to describe what I saw in that brief second. I now begin to understand why Paul said, I know a man who was caught into the third heaven, whether in the body or spirit I don’t know but heard things that are not lawful to utter.
Paul’s man heard things, as for me I saw a picture of what I have no words to describe. I will leave it there and not try to speculate. I believe it was God giving a message to me personally.
I believe that God’s manifestations in ones life is not an indication the person is so holy and so close to God than others. Walking in great signs and wonders is not a certificate that one has gone beyond the level where he can’t not fall back to the floor of sin. God working signs and miracles in one’s life does not mean that the person should now sit and relax because it is only through him or her that God is showing and manifesting Himself.
Haman was the closest one to king Ahasuerus but his heart was not right within him with the King. The king consulted him, on many matters but his heart was not right. (Look at why good people fall easily, later). Walking in great signs and wonders and many blessings does not exempt one from working out his salvation with fear and trembling. It should not stop us from examining ourselves whether we be still in the faith.
Having such experiences of deliverance, healing and great visitations with the Lord, I still managed later on, to get my eyes off the Lord and to begin relying on my own efforts to succeed and live better life. Actually I even started to do ministry in my own ways and methods and could not rely on God per se. The subtlety of moving away from God to relying on the flesh is so simple that even the greatest men of faith can’t easily recognize it.
This little booklet is the result of some of the many things I have experienced as I walk with the Lord and remain in His service, albeit on an on-and-off basis/ transiting between the flesh and spirit. I have been like a little boy trying to drive a computer car (computer game), starting off right but then he goes from left to right and hits his car on some big bricks and returns to the track again and before long moves off track and drives on pavement and then back again until his hands and mind are firmly in the game. As you will see, it has not been one straight line walk with God for me. There are times I have been online with God. But there are also times I have been offline as well. That is not the best place to be. If you have not been there don’t try it. Learn from me and save yourself much. It will save you much agony and anguish of soul.
I look around and see some people whose lives in salvation and ministry is like a smooth road. Since I new them till now, they don’t seem to be having temptations from time to time. They are just okay. Or could be they are dealing with things in private I don’t know about. But as for me I sometimes get tempted to look on the other side of life. I get tempted to leave Christ and go back to the world. I get tempted to go through the easy way. I get tempted to gain fraudulently. I get tempted to get even with my enemies. I get tempted to avenge myself. I get tempted to avoid the way and the cost of the cross and have it easy.
From time to time, in my own life I make decision to carry my cross and follow Jesus. Almost daily, I have the choice to be bitter or thankful. I begin to understand what Jesus meant when He said in Luke 9:23 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. I am presented with many challenges from time to time, and I have to choose whether I will be going with the Lord or backtracking. Some days I encounter opportunities that are so good for the sin of immorality. Some times I get a good chance to be bitter with some people. Sometimes I get some legal grounds to accuse, attack and smite some brethren in the ministries or personal characters. At other times I get the offer to become rich dubiously.
By God’s grace, I will share my own story. This story will dwell on whatever I learned/ experienced when I went offline in pursuit of some of these offers and how God worked things out on my behalf when I was weak. This booklet might help some one who is also already on the offside of the game with God.
I had been committed to God’s calling in my life and I desired to do it genuinely. But some years later, without warning/notice I derailed from the pure track by setting my mind on the success that other preachers and pastors were experiencing. They seemed to be doing so well and so I started feeling that something was a miss with me. I was not on the right track so I thought. I was not getting “successful”. How to become financially and materially stable both in family and ministry took center stage in my thinking and focus. This was not a bad idea after all because, I argued, that “if a man can’t provide for his household he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel 1 Tim. 5:8”.
The problem as I now understand it was that I started to focus on wrong methods and principles of achieving this goal. The other bigger problem is that it did not occur to me that I was derailing from the faith which was once for all delivered to me, Jude 3. My heart was so quickly deceived and darkened that I did not see anything wrong in all these. After all, my sermons were still powerful and I was flowing in the revelation of the Word of God. Each time I stood to teach or preach the result was encouraging. This made me think there was nothing wrong with what I was doing to gain wealth.
I had tasted a little of God’s financial provision and instead of being contented with that, I wanted more. My colleagues were living better lives, driving good cars, able to support their aging parents, could hold bigger and successful meetings, and had the state of the art (African standard) PA systems and such. I knew that some of them were walking in sexual immorality. Some were not financially honest while others were con artists.
They mixed the preaching of the Word with a tinge, welcomed local comedians to the church altar to work up the crowd. They brought popular musicians who we all know are not godly to pull the crowd and everything went well for them. They were not in the poverty bracket. It is so sad to say this but many of these preachers came to be exposed as ritualistic, who used to visit witches at night to have more powers for miracles and to gather big crowds.
These are the people I was comparing myself with. Slowly by slowly I started developing a heart for more of whatever they had. I was always frustrated at the numerical growth level of our church. I needed a “big church” (crowd). I was getting intimidated by constant shortfall of some basic things in my life and family. I struggled to put on a new clothes and a pair of shoes. I struggled to pay for my children’s school. It took the two hands of God for me to do meetings.
Little did I know that this was God’s ways of putting me to trust in him and to grow up with him and in Him. God wanted to use me as an example to others: that He is the one who lifts from the dust and seats up people with princes. He wanted me to know that I should grow up step by step and not to get everything all at the same time. He wanted to release to me His provision step by step, i.e. He wanted to give me what was necessary and needful at that very time. But here I was having the desire to grow up in financial stability and such so quickly and yet my inner man was not even able to handle such kinds of release.
If the inner man is not mature enough he will not be able to handle anything good in life. As we have been told from time to time, charisma will take you up high the ladder but only character (inner man) will sustain you up there. We should be constantly working on the inner man so that he will be able to withstand and handle all the breakthroughs that might come later in life. If the breakthrough came and found the inner man weak, he could crumble down under the weight.
This is why, I have learned, that certain people look so good and kind to be with until they get power, money or position in society. Power reveals what is inside of a man. They change tremendously, to the worse or better (depending on what is in the inside). I have also learnt that money in itself is not bad, it does not always corrupt as we sometimes think, it only reveals what is already in the heart of the one having it. If the heart is clean and pure, money will reveal it; if it is corrupt money will reveal it. Still on this point I would like to add information about people and power.
While in most cases, money reveals the corruption that is in the inside of us, there is also possibility that good people sometimes change. We can have people who used to be very strong on the inside but they changed by allowing the things of this world to choke out the life and character of God within their lives. They were truly born again. They were elected of God. But they preferred perfectly the things of the world. This is where we find Demas. Demas was an associate of Paul, and one of his closest friends over the years. You will find his name mentioned in a few different places in the epistles. In the book of Philemon, Demas is described as a fellow laborer, he was doing the same things that Paul was doing...he was a missionary connected with the church in Colossae. The sad story of Demas though, is summed up by Paul in one verse... 2 Timothy 4:10 for Demas hath forsaken me having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica;
Demos forsook Paul. The Greek word for 'forsaken' means to leave helpless, totally abandoned and utterly forsaken. Demas left Paul high and dry, and turned his back on God because he loved this present world!
·He loved the things of the world more than he loved God. ·He loved the system of the world. ·He loved the thinking of the world.
Demas fell in love with the world, and he no longer had the love of the father in him.
No man can love God and mammon. Mammon is the thing of the world. This man could have been one of the greatest leaders in the New Testament Church. This was such a great opportunity for Demas to stand firm in the faith. He lived in a good time of the history of Christianity. He was a companion of Apostle Paul. He saw signs and wonders done by God through the life of Paul but when he set his eyes on the world and went for it, not heeding God’s many warnings and corrections, he was left to do as he desired. He went away.
1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Back to my life story. After I had seen how others were successful, I decided to also look for donor funding from US, UK Australia South Africa etc, to support my ministry as it was the case with other ministries around. I felt (deceived) that I was genuine in my heart in this pursuit. Now I know why even the strongest, genuinely holy men and women of God fall back badly. By God’s grace, I had been able to steer clear of any extra marital affairs and many people had a good testimony of me in that area. My wife was one of them.
She kept on appreciating the “holy’ distance that was between me and “girls”. This puffed me up and set me up for pride and a feeling of some self success. I started seeing myself as a better man, better placed to receive the funding than the immoral ones who were receiving it. I was using my stand on moral matters to bargain with God and people.
One of Satan’s tricks against God’s children is to use their success and right standing with God to pull them into the sin of pride because he knows pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. So in pride and self-righteousness I wanted funding for my ministry and for my personal stability (a good desire- sort of). I was looking for personal comfort and enjoyment in ministry and life. My friends and even people who were not pastors had big donor funding and yet they were not genuinely using the funds in good ways. I thought I could be different from them.
I kept on saying to myself, “If I can only get the kind of breakthrough so and so is having I could make a big difference”. I felt I was not as corrupt as some of them were. I felt I was genuine. So I started making frantic efforts and inroads in Ministries and Churches and People whom I thought could be of some help. On top of this I added prayers and fasting to somehow control/manipulate God to cause people to give whatever I wanted.
When this did not work, I thought may be to write good proposals and do some projects which could attract donor funding. This did not work too. Finally I got tempted after receiving “good and cool” advice from those whose lots were successful in this area, to write things and say big words to influence donors to release funding. I was lectured on how donors love to hear a lie. One old man literally told me to my face, “young man, every white man loves those who lie to them, they don’t like the truth. If you tell them the truth, they think you are lying to them, if you lie to them they will think you are telling the truth, so be astute and smart and you will find some donors”.
In my heart I knew these were not good things and God was not in them, most of the things I was saying and writing in my documents were not truth. They were a cooked up/ make believe. I was simply manipulating facts to have things go my own way. In my heart I was saying something like, “after all when I get the funds I will just use them rightly. I did not succeed in this too.
Point: people are confused sometimes. We think that we can get money in a wrong way but use it in a good way. That is where I was at that time of my life. I was deceived that I could get funding using fake means and methods (falsehood) but then use it on right motives when it is in my hands.
If the funds were received fraudulently, they could not be a blessing after all. The source of things and the means of acquisition matters more than the application of the acquired. These are things I could not have learned had the Lord not been adamant on me to set me on the right course of life and if I had remained stiff necked against His admonitions.
Meanwhile in the process of doing all these things, something strange was happening. I kept on noticing that there was one way which was open for me financially. The financial flow in this path was not big but at least I could afford to pay house rent and have some food purchased and this kept on going from month to month. It still is, even today. It was not the kind of flow I wanted. It was a slow trickling in of finance. To me it was so small. I wanted something bigger. As much as I tried to access and gain some new grounds financially I failed but only this one way kept on flowing. But even on this kind of provision I could vaguely see the connection that was between the source of this financial flow and my commitment to God’s work.
Whenever I committed to the church, in preaching, praying and doing the total pastoral work, the flow would come in time, but whenever I relaxed, slumbered and took things easier, the flow would frustratingly be delayed. Either there was a computer error or some kinds of delay. I could see vaguely, that God did not want me to “eat without working for it”. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “for even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat”. I begun to remotely link this new understanding with something that I had read from Rick Joyner some few years ago in one of their books. He said that God has not hallowed idleness.
He was hard on believers who want instant miracles; they want a prophet to lay hands on them so that tomorrow they find $5000 in their banks account, which they had not worked for. They want to wake up and find themselves in a very big house, which they had not worked for. God has ordained “work”. People could go to him, asking him to lay hands on them so that they receive the gift of writing books as he does. But Rick said, it had taken him more than 40 years training and waking up early and sleeping late to work on his writing skills and here some one wants to receive it with a simple lying on of hands.
This can’t work. It was an eye opener to see, through Rick’s writings on idleness, that even the people who win Lottery never use them appropriately, because they never worked for it. The riches got though lotteries and such could not last for long for a Christian. God did not ordain lotteries for us. He ordained work. I realized that God did not want me to receive wages on what I had not worked for. But that the wages I received was in direct proportion to how I was committed to the work he gave.
John 4:36, And he that reapeth (works) receiveth wages,( is paid for the work)and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
I looked at my track record in pastoral and preaching ministry and saw that whenever I was serous with God in the work of reaping, he was serious with me in the area of wages. But when I relaxed things were not all that good. Soon I also started hearing God’s voice in my heart saying, “you need to flow with my divine provision for you and not what you want”. “I know your needs and I provide for them. You are my child and I love you. I have not ordained for you to prosper the way you want to. You are a different person. They don’t follow the way you follow. You are of life and they are of darkness, therefore darkness and dark deals will work for them. But as for you, you have to prosper in the way of Light. You have been called to live in the light and to call others as many as possible to come to the light too.”
Deuteronomy 8:14 For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.
At first I ignored this voice but it kept growing within me until I stopped one day and did some reflection. What I discovered about myself was not good after all. In my several unsuccessful attempts to succeed in those different ways and the subsequent admonitions that I received from the Lord, I have learned the following which I would greatly love to share with you today:
Any true child of God, truly born again, having the life of God within him, cannot be allowed to easily fall back into sinful deal and to succeed through any other means except those that are ordained by His God. When I say the words, ‘can not be allowed”, I do not mean that they are under God’s dictatorship. I mean that God shields them. In the story of God leaving 99 sheep and goes out to seek the only one lost, we are seeing God’s delight in having His children with Him daily. I believe that even before this one sheep got lost the Shepherd must have tried to do everything to keep it from getting lost. But when it finally strayed and got lost the Good Shepherd went out to look for it.
This is great love. Many think that God is handling our relationship with Him casually as we do with our human friends. God is so serious on a daily basis. I get The Father’s heart of Love for us whenever I read Jeremiah 20: 10…My sons are gone from me and are no more;… It does not excite the heart of our Father whenever we walk away from Him. We are so much loved by God that He doesn’t want us to walk away from Him and thrive on shoddy deals that won’t bring joy to Him from us.
As we will see in the coming pages, we are chosen, as believers in God through Christ, to offer sacrifices of praise to God. Applying a different method (another Gospel) makes Satan to mock our God. When we, as God’s children get out of the way and try to use Satan’s methods (My sons are gone from me- to Satan) to succeed in the House of God, he, (Satan) starts to ridicule our God and say to Him, “Your own Children can’t succeed in your house. They are coming to me to help them succeed in your house, because you are un-caring Father to them, you are hard and a rigid Father to them. See they are coming to me to help them succeed in your own work, you don’t care, etc”.
All these accusations are false, because our God CARES. If we stop, reflect and go back to the main highways of Faith in God, we will see that God cares. If we take stock of whatever God has been doing in our lives since we came to Him we will see a lot of blessings and provision and protection. It is our greed that has grown so big that it covers our own eyes from seeing what Good things God has/is already doing in our lives. Greed makes God’s provision looks small.
Greed belittles the generosity of our Good God. Greed (and clamor for more than is necessary for us) despises God’s provision. It says, “This is not enough for me. I need more and I have to get it by all means not knowing that “by all means” actually includes being in agreement with the devil, our main enemy and even loosing the promises of eternal life we have already secured. 2 Tim. 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Through the mighty failures I went through, trying to achieve success in the flesh, I learned that the truly born again child of God, might be tempted to con people a little, and have things happen his or her own ways; He may be tempted to gain some success or access by means of lying or hoodwinking. He may be tempted to yield to the old man’s tricks of survival in the flesh, he may try other methods to gain, socially, financially or materially, etc but His father in Heaven, His God and Maker has planted him or her on a different ground which will not allow him to have his own selfish ways just like that. In the days of Jehoshaphat, He was God who was “with you when you are with Him”, but now in Jesus, “behold I am with you even to the end of the World. He does not leave us alone.
The old man, tries to resurface from time to time, to entice the righteous and give him or her short cut to success, contrary to God’s ways. This happens as the righteous removes his eyes from God and puts it right on the world’s standards of living. Every true born again child of God, including me, has had occasional seasons of seeming hopelessness, times when things don’t go right for us as we would want, needs are not met to our expectations, life seems going very slowly and we seem to have been by-passed by real life and happiness.
In such moments, Satan, through the old man raises up his smitten head and gives a direction. These are the seasons where decisions to have “Ishmaels” are made. Things look hopeless in such times and the only means/options available is to take a short cut route to ones destiny. This opens door for greed and all sorts of dirty methods and tricks of survival. We begin to compare ourselves with others whose lots are easier, and yet we don’t know why they get it easy. But God never abandons his chosen neither does He allow us to share in the fruits wickedness.
Mal 3:14-18 You have said harsh things against me,” says the LORD. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper and even those who challenge God escape.”
Again, these are the times when the flesh is aggressively appealing and the world looks pretty nice to be in- when one is tempted to get along with the trends of the people of the world and to play it “cool” and safe among the heathen. One is then tempted to make some unwise decisions and choices to keep pace with the speed of the world system and life pattern so as to have a feeling of some sort of “goodness”.
Satan comes near and whispers a few sugar coated words in your ears, saying, “You are out dated, you don’t have what it takes to be a modern man/ woman. You are lagging behind in so many things. This salvation of yours will take you nowhere. You are reading your bible every day, go to church fellowship and live holy but things don’t work well and quickly for you”. Others are doing pretty well. “Look!!! They manipulate others and get what they want. They crookedly maneuver their ways with cunningness and with a slightness of a lie ( not a big lie) and they succeed so well and so quickly( they don’t make a big lie, they just tilt the facts a little bit to create an appealing case.
And you are just there with this holiness thing of yours. You are a failure, you will never drive a good car, live in a good house, have the best household items, have the best clothing, succeed in ministry, your children might not even get into good schools, you are getting wasted in walking in this thing called holiness and righteousness. Try other means and you will see how successful you are. Look at so and so, they go to church, have a bible and are even great leaders of the church but they are not too serious with salvation as you are. They know how to survive. They know what to tell who, so as to get their way. You can call them conmen/women but they succeed. They don’t pray so much but they succeed.
They think of an evil matter and execute it discreetly and they succeed. They slander others and their words are so powerful. They divide churches and split others to start new congregations under the influences of darkness and rebellion and they do well. Don’t you see it? Why stay intact in this thing called holiness? Relax yourself a bit, bend some rules slightly and you will see how successful you are. Do not be too much biblical in everything, try also other means. It is too much for you, behold, an avenue for success?”
1 Kings 12: 28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods,
So Satan speaks to the righteous, giving him several alternatives, substitutes (golden calves) and finally gets him into doing something unbiblical. The result is then very discouraging and distasteful and the same devil comes to taunt him again in this “failure”. The results have to be discouraging and distasteful because the believer applied wrong methods of success. He tried to do what The Father did not ordain as a means of success for him. This discouraging result is God’s way of saying, “as my child you can not use that principle to succeed in the house. That is a principle of darkness”. You need to apply the principle of my Kingdom to succeed in this Kingdom.
Psalms 125: 3, for the rod (principle) of the wicked shall not rest (exist in the congregation) upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands (get involved) unto iniquity. [Words in bracket mine.]
How it works:
The protection we receive from God as His children comes with a double edge. The one edge keeps us protected from the onslaught of the devil. The other edge keeps and protects us from reaching out to the appetizers of the darkness of this world. In other words, when you pray something like, “God be my protection against the dangers of this dark world,” what you actually mean is this: “God come and:
a)Keep evil away and………. b) BLOCK/FRUSTRATE EVERY UNBIBLICAL STRATEGIES AND FOCUS I MAY BE HOLDING DEAR TO ME THAT IS TAKING ME TO THE EVIL ONE.
God’s protection is two-way traffic. He protects you from the evil which is coming to you from outside; and you from walking towards (going) to evil. He stops you from stretching your hands to iniquity. That is what the psalmist meant when he says, “He guides my feet and I will not fall…”
We have for a long time, understood God as a Father who is not a controller but allows His children to have the free will of choice. This is all true. God is not a dictator. But by this we have to an extent misunderstood how God is working. While we have the free will of choice, when we choose to obey him He takes over completely. He guides us. He doesn’t leave us alone. He walks with us. He does not manipulate us. He leads and guides us graciously. He protects us from sharing in iniquity. He builds a hedge around about you to keep you safe. He frustrates our attempts to have a testimony outside of the scripture. You are His child and you are planted in his house and that is the place for you to prosper.
Psalm 92: 13 those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. KJV.
They shall not flourish some where else. But only in the courts of our God.
Lying can’t work for a child of God. Lying is a principle of Satan, and God does not allow this principle to work in His kingdom. God can’t allow lying to work as building blocks to build up his church, His sons and daughters.
If the church succeeds in any lying way or rebellion then God will not take the credit/glory. Satan will. Because the principles that brought along that kind of “success” is not of God but of Satan. Success is not what we have achieved, gained or acquired. Success is the method, principles, the truths that have been applied to reach that kind of “success”. Success is the means to an end.
Rebellion can not work for any child of God. If it works, then God is not in it. Rebellion is a principle of Satan. Satan started it. And God cannot use this principle to build up His kingdom, children ,sons and daughters. Negative church splits - division and factional groupings are just a waste of time. One may get deeply involved with them but he is not going any where with that. A section of a splintered church group may have all the resources they need to do “church” and the population to go with it, but it is not success in God’s eyes.
I believe in church planting growth and not satanic inspired church splitting growth. Many pastors are struggling to keep a live certain churches whose foundations did not involve the right way of doing things in the kingdom of God. They want God to move in things He did not start. If God started it, he will finish it. If Satan started it God will not come, take over and finish it. These two don’t work together. Crowd always deceives us. Something is not good just because many people are involved in it. Something is not bad just because few people are involved with it. If something is bad, it is bad even if the whole world population is doing it. If something is right, it is right even if one person is doing it against the rest of the world. One person with God is the majority. One Elijah with God is the majority against 450 prophets of Baal. Men I am excited about all these things God is putting in our hearts today.
The more we take time doing the unbiblical, the more time we waste there. Those things can’t work for us now. They could have worked for us in the times past, when we were under the bondage of the ruler of the darkness of this world. There were times we could con people and succeed. There were times we could plan any bad and wicked deals and succeed. There were times we could rebel against God ordained authorities and have things done and go our own ways. But since we came to Christ and submitted our lives to Him, He took over the reins of our lives. We are no longer our own. We are bought with a price, to glorify God in our bodies.
We are bought to glorify God: Yes, not to glorify the enemy. We are to glorify God. When I succeed in the Word of God, God’s name is glorified in me and through me. When I walk in the truth of God’s word, people see it and they glorify my God. I have been chosen for this. On the other hand when I chose the ways of darkness I glorify the head of darkness-Satan. As a true child of God, a pastor, as I am, I cannot succeed by con-manship by making some underground deals to hoodwink the church about my commitment and success.
Anything I do has to be a clean deal to receive the backing and blessings of God. I have been chosen for that. We look around and see very many people, identifying themselves with the name of God, i.e. I am pastor so and so, I am brother so and so and I am born again etc, but it does not mean that they are God’s people. As foreseen in Isaiah 4:7 when seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, we will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.
This prophecy talks about what would happen in the last days. These women depict a category of people who would rely on their own means of survival. They will not need a man (God) to provide for them. They will not need a man (God) to clothe them. They will have their own ways of survival. They know where they will get their on food and their won clothing, but they are taking hold of this man (God) just for a cover up, to protect them against the shame of being exposed as evil, satanic, adulterous people.
As a prostitute may take a man and live with him as a cover up for her dirty deals, so a spiritual prostitute takes on the name of God as a cover up for their dark and satanic deals. On the outside they have a name tag as believers, but God is not their source of food and clothing, they “will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel”. Most of them do succeed in these deals though, because it works for them. But to a person truly born in the kingdom of God, it is not possible for him to succeed in these.
This is why many true pastors and believers cannot gain much ground in Christ even after being in the Lord for so many years. I now know why. They are in the Kingdom of light but are trying, from time to time, to use means which are not ordained by God to succeed. The trick here is that, things whose sources are in darkness seems to happen quickly and with no such struggle, i.e. it is easy to sit down , write a proposal and tell a donor of how much I take care of 1000 street children in Nakuru town, Kenya, put a wonderful letter head and sign below it with words,
The Right Reverend Bill Oswago Richards (example)
International Child Centre-Nakuru
And I might get a lot of money out of this deal while in true case I don’t run such a program. If this deal works for me, it is either because God has given up on me to do the reprobate things or I was not, in the first place a true child of God. If I am His child and I am tempted to go this way, he will by His divine grace frustrate this efforts and try to show me time and again, the right way and teach me contentment.
Jer. 2:13, For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
But that, which I have known, is simply this: any true child of God is not allowed to access such wicked privileges and breakthroughs in their lives. If they succeed,
·They will set wrong precedence for others. ·They will introduce another gospel into the body of Christ. ·They will mislead others into believing these falsehoods. ·They will lead others astray. ·They themselves will also be deceived to believe that things only work that way. ·They won’t know the power of living in truth. ·They won’t know the power of righteousness in Christ. ·They will not show forth the glory of God. ·They will not taste the blessedness of being on the side of God. ·Things will not be different to them. ·They will begin to call good evil and evil good. ·They will distort the nature of godliness. ·For this reason, God in His kindness and mercy and grace frustrates these wicked ways permanently.
Isa 5:20, Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
There are good things that God might not allow His chosen children to have through a different means than the ordained ones. Getting funding after all might not be a bad thing. There are some who have used these funding so well and they have a good record with God. Getting any other form of support is necessary especially for us in the 3rd world. There are lots of challenges we face on a daily basis. I have a large tract of farm lying idle for lack of farm inputs like tractors and plough and seeds and such. Getting a good tractor support is a good boost for me. I have baskets of great needs I wish God would send me provisions to settle. I have debts that some times want to make me loose sleep.
But things must be done in God’s way so that we can benefit from them. Meeting genuine needs of God’s will, Gal. 6:2. But if we apply unbiblical patterns to get all these it is not good then and God will not bless those means. As I said above, if we succeed in this evil way, we shall have no reason to give glory and praise to God our Father. We shall not be able to say, “God did me ABCD EFGH ETC, instead we shall be saying things like, “Oh! I got if from abcdefg he etc, “Oh! I worked hard for it” etc.
We have been chosen to show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1st Peter 2:9. But first, in verse 5 of the same chapter it says, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Note: we have been chosen in verse 9 to:
·Declare the praises of… ·“….Him”…(That is God) ·…Who called us from Darkness into His marvelous light.
In verse 5 we are build up:
·A spiritual house… ·To offer….. · Sacrifices….. ·Acceptable to God…. ·Through Jesus Christ.
Starting by verse 5, we see that we are being built a spiritual house, an holy priesthood to offer sacrifices which are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
·So any sacrifice we offer must be acceptable to God, but through Jesus Christ. ·Jesus Christ is the standard measurement. ·God measures everything by Jesus Christ, Acts 17: 31, Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. ·
Mathew 11:27 says, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father”.
So for a sacrifice to be acceptable to God:
1)It must go through Jesus (the Living Word). 2)The sacrifice must have its origin from God and with God. 3)God does not accept anything outside of His Word. He has raised up His word above all that is His name Psalms 138:2. 4)God works with what he has ordained. I don’t want to imply that God is a perfectionist. I mean he does not work through any other principles apart from what he has ordained. 5)We may give God good sacrifices, but He will only take what is right and is according to His Word. 6)Not every sacrifice we give is worth His reception. He takes what is rightly His. Even in the last day, many will come to Him saying Lord! Lord! we did this and that in your name but He will only take those who did His will. 7)Saul tried to spare some animals to offer them as a sacrifice to God after destroying the Amalekites but God rejected this great offer. It was an offer contrary to the Word of God. He refused it totally.
Point: Truly Born again person is a different species. He is born again for a mission. He doesn’t just fit anywhere. Many good things do not work for him or her. God has chosen him or her. He is not among the crowd and the population. He is chosen, set aside for a special function and duty.
He can’t just function anywhere, he has a special place and point for this functions. He is chosen to declare (show) forth the praises of Him who called us out of Darkness into His marvelous light. This verse is just new and fresh in my eyes. I have never seen it this way before. It could have said something like this, “we have been chosen to show forth the praises of God Almighty.” Or “we have been chosen to show forth the praises of the one who created the Heaven and Earth”.
No it does not say that although these are worthy phrases because they all refer to the One and same God. But this verse is tactfully written by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to point to the fact that, as we “show forth” the praises of God, we must not forget that we are dealing with Light and not Darkness in this noble service. It is the understanding that as we deal with God, we do it on the basis that we are a people of light and not of darkness. The Holy Spirit in this verse does not want us to forget the fact that our relationship with God and our showing forth of His praises is based on what side we stand; on Light and not Darkness. This is the message which we have received from Him, That God is light and in Him is no Darkness 1 John 1:5.
To show forth is to manifest. This verse does not just say, we have to speak loudly the praises of God out of our mouth. It says we have to show forth, manifest it. Now that is a lifestyle. It is our daily lifestyle. In business, in employment, in church ministry in finances, in material things, in speech, in conduct, in preaching, in any transactions we have to show forth the Praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
So a born again person, in whose heart Christ lives, knows this so well. He knows that for him or her to succeed he must operate in the law of light. He is a different person. He is unique. He is operating from above, he is not earthly. Earthly laws and principles don’t work for him any more in the things of God. He operates through the heavenly principles and by them he wins/ overcomes/succeeds. By them he wages good warfare 1 timothy 1:18.
He doesn’t not just fight; he fights with precision and godly accuracy. He fights with knowledge and understanding. He knows what works for him and what does not. He doesn’t waste his time on things that can’t work for him. He knows the difference between fruitful involvement and unprofitable commitments. He chooses the former. He knows the one in whom he has believed 2 timothy 1:12. He is not ashamed to stand up and be counted on the Lord’s side. He is full of assurance in His master and Lord. Halleluiah.
He knows his mission and job description 2 Tim. 2:20, 21. He knows he is a vessel unto honor and not unto dishonor. Whatever he does honors and glorifies God. If the thing, or deal doesn’t not glorify God or honor God he abandons it. He knows His mission is to honor God by offering the right sacrifices. If what he is doing does not honor God he leaves it and asks for forgiveness.
Last year I walked out of a multi-million shillings deal with two friends who wanted to divert funds from the Anglican Church projects into our church name so as to share the loot with them. I was to be given 30% of the funds for allowing the funds to be challenged through our church Name. They were to get the 70% and use it the way they wanted. That was a very cool deal indeed. But how was I going to approach God and preach again on righteousness? Could I be safe any longer in this world where Satan is crouching at every man’s door eager to have him or her? Was I going to do something that could bring the curse of cancer on my life? I opted out quietly. Better is the little that the righteous has… Proverbs
God is not just honored by our mouths only. Our mouths have to express what is in the inside of us. Honor is in the inner man and the mouth will declare it outside. If the honor does not come from the heart and the lifestyle of this man, it becomes just a lip service. Our deed and heart conditions, lifestyles honor or dishonor God. Actions speak louder than words. I may stand here today and say things like, “I love you oh! Lord you are so great and powerful I praise you blaa blaa blaa but if my heart condition, lifestyle are not in conformity with what I am saying then I am just offering a lip service to God. This is bad sacrifice. It makes me a member of Isaiah 29:13 Praise Centre International Church.
The sacrifice must proceed from the heart. To a preacher like me, it is not the Words of my mouth that preaches, but the lifestyle that I live. It is the daily heart condition that does it. My lifestyle reinforces the words of my mouth. God must be in me first to make my words effective. I give what I am and have and not what I speak. I am most effective when my words and my lifestyle are one and the same thing.
Once or twice I have preached on things which I knew in my heart I was not doing right, but was pressing them on the listeners, looked at the congregation and felt like they knew I was lying. The emptiness of the heart and the sorrow of hypocrisy were just too heavy on me. Hypocrisy is expensive. I don’t know how those daily hypocrites survive in Salvation and ministry. The guilt of being a hypocrite is 100 pounds and above.
To a worship leader, it is not the songs he or she is singing, but the heart that sings those songs. To a giver, it is not the amount that is given but the heart that gives the amount. To a leader, it is not how high he has climbed but the heart in that higher position.
Finally, the righteous should always know that he is a marked man. That not all methods will work for him. Trying them is like trying to use a house key to ignite a car engine. I tell you most assuredly, it will not start. The righteous is guided by the Hands of God. God is with him always.
How to Be Successful in God's Eyes
Success is normally thought of as climbing the ladder in the business or political world. God's view of success is very different than the world's view. Perhaps you thought of yourself as being unsuccessful. Reputation is a tool the Bible uses to measure success. Review the information in these steps to see if you are successful according to God.
WHAT IS SUCCESS?
God’s standard is so set and those who don’t know it will simply fail to access it. In the previous chapters, we have seen how God does not bless crookedness in a Christian life. We see how God does not provide success to his children. We have seen the crookedness of life and how others succeed by them and others like us fail terribly. But still something is not adding up, let us get into the study of the Word yet again.
We will look at a certain story in the bible. There was a rich man whose land produced abundantly. In fact, he was so wealthy, that he decided to take early retirement. He said to himself, "Soul, you have done so well; you have enough for many, many years to come. Therefore, take it easy - relax, eat, drink and be merry."
What do we think, when we hear about such a man? Obviously, many of us would think, he is a very successful person. When we hear about his life, and about his opportunity to retire early, with comfort and abundance, many of us would envy his life. We would call him a success. And yet, God calls such a person a "fool!"
No where is it said that the man is a dishonest business man. No where is it said that he cheated his workers. Nothing negative is said about the man in the Gospel. So why does God call him a fool? Can it be that sometimes what the world sees as success is foolishness in the eyes of God? St. Paul himself often wrote that the friendship with the standards of the world is contrary to friendship with God.
Look at how the world views success. For many people, success is related to money and possessions. When you have much money and become rich, you are a success. When you build a big home, you are a success. When you have a nice car, you are a success. When you have many possessions, and you can sit back, take it easy, and enjoy life, you are a success in the eyes of the world.
But the mistake with this view of success is that it is totally centered on one's self, on what we do for ourselves, how we improve our life. Life is not seen from a communal perspective, where we are interested in the needs of our brother, but from an individualistic, self-centered perspective where our ego becomes the center of the world. It becomes our church verses their church. My life verses their lives. My ministry verses theirs etc.
This was the sin of the rich man. This is why he is a "fool" in the eyes of God. His focus is on what he has, on how his possessions will bring him comfort, on how he can enjoy his life. He has forgotten that life isn't about what we do for ourselves, but how we serve others. So simple a point.
Jesus said, "The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve others." On the night when Christ washed the feet of his disciples, he said to them, 'You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example that you also should do as I have done."
We followers of Christ are not to fulfill our own desires and pleasures, but our call in life is to take care of others. It is in denying ourselves that we discover what true life is. But when we set our thoughts on ourselves, how we can have it easy, how we can be seen to be successful in people’s eyes, we fail.
Success in the eyes of God does not depend on how many possessions we have, but on how few possessions we need to be content in life. Success in the eyes of God does not depend on how much we can acquire, but on how much we can give away to help others. Success in the eyes of God does not depend on how comfortable and easy our life is, but on how we strive without ceasing to sacrifice for the sake of others, to make the lives of others more comfortable at the level where we are no longer focused on what we have.
God did not call us to be successful in the eyes of the world, but to be faithful “in His eyes." Being faithful is different than successful. Being faithful implies living a life of self-sacrifice, self-denial, taking up one's cross, and following the example of Christ. This is true success in God's eyes.
The mistake of the rich man is that he thought he could enjoy all his riches for a long time. And yet, none of us know when death will come. We may die today, tomorrow, or after many years. When the rich man was ready to relax and enjoy his possessions, God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be." Jesus ended the parable by saying, "And so it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."
Since no one knows when the end will come, we must always be vigilant. One preacher once said, "The present age is not a time for rest and sleep, but it is a continuous struggle and combat ... therefore we must devote ourselves to holy action.". While we're still here on earth, let us be alert, striving to be rich toward God through serving our fellow man. God blesses us with riches so that we can use them to help others. Remember, we are only stewards of all our possessions. God has lent them to us, hoping that we will use them to alleviate the needs of others.
There is a beautiful story from the life of St. Makarios of Alexandria. I like this story. One day, a certain brother brought a bunch of grapes to the holy Makarios; but he, who for love's sake did not think of his own needs but instead thought of others, carried the grapes to another brother who seemed to be in greater need. This sick brother gave thanks to God for the kindness of Makarios, but he also decided that his neighbor had greater need for it, so he took the grapes to another brother.
This brother acted in the same way, until the same bunch of grapes was passed around to all the cells, scattered as they were far over the desert, and no one knowing who first had sent them. Finally, they were brought once again to the first giver, St. Makarios, who praised God for the love and generosity of all the brothers. How does God view each of us today? Is he also saying to us, "You fool!" or is he looking upon us with joy, seeing that we are acting as good and faithful stewards with all that he has given us!