BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
There are three phases in a man’s life – the past, the present, and the future. The past is gone and there is nothing anyone can do to change it. We are living in the resent now while the future is before us yet to be explored. God has a glorious future for everyone notwithstanding what anyone did with his past. “‘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’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT). That was what God told the children of Israel while they were exiles in Babylon.
What God said to them He is also saying to you. The future He has planned for you is not one of disaster. But what you do today determines the type of future you’ll have. However, much as everyone desires a glorious future, many are daily creating a sorrowful future for themselves by their choices today. The danger signs portend a sorrowful future, and only a retrace of their steps and reversal of their actions can avert a sorrowful future that might not be too evident to them now.
Esau was a man like that; he sowed a seed of a sorrowful future for himself. Anyone sensitive enough could have seen a sorrowful future before him but he didn’t. The danger sign was not obvious to him when he was selling his birthright to his brother just for a plate of food. Jacob was as hungry as he was if not hungrier than him but he was able to delay gratification; he was more focused and disciplined than him. He knew what he wanted and went for it (Genesis 25:29-34).
Esau ate the food and sold his birthright and it didn’t appear anything was wrong. But something eternal had changed hands. Esau had sown the seed of a sorrowful future and the fruit would soon be ripe for him to harvest. Later, he wept bitterly for his birthright but it was too late for him. The book of Hebrews warns us in Hebrews 12:16-17 about this young man called Esau and the wrong choice he made: “Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears” (NKJV).
It is sad that there are many today like Esau whose current experience in life is a harvest of a sorrowful future whose seed they sowed in the past. And it will take the mercy of God and genuine repentance to exit from this sordid and harrowing experience. God is a merciful God!
Unfortunately, the danger signs of a sorrowful future are currently evident in the life of some people by the way they are living their lives now. The choices they are making and the decisions they are taking will only create for them a sorrowful future. The only way out is for them to repent, change and begin to live their lives in accordance with the wisdom provided in the Word of God.
In this message, I want to share with you some danger signs which I’ve noticed will create a sorrowful future for anyone in whose life they’re manifesting. I believe God will help you to deal with any of these signs that may currently exist in your life. And where you’ve already failed regarding these signs in the past, I pray that God’s mercy will help you out as you genuinely repent.
The danger signs
What are the danger signs that can create a sorrowful future for anyone?
1. When someone postpones or avoids taking decisions fundamental to his life. The life of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 exemplifies this error. He was offered the opportunity to decide for Jesus in response to his heart’s desire to have eternal life. It wasn’t that Jesus went to him; he was the one that came to Jesus to enquire what good things he must do to have eternal life. Though his question was wrong because having eternal life is not based primarily on good works, Jesus still gave him an answer based on the premise of his question. However, he wasn’t ready to pay the price that Jesus told him. “Someone came to Jesus with this question: ‘Teacher, what good things must I do to have eternal life?’ ‘Why ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘Only God is good. But to answer your question, you can receive eternal life if you keep the commandments.’ ‘Which ones?’ the man asked. And Jesus replied: ‘Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘I’ve obeyed all these commandments,’ the young man replied. ‘What else must I do?’ Jesus told him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ But when the young man heard this, he went sadly away because he had many possessions” (Matthew 19:16-22 NLT). This man went away sorrowful because he had great wealth – but in reality, he was possessed by his wealth. He went away and went into oblivion. Today, we don’t know his name.
There are many today who are postponing fundamental decisions in their lives about their salvation, their families, their callings, their career, their finances, etc. and by that, they’re only creating a sorrowful future for themselves. They’ll regret later that they didn’t make the decisions in the past. Some of them can no longer make these decisions – they are too late! For some, the price of taking those decisions has increased – they are more frightening than ever; the situation has become more complicated and they’re not happy living with the monster they’ve created by their indecision and inaction.
Is there a decision that you are convinced you need to make today? Don’t be crippled by the cost. The cost of not taking that decision will be much higher in the future and it will create a sorrowful future for you that can’t be compared with whatever pain taking the decision now may cost you.
2. When someone’s decisions are based on consideration for today alone without any consciousness and seriousness about tomorrow and his destiny. There can’t be fulfilled in life without discovery and pursuit of destiny – God’s purpose for each person. Life without consciousness and pursuit of destiny is misery. Ecclesiastes 6:10 underscores the truth about destiny: “Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny” (NLT).
Daniel reminded Belshazzar that God was the one that controlled his destiny but he had not honoured Him. “You and your nobles and your wives and concubines have been drinking wine from them while praising gods of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone — gods that neither see nor hear nor know anything at all. But you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny!” (Daniel 5:23 NLT) Belshazzar lived his life without regard for his destiny. God’s judgment was passed on his life. He was killed that same night.
When someone lives today at the expense of God’s purpose for his life, he is a candidate for a sorrowful future. A wise person will always take decisions in light of his destiny. Such a person always considers the implication of his decisions on the future that God has for him. But whenever someone doesn’t bother how today’s choices affect God’s purpose for his life or future, the person is bound to reap a future of sorrow. He will cry later. That was what happened to Esau. He cried for his birthright but it was too late. You can’t have your cake and eat it!
Young men and women who engage in pre–marital sex and end up dropping out of school and the girls having to take care of unwanted babies, fooled themselves. Songs of Solomon 2:7 warns, “Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the swift gazelles and the deer of the wild, not to awaken love until the time is right” (NLT). That tells us there is a wrong time to wake up love. Ecclesiastes 3:8 says there is a time to love. There is a right time for a young man and a young woman to go into love affairs. To do so prematurely is to plan for a sorrowful future. Unless they repent and retrace their steps, they are creating a sorrowful future for themselves. You only need to listen to those who had followed this path tell you the story of their lives and how they found themselves in miserable condition. The Scripture cannot be broken. Lamentation 1:9 says, “Her uncleanness is in her skirts; she did not consider her destiny; Therefore her collapse was awesome; She had no comforter. ‘O LORD, behold my affliction, for the enemy is exalted!’” (NKJV) Truly, the Bible is right: “But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.” (1 Timothy 5:6 NKJV) May you not live a life of regrets. But you must repent if you don’t want to experience a sorrowful future.
3. When someone makes a permanent decision based on a temporary circumstance. Again looking at Esau, we see that he made a permanent decision on a temporary circumstance. Hunger is temporary; it comes and goes. Selling a birthright is permanent; it can only be sold once not piecemeal. Once you sell it, you don’t have it again and you can’t reverse it. No matter how much satisfied you are today, you will become hungry again. Selling once birthright to satisfy hunger is therefore not the right solution to hunger because you can be hungry again. And when you become hungry again there will be no birthright to sell once more.
Taking a permanent decision based on a temporary circumstance is a danger sign of a sorrowful future. Many are regretting today for their belongings and assets they sold just to meet a temporary need. They sold those things not for investment but for consumption. It is not a wise thing to do. They met the need at that time but the need was not such that could be permanently met; it re-occurred. Such people face the temptation of selling one thing after the other until there is nothing remaining to sell, yet their condition never improves.
4. When someone opts for the easy road rather than take the hard but right road because of the attendant suffering. Beware of the easy road. It is easier to descend a mountain than to climb it. It is easier to tell a lie and cover up than to say the truth and face punishment and humiliation. But whatever advantage you think you have gained by following the easy road is only temporary. Not only will you continue to live in the fear of being found out and the consequences of your action, but truth will also catch up with falsehood one day. Many have compromised to follow the easy road rather than follow the hard road which they knew was the right road but they were not prepared to go through the suffering there. Prov 22:8 says, “He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow…” (NKJV).
I believe the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 must have felt there was suffering on the road Jesus was asking him to follow which he was not ready to undergo. Even the Master acknowledged that it was a hard decision for the rich man to take; he should have taken it all the same because it was the right decision. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’” (Matthew 19:23-24 NKJV). It is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God but not impossible!
The disciples of Jesus didn’t find the comments of Jesus comfortable; they were concerned that no one might be saved in view of what Jesus had said but he allayed their fears. “When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?’” (Matthew 19:25-27 NKJV)
Peter said they had left everything to follow Jesus – to follow the hard but right way but he wanted to know what the reward for them would be. What would they have in return for this hard decision they had taken? Hear Jesus’ reply in Luke 18:29-30: “So He said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life’” (NKJV). There is a reward – both now and in eternal life – for someone who decides to follow the hard way not compromising. They shall “receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:30 NKJV). Don’t just take note of the good things promised missing out that phrase “with persecutions” – it is a total package! 1 Peter 3:17 says, “For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (NKJV).
No thorn, no crown; beware of success without paying any price. You must have heard the saying “No pain, no gain.” It is true. Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14 NKJV). The easy road only leads to a sorrowful future in hell for the sinner; it leads to regrets even here on earth for everyone that has compromised today’s suffering for comfort and pleasure. “They have planted the wind and will harvest the whirlwind…” (Hosea 8:7 NLT).
5. When someone cannot delay gratification but prefers immediate enjoyment. Lack of self-denial is a danger sign of a sorrowful future. This sign is so evident in the way some people run their businesses, their homes, etc. They cannot deny themselves now of some comfort, some ice cream, some sleep, some new clothes, etc. They want to enjoy now and now! They are not ready to sacrifice their comfort for a better future. So they enjoy now and set up themselves for a sorrowful future. Everyone that engages in savings and investment does so not because he has plenty but because he has decided to postpone gratification. Such a person wants to deny himself some comfort today so that he can have some returns tomorrow. But those who unwittingly plan for a sorrowful future eat with both hands; they live for today.
Look at the prodigal son. Any observant person would have known that he was heading for a sorrowful future. He got his inheritance from his father; he didn’t wait for the father to die. Worse still, he left for a far country where he squandered everything in riotous living. “Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father” (Proverbs 28:7 KJV). Not until the prodigal son repented and returned to his father was he rescued from a sorrowful future. You can read the Bible account of this story in Luke 15:11-24.
The young man should have delayed the enjoyment of his inheritance till the death of his father; he should have stayed at home to learn what his father still had to teach him. But he felt he had learnt enough and could stand on his own; he didn’t need his father anymore. Why is my father slow in dying so that I can start enjoying myself? If he won’t die now let him give me my portion of the inheritance so that I can go far away from him and enjoy myself. That laid the foundation for a sorrowful future for him. He did suffer degradation and dehumanization after wasting all. But thank God for genuine repentance by the prodigal son and the large heart of his loving father.
If you can’t delay gratification, you will eat your tomorrow today, and when you get to tomorrow, you’ll discover it doesn’t exist – you ate it yesterday. That will not be your portion in Jesus’ name. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV).
6. When someone is running his day-to-day life on debt. This is a recipe, a breeding ground and fertile soil, for a sorrowful future. Habitual financing of today’s consumption with credit is living today at the expense of tomorrow because you are already spending the money you’ve not earned. Every day brings its own worries (Matthew 6:34). What will you use to finance the challenges of tomorrow? Borrow again? You will be entangled in a vicious cycle of borrowing and “He that goes a-borrowing goes a-sorrowing” (U.S statesman and scientist, Benjamin Franklin). Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (NKJV).
I am not talking about wise borrowing for investment but borrowing for consumption. This is one sure way to put oneself in a permanent financial quandary. A sincere, well-thought-out plan of coming out of debt is necessary for such a person or else he will not be financially free. Such a person will continue to be at the mercy of his creditors. And this is contrary to the will of God for His obedient children. Deuteronomy 15:5-6 says, “You will receive this blessing if you carefully obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today. The LORD your God will bless you as he has promised. You will lend money to many nations but will never need to borrow! You will rule many nations, but they will not rule over you!” (NLT)
7. When someone has no plan for tomorrow but lives each day in pursuit of whatever comes his way. It does not mean that such a person is carefree or does not live a life of worry but he is careless, which is as wasteful as it is worrying. He never invests time but spends time as it comes. Such a person will never maximize the twenty-four hours God has given to each person daily. John C. Maxwell says, “Time management is an oxymoron. Time is beyond our control, and the clock keeps ticking regardless of how we lead our lives. Priority management is the answer to maximizing the time we have.”
Poor preparation precedes poor performance! Quality living is not based on acting habitually on the spur of the moment but on living a purposeful life. You cannot live a purposeful life if you don’t plan how to use your time and what to use it for.
Ecclesiastes 3:17 says, “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work” (NKJV). Did you see that? There is a time for every purpose under the sun. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (NKJV). That is why it is necessary to plan your day, which helps you to schedule for each day the right thing to be done rather than just doing whatever comes your way. If you are able to plan for each day, you would have succeeded in planning for each month and invariably for each year.
8. When someone does not have eternal values governing his life but patterns his life after what is in vogue and human philosophies. That is the Word of God is not of any importance or is not the final authority in such a person’s life. There are people whose lives are governed not by the Word of God and the principles of the Word of God; they despise the Word of God. But their lives are being governed by human philosophies, dominant or ruling thinking in the society and latest fashion. Such people are being guided by environmental influences. They have no divine purpose for living. They live a reactive rather than a purposeful life. They are tossed to and fro by every wind that is blowing in society. Such ones are candidates for a sorrowful future.
The Bible warns in Colossians 2:8: “Don’t let anyone lead you astray with empty philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the evil powers of this world, and not from Christ” (NLT). 1 Timothy 4:1 also warns: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (NKJV). Anyone who follows such strange ideas is only courting a future of sorrow. “So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas… which don’t help those who follow them” (Hebrews 13:9 NLT).
The Bible says God upholds all things by the Word of His power and our trust should not be in human wisdom but in the power of God communicated to us in His Word (1 Corinthians 2:5). It is the Word of God that must direct our paths if we are not going to have a sorrowful future. The psalmist prays, “Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me” (Psalm 119:133 NKJV).
Man is not to direct his own path or depend on the word of another man. Jeremiah 10:23 says, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (NKJV). God’s Word is true and is the truth; it is infallible (Psalm 119:160; Matthew 24:35). God’s Word is sure and tested; it cannot fail. “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (NKJV). Man’s philosophy can fail; fashion keeps changing, and no one can catch up with fashion.
When you pattern your life after the Word of God, you are standing on solid ground. Jesus illustrated this in the parable of the two builders. The man who built his life on the Word of God did not suffer a collapse when the problems of life came. “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:46-49 NKJV). Our lives will suffer a dismal collapse if we are not governed by eternal values but by what is in vogue or human philosophies satan is peddling around. But every obedient child of God has received a Kingdom which cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28).
9. When someone’s business appointment is more important than his appointment with God; when someone is more concerned about money-making than his spiritual life. One’s relationship and fellowship with God should come before one’s work if one is not to have a sorrowful future. Life is not all physical. There is more to life than the physical that we see. The spiritual is more real than the physical. Anyone who will not have a sorrowful future must have a robust unbroken relationship and fellowship with God.
Mark 8:36-38 says, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (NKJV) Of course, the Bible encourages us to work. God, Himself, is a worker – At creation, He worked for six days and rested on the seventh day teaching us both the need to work and the need to have a Sabbath-rest (Genesis 2:2). In 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, Paul stressed the need for believers to work rather than to loaf around. “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread” (NKJV).
Work should be put in proper context. No one should promote his work-life above his relationship and fellowship with God. Concern for what to eat, wear, and meeting other legitimate needs of life should not become cares that should make one’s spiritual life shallow or hollow (Matthew 6:25-34). It is because of these cares that many people run from pillar to post, crowd their lives with much work to make more money. But Proverbs 23:4 warns, “Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease!” (NKJV)
It is because of the need to make more money that makes many people rush out of their houses in the morning not doing their quiet time. That is why many don’t attend church services or attend at their convenience. This is a sign of a weak spiritual life. The zeal for the Lord’s house has not eaten them up like the psalmist (Psalm 69:9). They should have been glad like the psalmist upon hearing, “Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psalm 122:1 NKJV). But no, going to the house of God is seen as a burden. Hearing the Word of God and praying is not their delight because they feel the time spent in the house of God and in the presence of God is a waste – it hinders them from making more money. Ecclesiastes 5:10 warns, “Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness!” (NLT)
But a balance between work life and spiritual life must be maintained if one is not to have a sorrowful future. “Trust in your money and down you go! But the godly flourish like leaves in spring” (Proverbs 11:27-28 NLT). That is why the psalmist prays in Psalm 119:36: “Give me an eagerness for your decrees; do not inflict me with love for money!” (NLT)
What the psalmist says in the Old Testament, Paul amplifies in the New Testament: “For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10 NLT). Take note of that phrase – many sorrows. Maybe that is why Agur, the son of Jakeh, prayed to God: “Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name” (Proverbs 30:8-9 NLT).
The love of money, and not money, is the root of all evil and it is this love of money that draws people away from God until their spiritual life becomes non-existent. But one who maintains a steady relationship and fellowship with God will receive His blessing which will make him prosper. “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it” (1Timothy 6:10 NKJV). Did you see that phrase – no sorrow? Compare no sorrow with many sorrows we read before. No sorrow is what God gives to those who trust in Him – those who don’t live their lives independent of Him. Neither their present nor their future is sorrowful. “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” (Luke 12:21 NLT).
10. When someone is in close relationships with the wrong people. As the saying goes, “Show me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.” Perhaps a truer statement is “Show me who your friends are, and I will tell you what you will become.” Relationships are vital to greatness in life. Who you walk with determines what you will become. You can’t want to be a professor and be walking with those who hate academics or those who are truants in school. Nobody comes into your life and leaves you the same. He either adds to you or removes from you. He either lifts you up or pulls you down. He either encourages you or discourages you. If you want your life to be better, change your company for the better. If you want a glorious future for yourself, you don’t walk with those who are engaged in pleasure and vanities. No matter the potential you have, a wrong company will only help you to amount to nothing. They will seep out your potential; they will help you to become nobody.
Someone has rightly said that it is better to stand alone than to be in the wrong company. I agree completely. “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV). Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend” (NLT). How can you be sharpened by a friend who is blunt – dull? You will soon become like him. Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, “If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, Then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success” (NKJV). Wisdom dictates that if you are serious about being sharpened, you look for someone sharper than you, not a dull person. If you are in relationships with those who are not heading for a future similar to what you desire for yourself, they will take you to where they’re going. A wise person chooses his friends carefully. “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26 NKJV).
Because relationships are vital to greatness in life, the righteous don’t go into a relationship with just anyone. God warned Judah not to join Israel in her idolatry but to leave her to face the consequences of her rebellion. “Though Israel is a prostitute, may Judah avoid such guilt. O Judah, do not join with those who worship me insincerely at Gilgal and at Beth-aven. Their worship is mere pretense as they take oaths in the LORD’s name. Israel is as stubborn as a heifer, so the LORD will put her out to pasture. She will stand alone and unprotected, like a helpless lamb in an open field. Leave her alone because she is married to idolatry. The men of Israel finish up their drinking bouts and off they go to find some prostitutes. Their love for shame is greater than their love for honor. So a mighty wind will sweep them away. They will die in shame because they offer sacrifices to idols” (Hosea 4:15-19 NLT).
Your future is going to be determined a great deal by the type of people you are in a relationship with. If your friends and associates are wrong, your life and future will be wrong no matter what appears to the contrary at the moment. The Bible says, “Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20 NLT). Another version says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (NKJV). Your future cannot be brighter than the quality of relationships you have. You have to change your relationships to positively change your future. A future of sorrow awaits those who crowd their lives with the wrong set of people who become their advisers, mentors, and role models.
With a friend like Jonadab, Amnon, David’s oldest son, couldn’t but harvest untimely death. Having as a friend someone who encourages and teaches you how to perfect evil desires is a pointer to a sorrowful future. A God-fearing friend would have silenced Amnon, and killed his lust for his half-sister but Jonadab was his counselor. “After this Absalom the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. Amnon was so distressed over his sister Tamar that he became sick; for she was a virgin. And it was improper for Amnon to do anything to her. But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Now Jonadab was a very crafty man. And he said to him, ‘Why are you, the king’s son, becoming thinner day after day? Will you not tell me?’ Amnon said to him, ‘I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister’ (2 Samuel 13:1-4 NKJV).
And what was the satanic counsel of crafty Jonadab? “So Jonadab said to him, ‘Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill. And when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me food, and prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat it from her hand’” (2 Samuel 13:5-6 NKJV)
Amnon carried out the plot successfully and raped Tamar but he only created a sorrowful future for himself and his father, David, because two years later, he reaped what he had sown. “And it came to pass, after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baal Hazor, which is near Ephraim; so Absalom invited all the king’s sons. Then Absalom came to the king and said, ‘Kindly note, your servant has sheepshearers; please, let the king and his servants go with your servant.’ But the king said to Absalom, ‘No, my son, let us not all go now, lest we be a burden to you.’ Then he urged him, but he would not go; and he blessed him. Then Absalom said, ‘If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us.’ And the king said to him, ‘Why should he go with you?’ But Absalom urged him; so he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him. Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, ‘Watch now, when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon!’ then kill him. Do not be afraid. Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and valiant.’ So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons arose, and each one got on his mule and fled” (2 Samuel 13:23-29 NKJV).
Amnon suffered untimely death because of the poverty of a righteous friend in his life who would have discouraged him from further meditating on lust after her half-sister. Jonadab was a wicked man, a callous person. See what he said to David about Amnon’s death: “And it came to pass, while they were on the way, that news came to David, saying, ‘Absalom has killed all the king’s sons, and not one of them is left!’ So the king arose and tore his garments and lay on the ground, and all his servants stood by with their clothes torn. Then Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David’s brother, answered and said, ‘Let not my lord suppose they have killed all the young men, the king’s sons, for only Amnon is dead. For by the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar. Now therefore, let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king’s sons are dead. For only Amnon is dead” (2 Samuel 13:30-33 NKJV).
Did you see that he mentioned nothing about the fact that he gave Amnon that evil counsel on how to rape Tamar? Relationships are not by force; it is by choice. It takes your permission for anyone to come into your life, and it takes your permission further for anyone to give you wrong or evil counsel.
Be careful that you don’t create a future of sorrow for yourself by going into wrong relationships. “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16 NLT)
Dinah would not have been defiled by Shechem if she had not gone to see the daughters of the land. It was her thirst and hunger for a relationship that put her in that trouble. Remember, Dinah’s mother, Leah, was not loved by Dinah’s father, Jacob, and this could have negatively affected her self-esteem (Genesis 29:31-33). But as necessary as relationship is, it is better to stand alone than to be in a wrong relationship. “Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her” (Genesis 34:1-2 NKJV). Don’t open your life to just anybody; don’t go into a relationship with just anyone. You need only quality relationships, and prayerfully let God lead you into relationships that will impact positively your destiny.
Avoid going into relationships that will sap the life of God from you and leave you empty. Many today are in that condition but are yet to realize it just like Israel didn’t. “My people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, picking up their evil ways. Now they have become as worthless as a half-baked cake! Worshiping foreign gods has sapped their strength, but they don’t even know it. Israel is like an old man with graying hair, unaware of how weak and old he has become” (Hosea 7:8-9 NLT).
I love what a 20th Century prophet, A.W. Tozer, said. He said, “Better to have no friends and be an Elijah, alone, than to be like Lot in Sodom, surrounded by friends who all but damned him.” He said further: “If you give your cherished friendship to the ungodly counsellor and the scorner, you have given the enemy the key to your heart. You have opened the gate and the city of your soul will be overwhelmed and taken!” Think about that. A word is enough for the wise.
11. When someone spends his youth in lusts and so-called enjoyment, and rather than engage in hard work lives off his parents, relations, and friends. There are many people in this category who are wasting their youth in unproductive ventures. They think they don’t have to go to school, acquire marketable skills and use their brains and hands in diligent labour because their parents are wealthy or their relations are there for them to get from whatever they need. They do not appreciate the fact that their parents won’t always be alive or remain wealthy, and there is a limit to which their well-to-do relations and friends can continue to sponsor their lives. “Will you set your eyes on that which is not For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven” (Proverbs 23:5 NKJV). Proverbs 27:24 says, “For riches are not forever…” (NKJV)
Even if their parents succeed in bequeathing to them great wealth, their indolence and irresponsibility will make them squander everything and they will live in penury till they die. “Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19 NKJV).
Unless they repent, there is no bright future for those who depend on the wealth of their parents, relations, and friends and will not apply themselves to diligent labour. There is no amount of money they are given that will change their fortune for the better. They will always live in want and eventually die in misery. There are so many examples around of children of wealthy people who have wasted the wealth bequeathed to them by their fathers; they deluded themselves that the wealth they were not investing but only squandering would keep increasing.
1 John 2:17 says, “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (NKJV). 2 Timothy 2:22 warns us to flee youthful lusts but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Proverbs 5 talks about the immoral woman and in verses 18-20 counsels: “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. She is a loving doe, a graceful deer. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, with an immoral woman, or embrace the breasts of an adulterous woman?” (NLT). Those who follow the path of an adulterous woman and live in youthful lusts cruising around in deceitful enjoyment reap a sorrowful future. Their future shall be full of regrets.
God is a worker. He created man to work. He put Adam in the garden to dress it. Anyone who will not work in his youth but will choose to live in pleasure and lust, in indolence and recklessness will end in poverty no matter the generational wealth he may be swimming in now. Generational poverty will commence in his home.
Hear God’s advice to such persons: “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep — so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:6-11 NKJV). Did you see that? The Bible says, “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich” (Proverbs 13:4 NKJV). And according to Proverbs 14:23, “Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!” (NLT) Laziness will create a future of penury for the indolent! It is a waste of destiny.
12. When someone is not accountable to anyone. He is not under the authority of anyone. There is no one you can report him to. Such a person is dangerous to himself and everybody around him. It is safe to move away from such a person because he is a law to himself. If everyone is accountable to no one, it means there is no control, and that is a recipe for anarchy – a situation where there is no law and everybody does whatever he likes.
In the Bible, Israel was in such a situation. Judges 17:6 says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (NKJV). Also in Judg 21:25, the Bible records: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (NKJV). Yet many years before then, God had warned the children of Israel: “Today you are doing whatever you please, but that is not how it will be when you arrive in the place of rest the LORD your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 12:8-9 NLT).
Even if in the time of the judges there was no king, Israel had the King of kings as their leader who had given them His laws as regards what to do and what not to do. Each one had no excuse to do what seemed right in his own eyes. Their self-righteousness was not better than a filthy rag. “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6a NKJV). Proverbs 30:12 says, “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness” (NKJV). Each of them was expected to do what was right in the eyes of God if they knew they were all accountable to God. God’s standard is the best and is supreme, and everyone must submit to His standard otherwise all of us court a sorrowful future for ourselves. Ultimately, it is what God says that is right, that is right, not what anyone deems right in his own eyes. Proverbs 21:2 says, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts” (NKJV).
That is why God has instituted human authority, which sets rules and standards on His behalf for the smooth and proper conduct of human affairs. We are to obey all rules and regulations put in place by human authorities as long as they do not violate the supreme laws of God. It is advisable to have nothing to do with anyone who deliberately walks against authorities because such a person is invariably opposing God.
God’s instruction is very clear about obeying authorities – don’t resist authorities. Romans 13:1-7 says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (NKJV).
Whoever disobeys governing authorities is saying he is not accountable to them, and therefore not accountable to God. God becomes the enemy of such a person, and can such a person win against God? That’s why it’s good and wise not to be a partaker of that person’s sin. He is dangerous not only to himself but to those who decide to partner with him. 1 Peter 2:13-17 says, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men — as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (NKJV). Simple and clear!
God expects children to be accountable to their parents and obey them. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’” (Eph 6:1-3 NKJV). Exo 20:12 and Deut 5:16 say a similar thing. Colossians 3:20 says, “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (NKJV).
Any child who disobeys his parents is considered a rebellious child and brings a curse upon himself. It is in the best interest of a child to obey his parents and be accountable to them. A sorrowful future awaits a rebellious child. “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1 NKJV).
Still, within the family, God ordains that a wife should submit to her husband as to the Lord. That means a wife should come under the authority of her husband. This is not because the husband is superior or better. That is God’s order, and it is for the good of the wife. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:22-23 NKJV).
The Amplified Bible explains verse 22 better. “Wives subject (be submissive and adapt yourself to your own husband, as (a service) to the Lord.” Pay close attention to the word “adapt.” To adapt means to change, adjust, alter, modify, get used to, settle in. Also, notice that the reason for a wife to subject herself to her husband is not because of her husband but because of the Lord – subjecting herself to her husband is a service to the Lord. Most wives don’t understand or realize this.
Also, Ephesians 5:24 says, “Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (NKJV). The subjection of a wife to her own husband (not another person’s husband or all men) should be in everything as long as it does not amount to disobeying the Word of God.
1Peter 3:1 and 5 also emphasize the need for a wife to be subject to the husband. The Amplified Bible renders verse 1 thus: “In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands (subordinate yourself as being secondary to and dependent on them and adapt yourself to them) so that even if any do not obey the word of God they may be won over not by discussion but by the (godly) lives of their wives.”
But the question is: can those in authority abuse their power? Yes, they can and they do. And God will deal with them. That’s why God removes leaders. Romans 13:1 says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (NKJV). Nevertheless, no leader should think that this scripture gives him the licence to manipulate and exploit followers or do whatever he likes.
Every leader is holding power in trust for God and is to exercise it with the fear of God – not ruthlessly. If the Scriptures say God is the one that appoints the authorities that exist, it is only logical to say that He who appoints can also remove. Nebuchadnezzar confirms this because he had a firsthand experience of it. After God had humbled him he testified of God, “For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand” (Daniel 4:34-35 NKJV).
So both the leaders and the followers must bring themselves under the supreme authority of God. But of direct relevance to this message is making yourself accountable because anyone who is accountable to no one either at home, in church, in school, in the workplace, or in any organization, does not have any future. God has instituted government at different levels for our safety and not to be a terror to us.
Working against governing authorities, therefore, amounts to putting ourselves in danger now and more seriously in the future. “You felt secure in all your wickedness. ‘No one sees me,’ you said. Your ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ have caused you to turn away from me and claim, ‘I am self-sufficient and not accountable to anyone!’ So disaster will overtake you suddenly, and you won’t be able to charm it away. Calamity will fall upon you, and you won’t be able to buy your way out. A catastrophe will arise so fast that you won’t know what hit you’” (Isaiah 47:10-11 NLT).
This also applies to parents in their relationship with their children as well as husbands in their relationship with their wives. Ephesians 6 talks, among other things, about the responsibilities of both parents and children. We must never forget to balance this important relationship. While children are supposed to obey their parents, God also puts a check on the parents. Ephesians 6:4 says, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (NKJV). What does it mean not to provoke your child to wrath? J. B Phillips Translation renders it as: Don’t overcorrect. The Twentieth Century New Testament says, “Don’t irritate your children.”
The book of Colossians also gives a similar instruction: “Fathers provoke not your children to anger lest they be discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). J.B Phillips Translation again renders this verse as “don’t overcorrect.” The New Century Version says, “Fathers, do not nag your children. If you are too hard to please, they may want to stop trying.” Many parents are guilty of this.
Both biological parents and spiritual parents must never feel that they cannot be wrong or they do not need to change where and when necessary. Only God does not go wrong and does not change. I’m not trying to encourage lawlessness by children but to balance the parents-children relationship. Children must obey their children as premature death is one of the resultant effects of rebellion against parents (Exodus 20:12). But parents must also learn how to communicate with their children. They should not provoke them by what they say; they should not abuse their position as parents to destroy, discourage, devalue, etc. their children.
What about the husband-wife relationship? Though wives are expected to submit and subject themselves to their own husbands in everything, this is not an excuse for their husbands to become dictators or autocratic; they are supposed to be loving and caring.
Ephesians 5:25-29 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself” (NKJV). Look at the description of the type of love husbands are supposed to have for their wives – love that gives self even to the point of death. That was the type of love Jesus had for the church. To love one’s wife is to love oneself.
Colossians 3:19 also underscores the same demand from the husband: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them” (NKJV). So God does not mean that a wife by submitting to her husband should become a slave. No. There is a reciprocal demand on husbands to love and care for their wives.
1 Peter 3:7 says, “In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat her with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. If you don’t treat her as you should, your prayers will not be heard” (NLT). Take note of the word “weaker” – it is talking of a comparative degree of weakness meaning that the man too is a weak vessel! Only God is the strength of both the man and the woman. And God tells the husband to honour his wife. That scripture also says if you fail to honor your wife, your prayers will be hindered. If you won’t obey God, you had better remain single so that you can get answers to your prayers unhindered!
God does not tolerate a wife not respecting or submitting to her husband as much as He does not take kindly to a husband dishonouring his wife. That tells us that both husbands and wives should be accountable to each other and both of them accountable to God although the husband remains the head.
The Bible calls the wife a weaker vessel to illustrate the kind of attention and care that He expects the husband to give to the wife as a fragile vessel. We always handle carefully and with respect objects that are fragile lest they should break. That’s how God expects husbands to handle their wives. God’s authority structure must be respected and obeyed everywhere. To do otherwise is to be preparing for a sorrowful future.
13. When someone habitually exposes his mind to unedifying books, music, and videos/films. One of the gates to the heart is the mind, and the Bible says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do” (Proverbs 4:23 NLT). One is largely a product of what one reads, watches, and listens to. If someone feeds his mind with dirty information through unwholesome music and books, such a person’s life cannot be better than this information – in computer parlance, “garbage in, garbage out.”
Dirty information that you allow into your mind will find its way into your heart and defile it. “And he said, that which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23 KJV).
Those who read dirty and immoral books and watch and stuff in their minds with similar destructive information from music and videos/films cannot live a wholesome life and their future can only be putrefying. What do you expect from someone whose favourite publications are pornographic magazines? He cannot but become a sexually perverted person. Disgusting words, lyrics, and images in immoral publications, music, video, and films will hold captive and mould negatively the lives of those patronizing them.
God’s prophet, A.W. Tozer has something to say about this. He says, “What can you say about the kinds of books and magazines you read? The things you read will fashion you by slowly conditioning your mind. Little by little, even though you think you are resisting, you will take on the shape of the mind of the author of that book you are reading. You will begin to put your emphasis where he puts his. You will begin to put your values where he places his. You will find yourself liking what he likes and thinking as he thinks. The same thing is certainly true of the power of modern films on the minds and morals of those who give themselves over to their influences.” He wrote this many years ago but the truth is still valid, and ever will be. That is the power of information, and you know this age is called the information age.
Tozer again says, “It is not overstating the case to insist that the kinds of music you enjoy will demonstrate pretty much what you are inside. If you give yourself to the contemporary fare of music that touches the baser emotions, it will shape your mind and emotions and desires, whether you admit it or not.” Think about that!
Your life will be shaped by the information you allow into your mind, which it will process. Jesus says, “Take heed what you hear” (Mark 4:24 NKJV). He says again, “Take heed how you hear” (Luke 8:18 NKJV). Don’t listen to just any music. Don’t watch just any film or video. Don’t read just any book or magazine. Be selective and guided by the Word of God. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8 KJV).
A sorrowful future awaits those who devote their lives to listening to indecent music, watching immoral films and videos, and reading ungodly and satanic books and magazines. Anyone who desires a glorious future should have nothing to do with these powerful resources that satan is using to ruin destinies, devastate families, and ravage society.
14. When someone neglects his family and fails to bring up his children in the way of the Lord. Some men and women are acknowledged as successful in their various professions in public especially in the media but at home, they are failed fathers and failed mothers. Success in a career can never compensate for failure at home. Your children represent your future, and neglecting them means sowing a bad seed for a bleak future.
Malachi 2:15 says what God wants from the union of a man and a woman in marriage are godly children. Children will not become godly just because they have been born or because their parents are church-goers or professed Christians. Raising godly children requires much spiritual work to be done beyond just providing the basic material things of life, sending them to good schools, etc.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (NKJV). You must catch them young, make your own positive impact and impression on them based on God’s Word before they leave you such that they will not deviate to embrace strange teachings or come under ungodly influence anyone tries to introduce them to. The indelible impression the Word of God you raised them with will have registered upon their spirit.
Everybody returns home each day no matter the success recorded in the office or in his business in the office. Nobody sleeps in the office except he is on night duty! And everybody will return home eventually after a very successful career in business or public service. But which home will those who have neglected their families – their wives/husbands and children especially – return to? Let me even ask you reading this message now: Which home will you return to? That is one reason why no one should try to build a successful career or business at the expense of his family. Whoever does that, will be an unhappy man or woman later in life, and probably till he dies. The person will retire into misery that will cut short his life. Success at work will never compensate for anyone’s failure at home.
Your family will be most important to you tomorrow than they seem today. Anyone who is neglecting his children will not have a satisfying future no matter the joy he seems to have now. “A foolish child brings grief to a father and bitterness to a mother” (Proverbs 17:25 NLT). Compare that Scripture with Proverbs 10:1: “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother” (NKJV). Proverbs 15:20 says a similar thing: “A wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish man despises his mother” (NKJV).
Children won’t turn out to be wise children on their own; parents, especially fathers, must invest sufficient and quality time to train them in the way of the Lord, so that they can have peace and joy in the future. God says concerning Abraham: “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him” (Genesis 18:19 NKJV).
Fathers who close at work and spend all their evenings at the club or playing golf will not be able to make on their children the kind of godly impact that God expects from parents through biblical teachings and examples. Absentee parenting is not God’s ideal for raising children that will assure parents of a peaceful and joyful future. “A foolish child is a calamity to a father” (Proverbs 19:13 NLT).
Parents must reorder their priorities and spend enough and quality time with their children; husbands must spend time with their wives not using as an excuse the fact that the times are hard and they need to run around to provide for the family as the bread-winner. Bread-winner, don’t win bread while the devil is winning your family!
The Bible says while there was a famine in the land of Gerar, Isaac spent time playing with his wife! Yet he wasn’t a lazy person – he was a worker. But he didn’t allow the famine to put pressure on him and create tension in the home. “Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife” (Genesis 26:8 ASV). Sporting with Rebekah! What does that mean? The New Living Translation says Abimelech saw “Isaac fondling Rebekah.” The New King James Version says Isaac was “showing endearment to Rebekah his wife.” That phrase in Hebrew is a word-play on Isaac and it literally means: “He Who laughs was laughing with Rebekah his wife.” Did you understand that? It’s not possible for a husband to do that in absentia. He must be at home.
A sorrowful future awaits any parent who neglects his children; a sorrowful future awaits anyone who neglects his family especially husbands who neglect their wives. Proverbs 5:18 says, “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth” (NLT). Any husband who deals treacherously with the wife of his youth puts himself under a curse – God stands as a witness against such a person. “Here is another thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings, and he doesn’t accept them with pleasure. You cry out, ‘Why has the LORD abandoned us?’ I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made to each other on your wedding day when you were young. But you have been disloyal to her, though she remained your faithful companion, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. ‘For I hate divorce!’ says the LORD, the God of Israel. ‘It is as cruel as putting on a victim’s bloodstained coat,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘So guard yourself; always remain loyal to your wife’” (Malachi 2:13-16 NLT).
There must be repentance in order to avoid a sorrowful future. God wants reconciliation in families – a godly home is necessary for the raising of godly children that God is looking for. The hearts of the husbands must be turned to their wives and the hearts of the wives turned to their husbands. The same must happen between parents and their children just like God said concerning the ministry of Elijah in Malachi 4:6: “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (KJV). This is the only way to experience a blessed future and not a sorrowful future.
15. When someone eats his seed and buries his talents. A seed is anything God has given you that you can use to bless others and for His glory. It can be money, time, materials, etc. which you give to God’s causes on the earth, His servants, and other people, whether in need of it or not. The principle of sowing and reaping is well established in the Scriptures. Concerning physical sowing of seed, the Bible says, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest … shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22 NKJV). This principle equally applies to spiritual sowing,
The Bible encourages believers to sow because whatever we sow is not a waste; there is harvest for every seed sown. Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth” (NKJV).
This chapter continues in verses 4-6 by saying, “He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good” (NKJV).
A sower will be blessed; the one who eats his seed will sorrow! Proverbs 11:24 says, “It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything” (NLT). Isaiah 32:20 says, “Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey” (NKJV). The person will be blessed, and it is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich and He adds no sorrow to it (Proverbs 10:22).
The sower or giver will be blessed because the harvest is usually more than the seed sown. When you sow, you’ll be enriched so that you can give even more generously (2 Corinthians 9:11). Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38 NKJV). The sower will be given back good or full measure (much), pressed down, shaken together (to make room for more), and running over.
God will give you both seed and bread. Bread is for eating and seed is for sowing – the order should not be reserved. But whoever eats his seed, cuts off himself from future harvest. No seed, no harvest! 2 Corinthians 9:10 says, “For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will give you many opportunities to do good, and he will produce a great harvest of generosity in you” (NLT). Great harvest!
Many don’t sow their seed but eat it because it is easier to eat than to sow. Sometimes, some sowing comes with weeping – the cost is much. Psalm 126:5-6 gives a picture of this with the sowing of physical seed at an unfavourable time but also gives assurance of bountiful harvest. “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (NKJV).
In the parable of the three servants given different amounts of gold or talents (money), the two that doubled the five and two talents they were given respectively were described as good and faithful servants and were given many more responsibilities plus celebrating together with their master. But the servant who went to hide his talent was rewarded with a sorrowful future. Not because the master hated him but because he was a wicked and lazy servant who rather than profiting with what he was given accused and insulted his master. He actually activated a sorrowful future for himself by his action. “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! You think I’m a hard man, do you, harvesting crops I didn’t plant and gathering crops I didn’t cultivate? Well, you should at least have put my money into the bank so I could have some interest. Take the money from this servant and give it to the one with the ten bags of gold. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:26-30 NLT).
Don’t eat your seed; don’t bury your talent. Whatever God has given you – money, spiritual gifts, natural gifts, abilities, skills, etc. use for the benefit of man and to the glory of God. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10 NKJV).
As far as spiritual ministration is concerned, the Master’s instruction is to put no price on it: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8 NKJV). Don’t make God’s house a house of merchandise (John 2:16).
Those who commercialize the spiritual gifts and the anointing God has given them don’t have Heaven’s approval – they don’t last. God knew that in the last days there will be such people – those whose god is their belly (Romans 16:18; Philippians 3:19). “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19 NKJV). He has already pronounced judgment on such people. “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Peter 2:2-3 KJV). Beware of such people and make sure that you don’t fall into this category. Their future is sorrowful because they are only using God to make money; God is not using them.
Conclusion: God desires a glorious future for you and not a sorrowful future. Avoid anything that can lead you to a sorrowful future as you have learnt in this message. Deal with any of these signs currently in your life. The surefire, unfailing way to realize the glorious future God has for you is to follow Him wholeheartedly like Joshua and Caleb did (Deuteronomy 1:34-36). Don’t waver; don’t follow the multitude to do evil, and you will get to your Promised Land.
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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