Category Archives: Teaching

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

 

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What is Gods Purpose For My Life? Part III

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

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

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

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

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

(I) Make Poverty History

Consider the following passage of scripture:

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

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

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

By this we can say:

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

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

(II) To Expand the Kingdom

Consider this very famous passage of scripture:

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

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

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

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

(III) To Avoid Unnecessary Strife

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

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

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

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

This is what I call not running out of fish

Conclusion

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

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

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What is Gods Purpose For My Life? Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out this verse:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What Is Gods Purpose For My Life? Part I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Fruitful  – God’s First Purpose For Our Lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless / Love You

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A Step You Can Take to Know the Will of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What It Means To Work

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

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

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

What Own Salvation Means

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

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

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

The word salvation simply means safety or to be delivered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Fear and Trembling Means

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

 

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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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Symptoms of Rebellion – Part I

In some ways, animals are way smarter than we are. When it comes to rebellion, there are quite a number of things we can learn from them. Take a horse for example. Once a horse is ‘broken’, it will comply with it’s master and will be obedient. Not so with us humans, no matter how many times we are broken, we have this knack to stray back into our wild and rebellious state.

While we have the free will to be wild and free, and it may seem like fun to be a rebel and to decide our own fate, the problem is that we are terrible masters of our own lives. I remember when I decided to do my own thing – be the master of my domain as it were – it ended up with me eventually crying to God for help for I had made a mess of my domain.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: When we decide to do our own thing instead of the God thing is when we find that life will do us dirty

While God will not stop us from taking the reigns of our lives, He does want us to know the kind of life we are signing up for when we decide to rebel against His lordship. Here are three common symptoms of rebellion.

Symptom A: Faint Heart (Isaiah 1:5)

Heart beat signifies the presence of life. The fading of a heart beat represents that a person’s life is slipping away from them. So it is with us spiritually!! Since it is the Spirit of God that gives life, the fading of our heart beat spiritually means that the Holy Spirit is losing its influence over our life.

Just as a fading heart beat indicates that we are slipping from life to death, the loss of the influence of the Holy Spirit over our lives represents the slippage from light to darkness; from the kingdom of God to the kingdom of the world!

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: A person with a faint heart is a person who has begun to lose the experience of the treasures of God’s kingdom – Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control

Instead of the wonders of the Kingdom, rebellion causes us to experience the blunders of the world – this includes jealousies, contentions, wrath, hatred, and all manner of undesirable traits.

Question to Ponder: Is my heart beat strong or has the beat of the Holy Spirit within me become faint?

Symptom B: Sick Head (Isaiah 1:5)

Our head is our thinker. For our head to be sick means that our thinking has become warped. It our thinking becomes warped, our behavior and actions will follow suit. If there is one major symptom of a sick head, it is paranoia.

Once in the throes of paranoia, the head makes up fantastic stories, delusions, and conspiracy theories that all make sense in the person whose head is sick. Perhaps no finer example of someone who had a sick head exists than that of King Herod the Great.

Another major symptom of a sick head is anxiety. I once heard someone say ‘everyone worries’. Well, i say just because everyone worries does not mean that everyone should. Both Jesus and Apostle Paul tells us not be anxious. Anxiety comes when our thinker is not being led by faith but is being influenced by fear. Hence, we see that fear, insecurities, and anxiety are symptoms of a sick head

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: While faith makes one heal, fear makes one sick

Question to Ponder: Am I anxious because I have rebelled against the truth of God’s word

Symptom C: Body full of untreated wounds, bruises, and sores (Isaiah 1:6)

Imagine a person who is covered in bruises, wounds, and sores. Such a person is in constant pain and would not like to be touched. So it is with spiritually with a rebellious person. Such a person is wounded, carried around pains from the past, and does not allow others to get close to them lest those people touch their sore spots. And because there is no part of them that is sound, such people are very easily offended and hurt.

Now, nobody goes through life without having some bumps and scrapes along the way. But for the whole body to be covered in untreated bruises, wounds, and sores as Isiah 1:6 puts it is a different matter! For the whole body to be covered means insinuates that the person continues to make the same mistakes time and again. For these wounds, bruises, and sores to remain untreated insinuates that the person has not bothered paying a visit to the physician – Jesus is the physician (Luke 5:31)

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Life has enough vicissitudes of its own; why add to the troubles of life by adding our own rebellion

Question to Ponder: Why am I further wounding myself when I can submit to the One who can heal my wounds?

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Fact or Myth: Sin Keeps God From Responding to Us

What goes through your mind when it seems that God is not responding to you? In this time of spiritual vulnerability, the enemy of our soul wastes little time concocting all sorts of fascinating tales such as ‘God doesn’t love you’ or ‘Its your fault, for you have been living in sin’.

Because I am sure that most of you reading this post are way too spiritual to ever believe that God doesn’t love you (tongue in cheek), I wont address that here. This short post is aimed at looking into the school of thought that believes that God hides his face away from us because of our sin –  something I feel compelled to address again because it keeps on coming up.

Just a few weeks ago I had a dialogue with a fellow believer about this. He opened up to the scripture in Isaiah 58:1-2, read it with much emphasis and then asked quite contently, ‘What do you say to that?’

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear – Isaiah 58:1-2 (NIV)

I responded by opening up my bible to Ezekiel 39:29 and asked him to read.

And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel,’ says the Lord God.” – Ezekiel 39:26

His expression changed after reading this passage for he knew from the scripture that God has already poured out his Spirit (Read Acts 2 if you in doubt).

Since God has already poured out his Spirit, He no longer hides His face from us. While it is true that when we were living under the law, and righteousness was based on our ability to adhere to the law, lawlessness would indeed hide God’s face from us; It is also true that now that Jesus has sacrificed himself once and for all for our sins, and our righteousness is based on His finished work, God sees us through the lens of the perfect finished work of Christ and so our ability to adhere to the law no longer has anything to do with it.

Point to Consider: Jesus moved with sinners, He did not move away from them.

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Don’t Fall for the Facts

“And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are you the coming One or do we look for another?”

That John the Baptist sent disciples to Jesus to ask him if He was the Messiah is quite astonishing considering that (1) he (John) was the forerunner who told everybody about Jesus (2) baptized Him, and (3) saw the heavens up and heard the voice the proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God.

That John – that man who Jesus called the greatest man to ever live – doubted the identity of Jesus tells us that the people must have had some credibility with John and or were very convincing. It also teaches us that we must be careful to examine what we are told before we allow ourselves to internalize it – to let what may be facts become truth to us.

The folks who spoke to John I am sure came as angels of light. ‘Oh John, we don’t want you to think of us as tattle tales, but we  must tell you that you have been bamboozled. He is not who you think He is. It pains us to tell you this but we must tell you nonetheless for we care about you and we don’t want you to spend time in jail. Why should you die in part because of your allegiance to this phony fellow’, they must have said. Then they proceeded to tell him some carefully chosen facts.

Now why did they present only a few facts? It is either because they ‘loved’ John or because they hated Jesus. Either way, they wanted to get their own way!

For whatever reason, instead of seeing the wonderful things that were happening through Jesus – the deaf hearing, blind receiving sight, demons being cast out and much more – they were more concerned that he hung around with tax collectors and sinners. In other words, they were more concerned about holding onto their laws than giving their life to people (selfishness versus selflessness)!

They cared more about when he decided to heal (whether on the Sabbath or not) than that people were getting healed. They even paid attention to what he ate and what he drank. In other words, they were busybodies instead of staying busy helping everybody!

Check out what Jesus says about these folks (Matthew 11:18-19 paraphrase): They accused John of having a demon when he decided not to eat and drink. Yet when I eat and drink, they accuse me of being a glutton and being a drunk! But wisdom is justified by her children.

What Jesus is doing here is warning us of people that (1) you can’t satisfy (2) have preconceived notions in their head about the way things ought to be (2) only see what they want to see (3) want people to fit into a bubble that they construct for them so they feel secure (4) are very resistant to change (something different) even if it is good (5) want to keep a hold of traditions that worked before but have now outlived their usefulness (6) are blinded by the futility of their own thinking (7) have their own agenda.

Since we won’t necessarily know when people are behaving out of such a heart (for we can all be guilty of being like those who went to John), this passage of scripture in Matthew gives us 3 things to always do when we are hear something about someone that we are not sure fits.

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Pray: In a spiritual sense, what John did by sending his disciples to have a chat with Jesus about it was pray. When you are hearing all sorts of slander about someone, the first thing you need to do is go to Jesus and ask Him about it. Ofcourse in the case of John, that person was Jesus.

Examine the Person’s life: Jesus said in response to the people that were accusing of everything that ‘wisdom is justified by her children’. Moreover, he told John’s disciples to give him a report of the wonderful things that were happening. Friends, wisdom always gives birth to the fruit of the Spirit and achieves good, both in the life of the wise and the lives of people the wise touch.

Ask the Person: After praying and examining the person’s life, the next thing to do is ask the person (if needed). John did not guess at it when he could not corroborate or deny the words of those that spoke to him. He went straight to the accused.

Note: John was unable to truly examine the character of Jesus’ life for he had been thrown in prison. That’s why I believe he asked

———————————————————————-Friend, if you are unsure about Jesus, instead of asking everyone else about their opinion of Him, how about asking Him to reveal Himself to you? It will save you a ton of confusion and wasted time.

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