Category Archives: Purposeful Living

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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Symptoms of Rebellion – Part II

Mike Tyson once famously said ‘everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth’. I think this quote applies well to rebellion. Everyone who has signed up for rebellion has a plan on how to last until they get knocked down. Indeed, rebellion has a perfect record against all its opponents. In Symptoms of Rebellion – Part I, we started to look into what God showed Prophet Isaiah about the direct effects of rebellion on the individual. In this second installment, we will look at what God showed prophet Isaiah about its indirect effects.

Symptom D: Loneliness (Isaiah 1:7)

This verse starts off with “Your country is desolate”. A desolate country is one that is left stark and uninhabited; a ghost town where nobody lives and no one wants to visit. Unfortunately, this is exactly what rebellion does. It makes our country unattractive and drives people away. Though people may be close to us physically (we are not alone), we still feel a sense of loneliness that we cannot place. No matter what we do, there is a sense that something is missing. That missing something is God.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Though we may not be alone, rebellion has the effect of producing loneliness.

There is a part of our heart that only God can fill. Though we may rebel against God and fill those things with idols, we find that those things (whether relationship, money, food, or achievement) leaves us empty handed.

Question to Ponder: Am I looking for someone or something to fill a part of me that only God can fill?

Symptom E: Destruction (Isaiah 1:7)

The second part of the verse says “Your cities burned with fire”. For our cities to be burned with fire is for everything we spent a lot of time and energy building to be destroyed. An example where many people have built relationships for years only to lose it because they built the relationship without God (in rebellion).

Now, the bible warns us that we should take heed on how we build on our foundation (Christ) for everything built will be tested with fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-13 paraphrase). Hence, we see that the fire is not the problem, the problem is what we decide to build with. If we build on love ( Christ our foundation) with faith (gold), then we find that the fire only refines it. If we build on love but with faithlessness leading to rebellion (chaff), then we see that the fire will destroy the things we worked so hard to build.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Whatever we build in rebellion burns, but what we build in faith endures.

Question to ponder: What am I building right now that does not conform to God’s building codes?

Symptom F: Powerlessness (Isaiah 1:7)

The third sentence of this verse states “Strangers devour your land in your presence”. Another way of saying this is that things that are not welcomed in our lives (or we would like out of our lives) wreck havoc in our lives and we have no power to stop the carnage.

A person who knows what they are doing is wrecking havoc in their lives but cannot seem to stop the destructive behavior, is a person who understands what is means to be powerless. They know it is coming, they see it coming, they watch what it does, and they can do nothing about it.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: A rebellious person is a punching bag for the enemy.

Question to Ponder: Are the hay-makers I am taking on the chin a result of rebellion in some area of my life?

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It’s Difficult to Kill a Dead Man

81IwOxFrP4L._SL1500_Last night as I contemplated the suffering and adversity that Jesus endured on the cross, I thought to myself: Yeah, Good Friday was good for mankind but in no way, shape, or form was it good for Jesus (the man). No sooner had this thought entered my mind, it was replaced by a voice that reminded me that while a selfish man will avoid adversity at all cost, a selfless man who has died to himself welcomes and rejoices over the adversity that comes from doing what is right, upholding the truth, and fulfilling a purpose that is infinitely greater than himself.

Light-bulb moment: As a dead man, it is not a question of if you might go through adversity, it is a matter of when you go through it for doing what is right.

I was also reminded yesterday that Jesus was dead well before He ever died on the cross. He had totally and utterly died to himself and had become completely selfless – especially after the episode in the garden of Gethsemane. It was this selflessness that emboldened him to break the established rules in order to fulfill the law of love (God is love). The leaders in his time did not like that he broke the rules, so they found every reason to accuse him, arrest him, and sanction his suffering and subsequent death on the cross.

Light-bulb moment: As a dead man, you must regard obeying the unchangeable law of God as infinitely more important than obeying the changing rules of man.

In sanctioning the death of Jesus, the religious leaders thought they were putting an end to Him. How laughable! In truth they were only working to fulfill His most noble purpose. Moreover, he arose from the grave 3 days later. How shocked they must have been! What they did not consider is that it is ‘difficult’ to kill a dead man…a dead man cannot be killed off..he can only come alive!

Consider Nelson Mandela. The ones who held power thought they could put an end to his crusade to end apartheid by throwing him in prison; a place where they thought he would die. All they ended up doing was fueling the fire of change in the country. Mandela rose from the sentence of being a dead and forgotten man to being resurrected from his pitiful prison to rule the nation from his presidential palace.

The story of Mandela is in some way similar to that of Joseph in that Joseph went from the prison to the palace. Both left an undeniable imprint in their country and left a long and lasting legacy in the world.

Light-bulb moment: Though a dead man may endure adversity, adversity is nothing but a springboard to his success

So friend, if you are dead and selfless, be prepared to endure adversity. The folks who seem to hold sway may not like you (for whatever reason). They may even be convinced in their heart that they are right – like the pharisee believed. But remember that just because someone is honest in their belief does not mean their belief is not honestly wrong. Take heart and carry on in the will of God – no one can stop your impact in your world. Just as the only way a seed can produce fruit is if it dies (see John 12:24), the only way our lives will produce good fruit is if we die to ourselves and surrender ourselves completely to the will of God. Remember that the consequence of doing the right thing is not our responsibility; it is God’s responsibility. So die to live!!

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What is God’s Will for My Life?

Yesterday, I came across the words,

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me‘ – Psalm 138:8

The words hit me like of blow to the solar plexus. Immediately, the thoughts ‘The LORD will NOT perfect that which does NOT concern me‘ entered my spirit.

Wanting to know more, I asked Him the question: What are those things that do not concern me? Immediately, He reminded me of the words He spoke to Peter towards the end of His time on earth:

 

‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow me’  –  John 21:22

In other words, Jesus told Peter that His will for John should not concern Peter. The lesson for us here is this: The only thing that we should concern ourselves with is His will for our lives. We should not concern ourselves with God’s will for another person, talk-less of becoming consumed by it out of envy.

Knowing God’s will for our lives is key if our walk is to be perfected.

What is God’s Will for My life?

This is the question I get asked most often. Friend, another words for God’s will is what He wants us to do on a daily basis. God reveals His will for our lives on a daily basis as we follow Him (walk by faith).

Going back to John 21:22, God’s will for Peter at that point in time was to take a walk with Him. Nothing more, nothing less. Only as Peter followed God did He continue to reveal more to Peter. The same thing happened with Abraham. God told Him to go to some foreign land – the identity of which He did not reveal to Abraham. In other words, God’s will for Abraham was for him to pack his bags and take a journey to nowhere in particular! Only after taking the journey did God reveal more of what was to come to him.

The will of God for our lives is revealed to us moment by moment.

Now, what if Abraham had not obeyed the will of God because He did not see the purpose in taking the journey? Abraham would have missed out on the blessing of God. He would have missed out on his destiny. By this we see that the way to fulfill the purpose of God for our lives is to walk in His will for our lives.

So what is God’s will for our lives? It is simply to pay attention to His words and obey it diligently. Thus the only pre-requisite to knowing and following the will of God for our lives is having an intimate fellowship with Him. For how can we hear a person we are not walking closely with? And how can we obey someone we have not heard?

Living God’s will for our lives requires trust. Fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives requires consistency in following God’s will. Only as we walk in God’s purpose for our lives does He perfect that which concerns us (His will). Only then is our destiny revealed.

So spend time with God so you may know His will. Once you know His will do not question it but just do it. Then let Him take care of your purpose and destiny.

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10 Surefire Ways to Get Yourself Depressed – Part II

Part I of this blog discusses how living in Disguise, having a sense of Entitlement, foolish Pride, Rebellion against the truth, and Envy promote depression in our lives. Another 3 character traits that tend to alienate us and promote depression are as follows.

(6) SELFISHNESS: Selfishness makes it “all about us”. It is trait that comes out us when we operate out of fear and greed. Society has done a great job hiding this trait under a rug of vernacular. Instead of saying we are only thinking of ourselves, we say that we are acting independently. Instead of admitting that we looking out only for our own self-interest, we say that we are looking our for our own security.

Good relationships require give and take. With selfishness, there is no giving…there is only taking. This is why selfishness never results in happiness.

Nothing breaks that cycle of selfishness more than engaging in giving and serving others – especially when the person does not deserve it. Just try it today, go over to someone who does not deserve something and make their day. Watch the smile on their face; watch joy fill their heart as you tell them there is no catch. In truth, when we engage in ‘catch-less’ giving, we receive more than we bargain for. There is something about selflessness that fills us up with joy and happiness. Thus while selfishness sucks the life out of us, selflessness rewards us with the gift of life. So ask yourself how you can make someone’s day today. Then be intentional to make it happen.

If you do not believe me, then believe the wisest man who ever lived. Jesus said: Give and it shall be given unto you. If you want love and happiness in your life, give love and happiness.

(7) STUBBORNNESS: The difference between determination and stubbornness is the state of the heart from which the action comes. While determination is born out of good heart, stubbornness is born out of an evil heart. While determination is positive, stubbornness is negative.  Stubbornness is what makes us dig our heels in – sticking for things we know are not right. Stubbornness is what causes us to never admit our wrongdoing or our wrong ways of thinking.

Setting a wall up against the will of God , moving against his spiritual laws, and not admitting when we are wrong are surefire ways to be depressed. Just ask Judas Iscariot. He stubbornly set himself against Jesus even after it was clear to him that Jesus knew he going to betray him. The result: His ensuing deep anxiety and remorse led him to hang himself. Other stubborn guys we know of are Pharaoh of Egypt, King Saul, and Jonah. They all suffered for it.

Lets not be like all  these guys who suffered deep anxiety.  Let us not hang our joy and happiness on a tree. Let us be determined to do what is right and let us be quick to turn towards what is good. We ought to accept being called a flip-flopper and do what is right than be known as a resolute people who steadfastly drove their lives off into the gorge of remorse and anxiety just because they were trying to save their image.

To win yourself off stubbornness, remind yourself that you do not have to be right all the time.

(8) INSOLENCE: Being loud, rude, and otherwise obnoxious wins us no favors in life. In fact, it tends to alienate us from peaceable people in the society. It causes unnecessary dissension and strife.

Since birds of a feather flock together, it is highly unusual to find insolent people walking around with peaceful people. At some point, insolent people will be rude to one another and take offense. Hence, the end result of insolence is that we miss out on the joy our relationships should bring us. That in itself can cause us a deep sense of anxiety as the people we love to get out of dodge for their own peace of mind.

In other words, it is difficult for people to love you for you if you are rude, crude, loud, and obnoxious. If they do, they would rather love you for you at a distance. Thus, it will be difficult for you to walk in fellowship with others when you are insolent. Once fellowship is removed, watch out. You are prime candidate for negative thoughts and the other tricks of Satan. Don’t I say “I don’t need anybody”. Everybody needs somebody.

Friend, lets us remember that we are to exhort and speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19). Only then will we have positive and meaningful fellowship with one another.

 

 

 

 

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Doing What Matters – Say No!

We have 86,400 secs every day to make an impact on our world and in the lives of the people around us. While a second or a minute may seem like a short amount of time, it is not. Life happens in short time bursts. All things – whether good or bad – happens to us in moments. Similarly, life can change in just an instant. Most times, we do not realize or take advantage of the precious moments we have because we are too busy doing things and running around. A life lived this way can be very frustrating and unfulfilling for it is life that is lived by default and not a life that is lived by design.

To get the most out of the moments of our lives requires that we live a life by design.

This means that we have to get rid of the distractions that so easily plague us. It means that we have to stop running around doing what everybody else wants us to do in favor of what we have been called to do. In life, I have realized that while everything can be elevated as being urgent, not all things can be elevated as being important. You will simply have to learn to say no if you are to do what matters most and get the most out of your life.

 

Say ‘No!’

People are good at elevating the importance of what they want you to accomplish for them. Most people will want you to drop everything you are doing to focus on their issue. Do not be surprised if they try to manipulate you with emotions to get their way. They may get angry or teary-eyed; they may give you the silent treatment or call you incessantly. Worse still, Do not be surprised if all of a sudden, the person who you is never sure God is speaking to them tells you that God spoke to them plain as day concerning your life. Do not yield when the person starts to quote scripture to try to guilt-trip you into doing their bidding!

When this happens, ask yourself two key questions: Is what I am about to do moving me towards my purpose. Is this the will of God for my life right now? Is this a godly distraction or is it an ungodly distraction?

Not everybody’s emergency is your priority. Most people’s emergency are fear and impatience driven!

If you do not ponder your ways, you will find that you spend most of your time being other people’s door mat and being a slave to other people’s wishes. This is not only bad, it is idolatrous in that you have put other people’s wishes above God’s wish for you! You are more focused in pleasing man than you are pleasing God!

If you cannot say no, is it because you are afraid of something? If you can’t say no, is it because you have made something an idol in your life above God? Is it because you have misplaced your trust?

Our trust should be in God and no one else! We will learn to say no to the things that is not in God’s plan for our lives – even though those things may be noble.

Example of Jesus: Even Jesus had to say no! When he was told that Lazarus was sick and dying, he followed the will of God and decided to stay an extra 2 days where he was before departing. While he could have taken off immediately and spared many people the agony of mourning Lazarus’ death, Jesus understood that God had better plans through the death of Lazarus. As we know, Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave and people got to see God’s mighty power. If Jesus had not obeyed, it would have robbed the people of seeing the truth that Jesus had power over death. It would have robbed the people of believing! See, Lazarus would have recovered one way or the other since it was the will of God. What was more important was that the people believed.

Are you depriving the people in your life the miracle that God wants to do for them because you are rushing to the rescue all the time? Have you started playing God instead of allowing God to be God because of your inability to say no?

Food for thought: Just because you are doing what seems right, and is right in peoples eyes, does not mean you are being obedient or doing what is right in the sight of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Faith, Fear and Money: Is your lack of faith stealing your financial freedom?

I am sure some of you clicked on this blog out of curiosity while some of you have clicked on it to crucify me since you have a problem with anyone connecting faith and money! If this is you, then I apologize for my lack of sensitivity for I could have titled this blog faith and blessings. But when I considered that the bible tells us that the blessing of the Lord makes one rich (Proverbs 10:22), I thought it best to avoid wording games. I do submit though that a better title may have been faith and riches or faith and wealth.

But doesn’t the bible say that money is the root of all evil? No, it does not say that! It says that the love of money is the root of all evil. Hence, money becomes evil only when we love it. There are generally two ways to love money:

  1. We can love money so much that it consumes all of our thinking and drives our behavior. When this happens, money ceases to be the vehicle to do good works but becomes the goal itself. When money becomes the goal is when morals, ethics, law, and good judgment go out of the window. This is why God says that we cannot serve two masters – we cannot serve money and God. This love of money is what pushes men people to engage in human trafficking and pushes parents to sell their children into sex slavery.
  2. On the other side, we can love money so much that we do not want to part from it. So we hold it, horde it, and being a miser…instead of investing it so it can be put to greater good for our communities. This love of money is why God was so angry with the servant who hid his money in the ground instead of placing it in a vehicle that could earn interest.

But when we love God, we are obedient to Him. Obedience in turn will always bring blessings…including riches. The question is do we trust and believe God enough to obey his plans and his ways: Work hard and smart, invest hard, and give back hard! Do we have faith to do all He wants us to do?

10 Spies Sent to Canaan

The answer to that question was NO for 10 of the 12 spies sent to Canaan. They saw a land flowing with milk and honey; a land with grape clusters so huge two that people had to carry it on their shoulders. But they did not focus on that; they filled their minds with the size of the people in the land.

Instead of seeing the good future their present could create by faith, they concentrated on the bad of their present circumstance. Instead of seeing the opportunities, they saw the challenges. Instead of focusing on the reward of their march into Canaan, they focused on the cost of the investment. As a result, they ended up staying in the wilderness 40 years longer than what was originally planned. Their lack of faith (trust and believe) cost them the life that God had in store for them. Instead of milk and honey, they died on manna (which no longer had the taste of honey) and water!

Light-bulb moment: We must not be as the 10 spies who wanted the take the less costly trip back to Egypt to continue to live as slaves instead of taking the more costly trip into Canaan to rule the land!

See, we can either focus on what God has asked us to do or we can focus on the obstacles in front of us?

Light-bulb moment: Fear will always focus on the cost of an investment while faith will always look at the return on investment.

Fear causes too many people to park their money in the bank to earn 0.25% interest while paying the same bank 3.5% interest to finance a house! Faith on the other hand gives us boldness and courage to use the same money to start an income generating business in real estate or other avenues that can have a 25% or higher return on investment…if we would only develop our faith!

Light-bulb moment: Fear will always play it safe, but faith always plays it risky according to the world’s standard. To play it safe is to play it scared!

Think about this: God had to have faith in Jesus that He would actually accomplish that task He was given. If He did not have faith in Him, He would never have sent Him! But He had faith in Him and sent Him.

This illustrates that everything worth doing involves a measure of risk. If we truly love, then we will risk it all – just as God did with Jesus for us. If you love your family and your household, then you will take the journey to develop your faith so that you can be bold and courageous to do all God as called you to do.

If you do not like risk, neither do I! Yet, we can rest assured in the truth that there is no risk in God! God defies all statistics and He has never failed! So, the way to eliminate risk is to do all that God tells us to do.

Light-bulb moment: God has already blessed us. It is our job to take hold of the riches of those blessing by faith

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Just Be You – Rediscover the King in the Mirror

The phrase ‘just be you’ is usually spoken in the context of telling someone not to conform to every norm and not to live a life trying to please everybody. While this is sage advice, the advice only ends positively only if we know who we truly are. Now, we cannot answer the question of ‘who we are’ until we know what we are.

The scripture reveals to us that ‘what we are’ are spirit beings. We know this because God, who is spirit (John 4:24) decided to make us in His image (Genesis 1:26). Seeing that we are spirit beings, this means that this body is simply a garment that cloaks our true nature. And just as a garment shows wear and tear over time, the physical garment of our body also deteriorates over time.

Light-bulb moment: The man in the mirror is not the real you; the real you is hidden.

This hidden person inside of you is not like your body which changes over time. The spirit only has two states of existence – it is either dead or alive. Therefore, the first question you have to ask yourself is this: Am I dead or am I alive?

If you do not know the answer to this, then consider that it is the Holy Spirit that gives life (John 6:63). Hence, any person without the Holy Spirit is spiritually dead. Such a person cannot ‘live’ their identity for they are not even alive. How does the Holy Spirit give us life? He does this by taking up residence within our spirit when we accept Jesus as our Lord and savior. When He does this, He seals our spirit with His Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22) so that our spirit and His Spirit become inseparable. Here is what it all means:

Light-bulb moment: Our living identity is given by the Holy Spirit and is found in the Holy Spirit

Since ‘what we are’ is spirit and ‘whose we are’ is the Holy Spirit’s, the only we way can ‘just be us’ is to live by the Spirit. The moment we stop living by the Spirit is the moment we become imposters! As imposter, we no longer as who we are but have started acting like someone else!

Remember the ‘You are not you when you are hungry’ snickers advertisement on television where the teen turned into a grumpy Liza Minnelli when hungry? It is just like that with us when we do not live by the Holy Spirit. Living without the influence of the Holy Spirit is akin to starving ourselves of life. It makes us grumpy and cranky; we begin to act like who we are not. In truth, we are no longer controlled by our true selves (who are identified with the Holy Spirit) but are controlled by our hungry flesh.

Light-bulb moment: The only way to ‘just be you’ is to live by Spirit. If you are not being you, then you are being whatever your flesh (your senses as impact by things and people) wants you to be.

So then the question is this: Are you being you or are you acting like who you are not? Today, choose to be you! It is so much more difficult trying to be someone else anyway. Furthermore, whomever you are trying to become is not as good as who you are! If you have been running away from yourself, I want to encourage you today to stop, look inwards, and rediscover who you truly are. I promise that you will love yourself!

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So Who Killed Jesus Anyway?

At times it is hard not to chuckle when I hear people having a heated discussion about who killed Jesus. Some say it was Pilate that killed Him while others blame the Jews for killing Him. Further still, others blame Judas Iscariot – for he was the one that betrayed Jesus into the hands of the Sanhedrin. So which is it? Is it the Romans (Pilate/soldiers) or the Jews (Judas or the Sanhedrin)?

To address this question, we have to look at the purpose for which Christ came into the world and the reason he was called to this purpose by God. The bible tells us that the purpose for which Christ was born was to redeem mankind from spiritual death through his death on the cross. In other words, he was born for the express purpose of dying. Here is how the author of Hebrew puts it:

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devilHebrews 2:14

So it is clear that Jesus had to die! Now, a question that can be asked is when did Jesus have to die? Would he have lived longer if someone had not decided to kill Him? That answer is no! Here is why:

Prophet Daniel had already prophesied that 483 years (69 weeks) were going to pass between the time Cyrus was going to release the children of Israel to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem and when the Messiah would die!

Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The streetshall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself – Daniel 9:25 – 26

Fulfill her week, and we will give you this one also for the service which you will serve with me still another seven years. Then Jacob did so and fulfilled her week… – Genesis 29:27 -28

By the time Jesus started his ministry in his 30’s, he only had about 3 years before the 483 years would be up. Since Jesus came to fulfill prophesy and He mentioned that nothing written in the Old Testament books would pass away but be fulfilled (Matthew 5:18), we see that Jesus was determined and obligated to die 3 years after his ministry began.

Note: The 62 weeks or 434 years refers to the end of the period of the Old Testament until the death of Jesus. There were 400 years of silence between the Old Testament days and when angel Gabriel spoke to Mary about her pregnancy; another 9 months until Jesus was born; another 30 years until Jesus was released unto His ministry – the age when a Jew was old enough to be considered a priest. A simple addition (400 + 0.75 + 30) gives us about 431 years. Hence, Jesus’ ministry had to be 3 years long for him to fulfill the prophesy written in the book of Daniel.

So then who really killed Him? In a sense, no one did! He gave himself over willingly to the guards who came to arrest Him. He gave Himself over because his time was fast approaching. Before his time, no one could touch him even when they tried. If His time had not come, He could have easily escaped from their midst as He had done before (Luke 4:29 -30). We know He gave Himself over willingly because of the following passage of scripture:

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground – John 18:4-6

The key point is that ‘they drew back and fell to the ground’. If you read the entire event, you will find that he had to ask them again. See, the guards did not arrest Jesus but Jesus gave himself over to the guards. Why? It is because his time was at hand to fulfill the will of God.

When we examine why Jesus had to come die in the first place, we see that it was to become sin for us so that we would become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). He had to come because we all fall short of the glory (Romans 3:23) and our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). In this sense, we all killed Him.

Food for Thought: Jesus killed himself because of his love for us because we gave him no choice in the matter.

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3 Keys to Take Hold of Your Birth Right

Morning Sunrise near BellingenWhile the Lord had already given the promised land of Canaan to the Israelites, they still had to take possession of it (see Jeremiah 32: 22 -23).  Just as Israel had to take possession of the land God gave them, we also have to take possession of all the victory and glory that has already been won for us on the cross of Calvary. See, God has already paid the price for us so we may live heaven or earth and attain all the covenant blessings. It is now ours by birth-right – by being born again of His Spirit. Yet, many of us constantly forfeit our birth-right simply because we do not know how to take hold of it. How much it must hurt God to see us refuse His blessings.

So how do we take hold of our promised land (heaven on earth)? We take hold of it the same way that the Israelites took hold of their promised land – through faith and obedience, and by patience and prayer. And unlike the Israelites, we make sure that we keep our promised land by refusing to revert back to disobedience. We have to maintain an attitude of letting go and letting God.

Faith and Obedience

In the battle of Jericho, the children of Israel were successful because they obeyed the commandment of God by marching around the city seven times and by blowing their trumpets so that the city walls would fall. Think of how silly the commandment of God must have seemed. Some may have said, ‘Do what God? You mean to tell me that if I march around this city and blow my trumpet, that this wall, this great wall that is more than twelve feet wide is going to fall.  You are very funny God!’ But Joshua was well trained and understood that no commandment of God is silly. His faith was strong in the Lord and he had seen the power of His might beforehand. He knew He had to do just what God told him if the walls were to fall down and if they were to take the city.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Victory is not about our logic, thoughts, or feelings. It’s about faith-filled obedience to the word of God.

Patience

Looking again at the battle of Jericho, can you imagine the complaints against Joshua? ‘Come on Joshua, this is silly’, they must have said. ‘We have already walked around this city six times and nothing has happened. Instead of wearying us by walking, why don’t we build up our strength to take this city in battle?’ While it is tempting to revert to our own ways when we do not see the result of what God is telling us instantly, it is best to stick with what God has told us even if it means going around the same mountain many times. Remember, it took 21 days for the angel of God to reach Daniel because the Prince of Persia withstood him (see Daniel 10:12 – 13). Likewise, patience is essential if we are to take hold of the blessings God has for us. Remember, it is by faith and patience that we inherit the promises (see Heb. 6:12).

Prayer

After the victory at Jericho, Israel decided that they no longer needed God. They allowed success to get to their heads and so did not go to God in prayer prior to sending out an army against the puny city of Ai. As a result, they tasted defeat and lost men in battle. Oh, how too many of us leave God after He has granted the desires of our hearts. The story of the battle at Ai is a warning to us that we lose every time we forget God and take matters into our own hands.

If only Joshua had asked God (prayed) concerning what to do before he sent men to battle at Ai, God would have beforehand revealed the sin that existed in the camp (see Joshua 7:10 – 11). But no! Men had to die before God was sought after.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We suffer unnecessarily when we leave God out of our lives. Just as prayer was the first thing that went out of the window after the victory at Jericho, the erosion of a prayer life (not when asked) is always the first sign that we have begun to rely on our own strength.

To conclude, the keys to take hold of what is rightfully yours by birth are as follows:

(1) Seek God in prayer

(2) Obey His voice no matter what

(3) Patiently wait for the victory that is already yours.

When you do this and do not turn back, you ensure you spend all of your days in the Promised Land rather than be cheated taken into captivity by the king of Babylon (Satan). Satan has stolen too much from us. It’s time to take back what is ours!

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