What is Gods Purpose For My Life? Part III

Having seen that God’s first purpose for us is to be fruitful (see Part I)  and His second purpose is for us to multiply (see Part II), we can now move onto the third purpose as given to us in Genesis 1:27-28

27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

God’s third purpose for our lives is this: Fill the earth!

If we say that to fill the earth simply means to spread across the face of the earth, we would not be incorrect, but our statement would be incomplete without speaking of the purpose for which God gave the commandment.

Here is what God wants to accomplish through us when we fill the earth.

(I) Make Poverty History

Consider the following passage of scripture:

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ – Deuteronomy 15:11 (ESV)

The last three words of the scripture read ‘in your land’. If the children of God do not spread across the earth, then there will be lands that do not qualify as our land. (Note: I say our land for all the things that belong to God belong to us as heirs by birthright). But God wants us to fill the earth so that all land can be said to be ‘our land’ – the place we dwell.

If we follow Genesis 1:27-28 carefully, we see that God gave the command to fill the earth to all those who belong to him, whom he first has blessed, who have become fruitful, and who are engaged in multiplication. Why? It is because these are the people  that can fulfil the command to open their hands to their brother, and the poor and needy in the land for they have something to give them.

By this we can say:

  • God never asks us to do something without equipping us with the ability to do it.
  • God blesses so that we may be a blessing to others

The question is will we actually fulfil His command or will we continue to make all sorts of excuses to justify why we continue to neglect the poor and the needy in our land when we have the ability. This is what I call giving a man a fish.

(II) To Expand the Kingdom

Consider this very famous passage of scripture:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you [b]always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28: 19-20 (NASB)

It says to make disciples of every nation on earth – not just some nations but every nation. Note though that it says make disciples. It does not say make bondservants, pillage, subjugate, and force people, as some did in the name of following this Great Commission.

So why fill the earth? So that others may come to know God. That they may themselves become fruitful and multiply and obey the commands of God.  This is what I call teaching a man how to fish.

If we took this command seriously, I wonder how different our world would look.

(III) To Avoid Unnecessary Strife

Remember what happened to Abraham and Lot when God blessed them and they began to be fruitful and multiply. At some point their shepherds started to argue and contend with each other because the land could not contain both Abraham and Lot’s flocks.

By the way, I consider this a good problem. It would be great for everyone to be so blessed that we have to spread out to fill the earth!

See, when we do not spread out as we get blessed, we find that the following occurs:

  • We start to compete for the same resources instead of communing with each other
  • We do not increase as much as God would like for we can only grow so much in limited space with limited resources
  • We start argue and quarrel about things the rest of the world considers trivial – consider what people in surrounding lands must have thought of Abraham and lot having issues because they were too blessed. This is what we could call First World Problems (see YouTube video).

This is what I call not running out of fish

Conclusion

Consider how our world would be different if we followed the command to fill the earth to fulfill the purpose of putting an end to poverty, expanding the kingdom of God, and avoiding unnecessary strife.

Point to Ponder: By following the command to full the earth, we help ourselves as much as we help others.

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What is Gods Purpose For My Life? Part II

Many people have the question “What does God want me to do with my life?” In Part I of this series, we saw that the answer to this question is not a mystery but is clearly revealed in scripture. In Genesis 1:27-28, we saw that right after God made man in His image and blessed them, He told them what they were to do (see the verse below)

27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

While we focused on the process of being fruitful in in Part I, in the section, the focus is going to be on the second purpose for our lives – to multiply.

Here is a quick thing to know when it comes to multiplying

(1) Multiplication is reserved for those who are fruitful: God says that we should be “fruitful and multiply”. He does NOT say “multiply and be fruitful”. Why? It is because the word for multiply is the Hebrew word ‘rabah’, which means to make much,  or increase greatly. To explain, consider the seed that grows to become a tree. That tree when it produces fruit has a seed within it. But the tree does not have just one fruit on it but many fruits with the same seed. By this, the seed has effectively multiplied itself through its fruitfulness. Thus, the only way the seed will multiply is to be fruitful.

A heart set on multiplication is a heart that is first set on fruitfulness.

(2) Multiplication is others-focused: If being fruitful is about self-growth and becoming who we are designed to be, to multiply is about reproducing who we have become. If fruitfulness is internally focused, we see that multiplication is externally focused. If fruitfulness is about changing ourselves, the multiplication is about changing others.

Jesus practiced this command of multiplication when he gave up his own life so that he could win the right for others to receive what He had within Him – the Holy Spirit. In other words, He put our lives before His own life so that we could experience the fruit of His life.

A heart set on multiplication is a heart that is others-focused, service oriented, and desires to add value to people’s lives.

Here are four characteristics of a person who (like a seed) desires to multiply (increase greatly)

(A) Giver: Jesus tells us that when we give, it shall given unto us (Luke 6:38). Moreover, Jesus tells us that the heart behind giving should always be love (see John 3:16 which says that for God so loved the word that He gave).

Hence we see that the principle here is this: Love always gives, and giving always causes multiplication.

Hence, to follow Gods purpose of our life to multiply requires that we have to give of our time, resources, and energy to those thing that will add value to others.

Point to Ponder: God has given me specific gifts, talents, and abilities to multiply to others so they may eat of the fruit of my life.

Today is the day to think about what you have been given and how you can use that to make a difference in your world.

(B) Influencer: Leadership is influence. To be an influencer requires that we have a heart to seek people and lead them out of situations. We can see this in the final command that Jesus gives us saying “Go and make disciples of all the nations…”. What he was saying there was for us to go and  influence our world so that we may multiply those who are going to be in the kingdom of God. Why? So that their lives may be positively impacted. It’s a beautiful thing when fruitfulness is multiplied. It makes the barren world of our lives a thriving place.

Check out this verse:

Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest – Isaiah 32:15 NKJV

Indeed, we who have accepted Jesus have had the Spirit poured out on us. As the wilderness of our lives become a fruitful field, the fruitful field will be counted as a forest as we influence the lives of others. 

Point to Ponder: Everyone influences in one way or the other. A multiplier always asks the question – how can I influence my world in a better way?

(C) Filler: As the plant multiplies, it fills the barren land and thus enriches and strengthens the soil it is planted in so that the soil is no longer as vulnerable to erosion and is good to provide fruit. Similarly, we have been planted in the lives of others to help meet a need or fill a need in their lives so that they may become strengthened and become better equipped to produce fruit.

Practically, this means that we have to move beyond surface level friendships and get to know people on a deeper level. Then we are to see how we are equipped to fill a need in their lives so that they may be galvanized to become all that God has called them to become.

Question to Ponder: What gap exists in the life of those around me and how can I fill that need?

(D) Teacher: Jesus is called a teacher in the bible. What did he teach? He taught about the kingdom of God – how to enter, how it operates, and its benefits. Then Jesus gave the command for us to go teach (Matthew 28:20).

In other words, we are not just meant to be givers, influencers, and fillers. We are meant to teach others to be the same. we are not just meant to provide aid to people, we are meant to teach them how to be self-sufficient (by being rooted and grounded in love).

Another way to say this is that our purpose is to make others self-sufficient in Christ so that they may impact their world. Our job is not to make others self-dependent, nor to make others dependent, but to make them God-dependent

Point to Ponder: I am called to be a flowing river and not a static pond. Though I am not perfect, I am called to teach others the good that I know.

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So we see, that God wants us to be a Giver, Influence, Filler, and Teacher. He wants us to be a G.I.F.T in other people’s lives. When we choose to be a gift, we find that we receive more than we every gave.

Food for Thought: Happiness and fulfilment in life comes naturally when we choose to become a G.I.F.T in other people’s lives.

In Part III, we will look at filling the earth and subduing it.

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What Is Gods Purpose For My Life? Part I

God’s purpose for our lives is not something that is hidden or tucked away in a secret place. The God who created us for a purpose wants us to know what exactly why He created us. To that end, as soon as He created man, He told him exactly what He wanted him to do. The portion of the bible I am referring to can be found in Genesis 1: 27 – 28

27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Here are a few things we can pick-up from these two verses with regards to purpose:

(1) God reveals his purpose to those made in His image (verse 27): Before God told mankind their purpose, He first made them in His image. Consider this: After the fall, mankind was made in the image of Adam and no longer in the image of God (see Genesis 5:1-3 NKJV). When we get born again, we are reborn into God’s family and are re-made into His image. Hence, to hear God’s purpose requires that we first accept Him into our heart. No wonder people wonder aimlessly in life without God!

If you have not accepted God, His will is for you right now is to accept Him into your heart.

(2) God reveals His purpose to those who kneel before Him (verse 28): The word used for blessed in the Hebrew is the word ‘Barak’ which translates to kneel (to be blessed). The act of kneeling to be blessed is like the act of being knighted. The person who kneels (to be blessed) before God takes a lower position to open themselves up to receive from Him. They take a posture of humility and surrender. In turn they get blessed and they their name is upgraded.

To know His purpose requires that we kneel before Him in humility and surrender. In other words, it is not about us but about Him.

Be Fruitful  – God’s First Purpose For Our Lives

To translate this verse to simply mean ‘bear children’ is to completely misunderstand what God is saying here. That is not the meaning.

The word fruit here means to bear fruit. In other words, God wants our life to bear fruit so that it brings Him glory. Here is how Jesus puts it this way: My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples – John 15:8. Was Jesus telling his disciples to have a lot of kids – obviously not!

Imagine if all God’s children bore fruit. You will find that a vast empty wilderness (desert) will suddenly become a living and thriving place. See, God wants us to bear much fruit. But remember, he gives that command to those who have accepted him and kneeled before Him. Those are the ones that are ready.

How can we bear fruit? We can do it by following the example of how a seed bears fruit. The process is as follows:

(A) Cut Ties With The Old– Just as the seed must cut ties with the environment it has known and must seek a more suitable environment for growth, so must we. The first step of fruitfulness is divorcing ourselves from the old and marrying ourselves to the new. The old being our old life and the new being our new life in Christ. The disciples did this. Peter and crew left fishing behind (represents old life) and walked with God. So did the Elisha. When called, he left his plowing behind and followed Elijah.

If we are to be who God calls us to be, then we have to leave behind the old

(B) Plant Yourself In Good Soil – A seed that has fallen from the plant must fall on good soil to grow. For us, the good soil is the heart of God. It is not enough to cut ourselves off from the old influence of the word but we need to plant ourselves in the heart of God and in the presence of God.

(C) Get Watered With God’s Word – A seed that falls to the ground and is planted in soil has to have access to water for it to start to change and transform. Similarly, we must be watered by the word of God. That the word of God is likened to water can be seen in John 15:3; John 13; and Ezekiel 36:25-27 (just to name a few references). God’s word is like water that washes away the filth of our mind and stops our stinking thinking. It washes those away so that our minds may be renewed. That is when we begin to transform as the word of God makes us die to the old and transform into the new.

(D) Breakthrough the Soil – After we have begun to change and transform is when we will get the breakthrough (just like a growing seed breaks through the soil). So therefore, part of fruitfulness is breaking through the dirt that seemed to want to hold us back in life. Friend, do not be concerned about the dirt that seems to be pilled up on top of you even after you have cut ties with your old self and are planted in the presence of God. In due time, you will breakthrough the stuff that wants to imprison you if you do not stop watering yourself with the water of the word of God.

(E) Bend Towards The Sun – A plant automatically bends itself towards the sunlight. No plant bends itself towards darkness for it knows it will die and wither. The sunlight has an effect on the plant – it makes it grow and gives it life. Now, the bible says the Lord is a sun (Psalm 84:11). Thus we must bend our lives towards the Lord for us to continue to grow. This means that we listen to the Holy Spirit and let the light of the world lead us in the direction we should go.

Remember that there is no bending our lives to whichever direction the Lord would lead us if we do not first do the four things above.

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If you are not getting direction, then it is time to ask the question: Am I cut off?, Am I planted? Am I being watered?, Am I growing to breakthrough? It could be that we have stopped at one of the previous steps.

When we follow the example of the seed is when we will begin to fulfil the first of God’s purpose for our lives. We will begin to bear fruit!!!

After we have become fruitful, then we are ready to multiply. We will talk about multiplying in Part II

God Bless / Love You

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A Step You Can Take to Know the Will of God

Last night, one of my best friends called to let me know that she was feeling lost in life. She was in her car driving up north to nowhere in particular, trying to clear her head to decipher her next steps in life. She said she did not know what she wanted her to do with her life.

The previous night, another friend had mentioned she was struggling with the same issue. I don’t know what to do with my life, she had said.

About a week ago, the same issue popped up. A friend from Baton Rouge called to chat about his life purpose. He did not know what to do and desired to know if he was on the right path.

This question of what God wants us to do with our lives is pervasive as it is elusive to many of us it seems. So if this is you, you are not alone. Many ask the question, if God made us for a purpose, then why won’t he just reveal it to us? When people ask this question, I have come to understand that they are not merely speaking of a general purpose, but a specific purpose.

There are lots of books that can speak to God’s general purpose for all believers (the bible being the best) including a widely popular one called The Purpose-driven Life. Hence that will not be that big of a focus in this series.

The issue that people face is with regards to God’s specific purpose. They want to know it and can’t seem to hear a thing. So how may we hear God’s will?

The answer to this question can only come through the Holy Spirit who is able to speak to us daily and guide us. Such hearing from the Holy Spirit can only come through fellowship and intimacy with Him.

How can this intimacy be developed so that we know God’s will? Romans 12:2 gives us a nice blueprint to follow. It says:

Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect – Roman 12:2 (ISV)

As we meditate on the word of God and allow it to renew our mind (by surrendering to its truth), we find that our mind starts to develop into the mind of Christ. This means that the radio of our minds gets tuned into the same wavelength of the Holy Spirit, therefore we can hear Him better and so determine what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgTo hear God requires that we get close to Him and renew our mind to let go of our common belief and hold fast to His ways.

Hence we see that our dedication, being teachable and being humble to let go of the ways of the world are essential to deciphering the will of God. We will explore some of these further.

For now, the action step is simply to commit to renewing our minds so that we can be transformed into the image of Christ. What does that mean to you?

Food For Thought: How much time I dedicate to studying (not just reading) the word of God can have a direct proportionality to how easily I hear from Him to know His will for my life.

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Fear Or Faith – Which will you feed?

An old Cherokee teaches his grandson about life, saying:

“A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Faith and fear are two powerful wolves that do battle against each other. The wolf we feed determines whether we live a life of adventure or absentia; whether we live as a warrior or a wimp; whether we are a champ or a chump; whether we live a life of wonder or we live our lives in the wilderness (dry and desert place without life).

Speaking of wilderness, the bible tells of a story of a group of people who after spending roughly two years in the wilderness were faced with the option – feed their faith or feed their fear. Ahead of them was an awesome land flowing with milk and honey –  a land promised to them by God, therefore a group of twelve men were sent ahead to spy out the land for 40-days.

While each of the twelve men lived in the same environment, they experienced different realities. Ten of the twelve men said the congregation should stop making progress because they had fed their fear. The last two of the twelve said to take possession of the land because they had feed their faith. By this, we already see that fears puts a halt to progress in life, but faith always looks to move forward.

The story, which can be found in 13th and 14th Book of Numbers teaches us about the symptoms of faith and fear. Below are some symptoms the story points out. Hopefully, this will help you identify whether you are walking in faith or fear.

Fear

Numbers 13:28: Fear see’s what is good just as people with faith see what is good, but fear chooses to focus on the bad, and what could go wrong. Fear is not grateful for what it has but always looks for what is missing. They key word to ponder is the word ‘Nevertheless’

Numbers 13:31: Fear is a naysayer (always says I can’t) instead of a can-doer (which says I can). Fear discourages people and tells them there is no point in trying.

Numbers 13:32: Fear exaggerates and tells lies to defend its position. Look at this verse again. If the land truly devours people, how is it that they were able to stay there for 40-days?

Numbers 13:33: Fear causes us to have a poor self-image and assumes other people see us the same way. Think of this verse where it says, we saw ourselves as grasshoppers and we were as grasshoppers in their sight.

Numbers 14:2: Fear always complains and always looks to blame others.

Numbers 14:2 Fear would rather die than try – fear gives up before it ever gets a chance to begin.

Numbers 14:3: Fear would rather go back to the past it knows rather than a future that is promised. Fear would rather go for security rather than go after significance.

Numbers 14:4: Fear is disobedient to God and rebels against Him.

Numbers 14:4: Fear does not look to past victories for strength but quickly forgets them

Numbers 14:10: Fear does not listen to reason or opposite points of view. In fact, it can’t stand opposing views.

Faith

Numbers 13:30: Faith always quietens an intense situation to provide a calm in the middle of a storm.

Numbers 13:30: Faith looks to take immediate action and does not procrastinate to take hold of God’s promises. Faith does not see obstacles but opportunities.

Numbers 14:8: Faith focuses on the good and not the bad

Numbers 14:8: Faith understands that all things are possible with God

Numbers 14:9: Faith see’s things through the eyes of God and not through the eyes of man.

Which Will You Feed

As the story goes, ten of the spies fed their fears and caused others in the wilderness to feed their fear. As a result, all of them wondered in the wilderness aimlessly, and all died in the wilderness (except the two who had faith) and never entered into the good land that was promised them. Only the two who had faith entered into their promise land.

This carries some warning for us:

  • Be careful not to listen to or take advice from people who are feeding their fears – fearful advice will keep you in the wilderness (desert) of life
  • Feeding our fears will lead us to wonder aimlessly in life and we will miss out on God’s best for us
  • Living with those who are feeding their fears will impact how quickly we will be able to live God’s best, so be careful who you associate with for it will delay destiny.

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The Curious Life of Buddy Law – A man with sight living as a blind man

I have a friend, Buddy Law, who is the same age as me. Buddy was born blind. For most of his adolescent and teenage years, Buddy walked around with the aid of a walking guide. Because he had the guide for a long time, Buddy  became adept at navigating through life with it. The walking stick quickly became an extension of him. It became his dear friend, his guide, his way of moving through life.

Then one day, Buddy ran into a doctor that told him he had a remedy that could reverse the condition that caused his blindness. Though skeptical, Buddy decided that he had nothing to lose and so went in for treatment. That one decision changed his life. After years of being blind, his eyesight was suddenly restored.

If you were to meet Buddy Law, you wouldn’t know he had regained his eyesight. Though his eyes have been opened, he still walks around with a walking guide. He keeps his eyes closed most of the time and so has to use his walking guide. He is not handicapped anymore, but possesses a mental handicap that keeps him living the life of the blind. He trusts the guide more than he does his opened eyes.

Why are you friends with Buddy Law? Some have asked out of curiosity. Why keep company whose behavior is odd for someone with sight they wonder.

I don’t know. Perhaps Buddy and I are friends because I can relate to him. Like him, I was born spiritually blind. Therefore, I bumped into things and fell into ditches I did not know were there. After years of being bruised and battered, luckily I found a walking guide by the name of the law. With the aid of the law, which some now call religion in some circles, I attempted to go through life without bumping into things. I became aware of ditches and was able to avoid them. Life was good.

Then one day, I bumped into a doctor by the name of Jesus (see Mark 2:17). He led me into His office and opened my eyes. He took the walking guide away from me and told me that I did not need it anymore.

He said that with my eyes now opened, I could go beyond avoiding trouble to actually living the life I was meant to live. Your perception of reality is about to change, He told me before I walked out of the office. You will now see things as they really are, not the way you always imagined things will always be. Though, the law (walking guide for the blind) was good, grace (sight of those with faith) is better.

Why do I befriend Buddy? It might be because I turn into him from time to time. I close my eyes to the grace of God and pick up the law once again. When I do this, I find that I turn into someone trying to avoid mistakes, feeling my way through life in the dark, not knowing where I am going, and therefore not enjoying the fullness of life. I find myself wanting to stick to environments I know – chasing after security. Anything different scares me. Every sudden noise and situation that I am not familiar with strikes me with terror. I become someone I do not recognize.

But then something within me tells me to let go of the walking stick, so I do. Why do I keep this wretched walking guide around, I ask myself when I open my eyes.

That’s when it hit me. I realized that I had a fear about losing my eyesight though the doctor had told me that this was impossible. My problem was that I did not believe the doctor and so I kept the law at hand as an insurance policy.

I realized that my unbelief concerning the grace of God was keeping me from living the best life he had in store for me.

Like me, everyone had told Buddy to keep an insurance policy. You better keep you walking guide next to you. What will you do if you lose your eyesight and you don’t have it next to you?

Buddy is now seeing that his unbelief is what is leading him to take hold of the walking guide. So he has resolved to spend more time with the doctor – to really get to know Him. Now seeing the character of the doctor, he is doing a much better job leaving the walking guide behind. One day, he resolves to change his name from Buddy Law to Buddy Grace.

Who would you like to be – Buddy Law or Buddy Grace?

When we decide to trust God is when our name gets changed – from Jacob to Israel, from Abram to Abraham, from Saul to Paul, from Simon to Cephas.

Do you need to change your guide? Do you need a name change?

 

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How to Get Along With Those With Opposing Views

With regards to opposing view, it seems as if there is nothing that divides people more than politics. I have hitherto seen as much passion out of people as I do when two people with differing political ideologies clash.

As I witnessed this a few days ago, I could not help but ask myself these questions: How would our world be different if we showed as much passion to change ourselves as we did trying to change other people’s views? How different would we be if we were as committed to God as we were our political views?

This is not the first time people have had different political views. In fact, the bible covertly speaks to how people with different political views, and speaks to how they can get along. This silent lesson can be lifted from the scripture by looking at two disciples of Jesus – Simon the Zealot and Matthew the Tax Collector.

Simon the zealot was one who like his name was zealous for the overthrow of the governing body at the time. Matthew the tax collector was one who was getting paid by that same government to collect money from folks who probably did not care for the government. To Simon, Matthew would have been considered a traitor – selling his identity for money.

Yet the bible does not speak about these two disciples clashed – not even once. In fact, they were part of the twelve who spend time with Jesus and so spent time with each other often. This tells us a number of things:

(1) The Presence of Jesus Changes Everything: What we know about the two of them is that they were in the presence of Jesus. When God showed up and called them, they both gave up their special interests for His interest. Simon beat his sword into a plowshare (Isaiah 2:4) and Simon changed his love for money into love for God. This tells us that the presence of God changes everything. Now, for us believers, God is not only with us, but He is with us, through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. If the presence of God leads us, then we would see as God sees versus how we see things. Let us take the example of Simon and Matthew – let us behold God once again.

(2) A Kingdom Mindset Changes Everything: A kingdom is a complex word formed out of two words – King and Dominion. Hence, a kingdom is the king’s dominion. In a kingdom, the will of the king is what carries sway. He has final say and authority. What we feel, think, have been led to believe does not much matter. Being that we now citizens of the kingdom, only the instructions of the king matters. He has set forth some edicts. He says to love your neighbor  as yourself (Mark 12:31). He says to love your enemies, bless those that curse you, and do good to those that hate you (Matthew 5:44). It seems that Simon and Matthew must have taken this to heart for they did not hate each other once they accepted the instruction of the King.

(3) God Is The Answer: All people generally want the same things. We are all looking for security, identity, acceptance, happiness. The difference between all of us is that we look for the same things in different place – depending on where we feel and think we will find it or where the world tells us we will get it. Thus we see that Simon had his identity in his tribal heritage and Matthew had his security in money. Yet they realized that these things could not fill the hole in their heart. No matter how much money Matthew made, it brought temporary happiness but no more. No matter how passionate Simon got, there was still something missing. What they realized they had in common was that they were both in need of a Savior. Instead of arguing about who was right and wrong, they realized that they were both wrong. They realized that only God is right. They realized the selfishness of the intent of their hearts. And they realized that God + nothing = more than enough. So instead of pointing the finger of blame, they surrendered to Him who could do more with a word than a mountain of money or a thousand uprisings.

A person who loved the presence of God, had a kingdom mindset, and knew God was the answer to all he could face was Daniel. With these three things, a boy who was bought in chains to Babylon  – a place filled with idols but was the most powerful kingdom in the world – turned into a man who turned the kingdom upside down and caused the leader of the kingdom to decree the following:

Then King Darius wrote:

To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth:

Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.

For He is the living God, And steadfast forever;
His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed,
And His dominion shall endure to the end. He delivers and rescues,
And He works signs and wonders In heaven and on earth,
Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

 

Food For Thought: If we truly want to be world changers, we have to first change ourselves – God can do way more through us when we resolve to be more like Him.

 

 

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Disappointments In Relationships – What To Know Before You End It

The truth is we live in a fallen world filled with flawed people. As such, in this life, it is not a matter of if we will deal with disappointments, it is a matter of when we will deal with them.

The truth is everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for – Bob Marley

A dire but commonly employed strategy for dealing with disappointment (especially in a relationship) is to try to avoid being disappointed in the future at all cost. This strategy calls for the tactics of putting massive walls around our hearts, looking for perfection, being overly sensitive and critical of mistakes, and withholding intimacy. These tactics so distance us mentally and emotionally from relationships, that we sacrifice real love and connection for the illusion of safety. The problem with this strategy for the person that employs it is that (1) it leaves a gaping hole in their heart and (2) it does not take away the relational desire. It is not unusual for a person who has employed this strategy to be plagued by bouts of melancholy and depression because they have starved themselves of one of the human basic needs – the need for a close relationship. I do not recommend this strategy but prefer the one of offering our disappointments to God that He may turn our hurt and pain into gain and glory.

We should neither set ourselves up for disappointments, nor try to avoid them – Anonymous

While there is an element of not setting ourselves up for constant disappointments by choosing our partners carefully, there is another element of expectations we must be careful to manage. Below are two expectations that set us up for disappointments.

Expecting Our Partners to Be Perfect

Born out of selfishness (for the person who expects perfection is themselves not perfect), this expectation looks to gain more than it gives in the relationship, and expects from the other person what they cannot give.  Asking someone for something they do not have the ability to give is a sure strategy to be disappointed.

Instead of expecting perfection, we are better off accepting their imperfection, just as we accept our own.

Expecting To Change Our Partners 

Born out of arrogance (for we try to do only what God can do), this expectation encourages the would be changer to alter the environment of their relationship to effect a change in their partner. Though it may start off lovingly, it usually reeks of manipulation, and will likely end up in frustration and disappointment for the one who engages in it.

Instead of trying to change our partners, we are better of praying to God that our hearts change towards our partners as He effects His change in His time on both us and our partners.

Disappointments are inevitable but discouragement in a choice – Charles Stanley

We tend to get discouraged when we think that things will not change. The thought that things will not change is what leads us to want to give up. It is what has led many people to divorce their partners or end relationships prematurely.

To think that things will never change is to limit the power of God. The root of this line of thinking is unbelief for it truly does not believe that with God all things are possible. Choose to think differently. Before pulling a plug on your relationship, consider these three things:

God Will Finish What He Started

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns – Philippians 1:6

God is not done with our relationships yet. His heart is that relationships not only survive, but that they thrive. We must submit ourselves to Him so that He can finish the good work He has begun in us. As His hands mark our lives, so will it mark our relationships. It is a process – we must let God do His good work. Things will not always be the same in Him.

God Can Create A New Relationship With the Same People

But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland  – Isaiah 43:18-19

While people say “well if I tell you what happened”, God says “well if I tell you what I am about to make happen”. See if we knew the future God has planned for us, the past would not discourage us. Our plans compared to God’s plans are rubbish. It’s time to surrender our plans over to Him so He can create rivers of life giving water to sustain the relationships that have become dry wastelands

God Brings To Pass What We Commit To Him

That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of His return – 2 Timothy 1:12

Though you may feel you are suffering and serving a prison term in your relationship right now, understand that He is able to guard everything you entrust to Him. So entrust your relationship to Him and watch as He keeps it and guards it. With God as the guard, no enemy can penetrate. So let go of it and release it into His hands for safeguard. You will not regret it.

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What Does It Mean To “Work Out Your Salvation”?

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure – Philippians 2:12-13

The first time I ran across these verses, I scratched my head for I found them both contradictory and confusing.

Contradictory because it seemed to go against everything I knew about salvation. “I thought salvation was a free gift, so what is this verse talking about“, I murmured to myself.

Confusing because it seemed to suggest at first that we are working, and then it goes on to suggest that God is working. “Who is working here“, I pondered. “Is it me, Is it God, Is it both?“.

As I sought out an explanation from others, I quickly came to understand that this is a passage that divides the church into doctrinal factions. Moreover, depending on the faction, these verses are either used as pillars, wholly ignored, or only spoken about in private.

If like me you are a little bamboozled by this passage, I hope the next few abbreviated sections helps to shed some light. If it only persists in confusing you further, I apologize in advance.

Quick context: First, Paul wrote the his letter to the body of believers in Philippi (not unbelievers) as a thank you and encouraging letter. Second, these two verses complete a passage where Paul speaks about us having the mind of Christ – mind of humility and obedience – which ultimately led to Jesus’ name being exalted (read verses 5-11

What It Means To Work

There are multiple words for the word work in Greek. The Greek word translated as work in the line that says “work out your own salvation” is NOT the Greek word for toil and labor. The word work here means to cause or to effect (as in a change). In other words, it means to trigger.

The Greek word translated as works in the line that says “it is God who works in you” is the Greek word that means active.

So we see that it our job to trigger, and it is His job to be active in us.

What Own Salvation Means

Context reminder: This is written to a body of believers as encouragement and thank you.

No matter how you view Philippians 2:12-13, it is safe to say that all believers have triggered salvation by choosing to put their faith in Jesus Christ. This being the case, the question that lingers is this: What is Apostle Paul talking about when  he speaks of triggering (working out) our own salvation.

Context reminder: The preceding versus speak to Jesus the man having the mind of humility and obedience.

The word salvation simply means safety or to be delivered.

We (believers) have been delivered from the penalty of sin (God’s mercy), we presently have been given the ability to be delivered from the power of sin (God’s grace), and we will be taken away from the presence of sin (God’s final victory).

By this we see that salvation is three-fold – encompassing the past, present, and future. All of it is done out of the Father’s love and accomplished by Him through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Indeed, a triune God accomplishes a triune salvation where our spirit is saved (past), our soul is being saved (present), and our body will be saved (future).

Our soul consists of our mind, will, and emotion. It will either conform to this world, thereby causing us or triggering us (working) to experience hell on earth in the kingdom of this world, or it will be conformed to the guidance of the Spirit of God, thereby causing us to experience heaven on earth in the kingdom of God. The choice is ours – choose a hellish life outside of the influence of the Spirit of God or choose a heavenly life inside of the influence of the Spirit of God.

While on earth, Jesus triggered the Kingdom of God to be manifested by having a mind set on humility and obedience. By so doing, God was active (worked) in Him to will and to do His good pleasure (compare this to Philippians 2:12-13). The pleasure of God was for Jesus to be the solution to people’s spiritual, psychological, and physical ailments, as detailed in miracle after miracle. Awesome!!!

Therefore, we see that these verses are an encouragement and admonition for us all – like Jesus – to trigger (work) our own deliverance (own salvation) from the kingdom of this world and to be delivered into the kingdom of God (which Jesus said was at hand and made available to us) by having a mind set on humility and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Moreover, we see that Philippians 2:12-13 is speaking of our present salvation while on earth from the craziness sin will cause in our lives if we do not bend our mind, will, emotions to humility and obedience to the Spirit of God.

Why is it we have to do it? It is because Jesus the man is gone from the earth. He has already made the Kingdom available to us. Just as He won’t force us to accept Him, He won’t force us to live in the Kingdom He has already made available to us.

What Fear and Trembling Means

Looking up the original meaning of Greek word translated as fear in the passage reveals two words. One translates as possession or hold, while the other translates as awe or reverence. Hence the part that says “with fear” translates into with a possession of reverence or holding onto awe.  

Now if the question is awe of what? The answer is awe of what God has made available for such a man who operates in humility and obedience. Nothing should awe us more than what God did for His Son when He lived a life of unmatchable humility and obedience (see Philippians 2:8 -11)

The word trembling translates into quaking with dread. If the question is the dread of what? The answer is dread of missing out on the life that God paid for through the sacrifice of His Son. Is that encouraging?

Summary

God desires that we trigger a life of living in His kingdom (which has been delivered to us) by establishing a mindset of humility and obedience through taking a hold of the awe of what God has in store for us and a dread of missing out on it.

In the kingdom of God abides love, joy, peace, self-control, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, patience and more regardless of our circumstance. Why would we not trigger that? I hope you agree that indeed good for us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling

 

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God I am Serving You, So Why Does Life Feel Like a War Zone?

A few days ago, I woke up to a text from a friend that read, I am serving God faithfully, so why does it feel like my life is under attack. I texted back, Perhaps you are being attacked precisely because you are serving God faithfully. I then shared the passage of scripture found in 2 Chronicles 32:1 which speaks to how Hezekiah, the king of Judah, was attacked by an enemy right after showing himself faithful to God.

As wonderful as it would be for life to become filled with fluffy bunnies and fanciful unicorns the moment we decide to serve God, this is not the reality of living in a fallen world (see Note A below). Conversely, Jesus says that in this world, we will have trials and tribulation but that we should cheer up for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Another biblical verse tells us to count it all joy when we fall into trial and tribulations (James 1:2).

Cheer up? Count it all joy? How can God say to do these things that contradict our situation? What He asks us to do is only possible when we defer to what we KNOW is ahead of us versus what we SEE happening in front of us.

Knowing that Jesus has overcome the world allows us to put our faith in Him. Knowing that we inherit the promises of God by faith and patience (Hebrews 6:12) allows us to endure trials for we understand that the testing of our faith produces patience (James 1:3).

So we see that there is a promise at the end of the problem if we endure faithfully and patiently. See, anyone living in this world will experience problems. The good news for us in Christ is that we know that nothing we go through is wasted, but those things carry with them a promise. While the world can only look forward to surviving a problem, we can look forward to a blessing that comes from the problem. Now isn’t that a reason to cheer up?

So we see why Satan attacks those who have chosen to serve God faithfully. He does not want us to inherit the blessed promise. Moreover, he does not want our faith and patience in trials and tribulation to be a testament to those around us so they are blessed.

Below are three times in our lives when we should not be surprised we are under attack – it speaks to how to recognize the attack, what the attack entails, and what to do.

(1) When Satan Discovers Your Purpose

The bible tells of King Herod who ruled when Jesus was born. Being influenced by Satan, and not wanting Jesus to take his rightful place as king, he decreed that every male child 2 years old and under should be killed. So we see that when Satan realized Jesus’ purpose, his immediate goal is was to deny Him the opportunity to choose it.

You don’t have to know your purpose before Satan starts to plot against you to deny you the opportunity to step into it. The tactic of denial works like this: It keeps doors shut, puts up road blocks, and distracts to keep you from your purpose.

The good news is that if we keep the faith and persevere, we have a promise. He opens doors that no one shuts and shuts doors that no one opens (see Revelations 3:7). That is to say that there are doors that will open up and will remain open.  We just need to choose to step into it.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine could not buy a job if she wanted to pay for it. Upon persevering, her problem changed from not being able to find a job to deciding which job opportunity she should choose. So keep heart!!

(2) When You Are About to Step Into Your Purpose

The bible tells us that Satan showed up right before He stepped out into His ministry after fasting 40-days and nights. In this vulnerable state, Satan attacked Jesus with doubt of who He was, deception as to the will of God, and detour from His purpose in hopes Jesus would take the easier route.

Right before taking a big step in life, do not be surprised if you are filled with seeds of doubt (about yourself and what you are doing) and have all sorts of voice telling you that you are not in the will of God, especially if you are going against the grain of populism or stepping out of your comfort zone.

If Satan can’t use others to influence us in this way, he will always give us an easier option that seems to accomplish the same goal.

If this is where you are, respond like Jesus. Respond with what you know God has told and promised you specifically and avoid the ‘maybe God wants you to’ statements that others will offer. Note that Satan’s retort to quote scripture to Jesus during the temptation in the wilderness was a ‘maybe God wants you to’ tactic. Instead of guessing the will of God, know the will of God.

God is not a man that he should like or like man that He should change his mind (Numbers 23:19). Keep the faith.

(3) When You Are About to Fulfill Your Purpose

The Bible tells us that Jesus’ heart was exceedingly sorrowful right before He entered the very last leg of fulfilling His purpose. In other words, Jesus was filled with despair.

Don’t be surprised if you have bouts with despair and seem to have lost joy though you know you are in the perfect will of God for your life. At this point, Satan would like you to believe that God has deserted you and that the whole thing rests on your shoulders.

Instead of listening to the sounds of your emotional and mental state, the best thing to do is go into your prayer closet. Don’t come out until like Jesus, you start to feel strengthened again from deep within your spirit. Then do not delay, go quickly to fulfill that which God has called you to do.

When you do, you will find that you trial and tribulation was all worth it. Just as God’s promises for Jesus proved true, His promises to us will prove true as well. And it will be for the glory of the kingdom of God. This is when mourning will be turned to dancing, pain to joy.

So what do you do when life feels like you are jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire? Hold fast the promises of God for your life, keep the faith and know that God is for you and has not left your side, and defeat the attacks with all the weapons of your warfare (Ephesians 6:11-18).


Note A: Living in a fallen means (a) we don’t have to look for trouble before it finds us (b) we experience the justice of God – we reap what we sow, more than we sow, and later than we sow – in other words what we do matters (c) we have a flesh problem – the flesh is an open door for Satan to wreck havoc in our lives (d) we have an enemy who can’t wait to stick it us any chance he gets

 

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