October is the month of demonstration of our respect towards God through praise, but today I want to talk about praising God by total and absolute dedication to His goals and plans.
There is a much talked of story that is indirectly linked to this topic:
On the 20st of August 2013 a gunman opened fire at an elementary school in Decatur, Georgia. 20-year-old Michael Brandon armed with an AK-47 barricaded the teachers’ common room and started shooting policemen through a glass door. An opposition lasting for hours became a true nightmare for parents and hundreds of schoolchildren who had just returned to school after the summer vacation. This story took place in the city where our spiritual father lives: Apostle Ulysses Tuff. His niece Antoinette Tuff was working as an accountant in this school. When the gunman demanded that everyone come to him, Antoinette accepted this challenge. She was ready to lose her own life for the sake of rescuing other people. During two hours at gun point, she was testifying to the gunman about what God did for her personally; then adding that God is the same God and He could do the same for him, as there is always another chance.Surprisingly, her exhortation proved successful. It touched the heart of the criminal; he dropped his gun and agreed to surrender.
After Antoinette became a national hero in America having received many awards, she was invited to feature on numerous television programs. Antoinette was able to make a dream of many years come true; that is, to build a house for abandoned children. The publicity of her courageous act has led to the collection of finances for several such shelters in just one week.
Where are courage and fearlessness from?
When I asked Apostle Ulysses Tuff what helped this fragile woman to persuade a furious criminal, he replied that he constantly teaches at the church that our life does not belong to us, but rather it is God’s possession. We do not choose when we are born or when we die. God manages our life as He wishes. That is why we cannot live only for ourselves. The practical use of this word helped Antoinette to prevent a dreadful tragedy: She was ready to lay down her life for the lives of 800 children and 70 teachers. Due to the ability to sacrifice she not only saved her own life, but the lives of schoolchildren, their parents, other people and even the life of the terrorist. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (Mt.16:25)
We think that it is in our power to keep ourselves alive, constantly focusing on self; and this is our problem! This is not life, but existence that will not bring happiness, joy or delight.
In order to enjoy life to the utmost we have to leave our comfort zone, all fears and worries, and totally devote ourselves to God! Only then He will be able to give us true life!
Antoinette showed fearlessness because she understood that her life does not belong to her, but only to God, and He Himself will use it the way He wishes.
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Php.1:20)
Today we have to make decision to die to ourselves, lay our lives down at the feet of Jesus, offering ourselves upon the altar of the Holy God, allowing Him to do what He wants! It is about time we make the right decision: “God, I am no longer looking out for self I do not need the praise of men, I am not seeking praise. I give my life to You. Take me and use me as a vessel that will glorify You! In this month of praise and worship I am keen to praise you not only through songs and offering, but through my own life. I am eager to glorify you with all my heart, mind, emotions, feelings and actions. I will do whatever You tell me to do!”
This symbolic act reminds us that every day we have to die to ourselves for the sake of God and others. Only in this case we will be able to obtain true life.
God’s great blessings and promises are awaiting those who are ready to devote their life totally to God.
Job 5:20-27. Such people are delivered by God from hunger and sword (the same way He delivered from the terrorist’s attack), human slander, malicious tongues that could cause deep wounds.
Such a person does not fear crisis, devastation, lack, inability to create and win his own victory. He does not worry about what has happened or what will happen. He is able to laugh in the face of problems, situations, devastations, because God guarantees total victory in everything! Such a person does not worry about his family, his children, his house, because trusts God completely. He has strong faith that ministry to God and readiness to sacrifice his own interests provides God’s insurance over his children, family, and house.
God is ready to keep a person who has died to himself from falling into sin. A dead man cannot sin. Moreover, when a person makes the decision to die to himself and his own plans, he becomes an instrument in the hands of God. God is then able to pour out abundant blessings upon him and his descendants. Thus, blessings are spread from generation to generation.
If a person dies to his own ambitions, lives for God, His goals and calling, having a desire to please God, all obstacles, hardships and problems will be broken. Psalms 90:7-8. Such a man will laugh at problems as he made God’s plan the priority in his life. Psalms 59:8-10.
The person who has died to his own desires, totally entrusted his life into the hands of God and fears only God can fully rely on God Who takes responsibility for the life and safety of His faithful sons. Psalms 91:9-10. God guarantees blessings, health, fruitfulness and long life to those who are ready to die to even their own comfort. Exodus 23:25-26. If a man has died to himself it is not possible to kill him a second time. The person who has died to himself will never die; but those who live in fear for their own life every day will be dying over and over again.
God’s promises are proven by the experience of many people’s lives who stepped on to the path of total dedication of their lives to God. For example, Job overcame very difficult trials, having lost everything, but at the end, obtained several times more.
Antoinette is the striking example of absolute dedication to God and people, a reminder of the necessity to entrust our destinies into the hands of the most High God and be ready to die for His goals. God can use our life only when we are ready to lose it.
What lessons can we learn from this case of the prevention of a terrorist’s attack thanks to Antoinette Tuff:
1) As Apostle Tuff said, in order to work a miracle God does not need many people. One person is more than enough. One person with God is a majority.
2) The person who does not fear to lose his life, who is ready to give his life for Jesus abides in total safety.
3) Only faith in God regarding the future and eternity enables a person to be calm, balanced and even-tempered in the face of danger and even death.
4) Antoinette Tuff expressed sympathy and compassion not towards herself, but towards a potential murderer. It is compassion towards the person who, at first sight, did not deserve it, that allowed her not to be frightened, not to hide, and not to take the position of a victim, but of God’s messenger.
5) The deed of Antoinette is a pure reflection of the teaching that Apostle Tuff has been delivering for many years to his church and shared with all of us in Kiev.
6) God wishes to be glorified through every one of us! He is searching for someone who could totally entrust his life to Him! Who is ready to sacrifice himself for the sake of God’s goals. And then God’s fire and the fragrance of His glory will descend upon the altar of this sacrifice.
7) The United States Congress has declared the 25th of August as Antoinette Tuff day in the state of Georgia, where she managed to prevent a dreadful slaughter by her actions. In her wildest dreams she could not have imagined this happening. That is what practical faith and love for God can do. That is what we receive when we are ready to lose our lives for God.
8) According to Apostle Tuff the deed of Antoinette was not an exploit, but a natural action. She could not have acted any other way, because self-sacrifice, the love to God and people were a normal part of her behavior, an everyday way of life. Antoinette has always served people not having any fear of sacrificing her interests for the sake of others. She never ignored opinion of other people, considering everyone higher herself. That is why she did not bow in the face of danger, but showed her true nature. It is while we undergo trials and problems that our true nature is revealed. The main point is not miracles – there are no miracles. Exploits are executed by regular people who carry out such exploits in their everyday life.
9) The Bible says that if we are diligent in our work we will stand before kings. It happened with Antoinette. The president of the country and the Congress were congratulating her, spreading her fame though all the television channels of the country.
Diligence will make you higher than you could ever have imagined in your wildest dreams.
10) We never know when the test of our faith, love and dedication will come. The only thing we can do is always be ready for It. Every day we must be ready to give our life to Jesus Christ, people, our goals and calling. Only in this case we will save it.
For profound studying of this topic I recommend you read the following books:
“Carriers of God’s presence”, “The man that God will use” Sunday Adelaja
I Do believe in You as future heroes!
The Senior Pastor of the Embassy of God church Sunday Adelaja
P.S. Prayer in solitude:
1) What can I do in order to praise God with all my heart, strength and understanding?
2) For qualitative and timely accomplishment of all construction and finishing works of the Ukrainian Cultural and Spiritual Center that must be finished before the winter comes.
3) Burn the fire of your heart. Crave for and share the burden God has given to pastor Sunday.
Translated by Valeria Granova
Edited by Kizito Leacock