Sermon #106: The Prison of Life - The Escape Route

The urgency of it not only besieged me; its intensity also took me by surprise. I wanted to let a loud scream out, to release the pressure, but it jammed midway along my throat.

It was something that I needed to do, one thing I eagerly wanted to be, something that I had eagerly waited for; and it was time, a 'now or never'. I could no longer continue to live the same way. In short,  I needed a break, if life was to have even a semblance of meaning.

My eyes shifted to the handcuffs - cold as ice, slowly eating into my wrist-bones. Drops of sweat covered my palms, and my brow was no different.

I looked at my legs -  the leg irons were still in place, ironically shining and determined, evidence of what I had been all these years. Oh how I detested the shackles!

“Oh God I want out!” I eventually managed to send out a cry that pierced the quietness, unsettling even me, as my soul longed for a breath of fresh air. Walls on every side, threatening gullies every step of the way, vigilant predators; for me it was nothing but the prison of life.

As I pondered my next move, I observed that I had grown one dread lock, its roots etched in the desert of my skull. As I continued to watch, one more sprouted. Soon my head was all dreadlocks, all green, life’s oil and power, so I guessed.

A whirlwind blew around me several times, lifting my chest and sending me gasping for breath, and in their trembling, my hands displayed shimmering muscles, evidence of new strength acquired.

With one hand on the Eastern wall and the other on the Western, Samson-style, I brought my enclosure down; in one, mighty thrust it had all turned to dust. He is able!

As I sauntered out of my debris, my feet touched soft ground. I felt like something heavy had dropped off my shoulders. I also felt like I had jumped from a spider’s web, but landed softly, if only to give me the opportunity to recount what happened.

I lifted my hands high. Pure praise; the delight of the soul. What a new order of things! How lofty He had lifted me! I began to jog; it just had to be - for it was time.

Then a sweet smell of perfume filled the air; the kind that could come only from mature flowers. A wind blew gently, sending the leaves hissing, my soul rejoicing. Sweet beaky sounds invaded my privacy. The beauty of freedom under the sun!

I looked at my shoes, then at my clothes. They all told the story, the complete and uncensored story of my life. 

“I sure have been travelling; a long journey, through valleys and thickets, and it shows,” words escaped my mouth. As I stood, with my mind I took a picture of self; a picture that was soon to be the only one of its kind.

And as I stared at the picture, a voice cut through the silence. “Is that you, Phanuel?” the voice asked with absolute and unmistaken clarity.

My ears picked yet another sound. Although I could not tell what it was, I could tell the direction from where it came.

At once, I waded through the lilies and the budding bushes, and there before me slithered a small stream. The ease with which the water flowed, the purity and the peace there was! After spending ages in the muddy waters of life’s prison, the kind that could easily define a people, the stream brought with it a refreshing change.

I was dying of thirst; I also smelled of sweat.

I bent down to drink from the stream, but something immediately caught my attention, stopping me before I took the first sip.

Hastily I stood up, gasping. What an ugly sight! My face; I had seen my face in the water! All the time that I had languished in prison I never had the chance to look at my face; neither did I have the means. All I ever did was imagine it.

The cracks, the wrinkles and the paleness that I had seen in the water astounded me. “Is that you, Phanuel?” “Oh God, I wish it wasn't me!” I cried out. “But that’s me my God; that surely cannot  be me!” I added, struggling to give sense to the contradiction.

It was time. I stooped once more and with eyes closed drank until I was full. After doing so, I felt as though I had become one with the stream, a constant, tranquil flow of amazing beauty.

Time for a complete bath, a deep one! I discarded every old piece of clothing. Water violently splashed to the edges of the stream as I took a dive. I spent so much time under the water that I came out ‘waterlogged’.

As I emerged from the stream, my soul watched in wonder as the desert traced its foot-marks back to source.

After applying skin lotion and putting on a set of clean, freshly-pressed clothes, I once more stood in front of the mirror - this time tall, assertive, fearless and ready to take on Goliath.

“Welcome, Phanuel!” the message of the voice had now changed.

It was the journey of my life. Released from the prison of life, I stepped back from the mirror, turned and began to take brisk steps into my space.

“Goodbye, Phanuel,” the voice faded behind me.

“Welcome, Phanuel!” Ahead of me, the sound of drums, horns and tambourines filled the air. It was the sound of victory!

The future looked bright.

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Sermon #105: Pursue, Overtake, Recover - Inspirational Story

It struck me one day.

Here I was, walking down the street, when suddenly my mind’s voice said to me, “Phanuel, you must understand that you have never lost out on anything in your life.”

I stopped and asked myself, “So what has been happening?” The voice said, “You have been gaining, gaining, gaining. All the things that you thought you had missed are actually in a ‘bank’ account from which you are free to withdraw both the principal sum plus compound interest.”

This to me was like a breath of fresh, fragrant air. I had spent a number of years thinking I was losing out. When I failed to get the job that I desired, I thought I had lost out. When a project that I started failed mid-way, I thought I had lost out. When I fell sick, I thought I had lost out on good health. I just thought I had lost out.

But here I was, being lectured on the correct perspective to the issues of life. The voice said, “You have never lost out on anything in your life.”

I had to make a choice after I heard the voice. I either had to believe the voice, or ignore it, and each of the choices was going to have far-reaching consequences on my life.

I chose to believe the voice. “So what has been happening?” I asked. “You’ve been gaining.” Oh how excited I was! It was like I was awakening from some kind of sleep and discovering that a new day had dawned.

I have been gaining. I have been banking. I have never lost out on anything. I am free to withdraw not only the principal sum, but also the compound interest. Glory to God!

I have learnt this great lesson; the state of a person’s life is strongly dependent on how they view their past, present and future. It is a function of how one defines the things that happen to them or the things that occur in their environment. It is also a function of the ingredients of one's vocabulary.

For example, whenever I thought and said, “I lost out,” I really felt that way and lived that way, and my life was badly affected by this kind of attitude.

But now that I believe I have never lost out on anything, and that I can never lose anything, I am like a brand new person. I now think that it’s bad to use the same kind of vocabulary. I also think it’s evil to even entertain similar thoughts.

As a Christian, I have the ability to pursue, overtake and recover. If I fail to use the ability, I will live like one who never had the ability. It is possible to miss something one thought was great for something that is indeed far much better? When God protects you from yourself, that becomes a profitable 'loss'!

I am a child of God; God is my Father. Whatever belongs to my Father belongs to me. My Father has never lost out on anything. In fact, He cannot lose out. He is the Creator. The Creator cannot lose that which He created, because if it were to happen, He would simply create a trillion of the same kind. Do you see how the principal sum and the compound interest come into being?

Satan is a liar and an enemy of everything good; he is against progress. Satan fights against a positive frame of mind and godly positions. In reality, the Satan-induced thoughts result in false positions.

You’ve got to be careful where you draw your inspiration and information from. You either go with God or go with Another. God’s positions are diametrically opposite those of the devil. God’s training is totally different. The fruits that one obtains from associating with God are different from those obtained from associating with the devil. In God you get ‘day’. In the devil it is always a ‘night of pitch darkness’.

From today, never say, “I lost out on money-making opportunities.” Never say, “I lost out on good health.” Don’t say, “I do not think I can salvage my relationship with my parents.” Never say, "I lost out on education". Never entertain the thought that your relationship with God has been irreparably damaged, or that God will never accept you as His child after all that you've done. Don’t entertain such ideas! You must adopt the mindset of pursuing, overtaking and recovering everything that is of benefit to you.

The important thing is that you've got an opportunity to complete a withdrawal slip. On the slip you should write something like this:
  • Nothing can separate me from God.
  • I claim all outstanding opportunities with interest.
  • I take back 200% control over my health and wealth.
  • Even though we now do not see eye to eye, my parents and I are going to have the best relations of our lives.
After this you’ve got to sign the withdrawal slip and hand it to the ‘bank’ teller.

But you need to be sure of your ground. You need the right attitude if you are to turn your desires into reality. If you doubt, you certainly will fall short.

Take charge of your spiritual life. Take charge of your health. Take charge of your wealth. Take charge of your relations. Take charge of your present and future, at the same time drawing lessons from your past.

It’s time to withdraw the principal sum plus the compound interest. Are you ready? You need to turn that situation around, to the glory of God the Father!

God bless!

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Sermon #104: The Heavenly Realm - The Book of Revelation - MorningStar Ministries

I regularly receive Rick Joyner's Word of the Week by email. I read each article and often make print-outs to share with others.

This morning, as I read the Week 37, 2018 article, I came across a remarkable quote that I thought I should share. It might help you. You not only have to meditate on the quote, but also strive that it may relate to you.

Here is the quote:

"We are not called to be human beings who have occasional spiritual experiences, but we are called to be spiritual beings who have occasional human experiences."

How profound!

Is that your experience as a Christian? Does this speak to the way you live? Are you more spiritual than you are human in the various facets of your life?

I sometimes think that Christians should learn, each day, to be more spiritual. One's progress in this regard should be evident to themselves initially, then to the rest of their community.

I sometimes feel that there is too much "humanness" even in the Church today. The way congregants talk, behave, their interests/pursuits or driving forces, and how they relate to each other, testifies to the "humanness" that I refer to. 

That is not the will of God for us. We surely can do better, for God's sake!

True love, true worship to the true God.

Sermon #103: Success - What It Means to Some

People look at life differently, depending on what they believe.

In year 2003 a friend introduced me to the subject of success motivation and personal development. I then began to attend workshops on the subject, but came out a bit confused.

What confused me was the exclusive focus on wealth. I thought to myself, “Does success mean just wealth?”

I believed that success was broader than just the possession of material things. I also believed that success was supposed to be based on a certain spiritual foundation.

Henceforth began my quest for an answer, or an understanding.

Then one day, as I read my Bible, I came across a verse that struck me. The verse reads as follows: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John v2, NIV).

“This is it! This is the definition of success!” I seemed to shout to myself.

If you are enjoying good health, if all is going well with you, if your soul is getting along well, what more would you seek in life?

In my view, John wished his friend nothing but genuine and total success.

I believe this kind of success can only be a result  of one's communion with God - for that is what John was writing about, the Christ issues.

As far as I am concerned, therefore, God is the source and foundation of true success.

I hope that I have helped you…or ignited controversy. Either way, I think it's worth it, for it may get you thinking.

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Sermon #102: Hope - Life's Driver

I have observed and have become totally convinced that there are just two kinds of people in this world, and the lives of these two kinds of people are as different as day is to night. Only two kinds, not more.

There are various trials and tribulations in this world, but only two kinds of people. There are various levels of poverty, but only two kinds of people. There are various forms of sickness and disease, but only two kinds of people. You put the two groups under exactly the same difficulty and they react in totally different ways. It's amazing!

Whatever situation you might be facing right now, you are either hopeful or hopeless about it.

These are the two kinds of people that I have been referring to - one kind is of the hopeful and the other is of the hopeless, with reference to a specific challenge that they might be facing in their lives. You are either hopeful or hopeless about your current situation; there's no borderline position on this. Some people are hopeful sometimes and hopeless the rest of the time - they switch groups now and then.

A snapshot of society at any point in time will reveal these two kinds of people - the hopeful and the hopeless.

But what is hope?

The Random House College Dictionary Revised Edition defines hope as, “The feeling that what is desired is also possible, or that events may turn out for the best. To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence. To believe , desire or trust.”

In hope, one has the feeling that what they desire is also possible, or that events may turn out for the best.

In hopelessness, one has the feeling that what they desire is impossible, or that events may turn out for the worst. 

I just cannot try to visualise the status of the hopeless. Hopelessness is a dead end! What would one go on to do if they have the feeling that what they desire is impossible and that events may turn out for the worst? Can such people find the fire of life?

The hopeful look forward in confidence; the hopeless remain in the dungeon of pessimism.

Let me give you some of the characteristics of hope:

First, hope is not passive; it's active, energetic.

Some people think that to be hopeful is the same thing as sitting down on the doorstep, staring at the horizon, waiting for something to pop up. To me that's not hoping at all; it's sheer idleness!

Goethe said, “Sitting and waiting is not my way of doing things.” You surely need the same mindset! If you sit and wait, then you are doing nothing. If I see somebody sitting down, looking sullen, I would think that something would be wrong them. Hope is always active; it does not waste time sitting on the doorstep!

If you hope for something you don't sit and wait for it to manifest; rather, in your hope you bring it into manifestation. Real hope is a turbo-charged motivational force! If it doesn't drive you, then it's not hope; it's something totally different.

Second, hope never relents; it just never surrenders. The hopeful persevere. That's the power of hope. The hopeless never persevere and some of them never even attempt a thing; they simply do not have the energy to.

If you are hopeful, it means you have the feeling that what you desire is possible. Now that's positive thinking. It means that you have a reasonable expectation regarding what you look forward to. This hope then drives you into working towards that which you hope for!

Third, hope does not disappoint, unless it is the 'sitting and waiting' type. The Bible also teaches that hope triumphs over difficulties (Rom. 4:18).

What problems are you facing right now? What difficulties? What ailments? What level of poverty? The impact of these circumstances on your life will depend on whether you are hopeful or hopeless about them.

Mark my words - hopelessness is a killer. It kills the spirit first, then the body follows. So from today, make a deliberate choice to be always hopeful. You've got to learn to look beyond the circumstances. Even in death hope abounds.