Sunday November 2014
Women Alive Conference 2014
Open Heavens (How to make it go beyond our generation –How to pass down Generations)
- Deuteronomy 28: 12 God told the children of Israel that He would open His good treasure, the heavens to give the rain to their land in due season, and to bless all the work of their hands and that they shall lend to many but they shall not borrow.
- Luke 3: 21 – 22: ‘When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased’.
- Luke 23: 44 – 47 The veil of the Temple was torn into two after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to signify that now we have open heavens and assess to God because of the death of His Son.
- Malachi 3: 10 God challenged the children of Israel to bring all the tithes into His storehouse and try Him to see if He would not open unto them the windows of heaven (Open heavens) and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.
- 2 Chronicles 7: 13 -14. It is God that opens heavens for an individual, a family, a group or a nation. It can also be for an organization.
From the above passages we can draw the following fundamental truths and conclusions on what open heaven is.
- Open heavens is real and great things happen when the heavens are opened.
- Open heavens is access to the presence of God – to His very throne; no more barriers. It means the unhindered experience of heaven on earth.
- Open heavens means unlimited and unrestricted blessing.
- Open heavens indicates the presence of the Spirit of God.
- Open heavens means God throwing open the floodgate of heaven unto us when we do our part in serving Him.
- Open heavens also indicate the opening of storehouses of God. In Deuteronomy 28: 12 God says that He will open to them His good treasure (i.e. His Storehouses). It’s not possible for heavens to open and the storehouses or blessings to be shut. It is not possible.
- When heavens open upon us the Holy Spirit descends upon us and angels minister to us.
- Open heavens is a mark or sign of God’s approval
- If Jesus needed open heavens to operate, we need it more.
What happens when the heavens are opened to us?
- All the blessings of Deuteronomy 28: 12 and beyond will be ours.
Let’s take a look at those blessings. Mention some of them.
- When heaven opens angels ascend and descend with messages – Genesis 28: 12 Jacob’s dream about the stairway resting on the earth with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it (John 1: 50 – 51). Jesus also told Nathanael that he would see greater things than Him just seeing Nathanael under the fig tree; the angels of God ascending and descending.
- The favor of God rested on Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This blessing became trans–generational as it went from them to their children even till the present day Israel.
- How do we make the open heaven over us transcend our time and pass from one generation of our children to another? Here are the conditions or what we must do:
- Our children must be brought under the covenant Genesis 17: 7 “And I will establish my covenant between you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant to be God to you and your descendants after you.”
Children participated whenever God asked the children of Israel to gather and have either a holy assembly or a fast or to observe a tradition or festival children. Moses told Pharaoh they would not go without their children. He said that they would not leave even their livestock behind and yet many of us leave our children behind just because we think we have done our best. The attitude we should have is “It’s not over until the work is done”.
So bring your children into the covenant. Let your children attend a living church with you. You cannot attend a living church and your children attend a dead or an occultic church. Open heavens will not be trans-generational that way.
- We must diligently teach our children about the Lord and His covenant. Deuteronomy 6: 6 – 7. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand your, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates”.
We must teach them, talk of them, bind them and write. That is to say we must teach our children about it in season and out of season, talk to them about it on a regular basis, place words of God in our homes, etc., etc., seizing every opportunity, utilizing every teachable moment. Notice not just the seriousness but also the constant and continuous and diligent nature of the various ways we are to go about this teaching.
- Thank God for children or teen or adult Sunday school teachers but we ourselves (not depending on other) must be at the forefront when it comes to teaching and instructing our biological children in the way of the Lord. For no reason must we relinquish this or over-delegate this role. God said about Abraham “I know Abraham that he will command his children after him” (Genesis 18:19).
Your work, career or business must not stand in your way of finding time to teach your children. Fathers in particular must not leave it to their wives. While mothers should support and give all necessary assistance and backing, bringing up the children in the way of the Lord is the primary duty of a father. Deuteronomy 6: 6, Ephesians 6: 4, 1 John 2:13 speaks directly to fathers. In the days of the wilderness Moses or Joshua spoke it was always to the men – to the fathers. In Ephesians 6: 4 Apostle Paul was speaking directly to fathers calling them by name. In 1 John 2: 13 John the beloved spoke directly to fathers in their role and responsibility, and office as fathers. There is a role and responsibility attached to fatherhood and motherhood. We are not fathers and mothers in name only or just for the sake of it. There is a role and responsibility attached and we must not fail in those roles and responsibilities.
Fathers must avoid the trap busy leaders like Eli, Samuel and David fell into. They must give the godly upbringing of their children top priority. These men succeeded greatly as leaders and statesmen but failed woefully in the upbringing of their children.
The children of Dr. Myles Monroe on the other hand had been groomed to effectively run the global ministry and businesses set up by their dad. Even when they heard of the plane crash and the death of their parents, they flew to the venue of a meeting and ensured that it held. Shortly before he died Dr. Myles told the world (check it on Youtube) that he is of no relevance to his ministry and his businesses as he has groomed those that would succeed him, and that those organizations can run without him. Let it be food for thought for all of us parents. I was told recently that the children of late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya have continued with the work and the ministry that their mum started. What a blessing!
- Our children must know God for themselves. They must have their own personal relationships with Him and be His friend on a personal level.
- We and our children must believe open heavens exist and we must individually choose to serve the Lord and choose the path of open heaven. It is a choice!
- We (our children and us) have to remain in Him, be obedient to Him and grow in Him
- If we are living in disobedience we should not expect open heavens
- If our lifestyle is not worthy, heavens would probably not open to us.
- Open heavens should never and must never be taken for granted. We must live lives of holiness before the Lord on a continuous basis.
- Those who have idols or dishonor their fathers and mothers will not have open heaven. The same applies to those who move land boundaries or cheat or oppress the poor and the orphans, or engage in other wicked and ungodly lifestyles and behavior.
- We parents must be favorably disposed to our children and treat them with kindness, gentleness and love. We must not be harsh toward them or discourage them or wound them with negative words that can hurt and kill.
- We must not be hypocritical in any area of our lives. What we are in secret must be what we are in public. There must not be any double standard as it will make our Christianity a mere religious ritual to our children. They won’t believe in that kind of God we say we serve and neither will they serve Him. They will perceive us as “Do as I say and not do as I do people”
- From the womb and in babyhood, pray and prophecy over your children and speak the word of God and His counsel over them.
- God is the one who opens the heavens (2 Chronicles 7: 13 – 14). Maintain the habit of praying to Him to open the heavens over you and unto you.
- Make a habit of always presenting your children and family to God like Job of old (Job 1:5).
- Some do not experience open heavens due to ignorance or laziness. Study the word of God to know what is yours by right as a child of God. The Bible says you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32). However, only the truth that you know that will set you free and not the truth you that you do not know.
- Offer gifts to God on behalf of your children. Sow seeds of all kinds for God to remember your children.
- As a parent don’t break the hedge. It opens the door for the devil.
- Let the names you give your children reflect your life in God or faith and hope in Him etc.
- Matthew 5: 6 states that if you hunger and thirst for righteousness you will surely get it.
- Whatever you have been doing to experience open heavens, don’t stop doing it.
- Build up godly traditions that will make Christianity and family time fun that they will remember and cherish forever. For instance you can as a family have the tradition of visiting the motherless etc during a particular season of the year.
- We and our children must keep His covenant in all our generations. from generation to generation. Tell them it’s not difficult.
- We must do this with the Rechabite spirit and determination (Jeremiah 35:2). God told Jeremiah to go to the Rechabite family and offer them alcohol. The Rechabites declined saying they were not permitted to drink alcohol, in keeping with the command of their forefather Jonadab the son of Recab. This is to explain that the way of the covenant must become our way of life in our families, it must become such a part of us that it will be who we are, what we stand for, and what defines us: the idea of a family vision and family mission statement. One former colleague in CBN said that they were not brought up to use body cream or lotion, and so even as a top CBN staff, wife and mother she did not use body cream or introduce it to her family. The message is not about body cream but about creating the type of spiritual climate in our family that will outlast us.
- We must not turn a blind eye to the individual in our family who is not going the way of the covenant like the children of Eli, Samuel and David. Instruction is not saying “I’ve been telling you that what you are doing is not good” (that’s what Eli did). It is also not saying “I’ve said my piece, if you like take it, if you like don’t. It’s your life”. It may be their lives but we will be fingered as their parent; the parent of the individual that failed.
So, making that type of statement is not instruction. Instruction is teaching them early, constantly reminding them, praying for them and with them, encouraging them to go the right way and following up to ensure that they do. We should “Walk them through it….”
If we give up on our children too soon that’s bad for us and our children, and good for the devil. If the devil can’t get us he will try to get what belongs to us but we know his plans will fail because we won’t give up. Paul said we are not of those who give up but of those who continue till the end. I know a Christian sister whose husband was not a believer and who labored much for her children to come to know the Lord, especially their first son that was wayward in every way. Years later this young man did not just accept the Lord, but also asked his mum to help him pick a godly wife. The mother went to work on that asking that Lord to help her find a godly and beautiful wife for the son. Together they sought, and the young man is now happily married to his beautiful and godly wife. Indeed persevering and not giving up on our children pays off.
- We must not walk in the presumption that children born into a Christian family or went to Church with us would know the right thing and follow the right way. This presumptuous attitude enabled wickedness of those kings of Judah and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Their father were righteous kings of Judah who did what was good in the sight of the Lord!
It is not strange that a Solomon bred Rehoboam, or that Rehoboam in turn bred the likes of Abijam, or that some generations after another king by name Jehoram (Also called Joram) who also did evil bred Ahaziah his son also known as Azariah, and who also did evil in the sight of the Lord.
What is surprising and sad is how a king like Jehoshaphat who did what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord would breed a son like Jehoram who did evil in the sight of the Lord and who the Bible refers to as being as wicked as Ahab. Equally surprising was the fact that Hezekiah another king who loved the Lord and did so many exploits for the Lord raised Manasseh. The Bible described Manasseh as being as evil as Ahab, and more wicked than all the Amorites before him. He did so much to provoke the Lord that because of him God brought great calamity and judgment on Israel. But probably the most agonizing and surprising story of all is that of Josiah who was only 8years old when he began to reign, and pleased the Lord. The Bible said of him that there was no one like him. Yet he ended up with a son like Jehoahaz who began to reign at 23 years of age, did evil in the sight of the Lord and only reigned for 3 months. Pharaoh Neco the king of Egypt took him as prisoner to Egypt where he died and put one of his brothers as King of Judah in his place.
If we were to see Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah today one question we would probably ask them is “Your Majesties what happened?” What probably happened was that either the three kings took it for granted that because they served the Lord their children would automatically do the same like I’ve heard a number of born again Christians say, or it may be that they were so engaged in the work of the kingdom that they unconsciously neglected their own family and children. Also, they may have tried to raise the children in a godly manner, but the children did not respond, and they gave up. Whatever the case they went down in history as great fathers that begat irresponsible sons. May that not be our portion in Jesus name! We can begin to work towards a change today. Sometimes our problem is that we don’t even confront those children and young adults.
At other time we may need to practice what psychologist and counselors call ‘tough love’. This is a situation where your loved one whether a spouse or a son or daughter keeps doing what is bad or inappropriate or irresponsible. Your continuous corrections may be falling on deaf ears. A time comes when you must withhold some privileges from them so that they can sit up and do the right thing. A father shared on the radio how his daughter had remained irresponsible and immoral with her relationship with men that she refused to change despite all the parent’s support for her to change when finally she got pregnant out of wedlock and came back home expecting support from them the parents said no and did not open the door for her. A kind family friend took her. Despite the love and support that lady provided for her she still felt the pinch of the parents displeasure as well as the discomfort and lack which inspired a change in character. We cannot and must not continue to pamper, spoil, or over indulge our children and expect any change from them. It will not happen. Love must be tough!
- Many a time we need the help of others-godly friends, mothers and fathers, brethren in the church, uncles, aunties, neighbors, colleagues, and peers etc. in bringing up our children in the way of Christ. Mordecai, big cousin and foster parent to Esther brought her up so well after the death of her parents that she stood out. Similarly, Abraham played the same role in Lot’s life. In the same way Naomi served as a mentor to her widowed daughter in law. The stories of all the young people mentioned above ended well because they listened. Young people will benefit a lot from the godly counsel of elderly people and will have themselves to blame if they do not heed. My mum would always say “The person we are trying to counsel and advice – Lord may You help them to hearken”.
- Mothers have a unique role to play in the upbringing of their children and those of others. Just as Naomi guided and mentored Ruth, King Lemuel’s mother guided and mentored him. She was diligent to teach him how he would succeed as a king and reign successfully. She spelt out to him the dos and don’ts of godly royalty. These days some people would have called her overbearing, over protective, controlling or even manipulating. The devil will use whatever is at his disposal (the world, its judicial system and its people) to give us all kinds of bad names to prevent us from doing what is good as regards the training of our children. A judge in the US asked a Nigerian father if he was not abusing his daughter; the father politely replied “No sir, I was only disciplining my daughter”.
- We must not just hope and pray they get it right we must take practical steps to see that they get it right. Abraham ensured that his son did not marry from the ungodly nations around him.
- We must not unduly protect them from a tough life. Exposing them to tough situations that will not pose danger to their lives will toughen them up. They must not just be brought up to have everything and everyone at their beck and call.
- We must protect them from people who want to lead them astray by telling them things that will be contrary to their independence and maturity. Some may say ‘Your parents have the money now, why are they not helping you?”.
- Having said and done all the above we must stand in prayer for them telling the devil that he cannot have our children.
- We must ask the Lord for wisdom on a daily basis on the best ways to bring up our children. As we do this God will guide us in definite steps and even show us how to pray strategic prayers targeted at the individual needs of the child or young adult. In addition He will begin to reveal to us their specific problems and how we can tackle them.
Conclusion: As we do all this we shall make open the heavens above our heads, and in our lives will transcend generations.