Category Archives: Growth

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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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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3 Things You Must Do to Hear God More

Do you have a desire to hear God more often and on all issues that relates to your life? If so, there are 3 things you must do; these 3 things are embedded within the scripture below.

Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid – Proverbs 12:1

  

(1) Study God’s Word: Another way to say ‘whoever loves instruction loves knowledge’ is to say that knowledge is the pre-requisite to instruction. Put another way, if we want to be instructed by the Holy Spirit (hear from the Holy Spirit), then we first need to have knowledge of the words of the Holy Spirit which have already been given to us in written form (see 2 Timothy 3:16).

All Scripture is God-breathed (inspired by the Holy Spirit) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness – 2 Timothy 3:16

If we do not know what the Holy Spirit has already written down, then we will not be cognizant of what He is telling us. In other words, the pre-requisite to hearing the spoken or revealed word of God (Rhema) is to first know the written word (Logos). Indeed, theology (the study of God which leads to knowledge about God) is a must if we are to have a strong fellowship (of which instruction is a part) with God.

Note that theology is not a pre-requisite to having a relationship with God but it is required to build a relationship (have fellowship) with God. To have a covenant relationship with God (Salvation) only requires that we have an encounter with God. To explain further, consider Apostle Paul: His encounter with God on the way to Damascus lead to his conversion (salvation), but instruction and direction only came as he walked closely with God (as he fellowshipped or built a relationship with God).

Now, it must be said that the study of God’s word does NOT automatically translate into instruction from God. Consider the Pharisees who were extremely knowledgeable in the word of God and could quote the law backwards and forwards, yet did not hear from God (as they were not instructed by Him). Why did they not hear God though they were theological juggernauts? It is because of they hated correction (see the other half of Proverbs 12:1).

See, the instruction of God corrects us (our ways, our path, our steps). Thus to hate correction is to despise the instruction of God. Two things that causes us to hate correction and so not hear the voice of God are pride and hurt.

(2) Get Rid of Pride: Pride says ‘I got this’, ‘I don’t need any help’, ‘I am smarter than everyone else’, ‘It’s my way or the highway’. Moreover, pride says to God, ‘I know you know all sorts of things but I know better than You in this situation’.

If we consider what pride says to God, a question that should pop into our heads is this: Why would anyone say to an all-knowing God that He does not know what is best, right, and what will work in any situation?

The answer to that question is a lack of trust. Pride appears where there is no trust. A place devoid of trust is a place of insecurity. A place where we do not feel secure is a place where we feel the need to exercise control. A place where we feel the need to exercise control to protect ourselves is a place where fear exists.

By this, we see that fear and insecurities lead to pride. Pride in turn causes us to reject the correction of the Holy Spirit, and thereby leads us to make unwise decisions. In other words, if we do not trust God in an area of our life, then we are less inclined to listen to God in that area of our life.

(3) Submit Your Wounds to God: One thing that people who get badly hurt in life tend to do without realizing it is make a vow NEVER to get badly hurt again. While this sometimes unknown vow has the appearance of protecting us, what it actually does is lock our subconscious mind in the room where the hurt sleeps and then throws away the key! What this means is that it is no longer us that controls our relationships on a subconscious level, but our hurt.

Our hurt reminds us to NEVER put ourselves in any position to be wounded again. Our hurt tells us to ‘trust no one’, ‘keep people at an arms length’, always follow your gut (which is not a bad thing normally except that now your gut has been held hostage by fear and hurt), ‘do not open the door of your heart to anyone’, ‘you know what is best for you (instead of God knows what is best for you)’. In other words, deeply hurt people have a need to be right.

Deeply wounded people attach their worth to being right because being wrong (about a person or situation) is associated with unbearable and overwhelming pain. The problem with this is that a person who HAS to be right cannot bear to be corrected, for any such correction is a direct assault on their worth. Moreover, to accept that someone else may be right is to open themselves up to potential hurt (even if God is speaking through that someone). Thus, a wounded person in any situation or relationship has a tendency to fixate on what’s wrong – this is a defensive/protective mechanism.

While we understand why the hurting person cannot stand to be corrected (something they see as manipulation), this does no good since each and every one of us NEED to be corrected, for no one is perfect and no one knows it all. By refusing to accept correction, the wounded person makes mistakes with people (for they cannot truly relate to them); the mistakes make the hurt and wound bigger; the bigger hurts shuts the person in more, and the ‘has to be right’ cycle repeats. It is this need to be right that causes the wounded person to listen less and less to the voice of God, and by so doing experience even more hurt. What a tragedy!

Conclusion: If you see yourself in the above, then your homework is to find and mediate on scriptures that deal with (1) how much God loves you, and  (2) your identity in Christ. This will allow you to surrender your pride and hurt to the one who loves you and will never hurt you. If you would like to know more about dealing with fear, you can check out my book Love Deficit.

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What is Holding You Back?

indexFear dreams of and creates non-existing monsters and obstacles that play the role of stopping us from attaining that which we desire the most. Moreover, it creates an ally called pride that justifies, cheers on, and encourages every action that fear takes. Hence, fear creates pride, and pride is a promoter of fear. Love on the other hand creates a bridge that towers over the danger that fear puts in our way and offers safe passage to our land of promise. Moreover, it gives birth to humility, the engine that provides the horsepower for continued progress along the highway of love.

The good news is that love is stronger than fear and humility is more powerful than pride. So how is that we can defeat fear and pride? Practically, the answer is to simply walk in love and humility – do not try to fight fear and pride for they are crafty and fierce foes.

Do you spend more time hiding from yourself and justifying who fear has made you become or do you spend more time improving yourself by conquering fear with love. It can be a frightful thing taking a look at who you truly are in the mirror. In fact, of all the people that we may lie to, we tend to lie to ourselves the most. Fear is a lie and love is the truth. Every moment we continue to in fear is a moment we continue in a lie – for the monsters that fear projects are merely illusions. So how do we get rid of this lie? The answer is to simply believe in the truth?

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life – John 14:6

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. To believe in the truth is to believe in Jesus. To believe in Jesus is to believe in who He is and to believe in everything he says about you through the scripture. When you begin to consider for starters that you have been made right with God, you are the son or daughter of the most high and powerful God, nothing can separate you from the love of God,  you are seated with Jesus in heavenly places, you are above and not beneath…you will begin to look at fear not as a juggernaut to fear but an enemy to trample over.

Jesus is the answer to every thing that holds us back.

If you have no clue what that means. It means that all the answers you are looking for are available in Him and through Him. Do not spend your time searching for that which is already available to your through Jesus. To get a hold of it only requires that you humble yourself and surrender to Him.

So how can we rid ourselves of fear and pride? The answer is to call on the name of Jesus Christ. The Psalmist makes mention of this when he says: I sought the LORD and He heard me, and delivered me from all of my fears – Psalm 34:4 

So I implore you to seek the Lord today and allow Him to deliver you out of your fears. You don’t have to keep fighting a battle that has already been won.

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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!’ I heard it for the first time in 2002 from an older lady in college. See, I worked as a math tutor and she was a non-traditional student taking college courses after work. One afternoon, she came in wearing a sad countenance. Halfway into our session it became clear that her mind was elsewhere so I asked her if everything was alright. At this she apologized and told me she was thinking about her 9-year old son – how it hurt her that he was growing up without his father. She told me how she went from being a stay-at-home mom to having to go back to work, and is now taking college classes so she could get a better job and build a better future for her and her son. After she finished giving me a few more details about her divorce she said finished with, “my mom always says when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.

Friends, this phrase has become more prevalent in my thinking the last couple of weeks. Indeed, life has handed me some lemons lately. Yesterday, as I pondered the phrase, the Holy Spirit quickened me and used it to teach me 7 life lessons

Lesson 1: When 

It is not a matter of if lemons (troubles) will show up, it is a matter of when they show up. Lemons in life are inevitable. Instead of hoping that lemons never show up in our lives, we are better served to prepare for those lemons. Prior preparation allows us to respond in love rather than react in fearfulness when trouble does come. This is where we want to be.

Consider that the prince and princess that rode off on a shiny white horse into the sunset in the fairy tale did not ride forever. The horse got tired and they had to get off the horse at some point – even if it was just for a bathroom break. So don’t dread the lemon, prepare for it. Whatever you are prepared to deal with is less daunting when it comes to pass. Moreover, be careful not to break off a fairy tale just because a lemon shows up in it.

In this life you will have trials and tribulations, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world – Jesus Christ

Lesson 2: Life

Lemons come from life. Most of the lemons we encounter in life come from our own or other people choices and decisions. Some lemons do come from what mother nature dishes out (i.e. natural disasters) but these are in the minority.

No matter where your lemon comes from, know that it does NOT come from God. God does not give lemons, God takes away or redeems lemons. Settle that in your spirit right now.

No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone – James (brother of Jesus)

Lesson 3: Gives

While it is true that life will give us lemons, it is not true that we have to keep possession of it. For example, unless you are a farmer, if given a pile of dung, are you likely to keep it? No, you are likely to throw is away or sell it. Even if you are a farmer, you are unlikely to keep the dung in your house but you will put it to good use. The same goes with a lemon of a car. You will not keep such a car but get rid of it.

Similarly, we should not keep possession of every lemon that comes our way – especially the rotten ones that serve no useful purpose. If your old friends have become lemons in your life, find new ones. If your hobby is killing you, find a new one. If the demands of your job is causing a major rift in your marriage, it’s a lemon, do something about it.

There are somethings given to us to posses, then there are others things given to us to transfer. God does not want us to merely take possession of lemons but wants us to do something with them. Ask Him what he wants you to do with the lemon you have. Is He calling you to take possession of the lemon or throw it away?

 Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess – God the Father

Lesson 4: You

The lemons we have are trouble enough. We should not take possession of other people’s lemons.

Consider Joyce Meyer’s story: She is always very clear about the lemons that she had in her life – lemons she carried with her as a result of an abusive father and a cheating husband. Yet she is equally clear that Dave Meyer did not take possession of her lemons but stayed content while she wallowed for a while in self-pity.

In other words, we should not expect anyone else to take possession of our lemons and we should not try to give others our lemons

Furthermore, while playing the blame game makes us feel good, it does nothing to rid us of our lemons.

Cast your cares and anxiety on the Lord for He cares for you – Peter

Lesson 5: Lemons

Do not deny that the lemons in your life exists and do not meditate on them. Just as ignoring the lemons in your life will do nothing to give you rest, meditating on your lemons will do nothing but give your lemons power over you. Accept that the lemons exist but also accept that there is a God greater than your lemons. Lemons are simply opportunities for God to show off in your life when you give them to him.

We walk by faith (trusting and believing in God) and not by what we see – Paul   

Lesson 6: Make

The first thing we tend to do when we receive a lemon is to pray to God to take it away. Then if God does not take it away, we may blame God for not taking it away or we blame ourselves for either being too sinful or not having enough faith to get rid of it. Friend, if God does not take away the lemon, it is because he wants you to do something with it. If all lemons were simply taken away then we would not have lemon meringue pie or lemonade would we?

When life gives you lemon as an ingredient, do not get mad. Ask God what he wants to create from the lemon and get moving.

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours

Lesson 7: Lemonade 

To make lemonade out of lemons requires three things: (1) squeezing the lemon juice out (2) diluting the lemon with water (3) stirring in sugar or honey.

To squeeze the lemon means to sift out the life lesson the lemon is there to teach us. For me, after cutting one of my biggest lemons, I found out that fear and pride was the juice hiding within the cleverly packaged exterior of security and independence. If I had been afraid to squeeze the juice out, I would have missed out on growing.

To dilute the lemon juice is to attack the problem area with the word of God. For example, if the lemon juice is sickness, it is time to focus on healing scriptures. If it is pride, the book of Daniel may be a good place to start. As we read the word of God on purpose we realize that juice is not as bitter as we once thought as we understand there is a solution. Magically the juice becomes more palatable

To stir in honey is to start moving in accordance to the will of God. As we do that, what was meant to bring a bitter taste in our lives starts to taste sweet.

So friends, let us commit to turn a few drops of bitter and tart juice into a cup of delicious and enjoyable lemonade.

When life gives you bitter lemons,  do not worry, but turn to God and He will help you make sweet lemonade out of it – Emmanuel  

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10 Surefire Ways to Get Yourself Depressed – Part III

Living in Disguise, having a sense of Entitlement, being Prideful and Rebellious, Envious, Selfish, Stubborn, Insolent, taking too much ownership, and Narcissism are character traits that spell D.E.P.R.E.S.S.I.O.N. These traits lead to depression because they destroy relationships and tend to rob us of our need to be loved and accepted.

(9) OWNERSHIP: Taking ownership is usually a positive trait as it usually means we are taking responsibility for our lives. Yet this positive trait can lead to unintended negative consequences when we take ownership for those things that we have no business owning. Taking ownership of something we cannot reverse such as past mistakes is a losing battle since we cannot go back in time to fix them. It only leads to frustration and the propensity not to forgive ourselves.

The craziest things about taking ownership of your past sins is this: You are taking ownership of that which no longer exists. In Christ, your past sins have not simply being covered, they have been remitted. Another word for remitted is dispatched.

See, one of the many wonderful things about having a relationship with Jesus is that he has taken ownership for our sins. Every sin you have every committed or could ever commit has been placed on him. So please, do not take ownership of something that you no longer own. And please don’t mistake the consequences of your sin with having ownership of it.

All of us have to take ownership of the worldly consequence of our sins but the sins is no longer something that the Lord imputes to us. All sin is imputed onto Jesus once we accept Him in our lives

 

(10) NARCISSISM: Are you hypersensitive to less than glowing feedback? Do you tend to blame everyone else for your failures? Are you always looking to take credit for everything good around you. Does it always have to be your way or the highway? Is it all about how you feel and how it affects you? Do you lack empathy for the plight of others? If you answered yes to these questions, then you have some of the character traits of a narcissist.

If you have the traits of a narcissist, then your key words  are ‘let go and let God’.

Submitting ALL of your pain, your past, your hurts to God is the only way the fears, insecurities and trauma that leads you to want to control everything will ever be eradicated. Instead of comparing yourself to other people, a simple comparison of yourself to the holiness of God will lead to surrender. If you do not know what is in your heart that you need to submit to God, just ask the one’s that know you the most. Ask for their brutal honesty and listen with an open mind and heart.

Remember that the wounds of a friend are faithful but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Proverbs 27:6). I don’t know about you but I would rather be wounded now and heal than be trapped in the cage of self-deceit.

Acknowledging (confessing) that there is a problem is the first step to solving it. When you confess your faults instead of trying to defend them (and so deceiving yourself), you leave room for God to do His best work in your life.

Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the Lord, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you – Hosea 10:12

It is time to break up the fallow ground of our hearts so we can enjoy the best God has for us.

 

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Comfirmation is good, but never become a junkie

Today, many people seeks signs to confirm what God has told them. It is not uncommon to hear ‘I need a confirmation from the Lord’ or “I will go for prophesy to confirm what the Lord has told me’. I find this quite interesting and ponder-worthy. Have you ever asked yourself why we would need to confirm what the Lord has spoken to us? The two reasons I can think of are these: (1) We do not really know if the Lord has spoken to us (2) We doubt what the Lord has spoken to us.

Babies R Us

That we do not know if the Lord has spoken to us  reveals that we are still babes in Christ. All of us have to go through this stage in our walk with the Lord. As babes, we lack in-depth knowledge and understanding of the word, therefore our level of discernment is low. Note: The correlation between knowledge of the word of God and discernment can be found in Hebrews 4:12.

As babes, it is easy for the devil to take passages of scripture out of context and try to pass it off as truth. Remember how Satan tried to fool Jesus in the wilderness by quoting scripture out of the context? This is why we need confirmation at this stage!

There is nothing wrong with admitting that you are babe in Christ. Even the great Prophet Samuel started off as a babe in Christ. He did not know that God was calling out to him at night, so He kept on going to Eli. After the third time, Eli realized that it was God calling out to Samuel and so told Samuel to answer (1 Samuel 3:1-10). In essence, Eli confirmed to Samuel that it was the Lord.

It is okay to be a confirmation junkie in the baby stage of our walk with God

But what if Samuel did not grow to know the Lord and know His voice? What if He always needed someone else to confirm the word of God? He wouldn’t have been chosen to be the next great Prophet, for he would have led the people astray. In other words, He would have missed out on fulfilling his calling.

Think about this: What if Moses waited for confirmation and so never moved to mark the door posts for protection before the Angel of death descended down into Egypt? That would have been the end of the story of Israel!

Jesus says that my sheep know my voice. Do you know the voice of Jesus or do you think you know it?  In truth, we cannot follow Jesus closely if we do not know His voice. This is why babes in Christ tend to stray. To remain a confirmation junkie is to remain a babe in Christ!

The reason only a few are chosen out of a great multitude that are called is because too many of us choose to remain babes!

‘Sign’ Me Up

There is no doubt in my mind that doubt has caused too many of us to spend hours in prayer in search of confirmation instead of actually doing what God has called us to do. As we do this, the blessing that the Lord wished to bestow upon us walks right by as we keep our heads buried in our pillows. Then we turn around and wonder why it is that we miss out on God’s blessings. For example, we say to God, ‘that guy that you told me was my husband, how come he married someone else?’. The answer may very well be that you never said a word to him as God commanded you!

Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here. It is always a great idea to pray when in doubt. But the whole point of praying when in doubt is to receive the guidance of the Lord. Once we have received the guidance of the Lord, the next step is to obey the Lord. In the context of which I am speaking, doubt causes us to pray for confirmation instead of simply believing God and moving on with what He wants us to do. Like Gideon, we look for a sign before we make a move.

Gideon was a babe and so needed confirmation –  and so it was granted. Once we move from being babes, any sign seeking reveals unbelief! 

The Pharisees were no babes in having knowledge of the word of God, yet they sought a sign time and again. Here is what Jesus thought of their sign seeking ways:

 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah – Matthew 12:38-39

Ouch! Jesus called then evil and adulterous! He called them this because their asking for confirmation showed that they were filled with doubt and unbelief. Doubt and unbelief is the opposite of trust and faith. Doubt and unbelief is the result of hardening our heart to the truth; it is the result of tolerating fear; fear toleration is from the evil one. Moreover, Satan is also very good at signs and wonders! Hence, it is easy to be led astray if we are looking for signs.

Many of us seek confirmation through prophetic words because we secretly doubt our ability to hear from God or doubt what the Lord has spoken to us. So we would rather base our life on what someone has prophesied – at times still not realizing we have to take action. Instead of hearing from God, we want to hear from God through a 3rd party, and we want that word to be a word of exaltation! Hmm, I suppose we would not like Prophet Jeremiah too much if he was here today!

The best type of prophesy is confirmation of what God has spoken to you; not instruction of what God wants you to do!

Food for Thought: If all prophesy is instruction to me, then it is a ‘sign’ that my walk with the Lord is weak! If I do not hear from God, it is confirmation that I am a babe in Christ.

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The Person God Allows You to Throw into the Sea

Your life is a ship! You are not the owner of your ship – for the owner decides the destination – you are the captain. As the captain, you decide which route to take on your way to your set destination. Though you may not have had a say concerning who boarded the ship, once on the ship, you have the authority to decide who stays on the ship and who to cast off at every port on the way to your destination.

As captains, there are some people that we need to cast of our ship! In fact, God clues us into whom we can cast of our ship in the story of Jonah. God gives us permission to cast off those that are willfully and deliberately walking in disobedience and out of the will of God. Before you click away in anger, consider this:  God allows us to throw people overboard for our own good as well as for the good of the person who is stubbornly and willfully walking in disobedience. Remember that in the story of Jonah, Jonah did not perish in the sea but was rescued by a whale. Likewise the traders did not perish due to Jonah’s disobedience. Instead, their lives and livelihood were preserved.

Here are 2 good reasons to get rid of willfully disobedient people in your life

You save yourself from unnecessary trouble

But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up – Jonah 1:3-4

The tempest or trouble that the traders experienced was because of the presence of Jonah on the ship. Similarly, trouble and unnecessary heartache is the result of having willfully disobedient people in your life, the end of which is a broken up life.

Reevaluate the company you are keeping if your life is less of cruise and more like a roller-coaster

You keep the fruit of your hard work

Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep – Jonah 1:5

The traders on the ship had to throw off the cargo they had accumulated to survive. They had no clue that the cargo weighing them down was Jonah.

Let no one fool you, disobedience is costly. Disobedience will always drain your resources on its way to claiming your life. Many parents know too well the cost of living with willfully disobedient children. It is mentally and spiritually draining and puts undue stress on marriage. Although extremely difficult, be brave to throw the person at the mercy of Jesus rather than allow the person to cause you to perish. Why allow you and the person you are protecting to perish when both you and the person can be delivered?

It is also interesting that Jonah was sleeping during the storm. He knew he was the cause of the storm and so he did not want to call out to God. Instead of helping out or taking responsibility, all he did was go to a quiet corner out of the way and fall asleep! Thankfully, the captain had the good judgement to wake him up and challenge him to do something!

Do not be surprised if the person causing the ruckus in your life is at peace while you are stressing out. As captains of our lives, we must tell the willfully disobedient person in our life to shape up or ship out.

So there it is! It is okay to throw the willfully disobedient person off the ship of your life (after much prayer and deliberation) just like the traders did with Jonah. God loves the person you have thrown overboard and will provide a whale to save them. Stop trying to play God in the person’s life and save them…remember that you cannot not even save yourself. We all need the help of God.

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Meekness – The Secret to Inheriting the Earth (Part I)

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” – Matthew 5:5

Unless God is lying, meekness is the secret to inheriting the earth. Therefore, the root cause behind our inability to inherit honor and the richness of life on this earth boils down to the lack of meekness. I can say this confidently because this is what the bible teaches. Since God is not a man that he should lie (Numbers 23:19), we can only conclude that the reason our meekness today is not yielding the result we want in life is because what we think is meekness is not meekness at all.

We cannot inherit the earth if we have an erroneous understanding of what it means to be meek

For example, there was a time I thought “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” meant that taking hold of heaven required that I had to be weak, listless, and fatalistically surrendered to whatever life threw at me. I thought it was God’s will for me to be a victim in life. I carried on thinking ‘poor old me, Jesus just wants me to suffer in life for Him‘ until I came to the realization that our faith has made us victorious in life (see 1 John 5:4). This does not mean that we will not experience suffering, trial, and tribulation in life. What it means is that we have been granted the power to overcome any trial and tribulation the world can throw at us (see John 16:33).

Popular View of Meekness

A quick search for the meaning of meekness in the dictionary reveals words such as ‘overly submissive’ and ‘humble’. The online dictionary further describes a humble person as someone who has a modest opinion of themselves.

A survey that asked people what it meant to be meek or humble revealed statements such as: Someone who does not highlight his/her achievements, a person who is submissive to others; a person who has a modest opinion of themselves, and who is weak compared to others. In other words, the survey revealed that a person is seen as humble if the individual downplays their achievement, is seen as vulnerable, and is borderline apologetic about who they are or have become to others.

In essence, meekness has become a label that is now applied based on how people view people instead of how God views people.

The issue with this is that the view of man is often tainted with feelings of jealousy, fear, insecurity, and inadequacy. Conversely, the view of God is always right, just, honest, and pure. In other words, the assessment of a meek person can never be based on our assessment but on God’s assessment. So, the question to be answered now is this: how do we know who is truly meek or humble?

       I.       True Meekness

That the measure of meekness should not be based on man’s opinion is nowhere better highlighted than in Numbers 12:3. Here, Moses writes of himself that he is the meekest man living on the face of the earth (see Numbers 12:3). Since Moses did not know every single man that lived on the face of the earth at that point, to us this statement certainly seems misguided at best and prideful at worst. Today, most people would regard Moses as being ‘full of himself’.

But when we realize that all the words that Moses wrote were inspired of the Holy Spirit (see 2 Timothy 3:16), then we see that Moses simply wrote under the guidance and dictate of the Holy Spirit. Hence, it was not Moses that wrote Numbers 12:3 about himself but it was the Holy Spirit that wrote it about him. Moses was just the vessel for the Holy Spirit’s penmanship.

In fact, what Moses wrote under the guidance of the Holy Spirit took great humility. He had to completely forget about his feelings concerning what he was being told to write but chose to completely submit himself to the leading of the Holy Spirit. In writing Numbers 12:3, he decided to let go of his opinions and bow to the opinion of God. So, we see that Moses was ‘overly submissive’ to the Holy Spirit and had a ‘modest opinion’ of his own feelings about the words he was writing. Moses must have said to himself ‘well, if You say I am the meekest man alive, I chose to submit to that assessment no matter how I may feel about that’.

For Moses not to have written what the Holy Spirit told him because of what others would have felt about it would have revealed pride. It is pride in the sense that he would have been saying to God, ‘I think what You are asking me to write is wrong and that people will not receive it as You intended. I know better than You God and so I will just leave this portion out’. In truth, the only reason Moses would have left out Numbers 12:3 is if he was thinking about himself and about how others viewed him; he would have left it out in selfishness and in pride!

What Moses wrote in Numbers 12:3 reveal to us that true meekness requires that we completely surrender ourselves to God’s word and that we totally submit ourselves to the leadership of the Holy Spirit; that we die to our own thoughts, feelings, and opinions.

Hence, it is true meekness to believe and agree with God by saying ‘I can do all things through Christ’ instead of saying ‘I just do not have the ability’. While the first statement is aligned with the truth of word of God, the latter is aligned with the doubt that comes from taking our eyes off the ability of God and instead placing it on our own ability. While the first is a statement rooted in faith, the latter is a statement rooted in unbelief.

In other words, meekness or humility is the key that allows us to walk in the faith that gives us access to grace (Ephesians 2:8 tells us that grace comes through faith). Indeed, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (see James 4:6).

Pride is the end of paying close attention to man’s thoughts, opinions, and ways but humility is the end of paying close attention to God’s words, opinion, and ways.

Food for Thought: True meekness is what enables us walk in the power (grace) of God onto inheriting the earth.

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How to stay in the will of God for your life when struggling

If we are honest with ourselves, following the instruction of God and staying in the will of God for our lives can be very difficult. If this is you, then do not worry – you are not alone. Even Jesus had the most difficult time staying in the will of God for His life.

The thought of having to endure all that pain, suffering, and being separated from God left Jesus sorrowful and deeply distressed (Matthew 26:37). Here is how Jesus put it Himself: “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” – Matthew 26:38

Talk about dreading what you know is the will of God for your life. But instead of giving up and saying ‘I can’t do this, it is just too difficult…I give up’, Jesus took another route.

If you are finding it difficult to stay in the will of God for your life or you are dreading what God is asking of you, try doing the following things that Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane. If it worked for Jesus, it will work for you!

Do Not Deny Your Struggle

We see that Jesus did not keep the fact that he was deeply distressed to himself but told his disciples. Although He was their Lord, he did not worry about what they would think about him if he showed weakness. The lesson is that we should not fool ourselves if we are struggling to keep in the will of God. Furthermore, we should not be too prideful to tell other people that we are struggling.

See, Satan loves to convince us that we are the only one’s struggling. That way, he can murmur all sort of lies into our heads that lead us down the path of loss of transparency with our loved ones. Since there is no true fellowship without transparency, we see that what he is trying to do is isolate us. Just like the lion who tries to isolate the gazelle from the rest of the pack, he wants to isolate us so he can mess up our lives. Do not let him!

Light-bulb moment: Admitting you have struggles is the first step towards opening the door of opportunity to getting them fixed.

Ask Mature People for Help

Jesus not only admitted his struggle but called His top disciples (Peter, James, and John) to help him battle the sorrow that he was experiencing (see Matthew 26:36 -38). It is important to note here that He did not tell every disciple but only the ones that were mature enough to handle what he had to say. Just think about the kind of ‘help’ Judas would have offered?

So, who are the ‘prayer warriors’ that you need to ask for help today? Is there a very wise person that you should call to help your through your situation? If you can think of no one, it is time to develop those relationships and keep those people close to you. If Jesus needed help, so will you!

Light-bulb moment: Saying ‘I need help’ is a sign of maturity.

Shut the door to distractions

In dealing with His struggle, Jesus tells his disciples to stay while he went a little farther (see Matthew 26:39). See, Jesus did not need any distractions but decided to go a place that was quiet so He could do battle with the anxiety that was attempting to overtake Him. Moreover, I believe He did not want His disciples to be distracted by Him either. He wanted to give them time and solitude to seek the Lord without worrying about whether He was okay physically – for Jesus was sweating profusely!

This tells us that we must give the people that know our struggles time to seek the Lord on our behalf so that their solution is from God and not their own opinions or life experiences. Furthermore, we have to be willing to shut the door to whatever may be a source of distraction to tackle our fears, doubts and whatever else is trying to cause us to falter.

Light-bulb moment: You open the door of clear communication with God when you shut the door to your distractions.

Be persistent in Prayer

The last thing that Jesus did was pray. He not only prayed once but prayed three times! If the Son of God needs to pray multiple times before experiencing victory in His mind, then who are we to give up just because we do not see the result immediately.

If Elijah had to pray seven times to see the rain, then we need to be persistent in prayer if we want to experience the goodness of God in our lives. Prayer will not only bring you peace (see Philippians 4:6-7) but it will also bring you a solution (James 5:16). Prayer magnifies who God is and keeps you calm in the storm.

Remember, He who has promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23)

Light-bulb moment: A prayerful person is a person who has victory over Satan and experiences the peace of God in their life.

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