PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath” (John 5:1-9 KJV).
The word “Bethesda”, in the scripture above, means “House of mercy.” A porch is a covered entrance to a building. The five porches, therefore, were the covered approach to the swimming pool of Bethesda, where crowds of sick people – the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed – always stayed, protected from the sun and the rain, while waiting for the stirring of the water.
A certain man was there, stopped by sickness for 38 years. He had been looking for a man to put him into the pool. Jesus came for him; the healer Himself came to heal this man. However, he was still looking and waiting for a man to put him into the pool whenever the angel came to stir the water. With Jesus before him, he didn’t need that anymore.
The race into the pool was characterized by “first come, first served.” The only person who had any chance of being healed was the first person that entered into the pool when the angel stirred it. I think that since the sick at that pool had different health conditions – blindness, lameness and paralysis – they had some advantages over one another. The lame and the paralyzed, for example, would have some challenge walking or running into the pool, while the blind had no problem with his legs but with the sight.
We have no idea which category among this crowd of the sick had the upper hand in entering the pool to get healed. Did any angel really stir the water in the pool? Was any sick person healed? Some Bible translations actually omit the end of verse 3 and the entire verse 4 – waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. Some translations place this portion inside brackets. Why? It is accepted that the earliest and most accurate Greek manuscripts of the book of John did not contain this portion. Therefore, some modern translations of the Bible either omit it or put it inside brackets with footnotes to offer an explanation. It is believed to be a scribal addition. Whatever be the case, my focus is on the healing Jesus, and not on the healing pool or the water-stirring angel!
The devil is a life waster!
We have no idea, the age of the man Jesus healed at the pool when he suffered this affliction. We don’t know either, how many years he had spent at the pool waiting for the troubling or stirring of the pool and his expected healing. We don’t even know his age. All we know is that he had been living with the infirmity for 38 years! But whatever was his age, 38 years in the life of a man is not a joke! This man spent 38 years, not in pursuit of his destiny or in fulfillment of his dream, but 38 years in stagnation, frustration, bondage, etc. The devil wastes people’s lives.
One of the deadliest weapons the devil uses to stop people in life is sickness. Someone has a great potential, great destiny, but he is bed-ridden. He is moving in and out of the hospital. He is being referred from one hospital and one consultant to the other. He is undergoing one test or the other on investigation siphoning his finances. His greatest prayer is no longer about that dream, that business, that proposal, that job, etc. His greatest concern is “If I can just get well…” The devil is a bad devil!
All other things being equal, 38 years diligently invested in any business or venture, is enough to make it a reality. Even in academics, after your first degree, you need far less than half that number of years in rigorous academic work to become a professor. However, this man spent 38 years watching helplessly his life waste away, waiting for some healing!
Satan will not kill your dream with sickness in Jesus’ name. You won’t become an invalid in Jesus’ name. Sickness won’t stop your destiny in Jesus’ name. If you are sick, I pray that the healing power of God will heal you now and set you free. Be healed; be delivered in Jesus’ name.
Do you want to be healed?
When Jesus met this man, he asked him a simple question: Do you want to be healed? That sounds like an unnecessary question. Imagine a medical doctor asking a patient if he wants to be healed. That’s the reason he is in the hospital. Jesus asked this man this question because he saw him and knew how long he had been ill (John 5:6). He was moved by compassion to heal him.
The answer to the simple question that Jesus asked this man should have been “Yes” or “No”. Nevertheless, the man started telling stories, telling Jesus that he had no man. He recalled how he had failed many times in the past to enter the pool ahead of others. Please, take note that the man didn’t drop from the sky! He came from a family; he probably had friends in the past. However, this man said he had no man because they had all abandoned him, Thirty-eight years of battling with an illness without a solution were enough time for his relatives and friends to abandon him.
Spending 38 years in the same infirmity, this man had lost a substantial part of his life. Worse still, there was no hope that the man would get out of that pitiable condition. Therefore, Jesus came to show him mercy. The Great Physician visited him, terminated his thirty-eight years old infirmity, and gave him a new beginning. It was a new beginning of strong health, to put his life together and use his remaining years on earth to live for God and discover his destiny and fulfill it!
I don’t know how long you’ve been coping with your own health, marital, family, career, etc. problems. Quit superstition, wrong beliefs, tradition, and anything that has denied you or can deny you your miracle. Receive your miracle, by the power in the name of Jesus. I command an end to your afflictions today in Jesus’ name. Your story will change, positively, and, you’ll glorify the name of the Lord.
The same God who gave this man a new beginning also gave that man by the Beautiful Gate, a new beginning, through Peter and John. That man was more fortunate than the man Jesus healed at the pool of Bethesda because he still had people taking him to and from the Beautiful Gate to collect alms. We don’t know if their motivation for this act was altruistic or they were sharing from the alms collected at the end of the day! Peter told the man, who was only expecting alms rather than a new beginning, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6 KJV). And, verses 7-9 say, “And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God (KJV).
If you stay too long in your problem even the closest person will desert you! When the problem is still fresh, you will see people coming to sympathize or empathize with you, coming to help you. But if the condition is prolonged, you will be fortunate if you still have some people standing with you. You will not experience such a situation in Jesus’ name. You will not be kept on the sick bed being at the mercy of people in Jesus’ name. You won’t need people to carry you around, to feed you, or to lead you out and in Jesus’ name.
Job was in such a situation. After the calamities that befell him, family members and friends deserted him. He said in Job 16:20 that his friends scorned him but he poured out his tears to God. Hear Job’s lamentation: “My relatives stay far away, and my friends have turned against me. My neighbors and my close friends are all gone. The members of my household have forgotten me. The servant girls consider me a stranger. I am like a foreigner to them. I call my servant, but he doesn’t come; I even plead with him! My breath is repulsive to my wife. I am loathsome to my own family. Even young children despise me. When I stand to speak, they turn their backs on me. My close friends abhor me. Those I loved have turned against me” (Job 19:13-19 NLT). Did you see that? Such evil shall not befall you in Jesus’ name.
Desertion in unfavourable times
It’s been rightly said that success has many fathers, failure is an orphan! Truly the Bible says, “The poor is hated even of his own neighbor; But the rich hath many friends” (Proverbs 14:20 ASV). Proverbs 19:7 conveys a similar thought: “If the relatives of the poor despise them, how much more will their friends avoid them. The poor call after them, but they are gone” (NLT). This shall not be your portion in Jesus’ name. Your life shall not be desolate.
Not only was Job deserted by relatives, friends, and servants, but his three friends who came to him were also miserable comforters. Rather than edify him, they came to vilify him. Job told them “How long will you torture me? How long will you try to break me with your words?” (Job 19:2 NLT) What he was saying was, “You are indeed destroying me with words” (Job 19:2 The Septuagint). Words are very powerful. Words can build, and words can destroy. Be careful what you say to people especially in their trials. Hear what Proverbs 18:24 says, “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother” (NLT). Don’t be a fair-weather friend. Don’t destroy your friends with your words – your comments, your counsel, your opinions, or your criticisms. Be an encourager, like Barnabas, the apostle, whose name translates to “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). Indeed, Barnabas lived out that name as exemplified in his relationship with the apostle Paul and John Mark, Barnabas’ cousin (Acts 9:27; 11:25-26; 15:36-40). May the Lord deliver you from friends that destroy in Jesus’ name.
That’s why I like the four men who brought the paralytic man to Jesus. Against all odds, they got him to Jesus to heal him. They didn’t allow any barrier to compromise their determination to ensure that he was healed. Hear the story: “Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you’” (Mark 2:3-5 NKJV).
Although the scribes accused Jesus of blasphemy for saying the man’s sins were forgiven because only God could forgive sins, Jesus still went ahead to heal the man. “‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw anything like this!’” (Verses 11-12 NKJV).
Jesus wouldn’t have been able to heal this man if he didn’t have faith-filled and faithful men who carried him to that meeting and were determined that the man must be healed. Their solution to the barrier, that the crowd constituted, was to take apart the flat roof of the house, made of a mixture of mud and straw, and lower the man down on his bed. They didn’t worry if they would pay for the repair of the roof later! To them, the man was more important than the roof or money. They achieved their goal of getting the man healed. There are not many people today like these four men. May you have faithful people who will stand with you in your hour of need.
Back to the story of the man at the pool of Bethesda; Jesus healed him. He didn’t have to wait again for the troubling of the water or anyone to put him into the pool. Bethesda was the house of mercy, and this man was healed by the mercy of Jesus rather than by his faith. His answer to Jesus’ question did not reflect his faith, but mercy in the house healed him. Hallelujah!
Examples of those who refused to be stopped in life
Let us look at some examples of people in the Bible who were unstoppable. I’ll start with the Old Testament.
1. Joseph: A slave boy who dreamed of what he would become at the age of 17 and could not be stopped by his brothers, his parents, the pit, Potiphar’s house, sin, pleasure, prison, disgrace, humiliation, or bitterness until he became the Prime-Minister in Egypt at the age of thirty (Genesis 41:46). “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.’ And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’ Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, ‘Bow the knee!’ So he set him over all the land of Egypt. Pharaoh also said to Joseph, ‘I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt’” (Genesis 41:39-45 NKJV).
Joseph had a very unpleasant experience in his rise to prominence and fulfillment of God’s purpose for his life. He didn’t allow his dream to be stopped in life. If Joseph could be unstoppable, you can be unstoppable too.
2. Rahab: She was a harlot so popular that the king of Jericho knew her. “So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, ‘Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.’ So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, ‘Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country’” (Joshua 2:1-3 NKJV).
We don’t know the circumstances that led this woman into harlotry but the woman was sensitive to the programme of God when she saw the spies. She cooperated with them by hiding them and aiding their escape. When Israel eventually captured Jericho, the spies ensured that they fulfilled their promise to Rahab. “And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho” (Joshua 6:25 NKJV).
From that scripture, Rahab must have stopped harlotry when she started dwelling in Israel after Jericho was burnt. The former harlot later married an Israelite. Thus, we see her being mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king” (Matthew 1:5-6 NKJV).
I don’t know what bad job you are doing now or that you have done in the past; you don’t have to allow it to stop you in life. Rahab had a bad job – harlotry. But she was sensitive to the move of God, and she was given a new beginning and, obviously, a new job. Rahab was unstoppable. In Hebrews 11:31, her name is mentioned as one of the Bible characters who lived by faith. “By faith Rahab the harlot perished not with them that were disobedient, having received the spies with peace” (Hebrews 11:37 ASV). You can stop that bad job or evil enterprise and start a new life.
For the thieves, nailed to the cross with Jesus, it appeared it was over for them. A sinful life and an impending death had stopped them. Nevertheless, it was not so for one of them. Though he couldn’t change his job and must die, he seized the last opportunity to make his life right with God and he became unstoppable. The Bible says, “But the other criminal protested, ‘Don’t you fear God even when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong. Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom’” (Luke 23:40-42 NLT).
What a wise and God-fearing criminal! He took advantage of the last opportunity he had to ask for forgiveness, and he got it. This hell-bound criminal got last-minute salvation! His journey to hell was diverted to heaven because he believed in the Son of God! This thief’s flight to hell was cancelled and he was put on another flight to paradise. “You cancelled my flight to hell – that’s not my destination!” (Psalm 16:10 TM). Jesus’ reply to his request was: “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NLT). If this man was unstoppable, you can be unstoppable too.
3. Ruth: She was a widow who didn’t allow widowhood to stop her in life. Because of her faith in God, she forsook the idols of her country, Moab, and became committed to God and to the covenant people of Israel. “Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, ‘Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’ But Ruth said: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me’” (Ruth 1:14-17 NKJV). Did you see that? Widowhood couldn’t stop her. The hopelessness of no man to marry her couldn’t stop her. Not having any child from her previous marriage couldn’t stop her. Her mother-in-law couldn’t even stop her from going with her, leaving the land of idolatry to serve the God of Israel.
Ruth didn’t know what God had ahead for her in Bethlehem, but she was determined to go forward with God. Unknown to her and her mother-in-law, God had prepared another husband for her. Ruth’s faith and steadfastness brought her into the genealogy of Jesus Christ. She is one of the few women who did, more so a non-Jew. “Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king” (Matthew 1:5-6 NKJV). Jesus was born of the tribe of Judah.
Recognize whatever or whoever wants to stop you or can stop you from fulfilling God’s purpose for your life and disallow it. Ophrah, Ruth’s compatriot, was stopped and went into oblivion – nothing was heard about her again. Ruth however paid the price. Don’t let anything and anyone stop you from pursuing God’s purpose for your life and becoming all God wants you to be. Become unstoppable.
4. Jephthah: The story of Jephthah’s birth was enough stigma for him. His mother was a prostitute. To make matters worse for him, his half-brothers hated him, his family rejected him, and he became an outcast from his family house. But he didn’t give up on himself.
In a strange land where he went, he believed in his leadership potential for which his half-brothers had hated him and cast him out – they didn’t want him to be their head. Jephthah, during this time, continued to develop his rejected potential. Some adventurous men (worthless men) who believed in him joined him and he became their leader. Eventually, his brothers begged him to come to lead them against the enemy. In fact, they couldn’t face him; they had to send the elders of their tribe. Although Jephthah had been rejected, he could not be ignored, because of his potential which he developed.
Jephthah refused to be stopped in life. If he were some people, he would have gone to commit suicide after his brother had rejected him! But he refused to believe that he was a failure; he knew his time would come. He believed that being rejected once did not mean being rejected forever. Jephthah was a man of God, a man of faith. He was named among the men of faith in Hebrews 11 (verses 32-33).
5. David: Running away from the army of Saul, David was joined by people with the worst of credentials to form his army. David, an outcast, had as his soldiers those in distress, in debt, frustrated, etc. “And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him” (1 Samuel 22:2 NKJV).
Leading such soldiers could even be a greater problem for any army General. However, in 2 Samuel 23:8-39, these same people, without any attractive credentials, formed the core of David’s army that produced many mighty men. David didn’t have the best material, yet he succeeded.
Many are stopped in life not because they didn’t have the best materials, equipment, men, etc. but because they didn’t like or didn’t use what God had given them. David could not be stopped. Is there something God has given you that you’re complaining about now – an opportunity, a job, a home? Why don’t you stop grumbling and start making the best use of what you have? Stop lamenting; start maximizing what you have. Don’t allow your seemingly unfavourable condition to stop you. David didn’t – you shouldn’t. “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 NLT).
6. Jesus: “And Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see’” (John 1:46 NKJV). That was how Nathaniel despised Nazareth where Jesus had spent his years as a young boy (Matthew 2:23). By his statement, Nathaniel was, indirectly, despising Jesus. But Jesus, coming from Nazareth, put the name Nazareth on the world map. Nazareth was just a village; it isn’t even mentioned in the Old Testament. It was a secluded and isolated village not considered important in either the national or religious life of the nation of Israel.
Nazareth, at that time, is also believed to have an unenviable reputation in morals and religion and some crudeness in the Galilean dialect. So, how could the Messiah have come from there? That was why Nathaniel spoke the way he did. He was merely expressing the sentiment of that age. Jesus didn’t rebuke him or become defensive; His works would prove Nathaniel wrong. That encounter didn’t pass before Nathaniel changed his mind about Jesus. “Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, ‘Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!’ Nathanael said to Him, ‘How do You know me?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.’ Nathanael answered and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.’ And He said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man’” (John 1:47-51 NKJV). Nathaniel became His disciple.
Back to what Nathaniel said. Can you remember another person in history who came from Nazareth apart from Jesus? Your birth-place, your home town or your family background can never stop you from becoming what God wants you to be. Nobody can stop you until you stop yourself. Your greatest enemy is yourself. Become unstoppable!
7. Peter: He betrayed Jesus three times and was reinstated three times! What a great Savior we have! Jesus never gives up on anyone. When Jesus first met Peter, his name was Simon; but Jesus changed his name to Peter. “Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, ‘You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas’ (which is translated, A Stone)” (John 1:42 NKJV). The New Living Translation renders the latter part thus: “‘You are Simon, the son of John — but you will be called Cephas’ (which means Peter).” Cephas and Peter both mean ‘rock’.
Though Peter was the first among the disciples of Jesus, always coming first in any list, his character didn’t portray the stone or rock that Jesus called him as seen particularly in his denial of Jesus. Mark 14:72 says, “And straightway the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word, how that Jesus said unto him, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept” (ASV).
Perhaps, out of frustration with himself for his failure, he later went back to fishing, and the remaining disciples followed him. Jesus met him there, calling him by his former name, Simon, which he seldom called him, and reinstated him into the ministry.
In spite of the denial of his Master, Peter still went ahead to become a rock that Jesus had called him. Once reinstated into the ministry, Peter never denied him again. Peter had told Jesus before his arrest, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you” (Luke 22:33 NLT). Though he denied Jesus when he was alive, after his reinstatement, he never denied him again.
In Acts 12, we see Herod putting Peter in prison and he didn’t complain. In fact, Peter, bound in chains, slept in the midst of two soldiers. But the Lord miraculously released him while the church was praying earnestly for him. Peter was rock solid once he took over the leadership of the disciples. He kept to his word to the Master which he had earlier failed to keep. In fact, history says that Peter was crucified like Jesus but, upon his request as a mark of his respect for Jesus, he was crucified upside down. Peter didn’t run away from death as he had done previously.
Someone said, “Failure is not final.” Your failure doesn’t have to stop you in life. Peter’s failure never stopped him. Peter might have denied his Master, but he went back to follow the same Jesus to the end. He represented Him well and provided quality leadership for the early church. You may have failed – even failed many times – but you can still make it if you don’t give up, if you have faith in God.
Learn from Peter’s life. He could have committed suicide like Judas. He didn’t, and God gave him another opportunity, which he utilized well. He didn’t disappoint God.
I love Peter. He might be sinking on the sea, after walking on the water upon his own request like Jesus, but he knew that wasn’t the end for him. He did the next right thing. “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased” (Matthew 14:30-32 KJV). Look at that! Whatever anybody may say, it is on record that Peter walked on water! It is true he sank at a point – he failed – but that was not final. When he cried, “Lord, save me,” Jesus did. Jesus held his hand, and both of them walked on water into the boat. Halleluiah! Peter’s initial failure wasn’t final; it turned to success!
No man is perfect, but that does not mean you shouldn’t improve on yourself. Indeed, it could be that your problem is not your imperfections/weaknesses (I’m not talking about moral weakness) but the fact that you do not focus on your strength; you have not concentrated on your strong points. Don’t be discouraged by your failures. Failing does not make you a failure in life! Peter failed, yet God went ahead to use him mightily. Peter was unstoppable!
8. Paul: He was a murderer, yet God went ahead to use him as a great apostle. He was a persecutor of the church and was even consent to the death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen (Acts 8:1). He confessed to this himself in Acts 22:20: “And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him” (NKJV).
In 1 Corinthians 15:9-10, he says of himself, “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (NKJV).
When the Lord called Paul, humanly speaking, he was the wrong man for the job! But God chose him. He had to believe and accept the call of God. “But then something happened! For it pleased God in his kindness to choose me and call me, even before I was born! What undeserved mercy! Then he revealed his Son to me so that I could proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When all this happened to me, I did not rush out to consult with anyone else; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. No, I went away into Arabia and later returned to the city of Damascus. It was not until three years later that I finally went to Jerusalem for a visit with Peter and stayed there with him for fifteen days. And the only other apostle I met at that time was James, our Lord’s brother. You must believe what I am saying, for I declare before God that I am not lying. Then after this visit, I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. And still the Christians in the churches in Judea didn’t know me personally. All they knew was that people were saying, ‘The one who used to persecute us now preaches the very faith he tried to destroy!’ And they gave glory to God because of me” (Galatians 1:15-24 NLT).
Paul had to put behind him his negative past and walk with God to fulfill His purpose for him on earth, which Satan had perverted prior to his conversion. He didn’t allow his past, including his criminal activities, to stop him from being useful to God. He could not be hunted by his past, having been saved, though he made reference to it in his writings. He lived his life as if he never once stood against the gospel.
Even after Paul had sacrificed all the credentials that he could have been boasting of and God had used him mightily, he never felt that he had achieved anything. He said he wouldn’t allow himself to be stopped until he finished his course. “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven” (Philippians 3:12-14 NLT). Failure couldn’t stop Paul neither could success stop him. What have you allowed to stop you on your journey of destiny? You must change. You can become unstoppable.
9. Zacchaeus: Zacchaeus, the celebrated short man of the Bible, was a tax collector – a corrupt man. His story is in Luke 19:1-10. He could not be stopped from seeing Jesus in spite of his height problem, crowd problem, and social status problem. He was the chief tax collector, and tax collectors were despised and hated by the Jews, who considered them as traitors and fraudulent.
Zacchaeus knew that to every problem, there was a solution. He found a solution to all the barriers against him in his desire to see Jesus. He ran and climbed the tree, humbled himself (despite his status in the society), and repented of his corrupt practices. He followed it up with restitution.
Even if armed robbers and the worst of sinners repent and forsake their sins, God will forgive them and give them a new beginning. Paul says, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Timothy 1:15-17 NKJV). Don’t let your sins stop you.
Here is God’s invitation to you: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV). Here is his assurance: “All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37 ASV). Sin doesn’t have to stop you. If you’re living in sin, repent today and give your life to Jesus.
What to do to be unstoppable
1. Have a personal relationship with God. You must be born again. “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3 NKJV). At the end of this message, you’ll read about steps to take to be born again. Don’t procrastinate; give your life to Jesus today if you haven’t yet.
2. Have faith in God. Faith is important to advance against all odds in life. No victory without faith. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5 NKJV). Luke 1:37 says, “For nothing is impossible with God” (NLT). Learn to confess the Word of God to ignite your faith. Speak what the Word says, not what the situation says. Speak what you believe about yourself. “And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak” (2 Corinthians 4:13 NKJV). Don’t be harassed by any situation – nothing is above the power of God. “Don’t be intimidated by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself” (Philippians 1:28 NLT).
3. Feed on the Word of God. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). You can’t have faith without hearing the Word of God, reading the Word of God, and meditating on the Word of God. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Josh 1:8-9 NKJV). Your relationship with the Word of God should be to study, meditate, memorize, confess and do.
4. Associate with the right people. The people you company with determine a lot about your direction and what you become in life. Be sure to associate with people who share the same godly values with you in life and are determined not to be stopped in life. Don’t associate with people who are going nowhere – those who have reached their final bus stop in life. Proverbs 13:20 says, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (KJV).
5. Set and pursue realistic goals. Many people have been stopped in life not because they lacked the capacity to go forward but because they set and pursued unrealistic goals. Don’t frustrate yourself with unrealistic goals. With God all things are possible, but faith in God is not the same as setting unrealistic goals. “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish” (Luke 14:28-30 KJV).
Be persuaded that the goal you’ve set and you’re pursuing is what God wants for you, even if, ordinarily, the goal is bigger than you. That a goal is bigger than your purse, your resources, does not make it unrealistic. If it is from God, and you have faith in Him, nothing will stop you. Don’t set goals based on some secular motivational materials you have read or listened to. Don’t wear yourself out by some vainglorious pursuits. God has a plan for your life which you should prayerfully discover and pursue. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (NLT).
6. Turn your setback into a comeback. Don’t be easily discouraged by setbacks. You must cultivate an unbreakable attitude. Develop a positive attitude to life. Don’t faint; stand strong. “If you fail under pressure, your strength is not very great” (Proverbs 24:10 NLT). The Message renders the verse thus: “If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place.”
Be strong in faith. Believe that all things will work together for your good; all will ultimately turn out in your favour. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30 NKJV).
7. Be a person of prayer. Faith and prayer go together. It takes faith to pray; those who have faith in God demonstrate it by praying to Him. “So Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive’” (Matthew 21:21-22 NKJV).
In Luke 18, Jesus told a parable to teach a lesson that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 says, “Keep on praying” (NLT). Avoid anxiety; take everything to God in prayer. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (NKJV). The New Living Translation renders verse 6 thus: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.”
8. Embrace change. Sometimes you have to stop what you are doing or take another dimension for you to move forward in life. I’m not talking about change for the sake of it; I’m talking about change that God is impressing on your heart or has created for you. Don’t be afraid of change.
Sometimes what you don’t expect will happen, not necessarily because you have sinned or you have missed God’s will for your life. You may have to live with such a change. However, God will take care of you, no matter what. The LORD told Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary or scribe, “I will destroy this nation that I built. I will uproot what I planted. Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it! But don’t be discouraged. I will bring great disaster upon all these people, but I will protect you wherever you go. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Jeremiah 45:4-5 NLT). Embrace change ordained by God for your life; it will not destroy you but make you.
Conclusion: Life is a race that God has set before each person. Don’t run another person’s race. Hebrews 12:1 says we should run with endurance the race that is set before us. Also, don’t run just for the sake of running. Run with purpose; run to win (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Don’t let anything stop you in life. Life is not a bed of roses – even roses have thorns! But don’t be discouraged by the thorns; be excited about the beautiful roses – the flowers. There will be challenges but make up your mind to fulfill the purpose of God for your life. There will sometimes be temptations to give up but refuse to be discouraged. Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me — the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NLT). Be unstoppable! You’ll finish well in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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