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Suffering for righteousness

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There are a few questions that have been on my mind for quite some time. Why is it that my life became more difficult when I decided to pursue righteousness and live for Christ? Why does it seem like life is easier for my non-believing friends? The concept of suffering for righteousness is difficult, but one we can overcome by grace. Desiring the life we had before salvation is a deceptive mind-set with no substance- we belonged to the enemy.  Now belonging to Jesus and salvation being our portion, spiritual attacks increase upon the children of God. Self-pity only makes one feel worse and discipleship never meant our earthly lives would become easier for accepting Jesus into our lives.

An example of this is John the Baptist. Born to obedient parents (Luke 1:6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly), his birth was predestined and foretold by his father having an encounter with an angel:

Luke 1:13-17 But the angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.  He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.  And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Moreover, he was the cousin of Jesus and was already a blessing before he was even born (Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit). When the angel delivered the message concerning John the Baptist to Zechariah, he did not say that he would suffer for righteousness but spoke about the blessing he would be to God’s people.

As John the Baptist pursued his God ordained purpose, he did not eat the fanciest food, nor was he dressed in royal robes (Mark 1:4-6 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey). He lived a humble life, and far for what the earthly standards would portray as ‘being blessed’.

Whilst doing the work of God, people would speak maliciously of him, yet he was blameless (Luke 7:33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon). One would wonder why a blessed man of God and a cousin of Jesus would undergo persecution. Moreover, the innocent man was brutally murdered, simply for speaking the truth:

(Luke 14:3-12 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.” Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered John a prophet. On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist. “The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted and had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who carried it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus).

Whenever the trials of this world overwhelm you and it seems you are the only one encountering suffering, remember John the Baptist. His character, calling and ministry. His suffering was beyond his life, and through him, God has made the way for all of us. Even for you, He will use your suffering to become a testimony and to save generations from perishing- it is beyond what we can see!

Jesus encourages us on suffering by stating the following:

Matthew 11:7-11 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.  This is the one about whom it is written: I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you. Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

We thank God that He has chosen us to partake in His suffering and that of John the Baptist, for we are indeed blessed.

I want to encourage you today to take courage, you are not alone. Within the body of Christ, we all encounter struggles differently. There are people in the bible who experienced worse struggles than we have faced and yet God was pleased with them. It was the way He had preordained their lives to be and as disciples of Christ we will suffer for righteousness. No matter what arrow the enemy tries to throw your way, you shall overcome, the goodness of the Lord shall remain over your life and salvation shall remain your portion in Jesus name.

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The favour of Esther

A few nights ago, I had dream which inspired me to write this blog. In this dream, I was in a chaotic environment whereby women were oppressed, abducted, and held captive for no reason. The Lord was next to me; instructing and guiding me about how to prevent getting caught by the “bad guys”. He was my protector, and I watched other women get caught and taken away. Then He disappeared, and I was spotted and taken away. I was taken into a camp and met other women who informed me about the conditions they had been living in and that I would not be released or ever see my family again. The head of the notorious group of abductors walked towards me in an intimidating way. As he conversed with me, it ended up that we had mutual friends and the conversation flowed positively. The outcome was that he told the guards to release me and I was free to leave. I had favour.

After pondering over the dream, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and the favour of Esther came to my heart. Esther is one of the most influential women stated in the bible (read the book of Esther). She was a Jew; an unlikely candidate that rose from an orphan to a queen and a heroine of an entire nation. She was raised by her cousin, Mordecai, who helped position her into her destiny. Esther was a woman of obedience, humility, faith and courage. She knew who she was in God, she knew her purpose and knew what the power of God was able to do. God uses the story of Esther to show us how He is able to change a dreadful story into a glorious ending. The favour of God ensured that an orphan was ordained to be a queen to save the Jews from eradication (Esther 3:13 “Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods”). Esther was not dismayed nor discouraged about the current situation and was willing to sacrifice her life for what she believed God was able to do (Esther 4:16-“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish”).

Esther obtained supernatural favour from her husband (king Ahasuerus)- the most influential person in the land, which helped her to accomplish her purpose (Esther 7:2 “On this second occasion, while they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “Tell me what you want, Queen Esther. What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!”). Esther was selfless and her request for the Jews to be spared was granted. God is able to positon us in places of favour, allow us to have favour with individuals and honour us for things we have not worked for (Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart”). The beauty of the story of Esther is that God did not only favour Esther and saved the Jews; He also favoured her cousin (Esther 8:1-2” On that day King Ahasuerus gave the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had disclosed what he was to her. 2 The king took off his signet ring which he had taken away from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman”). It shows that if we follow God’s purpose for our life, He also remembers our desires and blesses us beyond our human understanding (Luke 12:31 “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you”). Even those who do not wish us well will see the favour of the Lord flourish over our lives (Esther 8:5-7”and said, “If it pleases the king, and if I have found favour in his sight and the thing seems right to the king and I am pleasing in his eyes, let it be written to revoke the letters devised by Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, which he wrote to annihilate the Jews who are in all the king’s provinces. For how can I endure to see the evil that will come to my people? Or how can I endure to see the destruction of my countrymen? Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew, “Indeed, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows because he tried to lay his hand on the Jews”).

We all have situations whereby we need Gods divine intervention and God’s favour. It could be for a job interview,promotion, business deal, with a loved one, exams etc. My prayer for you today is that the favour of Esther will manifest in what your heart desires- all to the glory of God.

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The favour of Esther- prayer

Dear heavenly Father,

I thank you for today and for all you have given me. I come before you as a sinner and ask for you to forgive me for all the sins I have committed- knowingly or unknowingly. Thank you for not giving up on me and for still counting me as worthy. I come before you because of (state the situation). I pray for the favour of Esther to manifest into this situation. Lord, I acknowledge that I cannot do anything without you and that all I have is because of your mercy (John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”). I pray Lord for your favour that things will work out for my good and will be effortless. I pray that you will go before me and give me favour with (state the situation). I also pray for unexpected favour in areas which I least expect it. I pray that you will bring the right people into my life that will help me with (state the situation). I pray that during this time, you will give me the faith, courage, humility and obedience of Esther. Help me to fully surrender this situation to you knowing that you are in control. I pray that through your favour you will take me to levels that I cannot obtain in my own strength (Proverbs 18:16 “A man’s gift makes room for him And brings him before great men”).AMEN

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The favour of Esther- spouse/partner

Dear Lord, I thank you for my spouse, for their lives and for bringing them into my life. I bring my spouse before you Lord and pray that you will bless them with the favour of Esther. I pray for favour to manifest at their workplace, in their family, with friends and all aspects of their lives. I pray that unexpected favour will meet them today. I pray for myself, that I will have supernatural favour with my spouse. I pray that as Esther had favour with the king, I shall also reap the same favour. I pray that whatever petition I bring to my spouse that is pleasing unto to, I will have favour with. I pray that my spouse will put me first and the matter of our household. I pray that my spouse will not be selfish but remember my needs and happiness. I pray that my spouse will think about me in the area of finance. I pray that as I speak to my spouse about (state the situation) I will have favour with him. May the outcome of my situation be positive, all to Your glory also pray for the favour of Esther with my spouses’ family and friends (Isaiah 28:29 “All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent).

 

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The favour of Esther- workplace/ financial breakthrough

Dear Lord,

I thank you for today, I thank you for my job, for provision and for financial blessings (Proverbs 10:22 “The blessing of the LORD makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it“). I thank you that you have gone before me and made my path prosperous. I thank you for levelling any mountain that was ahead of me. Today, I believe I am blessed and highly favour. I pray into the favour of Esther, that I will be favoured at work. I will have favour with my colleagues and with my manager. I pray for a promotion and a financial increase, knowing that all things are possible through Christ Jesus. I thank you because the works of my hands are blessed.  I also pray for my family members that you will show them favour in all aspects of their lives, as you did with Mordecai and Esther. I pray that even in my area of work, that I will be a blessing. I pray for all those at my work place, that whatever circumstance is troubling them, that you will turn this situation around for them. Use me as your vessel in the workplace to show your unconditional love. I also pray that you will give me wisdom on how to increase my finances (“James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”). I am believing you for a financial increase and thank you for this in advance (Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”). Amen