Category Archives: Purposeful Living

Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part III – Root Cause of Anxiety

This series comes as a result of a friend who battles with depression asking that I write something on the topic that may help her. I promised her that I would do it a few months ago. This series looks at depression from a biblical perspective. I hope it helps anyone struggling with depression in some way.
Note: I encourage you to read the earlier posts associated with this series to give yourself the best opportunity to get the most out of this topic. Click on the following links for the first two installments of the series: Part I & Part II

Root Causes of Anxiety

UNBELIEF: The Greek word for unbelief can be translated as faithlessness. Faithlessness means “Lack of trust” or “No trust”. Where there is no trust, there is a lack of security or insecurity. Now, the thing about insecurity is that it does not like itself…(Selah)…but it is always looking for security. To make itself secure, insecurity will put up walls, try to control every situation, and act in its own self-interest to protect itself.

Put another way, unbelief in the heart of a person leads to insecurity, which may then leads to self-loathing, a controlling spirit, loneliness of heart (due to putting walls up), being critical of oneself, acting selfishly, and not being able to truly connect with others. These things are interconnected and form a vicious cycle that repeat itself time and again – it is the repetition of this cycle that lead to depression (heaviness of the heart) as there seems to be no way out.

FEAR: Biblically, the opposite of fear is love (see 1 John 4:18). Our hearts cannot live in a vacuum. It is either going to be filled with love or it is going to be filled with fear. In fact, it can be said that the absence of love is the presence of fear.

The love that I speak of is not the eros (romantic love), sterego (love between friends), or phileo (brotherly love). The love that I speak of is agape love. This type of love is committed and sacrificial. It is the type of love that is given based on the heart of the giver and not the performance of the givee.  This is the love that makes one feel accepted and gives one a sense of identity.

When those that mean the most to us do not model agape love to us, it creates a void or wound in our hearts. This void or wound tells us that we are not worthy, causes us to try to measure up to a standard that the world throws our way to feel worthy, and causes heaviness of the heart whenever we cannot fill that void with our performance. Depression occurs when we feel rejected…selah…or when whatever gives us a sense of identity is removed.

IGNORANCE: I have heard it said before that ignorance is bliss. I beg to differ. There is nothing bliss about ignorance, for what you don’t know can kill one. The only people that say ignorance is bliss are those that do not know how to respond properly to the knowledge they have acquired.

The problem with ignorance is that it makes us powerless. Being powerless to effect any change, we become slaves to the whims and whams of life. We are tossed to and fro by every way of emotion and become a bit of a piñata. Perhaps the biggest folly of ignorance is that it makes us highly susceptible to believing the lies we tell ourselves, lies others tells us, lies our experiences teach us, and the lies that the devil tells us. These lies themselves can become the root of the fear and insecurity that we exist within.

Conversely, knowledge of the truth will can lead to faith, which then shapes the thinking of our heart. This is turn shapes our emotions, action, and results.

The last statement begins the journey into how anxiety may be conquered. Please stand by for the next installment – Overcoming Anxiety

Leave a comment

Filed under Purposeful Living

Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part II – What Anxiety Does to the Heart

This series comes as a result of a friend who battles with depression asking that I write something on the topic that may help her. I promised her that I would do it about two months ago. This series looks at depression from a biblical perspective. I hope it helps anyone struggling with depression in some way.

Note: I encourage you to read the earlier posts associated with this series to give yourself the best opportunity to get the most out of this topic. For Part I, click here

What Anxiety Does to the Heart

As he thinks in his heart, so is he – Proverbs 23:7

There is a what we think in our mind, then there is what we think in our heart. What we think in our heart is deeper and has a long lasting effect. According to the bible, what we think in our heart is the determining factor on who we become, and by extension, I will add sets the course of our lives.

Point A: The thoughts of our heart holds the power to control the trajectory of our life.

There is no solving the depression issue without solving the heart issue. When anxiety enters the heart, it causes “dis-ease” or “lack of ease” in the heart such that the thoughts of our hearts (what we hold to be true in the depths of our being) begins to stoop (bow down, pay homage, or otherwise worships) to anything else other than the truth.

Point B: Depression is not a disease (dis-ease) of the mind, but it is a disease of the heart. Hence it is less about what you think is true in your mind, but more about what you believe to be the truth in your heart.

Please read the next sections very carefully and re-read as often as needed until you truly understand:

What is true is different than what is truth! A truth is a fact that NEVER  changes regardless of situation, circumstance, or how much time has elapsed. Something that is true on the hand is a fact, but that fact can change with time, circumstance, or situation. Another way of differentiating between true and truth is this: What is true is temporary but what is truth is permanent.

In our inner ideal world, truths become laws or principles that form the bedrock of our beliefs, shape our identity, and mold the way we see our world. Note that from a biblical point of view, since God holds all truth, only He should be able determine our truths.

Unfortunately, there are those times when our inner world becomes less than ideal. It is in these moment that anxiety can kick in and then things other than the truth begin to shape our belief, identity, and the way we see our / the world.

Point C: Anxiety in the heart turns an unpleasant temporary fact into our truth.

Once an unpleasant temporary fact turns into our truth in our hearts, our heart begins to interpret the present through the lens of the past unpleasant fact, thereby mortgaging our futures. Another way to say the same thing is this:  Anxiety in our heart causes us to get stuck in a moment / temporary experience, and then interprets all future possibilities through the lens of that past moment / temporary experience. This is why changing environment has little lasting impact on depression sufferers although it may offer temporary respite.

Note: In the above paragraph, there is a difference between the truth and our truth

Worse still, anxiety in our hearts keep us in an infinite loop where our unpleasant past experience causes us to have unpleasant present experiences, which we then remember in the future as unpleasant past experiences.

If you can relate to this, then it is very possible that there is some life experience, statement, situation, or condition that may or may not be true (factual) that you have taken to be truth (the truth for you being something you deeply believe that in your heart you truly think will never change).

Point D: We should not let what is true explain the truth, but we should let the truth explain what is true.Ask yourself these questions – What do I truly believe in my heart? When did I start to believe it? Is what I believe in my heart truly permanent or it is temporary? Are my believes in line with the truth?

It is possible that you anxiety exists where your truth is a lie and not the truth – when we believe a lie, we live a lie. And that lie can steal our joy. It is only the truth that will set us free.

Next Time We Will Discuss The Topic – The Root Cause of Anxiety

Leave a comment

Filed under Pain and Fear, Purposeful Living

What is Gods Purpose For My Life? Final Act

God set out His will for mankind the moment He created them (male and female). His will for all of us can be found in Genesis 1:28:

28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

In the previous posts, we examined what it means to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it, in Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, respectively.

The fifth will of God for our life is to have dominion. To have dominion means to rule or reign. Hence, we see that God wants us to reign in life. And though our reign was cut short when sin entered the world, we have been given another chance to reign through the finished work of Christ. Here is how Apostle Paul puts it:

  For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ – Romans 5:17

Going back to Genesis 1:28, we see that God never intended for man to reign over man. He (God) is meant to reign over man, and we are meant to reign over our environment. Hence, stepping over each other to make it to the top is not God’s will. It is a result of the fall of man!

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Man was made to rule over his environment, and not for his environment to rule over him.

That we are made to rule over our environment means that we do NOT have to be a product of our environment. It means we do not have to surrender fatalistically to our past, our upbringing, our culture, our experiences and relationships, or current popular fads. We do not have to conform to what our environment throws at us.

God has placed within us (through the Spirit) the ability to rule over all our situations, circumstance, and environment. Hence, to surrender to outwards things is only possible when we forget the truth that we are meant to reign in this life.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: The inner being was created to reign over the outward things

This being the case, we should not focus so much of our attention on outwards things. Since whatever we focus on the most is what we give power over to control us (our thoughts, our emotions, and actions), it is best to focus internally – on the Spirit of God’s words and direction. Only then will we be able to fulfill God’s purpose of reigning over our situations, circumstances, and environment.

Such people who are able to focus internally may be marveled upon for they seem to live in a parallel universe to those who are freaking out over the situation at hand. As believers, we should not be one of those who marvel.

Food for Thought: When I focus on who I am through whom has been deposited inside of me (the Spirit of God), I am able to live my purpose of reigning in life outwardly.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Purposeful Living

What is Gods Purpose For My Life? Part IV

God’s fourth purpose for our lives is to subdue the earth.

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

Note: If you are just stumbling upon this post, you may read the earlier posts associated with this series here: Part I, Part II, Part III

What it means to subdue

To subdue – in the form that it is used here in the bible – means to bring under the subjection of one’s will. As early as this is in the post, the point must be made that God said to ‘subdue it’. He did not say to ‘subdue him’ or ‘subdue her’. By this we see that God never intentioned for man to subdue another man. Hence, such things such as lording it over a woman, or abject slavery, was never in the will of God for mankind.

How we can subdue the earth

When God created the earth, he created some natural laws that go along with it. For us to bring the earth under the subjection of our will, we must understand what those laws are, so that we may use act in congruence to those laws to do our bidding.

This is where science comes into play. Science is simply the study of what God created so that we may use what we have learned to bring the natural things of the earth under our will (to the intent that our will reflects His will). This process is not new but has continued since before the time of the caveman to this very moment.

Why is it that the application of science and technology has been accelerated over the past 200 years compared to the previous era? It is in no small part due to the fact that mankind started to become fruitful and multiply. In other words, it is much easier to focus on innovation and progress when basic needs are met.

What does God’s command for us to subdue the earth mean for us today? It means that God wants us to educate ourselves about our surroundings so that we may use the knowledge gleaned to innovate and make progress. Why does he want us to educate ourselves and learn? The answer is simple: If we do not learn of the laws He has set in place, we will not be able to bring the earth under subjection to our will.

As a simple example, consider farming. If a farmer does not learn to give his land a break to replenish itself and plant different crops, he will find that the land will not respond to his will of producing crops year in year out. He will have to move on to another land or go hungry.

Implications of not learning to subdue

When it comes to subduing the earth, ignorance is not bliss whatsoever. In fact, consider what the wisest person to ever live (outside of Jesus) says:

The labor of fools wearies them, for they do not even know how to go to the city! – Ecclesiastes 10:15 (NKJV)

That’s not good is it? To toil and toil without any fruitful result because of lack of knowledge is awful. Hence, the lesson here is that we should not neglect our education (not necessarily talking of college or university here). Any area we fail to learn – be it relationships, finances, culturally etc. – is the area where we become wearied.

Point to Ponder: A place where knowledge and learning is absent is a place that does not experience God’s best – both individually and collectively.

Moreover, a place where knowledge is absent is likely a place where poverty is present. It is place where unrest and strife are not far behind.

Point to Ponder: To love God does not mean that we do not feed our minds and learn as much as we can.

Consider that Jesus, though being very mindful of spiritual things was not bereft of earthly knowledge. Outside of carpentry, he seemed to know how fishing worked, how farming worked, and how to handle new and old wine (just to name a few). And he used this to bridge the gap between the knowledge of heavenly principles and earthly principles.

I have seen too many people who love God suffer needlessly because they did not understand what subdue the earth entailed – they did not understand that knowledge was its pre-requisite. They say, “I love God but I am not inheriting the promises of God”. Well, God says if we love him, then we obey his commandments. One of his very first commandments is to subdue the earth…I will say no more.

Last Thought

Passion for God is not in opposition to having a passion to learn about our surroundings and how it works. To be religious (in the context used here) does not mean we have to abhor science and learning. Science and religion should not be enemies but should compliment each other.

There are groups out there who think that knowledge should be forbidden! They are wrong for this is not the will of the God.

Most of the time, the people who want to subdue knowledge are themselves knowledgeable. So why forbid knowledge? It is likely because they do not just want to subdue the earth, they also want to subdue and control the people within it. They do not want to inherit riches through knowledge; they want to steal it through manipulation.

Still to come: Last installment of this series. The topic will be dominion

 

1 Comment

Filed under Purposeful Living, Teaching

What is Gods Purpose For My Life? Part III

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

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

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

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

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

(I) Make Poverty History

Consider the following passage of scripture:

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

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

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

By this we can say:

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

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

(II) To Expand the Kingdom

Consider this very famous passage of scripture:

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

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

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

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

(III) To Avoid Unnecessary Strife

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

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

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

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

This is what I call not running out of fish

Conclusion

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

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

3 Comments

Filed under Purposeful Living, Teaching

What is Gods Purpose For My Life? Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out this verse:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

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

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

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

4 Comments

Filed under Purposeful Living, Teaching

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.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

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

6 Comments

Filed under Growth, Purposeful Living, Teaching

A Step You Can Take to Know the Will of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Comments

Filed under Purposeful Living, Teaching

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Purposeful Living, Victorious Living

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?

Leave a comment

Filed under Purposeful Living, Teaching