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JOY

I once sat in a Christian gathering where joy was defined as inner happiness and happiness as gladness that comes from happenstance. We were then urged to have joy and not happiness. I was kind of confused and decided to look up the meaning of each word in the dictionary. Oxford dictionary defines joy as:1. a feeling of great happiness or pleasure 2. a person or thing that gives one happiness or pleasure 3. success or satisfaction The first two definitions talk about joy having to do with happiness and the last mentioned satisfaction. Now, to happiness. The dictionary (Oxford) describes happy from which happiness is derived as: 1. feeling or expressing pleasure, contentment 2. feeling satisfied that something is good, right 3. full of joy 4. pleased or very willing to do something 5. fortunate, lucky 6. well suited to the situation, pleasing Prior to the occasion that sparked this research, I tried to be joyful (since the Bible commands it, 1Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always) by being excited by things. I would talk about a thing (small or big but mainly the small things, remembering to thank God for small mercies!), viewing the different ways in which it could have gone awry. The exercise itself was not bad I suppose. The bad part was what happened afterward. The `high` would suddenly drop and it seemed the higher I went, the harder, more mercilessly the low would rush at me. Always, it came unannounced. Then would begin the struggle to shake off the spirit of depression. The depressed state was terrible. For then, my whole born-again life would readily present itself before me. And all I would see were the trials, the tribulations. Then I would say to Almighty God, Lord, You know I love You dearly but why are the easy moments so few and far between? And they only last . a moment?

In the midst of the brooding, the Holy Spirit, in loving companionship would show me Gods unfailing faithfulness through all the trials and I would become peaceful . for a while. I needed to put an end to the yo-yo surges of happiness and its alternate emotions. It caused a lot of wear and tear on my faith. So when joy and happiness came in that gathering, I decided to do a little studying of my own. I arrived at the following: 1. 2. 3. Many are the afflictions of the righteous (though he/she is not in it alone) I must live a life that is praise to God My soul must keep her joy

So, for my life to praise God, my soul must be joyful through the afflictions that a Christian must face as he/she walks through an alien world. I thought real hard about joy and remembered King Davids prayer in Psalm 51 vs 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. (New King James Version). It came to me as I thought about this prayer that my joy lies in the salvation given me by Jesus. I remembered that salvation is not only forgiveness of sins but also, the pleasure of having a relationship with the God of all powers, of knowing His thoughts for me are only thoughts of good, that He is with me every step of the way till the very end of my time in this world, that Id never die since my relationship with Him continues beyond this world. In short, I have the total package in the salvation that Jesus has given me. I have reason(s) to be: 1 2 3 4 happy satisfied successful willing to live for His praise

In other words, the four factors listed above would give me the equilibrium that I desperately need to live in this world. As I thought about it, I became aware that

joy really is equilibrium because the Oxford dictionary defines equilibrium as:1.(a) a situation in which opposing forces, influences, etc are balanced and under control (b) the state of being physically balanced 2. a state of mind in which feelings and emotions are under control. The joy of the Lords salvation brings the opposing forces we encounter in life under our control thereby giving us balance. That is why theres not a storm big enough to wash the Christian faith out of this world. Our balance is in the word of God which we have been assured lives for ever and ever. To apply this wonderful discovery to everyday living has not been easy though. I have found out that there is joy for every situation under the sun. All one has to do is search the Bible. For any given situation, the Bible (Gods word) has the answer. When you find it, hold onto it with all your strength and all your might, no matter what the circumstances scream. Therein lies joy, joy profound. And this joy, it does not fail. As we prepared to enter a new year, I made only one resolution to walk in joy regardless .

Chapter 2
Joy in Faith
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11 vs.1 I know that I know that scripture. I could recite in my sleep as many other Christians can. That scripture was in my system in the very first year of my new life and I tried to walk in it. I did well sometimes. Other times I just stepped out believing in my unseen flesh-oriented desires. I went where the Lord did not tell me to go and did things that I know now were not in His will for me. Then, there was my health. I became asthmatic (I was told), at two months. It was so bad that everyone believed death was imminent. I grew into my teens and the attacks still continued just as bad as they were at the beginning. I got married and had children who were born free of asthma and have stayed free to this day. And I suffered still. My Christian brothers and sisters would gently and indirectly attribute it to a lack of faith. Theres no illness the Lord can not cure if only theres faith and so on. I subjected myself to their prayers and truly believed. I took steps in the physical to actualize my healing by throwing away my medication. Still I wheezed. Then I had a particularly bad attack and ended up in the hospital. I hated myself because I thought Id let Jesus down until my pastor preached about God being in medicine and urged us to keep in mind always that God is God. Therefore He reserves the right to heal as He likes. It helped a lot to know that medicine is acceptable to God but then, my medications didnt provide a cure, only relief. So, I was still not happy.

One night, I had a dream. In it I saw my house but even in that dream state I knew that house was me, my life. The house was well swept and there was a nice quietness in it. Light poured into every room in the house except in the pantry where we stored food. We called it the store. Well, in the dream, this store was dark, very dark and inside it was a man. He was not a stranger. For it seemed in that dream that he had always been there in my house and had moved from one room to another chased by the light and the cleanness of the house and now, he was hiding where I stored things. In the dream I ordered him to leave, that I didnt want him anymore. He kept begging me to let him stay and very firmly I told him to go and I woke up at that point. I knew God was trying to tell me something but I didnt know what. I went to my then pastors wife, a Spirit-filled woman. She prayed and then to my surprise, began to ask me questions about my background (my mother and father) and it all came out about my birth. I was born to young people who were not ready to accept the responsibility of parent-hood. So I wasnt exactly welcomed by them into this world. As a baby, I must have picked up the vibes of rejection from my mother which opened my life to the spirit of rejection. One of the manifestations of the presence of this spirit is asthma. That was the spirit in my store, a place of the memories of past hurt, a place of unforgiveness. She sent me to another room to confess my sin of unforgiveness against my mother. It was interesting that as soon as I started praying, memories of times I had been nasty to my mother rose up. I quickly confessed them to the Lord and asked for forgiveness. Finally, I felt totally at peace. But guess what? In that peaceful atmosphere came a very clear voice telling me that if I went through the prayer with the pastors wife, I would vomit a snake. I recognised this as the voice of the spirit of rejection and spoke out also: If you choose to come out as a snake, thats okay. But, you are coming out today. But I was terrified. The pastors wife came into the room and stressed the importance of forgiveness. She told me what had happened to me was totally unacceptable in the sight of God but I stood bound, until I forgave. What matters is what we do with the load life throws at us.

I assured her that all was well and told her about the voice and the snake. She said it was the demon spirit trying to paralyse my need for deliverance. The devil and his host operate through fear. As soon as she addressed this demon spirit of rejection and ordered it to come out of me in the name of the Lord Jesus, funny things began to happen. Id gone into that room breathing freely. But now I began to heave like Id never done in my life. It was like all of my intestines were coming up through my chest. And then some vile force flung me here and there, all over that room and I remembered wondering fleetingly if my hip bone was broken. I call the force vile because it was the total opposite of the gentle, sweet falling Id experienced under the power of the Holy Spirit. The pastors wife stood her ground and kept commanding it in Jesus name to come out. Finally, with a terrible scream which I did not recognise as coming from within me, it left and I was left dazed, lightheaded and retching on the floor. And free. I was free at last. Immediately the massive attacks ceased. Even when they threatened, I stood on the word that what God does is permanent. So, I found out that unseen elements can hinder our joy and it has got nothing to do with faith. Physical things not related to faith can also stand in the way of wellbeing. The massive attacks stopped but I noticed that whenever the weather was hot and humid, I would have problems breathing properly. The fact that the same medication used to treat asthma is used to treat this does not make me think Ive got asthma. It just shows that not all asthma cases come from rejection. I have terrible migraines when I walk about in the sun up to an hour. To avoid this, I avoid too much sun. But when it is unavoidable (I mean, Im an African and I live in Africa) I take medication for it. I am perfectly fine when the weather is dry and cool. But when its not, I take medication to help me cope. Like my pastor of long ago said, God has provided things to help us live in this world. Medicine is one of them. Still, my Christian friends talk about faith and total healing (as they call it) although Ive noticed that it does not seem to apply to them when they are ill with malaria and go to the doctor. They say

malaria is normal. This is Africa. There are mosquitoes. It is to be expected.But my entire family have not been ill with malaria for the past seven years and we have not been on any prophylactics! God is sovereign and rules in the affairs of man as He chooses. Isnt that why Jesus taught us to pray Thy will be done? But I have my joy in this now. It began when the Lord shed special light on something Id read so many times before. In Mathew 15:2428, we know the story of the woman who was not entitled, yet, received a blessing from Jesus. Jesus commended her for her faith. When that special light was shed for me, I realised that all that woman did was answer the Lord with knowledge. It is true, isnt it, that when those who own the food eat, the crumbs that fall to the ground belong to the dog. That was all she exhibited knowledge.

Mathew 8:5-10 recounts: Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented. And Jesus said to him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it. When Jesus heard it, He marvelled, and said to those who followed, Assuredly, I say to you, I have not Found such great faith, not even in Israel!The centurion showed knowledge of the workings of authority and the Lord equated it with faith. It hit me. That was it. Faith is not some abstract thing for one to struggle to hold on to. Faith is the measure of knowledge that we have of God. What I know about God is what would enable me to take as real that which I have not seen. As though to confirm this revelation, the Lord showed me something else in Mathew 16:6-8. When the disciples misunderstood the Lord, He did not chide them for their misunderstanding. Instead, He called it little faith. If they had had the knowledge of what Jesus meant, they would have understood Him and He would not have despaired of their little faith.

What it comes down to is this: Do I believe that Jesus paid the price for my health? Yes, I do. I do totally. I did even before He healed me and my family without medication of different ailments. But I know that He does allow somethings to happen for His glory. Look at Apostle Paul used mightily by the Lord to heal others. Yet, he himself cried three times to the Lord to heal him and the Lord said, No, My grace is enough to see you through. 2 Corinthians 12: 7-9. Did Paul stop working for the Lord because of it. No, he laboured endlessly for Jesus. Paul himself said that the presence of the illness helped to keep him humble. Its very easy to get carried way by success. Just take a look around. I have my joy in knowing that Jesus cares very much for me and that He wants the very best for me. But I do not know how He works things out and Im reminded of Habakkuk 3: 17-18 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vine Though the labour of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stallsYet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. New King James Version Thats my joy.

Chapter 3

I will have joy when Gods word is being sold. I have fretted too much and too long about it. Its time to put it to rest.
In childrens Sunday School, I learnt, amongst other stories about Jesus, that Gods joy salvation, was free. Freely you have received, freely give. I grew up also with stories of Gods men and women who went far and wide to spread the joy of salvation. They forsook everything. Sometimes they forsook their lives. I tell the truth when I say that Ive not heard that scripture (freely you have received, freely give) since the days of mission school and the baby I had then is now fourteen years old. For many ministers these days, there must be payment for every word (theirs and the Lords) that comes out of their mouths. I know that the work of the Kingdom needs money. It is the fuel on which the engine runs. It costs money to send missionaries to far away places. It costs money to put the Word on air. It costs money to build and maintain a place of worship. It costs a lot of money to minister to the felt needs of people. As plainly as Ive stated the needs, so should they be presented to people. I know, because Im frequently in the recipient audience and nearly as often, Im involved in fund-raising exercises for Christian causes. People respond with enthusiasm when they are shown the needs plainly. Even non-Christian do when they are presented with a simple request to join in providing something that would be of good to people. It is painful and unnecessary to employ the methods some use these days.

Trinity Broadcasting Network is one of the biggest blessings in my life. Even without being asked to, one knows, and indeed is quite eager, to support this network. But then I avoid watching some of the ministers and the truth is that they are some of the most gifted teachers of the Word. One is a lady and I remember the first time I saw her on TBN. She was electrifying. I couldnt take my eyes off her. I was being enormously educated. Though she was asking for a specific amount to get the blessing, I didnt mind because I was totally captivated. I sent the money. The next time I saw her, she was preaching about something else and asked a specific amount to get the blessing from that. I didnt have the money. The next and subsequent times were all the same. Really wonderful preaching but you had to send a certain amount to be blessed by the Word. And she would follow each occasion with a story of how she gave so much and the following day or a year later, she was so much richer or all her debts paid. It began to nauseate me and now, when she comes on, I flip the channels. Thank God for choice! One of the most painful of this kind I experienced in a church audience. The preacher called for those who could buy her book for $1,000 and she would prophesy over them. A few people stepped out. Next, she called for those who could buy it for $500. The last call was for those who would buy it for $300. This, in Africa and everyone in the congregation African! There were about ten or so people in all, who stepped out. And she said, Im going to prophesy over these ones. The rest of you begin to pray for yourselves. The misery in that audience was palpable. I sat there and wondered at it all. Does God need to be paid before He blesses? The God that created a beautiful earth for us?, the God that gives rain and sunshine in due season?, the God that commanded us not to even think about tomorrow, assuring us that He will take care of us?, the God that answers even before we call?, And all without any gratitude from us. The woman who was visiting went back to her own church and left behind a lot of people who, instead of being blessed, were so hurt that some cried. They said even God had despised their poverty. Some

left the church and I sincerely hope that they didnt leave the body of Christ Jesus. Another one, a man on TBN, said he had a special anointing to bless only forty who would write a cheque on the spot for $1000. They were the chosen ones who were destined to become millionaires in a year. Special offerings are scriptural. People need to be taught about them and they should be called by their name special offering. Gods business must not be turned into casino business. And I think living in the days of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ has made us forget that our God is awesome. No, cancel that word its used these days even for hamburgers! God is GOD. His people need to remember to reverence Him. We shouldnt toy with Gods word because Gods word is God. Ministers of the Word like to remind people of how no one would even seek to consult Old Testaments prophets without a gift in their hands. True. But true also that Jesus Christ of Nazareth went about doing good and none was recorded as going with a gift to seek His blessings. I will keep my joy in this by supporting Gods work as much as I can with:1. 2. 3. monetary offerings time offerings skill offerings

I will just ignore it when desperate ministers of the Word forget that God is able, more than able to raise funds for His work. He owns everything, right?!

Chapter 4
I will have joy in giving to God
In the Old Testament, there were different kinds of offering, mostly of the free-will kind. But there were the compulsory ones such as the sin offering. Every so often Gods people would have to appear before God with an unblemished lamb to beg God for forgiveness. What a joy to live in the pardon obtained for us by Jesus blood for ever and ever! Our offerings these days are truly free-will. It is up to me to decide if I want to give to God and how much Im willing, out of all Hes given me, to give back to Him. Whats the point in giving to God? I mean, He owns all things and does not need my meagre offerings. But I know how good it feels when my children give me things. Of course, gifts are few and far between from the ones who are teenagers. But the same teenagers as small children were quick to give dead flowers, drawings, sweets straight from the tongue. The giving filled me up in a strange way. I think it validated me. It made me feel loved and complete. Were the gifts things I could use? No. Were they things I could have given myself? Yes, but I would not have received any feelings from doing that. I think giving to God is a bit like that. When we give to God Almighty, the one and only Creator of the heavens and the earth, we tell Him I love you. And I think that is the only thing that God needs love. I believe God is magnified in our lives and subsequently in the earth, when His children demonstrate their love for him. Our very first offering starts with our selves our heart. When we turn over our heart to Jesus, we give our first and most important free-will offering. We say to God, I love and appreciate you for loving me enough to cause your Son to die in my place. It means I

trust You enough to let You make my choices for me. It means I hand over my thinking, my time, my money, my job, my family unto You, God, and I do it all willingly. The willing bit is the joy in giving. Also, the Bible says God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7. I have woken up a number of times especially in the past year, to a voice quietly saying surrender it to the Lord. I would get on my knees immediately and thank God for caring enough to reach out to me. Then I would beg Him to forgive me the sin of shifting focus from Him to circumstance. I would get up from my knees feeling great and in forty-five minutes to two hours, I would be back at worrying and fretting. (Remember those emotional surges I talked about in chapter one). All it came down to was my not willingly dropping my burden at Jesus feet. Oh, I was all the time willing with my mouth. Needless to say, I knew no joy. But I am changing all that. I have already begun and it feels so good and so strange that a few times I have actually muttered to myself, I hope Im not missing something here. But Im not because life is actually worth living now. All I do is stand on what God says concerning the circumstance (whatever it may be) and in His ways, God works everything out. I stand on His word with my heart, thanking Him for it and wait. Giving Him the offering of my choices is giving me joy. I am maintaining my joy in giving money to the Lord. Every time I give in church or to individuals, I keep reminding myself who I am really giving to. I am giving to God and therefore I have to be careful to give honourably. I give honourably the best amount I can give taking into consideration other aspects of living. It includes the state of the money (the cleanest notes I have) and the envelop I put it in. And I dont flaunt it. At one of my lowest moments financially, a Christian sister sent me a T-shirt with the words This is all I have for you. She sent the message verbally. I was shocked and terribly hurt since Id not asked her for anything. When you are down, some people treat you with disrespect. One of the things we (my husband and I) knew God was trying to teach us then was humility. So I kept the T-shirt and sent my thanks to her. But that night, in a vision, the Lord Jesus was

in my house and took the T-shirt and cast it out to the ground. It was how I knew I was not supposed to keep it and so I put it in the bin the following day because the Lord had cast it to the ground as useless. But, physically, it was a nice looking T-shirt. I understood from that experience that God can reject a nice offering if its offered in a dishonourable way. This has guided my giving. I once heard a pastor (whod forgotten his humble beginnings) urge the congregation to bring their offerings and wave them openly. As people were slow to respond, he said, Yes, the Bible says not to let your left hand know what the right is doing but that does not apply to giving your offering. Those who are not showing their offering are ashamed of it. Do something about it if you are ashamed! People need to keep their joy by ignoring everything that is not in line with Gods word. No matter how big the pastor is, if his interpretation of the word is not as clearly stated in the Bible, dont listen to him. My time is an offering to the Lord. It is not an offering only when I am in church but throughout the day. When I worked as a teacher for a private school, I poured every resource I had into that job. I used my free time to help the kids that needed extra attention. I read constantly to keep myself abreast with changing trends in education. My colleagues jeered You think you are going to get paid for all that? Some advised me that I was wasting my time for an ungrateful boss. Try as I would to explain, they could not understand that I was not working for any human being. I was just trying to give a good offering to the Lord. I try to do the same as wife and mother. I am mindful of it as I try to be of service in different ways to Christians and non-Christians. Even in doing nothing but just listening to someone who is hurting. I also give God an offering when I rest. For a long time, I had guilty feelings when I was not doing. I thought I was committing a sin. So I would push and push until I fell ill. Then my husband taught me that the Lord Jesus frequently broke away for a rest and I saw that not doing so was counter-productive. Every skill we possess comes from God. It makes sense to give an offering of our skills to God by using the skills to serve in church, our community and workplace. I have heard story after story of people

that served the Lord with skills without payment in cash for years. Then one day, a glorious opportunity would just come to them that would change their lives for ever. We have experienced this a number of times in my family. That teaching job that made me so unpopular with my colleagues opened many doors for me in the land, some from people Id never met because theyd heard about me from someone whod heard Our skills are tied to our destinies and since its God that perfects destinies, its best to let Him have your skills. He has a way of honing your skills so that when that perfect opportunity comes, youll be perfect. I have joy when I give God an offering in my appearance. No, I am not talking about dieting though it is good to do everything in moderation including eating. I think about the specific instructions God gave for the building of His house. Everything had to be the best and the people had to cleanse and anoint themselves before going in there. As a little child, our best clothes were kept for church (Sunday Best) and we made extra efforts with our appearance for church than for anything else. These days, its the other way round in many congregations. People come to church unwashed and in clothes most wives would hate for their husbands to see them in. Im not talking here about people who live where they cant wash and who perhaps have just the one thing to wear. Im talking about people who dress up to go next door to have dinner with friends but cant be bothered to make the effort for church. Recently the womens end of year party was held in my home and some came looking absolutely wonderful. When I exclaimed that Id never seen them look so great in church, one said, But church is just church. I was truly aghast. God is beautiful. Look at the earth, the trees, flowers, clouds, animals and people on it. Everything is fearfully and wonderfully made. Remember, offering is giving back to God, joyfully, from what He has given us. Give God the offering of looking nice when you go into His house. Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down,[ shaken together and running over. Luke 6:38 It is the word of God, but some preachers have taken it a step further with impunity:

[empty your account, and give to me, borrow if you have to, dont expect anything from the Lord if you dont sow into this work Im doing ]. Must we ask God for a car, house, more money, children, position, health and the death of our enemies every time we tell Him I love You? Our offerings are expressions of our love for God. If we are so intent on reward for every offering we give to God, are we loving Him at all? Why not just demonstrate your love for Him and leave it at that? After all, He has already said that He will give; good measure, pressed down and running over. Lets demonstrate our love for Him and all the things we need shall be given to us.

Chapter 5

Joy in Receiving
I keep wondering why preachers dont preach about receiving. We are bombarded by sermons on giving and get nothing on receiving. The reason why Im writing about it is because Ive experienced the tests that being on the receiving end can bring in the life of a Christian. And the tests were severe because they had to do with the transforming of my natural human nature into Christs own. My flesh suffered. In the time when things we (my family and I) had known and taken for granted were taken away, we became utterly dependent on what we were given by others. It was awful. It would be difficult to recount the whole experience so Ill just share a little incident of that time. A girl younger than I and from a poor home had become close to us. When you dont have, you dont have. Shed noticed that sometimes we didnt even have food in the house and we had three little children. One day she turned up at our place with just enough ingredients to cook us one meal. I was amazed at the different emotions that rose to the fore. If Id been told this story by someone, I would immediately have been touched by the sweet generosity of that giver. But when it happened to me, the first things I felt were shame, disgrace, distaste, in that order. I had quite a struggle inside of me as I also did not want the girl to feel bad. Finally, Gods grace won. I went forward and hugged her. Then, I thanked her and took the food from her. To show my appreciation, we cooked the meal [ she and I] and we all ate together.

When I thought about it, I wondered at my initial reaction. I needed that girls gift. I mean, Id prayed and asked God to give us our daily bread and when it came, I almost disdained it. Why? Because of pride. The very same destructive pride that drove Satan from the presence of God. We (my husband and I) came to see that one of the things present in the dross that God was removing from us was pride and once we learnt how to receive, a lot of the pride was dealt with and the time in that bleak wilderness was cut short. While in that place we experienced the flip side of the coin. A family we knew fell into hard times and even eating properly became a challenge. Because the command to give is not only to the rich and comfortable, I took out of the little I had (just as that girl must have done) and went to give the woman of that household. She was shocked and then with a sneer she said, God, has it come to this? Do you know how it felt like? I was so ashamed that I just wanted to disappear with my meagre offerings from that disgrace. Finally, she said since Id come all that way with the food, I could leave it behind but I was not to do it again. With that I left. We dont know how to receive. We dont give honourably and we dont receive graciously. Dont think it has to do with the size of the gifts. No. Recently, my husband found out that a brothers car had broken down. It would need a sizeable amount to fix it. They were believing God for the amount, the brothers wife said. Though the money was earmarked for something else, my husband felt God wanted it to go to that family. So he dropped off the money, the family fixed the car, and instead of thank you, the woman began to act as though we were enemies. Why do we ask God for things and when He sends them, we begin to resent the messengers. God uses people to effect answers to prayers. If we are ungracious with the people He uses, how can we appreciate the Giver that we do not see. Of course, the person giving must do it as unto the Lord and not expect accolades. It is God that rewards. But, it is not Christ-like to be ungracious in receiving. The Lord Jesus appreciated every one that ministered to Him whether the gift was big or small. Remember Mary, Martha, and Lazarus? John 11:1-44; the woman with the alabaster vase of oil of spikenard? John

12:1-7; the feeding of the five thousand John 6:1-11; the leper that said thank you? Luke 17:11-17. We can appreciate a kind act without giving the glory due God to man. A simple thank you from the heart is enough. All the praise and glory must go to God. I have learnt to be joyful in receiving. Sometimes the gifts are things that I dont need nor can use. I still receive them with joy, knowing that part of being blessed is so we can bless others. I pass on some of the gifts. It shocks me to see or hear of people who turn gifts away and most of the time, these are people who really need help. Why cut your nose to spite your face? I dont accept charity and this from Christians who ought to know better! We are commanded to be charitable one to another. I believe God never intended that one should have it all. We should be able to reach out to one another in one way or the other bearing the love of Christ in all things.

Chapter 6
Joy in Ugliness
With the growing threat of terrorism all over, airport security is understandably tighter. Many steps have been taken to fight this most terrible of foes, including a thorough body search at some airports. At one of those airports I came into contact with that kind of body search for the first time in my life. They had men doing men and women doing women but it did not take the ugliness out of the situation. The womans hands roamed all over my body and, as I was wearing a dress, I think it helped her hands travel much further than they should have had I worn a pair of jeans. Maybe. I was so nauseated that I went straight to the bathroom. The experience hung on for a good part of the flight. I could not settle down on my inside and I felt like crying. After a while, I was able to put a word to all that I was feeling and it was: invasion. That was it! I felt Id been invaded and wondered for the umpteenth time in my life how it must feel for victims of rape. As soon as I identified what was troubling me, a scripture rose up within me about my body being the temple of God. 1 Corinthians 3:17. No one has the right to touch another persons body intimately without the persons consent and I had to subject myself to that because the law required it. It was a situation I had no control on. But I felt defiled by it and was really in need of cleansing. Up came another scripture about the blood of Jesus cleansing us from all sin. 1st John 1:7. No, I did not sin because the law subjected me to it but I was feeling the emotions that occur when sin has been committed. Id been sinned against. So I had this cauldron of anger, hate, humiliation and self-pity bubbling inside of me. I even felt guilt because I kept thinking I should have worn jeans although right-

thinking kept reminding me that jeans fabric would not have shielded me from the memory of those hands. And what suit of armour could I have worn over my breasts and the rest of my body? I needed to cleanse my body of the filth. So I exercised my authority as a believer in Jesus Christ. I cleansed my body of the contact itd made with strange hands with the blood of Jesus. Then I cleansed my mind with the blood of Jesus of each of the negative emotions I was feeling calling them by their names. Then, I thanked the Lord for cleansing me and keeping His temple (my body) undefiled. I prayed in whispers but I knew I had to say the words into the spirit realm to deal with the demonic spirits that were attacking my mind. After doing this, I shut my eyes and drifted off to sleep. When I woke up, I felt something was different. Then, I realised that it was the absence of all that Id felt before I prayed. I was back to normal. My joy was restored. I have found how to maintain my joy when a relationship with ugly people is unavoidable. I am not talking about how a person looks. I am talking about the behaviour of people who say they are bornagain and have been for ages and, claim so much knowledge of the Most High and yet, sow ugliness wherever they go. As a practise, I shy away from such people. Increasingly though, God has been throwing them across my path reminding me that the tares must grow with the wheat until harvest time. Mathew 13:24-30 These ugly people ostensibly want a friendship with you. They want to know every thing about your life. They take note of everything you wear and put a price to it. They talk about others and tell you what others say about you. They are amazingly juvenile to the extent of talking about who calls who. It would seem their mission in life is to dishonour and in it all, they are more righteous than anyone else! I did not know how to deal with these people so I ran from them until Jesus showed me from Scriptures that He did not run from any one. Scriptures advise us to abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22. I believe it is for this reason that Jesus did not keep company with the Pharisees even though He did not run from them. He spoke out against their evil practices whilst teaching the good way by His life. As His disciple, this is what is expected of me.

Now, I try to keep my joy in the face of this ugliness by refusing to be drawn into their kind of talk. I do whatever good I can to these people but unless it is absolutely unavoidable, I maintain a healthy distance in my relationship with them. Another kind of ugliness I deal with almost every day of my life has to do with those who crucify a nation because of what theyve heard or a nasty brush theyve had with someone of that nationality. Sometimes I ignore it and have taught my children to do same. But when it comes from people who should know better, educated people, people of God, I am compelled to ask a few questions such as So, you know or have heard of fraudsters from this nation. Do you honestly want to say you do not know of fraudsters from the nation you call your own? Do you know someone from that hated nation who did good to you or someone you know? What amazes me is that people who are caught in this ugliness invariably know good things and good people from that nation and still, they only talk about the bad forgetting that that same bad obtains in their nation as well. Christians forget this and hurt their brethren from other nations. The fallen human nature resides in all of humanity irrespective of location or race. Theres good and bad everywhere. The person who does not know this has a lot to learn. But as for me, I know that Im accepted by God. Thats my joy.

Chapter 7

Joy in Confronting my Fears


For all of my life, Id held a deep fear of having to use a messy toilet. And every time I came face to face with one, I would just turn round and flee. When my family did bush missions (getting into remote parts to reach the unreached) and we had to stay two, three days in the bush, it was not such a bother because one could use the bush and I had my husband on guard for snakes and human wanderers. The problem was where there was the pretense of civilization; where people put in the W.C. and forget to flush. And then, there were the pit latrines. An aunty told me how she almost got bitten by a snake that crawled out of the hole of the latrine even as she was squatting over it. This became a serious stronghold when it came to pit latrines. My horror of a bad toilet was so bad that I skipped some outings if the assurance of a good toilet was not given. I even turned down opportunities of telling young people about the Kingdom of God (which is my sole purpose on Earth) because of this fear. One day it occurred to me that everything including the workings of my body, was subject to the name of Jesus. So, I began to speak to my bowels in the name of Jesus that they dont feel the need to empty themselves until I would get to my destination (usually home or where I would get access to a good toilet). I did this for trips that would take one to four hours, and every time, without fail, my body obeyed. Of course, I avoided eating or drinking any thing in large quantities on those trips. I did this for years and it worked until I started my quest for the meaning of the joy of the Lord.

I went on a three-hour trip with my husband with the usual command to my bowels and all was well. At the outset of the return journey, my tummy felt a bit funny and I repeated the command and took my mind off it. The journey involved crossing a river by ferry and that was the last hour of the three-hour trip. As soon as we got on the ferry, a massive cramp hit my stomach. I gasped and tried to stay focused on controlling my rectal muscles. It passed and I thanked God and spoke peace to my stomach. In maybe ten minutes, that pain was back accompanied by terrible nausea. I was faint with it all may have been from the effort of trying to control the spasms of pain and nausea. It stopped and returned in about five minutes. This time wave after wave of it washed over me. When I got my breath back, I told my husband what I was going through and he went in search of the toilet. He came back to report that hed found it but that there was no way I could use it it was the filthiest toilet hed seen in a long, long while. He tried to encourage me to hold on but there was twenty-five to thirty minutes more of the crossing. After five minutes, under relentless cramps, I used the toilet. Instantly, the pain eased and I completed the journey in peace. I scrubbed with hot water when I got home and for days afterwards, I walked about in a surreal state. Then, I was invited somewhere to talk. In the past, I would not have wanted to go because I would spend half the day there and, it was one of those places with funny toilets. But to my surprise, the usual fear did not come up. Since then Ive been in and out of places I used to avoid. Ive seen unpleasant toilets and didnt run out. I have learnt that Gods joy empowers. God allowed that experience on the ferry so that I would become more and more what He wants me to be. Another fear that crippled my life was that of letting go of my children. My children have been at the centre of my world since God gave the first one to me on my birthday. I have worried myself, the children and my husband with fears of their security, success and all. When the first got to university level, I started to pray about letting go of all the children because I knew after university would come marriage and a totally separate life from mine. Still, I had a long way to go.

With my first-born at twenty years and the last, eleven, an opportunity came up to help me. Our very good friends had a major event coming in their lives and they requested our presence. We presented it before the Lord and were certain that God would have us (both) go even though it involved an overnight stay. This would be the first time that we would be leaving the children without a parental figure in charge. It worried me. I thought about how teenagers like to turn their parents home into a party ground once parents are away. I remembered boys (Christians) who got girls pregnant the weekend they got the house to themselves. I wondered if the older ones would not be tempted into abandoning the younger ones for an outing. Will they remember to lock up at night? I went on and on till I remembered that Id prayed about it and had received the peace of mind that it was okay for both my husband and I to go. I needed to give my fears to the Lord. I resolutely did that and then set my face like flint toward the trip. I resisted the urge to ask someone to call in to check on them and we also didnt leave them any numbers to call in case of emergencies. If Id suggested it, my husband would have complied, but, this was my test (I sensed) and I wanted to yield completely to the Lord. We were away for two days and a night (we got home evening of day two). In all of those hours and minutes and seconds, I resisted the urge to call, leaving it to my husband who made about four calls in all. Everything went well. The first-born proved himself a trustworthy leader. He did all that was needed for the well-being of his siblings and they cooperated with one another. And I learnt. I learnt that as long as we are doing our parts as godly parents, God is doing the rest even though it may not be apparent. Now, my joy is unshaken even though I know that our first-born is leaving in some months for his masters. My joy is the satisfaction I have that God has said that my children shall be established in His righteousness and great shall be their peace. Isaiah 54:13-14

Chapter 8
Joy in Mastering Self
The seeking of self-glory in the church has robbed me of much joy in the past. I have fought a serious crisis of faith as I watched pastors and their ministers appropriate glory to themselves and their spouses (and children even). The ease with which they slide into the positions in which they sit in lordship over others is amazing and sad. It would seem that no matter how new you are in the church I mean with no one knowing or being interested in knowing about your commitment to God, all you have to do is give gifts to the pastor and youll find yourself in a position of authority. The height of the post is in direct proportion to the size of the gift. The gifts can come in cash or in services which range from running errands to ego-fanning and sycophancy. These people feed the pastor with stories about others. Those that refuse to pay them the recognition they want are taken before the pastor and painted in treacherous colours and because the sycophants are pastors favoured people, he would take their stories as truth and begin to malign the victims from the pulpit! The ones favoured by these wicked manipulators get the kind eye from the pastor. The work of vain-glory workers in the church is not is not limited to manipulating the pastor, they also persecute people they dislike in many instances driving them literally from church and even boasting about this feat! Then, they climb the pulpit and give testimonies of Gods goodness; the message being Ha, ha. Im prospering in my evil and nobody can touch me. Ha, ha. And I would wonder about Gods ways and the validity of Scripture. But the quiet little voice kept telling they were lying. At one time, the voice asked me if I

knew of anyone in the Bible that God loved who led a trouble-free existence as these tares would have people believe that their lives were trouble-free. When real Christians give testimonies, they are not afraid to tell it as it really happened and it is in the truth of their telling that people give their lives to Jesus and/or draw encouragement for their own travails. Also, God made me stumble on facts concerning each and every one of these people; facts that shocked because they exposed the filthiness of their lives. Now, Im not moved by any of these things. I keep my joy in scripture which applies to this situation: . The SOLID foundation of God STANDS, having this seal: The Lord KNOWS those who are His. 2 Timothy 2:19 Another thing that has really tried my joy is the man-made rules. I was once in a congregation that floundered greatly because the new pastor came with new rules which were:Women must keep their heads covered Women could not wear make-up Women could not wear trousers Both men and women could not wear their African dresses except on New Year Day (in Africa!) 5. Both men and women must wear suits (skirt suit for the women). The leader of this church liked the corporate look, we were told. 6. No one was allowed to answer their phone in his presence. Instantly, self-righteousness rose to a dizzying height. Those who adopted these rules look down their spiritual nose on the sinners in African wear. The funny thing is the African wear is one of the most religious mode of dressing I know. I mean, it covers everything extending to the ankles! The Bible talks about man-made doctrines being taught as Gods righteousness. Colossians 2:20-22 Therfore if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, asthoudh living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations :Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, which all concern things which perish with the usingaccording to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. 1. 2. 3. 4.

And then the titles: Mummy, Daddy, First Lady, etc. The titles wouldnt matter if the people bearing them did not lose sight of the bottom line which is that we all are simply brethren. I was once told the story of a church mummy who kept people waiting to see her on their knees and sometimes the queue would extend out into the sun. I was shocked that intelligent, beautiful people subjected themselves to such abuse. I hold onto my joy in these things by keeping my mind on the warning from Colossians 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. The New Testament talks about the church in so and so place. But it was just the Church of Jesus. Not so for us. We call ourselves by different labels and back-bite one another forgetting that, that wont get us into heaven. I believe I speak the truth when I say that church leaders turn the attention on self (theirs) and not on Jesus when they begin to compare their charisma and size of congregation with others. Why is there a need for this? Arent we all on the same vineyard? I know many people who have lost respect for The Church because of this. I overcame my disgust by reminding myself that a leader (no matter how exalted) is still a man. I take the word of God that he preaches (if it tallies with what is in the Bible) and I ignore the rest because no one is perfect, but the word of God is.

Chapter 9

Joy in Coping with Excesses


I will keep my joy when adulation for the preacher drowns the message from God. Many a time Ive turned to my nearest neighbour in church to ask what the preacher just said and many times my neighbours would say they didnt quite catch it. We did not arrive at this stage because of a lack of concentration. The reason for the loss in the preachers message was the whooping, the catcalls that some preachers call for. Is the word of God some act to be performed to the accompaniment of behaviour found in pagan rites? Why must these sounds attend the preachers sermon for him to feel validated? I have heard quite a few preachers complain about the audience being cold when the whooping is absent. Why isnt a nice round of applause enough? The really bad thing about this is that the adulation is not usually in praise of the truth in Gods word but of some boastful thing from the pastor (such as the designer labels he wears) or some great sounding words which all end in tude, tude, tude or tion, tion, tion. Not many know the import of these sayings but they would whoop and catcall so loud that the rest of what the preacher has to say remain lost in all the noise. And the preacher would be in his

element believing that hed given a great sermon and everyone must know what a great preacher he is. I try to keep my joy in this by silently praying for the preacher. I dont know how this practice got into the church. I believe it is something that we need to pray about because the church is being carried by that nice, deceiving wave of pleasing people and being pleased by people. I think it is called entertainment and that is not what the preaching of Gods word should do. Another thing about the witty sayings is that they are fast replacing the Bible. Christians quote people now to buttress their points and not the Bible. So, the people who make these clever sayings are big men of God but are they God? What power is there in these sayings to bind broken hearts, heal the sick and raise the dead? Im keeping my joy by steadfastly holding to the reading of the Bible everyday. Todays world has so many voices on each and every subject under the sun. Eggs are good for you . eggs are not good for you. Coffee is poisonous .. No, coffee is great. It would seem nothing in science holds much water (at least not for long). I remember joking with a friend once that at this rate scientists are going to tell us one day that lettuce is fattening. Just two years after making the statement, I read in a health digest that one silent fattener is lettuce! My heart almost stopped. They went on to explain about something in the pesticide that is sprayed on vegetables causing weight gain. Theres not a theory in this world that has been proven infallible. But the Bible (Gods word) is. Only the words from this book possess the power to effect change sustainable change for they have been tried and tested. We need this for stability in todays world. A new Christian once asked two of the questions that I asked myself sometime back. Why do Christians repeat themselves while praying under the guidance of the pastor when Jesus warned against it? Mathew 6:7 She meant the Father, do me well. Father, do me well. Over and over again. I truthfully told her I did not know the reason but urged her to follow whats in the Bible. The second question was about the pastor setting the time for Gods intervention. The pastor had preached from 2 Kings 6:25-33, 2 Kings 7:1, using the story of the miraculous abundance in the midst of famine to tell the people that by the next day whatever they were

going through would be over and then he quickly added even if its not over, youll still have the witness in your spirit that something has happened. Prophecy? I do not know. But I do know that theres a time and season under the sun for everyone. My planting time may be anothers harvest time. Every good tree yields its fruit in due season. Just be sure that you are a good tree. Luke 8:15 But the ones [seeds] that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit WITH patience. Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under the sun Verse 2b a time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted Psalm 1:3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season.. What setting a general time does is create the feeling of despair and hopelessness when nothing happens. You begin to look at God like this big being that you cant understand who holds out a blessing and snatches it away time and time again. I was on that cycle a number of times before I learnt to lean more on what the Bible says than what man says if what man says does not tally with what is in the Bible. In this, I have kept my joy.

Chapter 10

Joy in Being
I must keep my joy by just being there in His hands dwelling in His presence (His word). I have missed it so many times in this walk with Jesus by trying to dictate the pace. After much despair and many tears, Ive decided to just be in His hands. Im training myself not to concern myself with things that I do not understand. If he says in the morning walk South and in the afternoon He says Go back North without anything happening to explain the moves, I will count it all joy as long as I believe Im hearing from Him. Many years ago, I felt a tapping by my bed as I slept at night. When I woke, I didn't see anyone but a quiet voice said to read Psalm 131. I did it without knowing the depth of what God was saying to me. But now I do. Since I know that He loves me, I need to trust that He has the very best for me even when I cannot see it nor understand what He is doing. I need to rest in this knowledge in every area of my life. In watching my weight, I need to remember not to fashion myself according to some bodys standard. I mustnt dishonour a loving Father by calling anything Hes given as food bad. It is what we do with what He has created that is bad. We tamper with the natural order of food. Also, abuse of food does not honour God. I will keep my joy by the way I work be it in a kitchen or an office. A lot of people (Christians and non-Christians) are wary of employing Christians because some Christians hide slothfulness under the cloak of Christianity. Even before Adam sinned and started to toil, he worked because God gave him the command to look after the paradise Hed created for him. Genesis 1:28 So God created man in His own image, the image of God created He him, male and female created He them. [KJV] Then God blessed them, and God said to them Be fruitful and multiply; and replenish the earth. I keep my joy by giving a good account of myself in whatever is expected of me keeping in mind what the Bible says in Colossians 3:23-24 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to

men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord. I must be as I wait for Him to bring to pass all that He has promised. This waiting has tried my joy sorely. I dont know the number of times that I thought to the Lord that if I were in His position I wouldnt allow so and so thing to happen. And then, I would say to Him (in my thoughts) How can You bear to see me in such pain and not do something? Then, one day I heard Him ask What about my Son? That was all I heard but at the same moment I had a vision of Jesus suffering on the cross and His cry to His Father who did not answer Him. And I understood. I understood that He did not answer Jesus then because He sent Him to earth for that very hour the terrible death on the cross. So also He does not answer as I want Him to because He is working out things in me by the pain Im going through. And I know that every purpose of God is for an appointed time and until that time it would seem as though God wasnt answering me. Habakkuk 2 :3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time: But at end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it: Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. The waiting period has done many wonderful things in me and for me. It has got rid of much dross and given me better understanding of God, me and my fellow human beings. Still, I hate the waiting. Once in deep pain while waiting, the still, small voice spoke. Jesus has been waiting too. And I jumped with surprise because I knew the place in the Bible that spoke about this and yet, it never made an impression on me. Hebrews 10:12-13 says since His victory over the cross, Jesus has been waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. He has been waiting a long time. Thank God that our waiting is but a moment! So, I try to keep my joy while waiting. Whatever comes my way, I must keep my joy knowing that God keeps His word. Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

Because He is God, I must wait on His way (His word in the Bible). He sees that which I cannot see. He knows that which I do no know. He is the only One who speaks and it comes to pass and He is the only One who sustains every good thing. Because He is God, He does it His own way. Isaiah 55:8-11 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please. And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. As long as Hes spoken it, it will surely happen. I will keep my joy when Im assailed by dreams visions that seek to contend with Gods truth for my life. When dreams and visions are not in line with Gods word, I recognise them as lies for only Gods counsel stands in the lives of His children. It does not matter how the real the dream/vision. It does not matter who has the dream/vision. If it does not agree with what God has said in the Bible, it is not from God. It is good practise to remember that dreams and visions and words of knowledge can come from: God Satan the state of ones mind I remind myself often to focus on Gods word from the Bible. Isaiah 46: 9-11 Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other, I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things that are not yet done Saying, My counsel shall stand,And I will do all My pleasure Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel from a far country, Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purpose it; I will also do it.

Halleluyah! Isaiah 40: 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

Hebrews 10 : 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. God is dependable. I want to stand on His word alone. His word shall come to pass even when I fail repeatedly at achieving the goal. For even in my failure and disappointment, He is at work. Isaiah 28:21 For the Lord will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be angry as in the Valley of Gibeon- That He may do His work, His strange work, And bring to pass His act, His strange act. [ KJV]

All I have to do to maintain equilibrium in life is nest within His word. Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vine Though the labour of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18 I keep my joy when Im assailed by dreams and visions that seek to contend with Gods truth for my life. When dreams and visions are not in line with Gods word, I recognise them as lies for only Gods counsel stands in the lives of His children. It does not matter how real the dream/vision. It does not matter who has the dream/vision. If it does not agree with what God has said in the Bible, it is not from

God. It is good practise to remember that dreams and visions and words of knowledge can come from: (1) God (2) Satan (3) the state of ones mind Remember to focus on Gods word from the Bible. Isaiah 40:8, Isaiah 46:9-11, Hebrews 10:23. God is dependable. Stand on His word alone.