Jesus moves businessman away from self-righteousness
J is a long-time Christian who serves faithfully as a deacon in a local church. Yet he felt that something was hindering him from greater intimacy with God the Father, until he took time to humble himself before God and reflect on his heart. Then he heard God speak to him as a son. Praise God!
I was brought up in a Christian home in Africa.
Our mother was a believer who took us to church every Sunday and brought us up in the knowledge of the One True God. She taught us how to pray. Prayers became a part of our daily discipline. My mother loved me a lot. We were close. I remember I used to cry at lot at home as a child, especially when I was separated from her.
There were seven children in our family, and we spent most of the time with our mother due to my father’s work, study, and social commitments. My father loved me as well though he was mostly away. I came to Christ at age 13. That year, my father also came to Christ, in answer to my mother’s prayers over a period of 23 years.
I moved to Hong Kong 33 years ago. Since our family joined the church we now attend, I have grown a lot and thank God for all the faithful leaders who have served us. For the last 25 years, I have been serving in our church in various roles. Things have gone well.
In the last few years, however, I felt that there was something lacking in my relationship with God. I felt like I had hit a ceiling.
I knew that I needed to have some sort of breakthrough, but I did not know what in particular. God heard my prayers for a deeper and growing relationship with Him and led me to an opportunity to do a renewal prayer. My preparation for the prayer session coincided with the Lent season of reflection and God encouraged me through His Word.
As I reviewed my life, I realized that I had been a worse sinner than I thought.
On the day that I was dealing with those thoughts, I was reading Psalm 32. I was encouraged to read that our knowledge, confessions, and repentance of past sins is a cause for celebration, rather than shame. I was further encouraged by God’s promise in Isaiah 43:25 that says, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
That period of reflection opened my eyes to who I really was.
First, I realized I needed to mend my relationship with two of my siblings. I had been blaming them subconsciously for some past events and had not really kept in touch. I reached out to one before the renewal prayer and one after. I thank God the Father for leading me along the path to make me right with Him.
I also came to see that being judgmental towards others came more easily to me than showing grace and compassion. God worked and worked on my heart!
Some questions still remained.
At some point, I stopped crying as a child, but I do not know when or why. Was there some inner vow I made to stop crying? To stop showing emotions? To stop having empathy with those in need? Did I close my heart to others – including God? As I learnt that emotions are God-given and our Lord Jesus Christ displayed emotions, I knew that something was not right with me.
Being brought up in a home where both my parents loved me presented an unusual problem.
I valued their sacrifice and love for my siblings and me. I admired their wisdom in dealing with our family challenges. My gratitude for them extended even after they both had passed away for many years. My mother passed away 27 years ago and my father, 19 years ago. Now in my fifties, I still missed my mother.
When I faced problems with my siblings, I wished my parents were around to help deal with the situation.
Unbeknownst to me, this “worship” of my parents cast a veil over me that reduced my longing for God the Father.
I approached challenges with the question, “What would my earthly parents have done?” rather than, “I should seek guidance from my Heavenly Father in dealing with this issue.” Subconsciously, I did the right things with the aim of pleasing my earthly parents.
My parents’ love language was “acts of service.” Their service mentality set me an example of how to interact with others and it spurred me towards serving others, including serving God rather than loving Him. This also led me to have high expectation of others and I did not forgive them easily even when I said that I had.
During the renewal prayer, one of the prayer counsellors sensed that God wanted me to know that God saw me as a “good son.”
God focuses on me as His ‘son,’ whereas I focused on being ‘good.’ How true this was!
During the renewal prayer session, I repented of my pride and for judging my siblings and others. I spoke blessings over them. I also prayed to unyoke myself from human institutions, including different churches that I had attended over the years. Even though God had used certain people to teach me how to study the Bible, a few were from Christian cults. There were some false teachings and ungodly spiritual influences. I prayed to cut ungodly soul ties and the spirits behind people, conversations, events, and ungodly associations in the past.
One event that God bought to mind that day was the Thaipusam festival I witnessed as a tourist to Malaysia.
In this Hindu festival, devotees carry heavy decorative shrines attached to their bodies with metal piercings to honour their god. My friend, who is a Christian, brought me to witness a local ritual, not knowing that this was a form of ungodly spiritual worship.
What I saw were people who performed certain rituals to honour their gods when their prayers were answered. While the people were sincere, the gods they worshipped would lead them only into darkness. Little did I know that God wanted to draw me away from ungodly spiritual influences in this “polluted” world.
As I cut soul ties with the Thaipusam event, I felt something unseen lift off from my arm. It was the first time I ever experienced something so vivid, and was reminded that ungodly spiritual powers could gain a foothold in me if I was not careful – even if my participation in the idol worship was only as a passive observer.
Polygamy used to be common in the tribe where I was born.
One of my grandfathers, for example, had eight wives. Contrary to the pattern with most polygamous marriages, there was peace and harmony in our village. Nonetheless, I had to acknowledge that this was not something that was in line with God’s Word (Ephesians 5:31). I confessed this and other generational sins and impurity.
I also revoked inner vows that I made subconsciously, dictated by my own selfish way, that had held me captive in a prison I had built around me. This included vows that “I must be in control at all times,” “I must not show my emotions,” and “I must be seen to be righteous, to be an example to others.”
I had been guilty of living with self-righteousness and lacking empathy.
I had depended on myself and not opened my heart. That day, I forgave myself just as I have been forgiven by my Father in heaven through our Lord Jesus Christ. I declared that I accept myself that as God the Father accepts me and freed myself from the spirit of guilt.
I corrected the relationship with my departed parents by thanking God for them and for being brought up in a godly way. I confessed the longing I had for my earthly father’s time and words as I was growing up. I forgave my father.
I thanked my mother for being a good mum. Then I cut the ties in my heart in what was an idolatrous relationship.
I was freed as I acknowledged that God is the only and true Father. I committed to being obedient to the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit without delay. In the past, I had brushed a few of His promptings aside and did things my way.
Then, my prayer counsellors encouraged me to enter God’s throne room.
That’s where I met God the Father. As I entered the throne room, I immediately knew and felt that I was entering Holy ground.
It was a very large room – dark with spots of light – yet very, very bright. I was in the presence of the Father – alone before the Father. This is something that I had longed for over a very long period of time.
As He pronounced that He loves me and accepts me, I burst into tears. After being unable to cry for many years, I felt a great relief.
I felt like the prodigal son who wandered away from the Father and suffered while away from His presence. All the Father wanted was for me to abide in Him.
I shed tears because of the time I had lost but relieved that the wait was over: I was finally home with the Father. I had been looking for rest in all the wrong places. The search was over. I thanked Him for finding me and for welcoming me with open arms.
I finally found my rest in the presence of my Heavenly Father.
The day of my renewal prayer was so special. I cherish it, knowing that I walked out a different man with much love for God the Father; knowing that He accepts me and loves me as His child.
I experienced a new birth.
Before my renewal prayer, a counsellor had received a few words from the Lord, “veil” and “blocked heart” and saw a tall, slim, dark wooden carving of a “being” in a vision. They asked me if there were any African decorations in my home that looked like that. It was only after the prayer session that I found similar-looking artefacts from my home and removed them since they were of questionable meaning. It has been as if my spiritual eyes have just been opened and I am beginning to learn how to use them.
My quiet time is now one that I look forward to as I spend time with God the Father. I thank God for giving me this new life, I thank Him for all the people He sent to help me get to know Him better. I pray that I will stay very close to Him as I continue on this journey.
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