Disappointments In Relationships – What To Know Before You End It

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

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

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

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

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

Expecting Our Partners to Be Perfect

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

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

Expecting To Change Our Partners 

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

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

Disappointments are inevitable but discouragement in a choice – Charles Stanley

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

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

God Will Finish What He Started

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

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

God Can Create A New Relationship With the Same People

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

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

God Brings To Pass What We Commit To Him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What It Means To Work

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

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

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

What Own Salvation Means

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

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

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

The word salvation simply means safety or to be delivered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Fear and Trembling Means

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

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

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

Summary

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(1) When Satan Discovers Your Purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(3) When You Are About to Fulfill Your Purpose

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

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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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Dear Christian, Who Bewitched You To Leave Goshen?

Intro

The people had hitherto seen a more curious sight. The magicians could not explain it and the wise men were lost for words. A man slapped himself just in case he was dreaming. But this was no dream, this was reality. What is going on he cries out aloud!

Just like every other Egyptian, while this man could not believe the severity of the plagues that was devastating their land, what was more unbelievable was that all this pestilence that had come out of nowhere did NOT touch the land of Goshen. It was as if there was an invisible barrier around Goshen that prevented all these plagues from entering.

History

If you know some bible history, you may remember that Goshen was a piece of land within Egypt where the the Children of Israel settled. After suffering under the hand of Pharaoh who had put them to hard labor, the voice of their cries reached God and He in turn decided to send them a champion called Moses who would save them from the rule of Pharaoh.

Light-bulb moment: Real and lasting change starts with crying out to God.

Moses was a messenger from God who came to put Pharaoh ‘on notice’ but Pharaoh did not like it and hardened his heart…to the chagrin of his subjects who experienced the hardships of the plagues.

Light-bulb moment: We have a choice between pinning our hopes on the ruler of this land or the ruler of the land of our heart.

Application

Of the many fascinating things about the story, the one I want to point out is that though Goshen was nestled within Egypt it did not experience the craziness that was happening with all the plagues. It was as if though it was in Egypt, it was not a part of Egypt. It seemed as if the rules of Egypt did not apply to it. It was as if Goshen was a kingdom within a kingdom. While the citizens of Egypt experienced the full effects of the plagues, those that belonged to Goshen were fully insulated from the effects of what was going on around them. Because of this, unlike the citizens of Egypt who complained about what was happening around them, those in Goshen had no cause for complaint.

If you consider the parallel between then and now, we see that land of Goshen represents the kingdom of God while the land of Egypt represents the kingdom of the world.

Implication

Friends, we ought not  to operate in the world system but operate in God’s system, for although we are in the world, we are not of the world. This means that though chaos and pandemonium may be all around, there ought to be calm and stillness where we live, for we live in Goshen.

But I am afraid to say that this is not the case lately where I live. In fact, the opposite seems to be true of those who are supposed to belong to Goshen (us Christians). Everybody is up in arms and complaining about something – making enemies of their friends based on man-made ideology. Forgetting that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against unseen forces.

Why is this? It is because we have strayed outside of the land of Goshen. When we stray outside of Goshen, the laws and rules of Goshen cease to apply but those of the Kingdom of Egypt do.

Light-bulb moment: When we desert Goshen, people stop seeing us as Goshenites but start to identify us as Egyptians. Instead of being set apart, we get stuck in place.

It Is Time To Go Back To Goshen

To get back to Goshen requires that we seek the Kingdom of God. If we seek it, we will find it. Yet if we are to find it, we need to know where to look.

God tell us that the Kingdom of God is within us. This Kingdom was given to us when the Holy Spirit was given to us. So we see, the Kingdom was sanctioned by God and negotiated for us by Jesus (through his sacrifice). And since the Holy Spirit is its custodian, there is no enjoying the benefits of the Kingdom without walking in the Spirit.

Light-bulb moment: We can’t work our way into the Kingdom of God, we can only walk  our way into it.

This is why Jesus said ‘it is good that I go’. By leaving, he was able to leave us a Helper and a guide who would guide us into the kingdom – a place where we are free of the plagues and pestilence of this world. Jesus left so that we that we could be indwelt by the Spirit not only for eternal salvation but also to experience the Kingdom life right here on earth. That is good news!

What We Are Seeing Today

What we are seeing today is a direct result of not following the lead of the Holy Spirit. When in our pride and stubbornness we decide we know better than the Holy Spirit, we step out of the Kingdom and start to operate in the world system. When this happens, we find out that we begin to pin our hopes not on God but on  whoever is ruling. And of course four years later we are not satisfied and want change again – whatever it is – only to be dissatisfied again.

Light-bulb moment: The kingdom life cannot be obtained through legislature. It can only be obtained through obedient surrender to God

What Should We Do

The bible says we will eat of the good of the land if we are willing and obedient. It does not put stipulation on who is where, what they are doing, and why they are doing it. This means that whether we experience the kingdom life or not ultimately depends on us and us alone!

Light-bulb moment: Disobedience to the voice of God is what got us where we are. Obedience to the voice of God (and not of man) is what will get us where we want to be.

What if we had applied ourselves when He told us to; what if we had gone to school? What if we had listened?  What if we listen and obey now!

Friend, lets choose to follow the lead of the Spirit today and obey his promptings. All he wants to do is lead us into the kingdom life – a life of love, joy, and peace. A life of nothing missing and nothing broken. A life that paid for by giving his own life.

Therefore, let us not expect any man, woman, political party, or otherwise to give what only God can give us. To do so is to set ourselves up for disappointment.

Food For Thought: I am the only one who can decide to leave the hell of Egypt for the heaven of Goshen.

 

 

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Why Settle for a Wedding When You Can Have a Marriage?

41hRKhTijSL“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” – Genesis 3:24

A few weeks ago, I got a text from a friend who asked me to keep two of her friends in prayer for they were going through a divorce and were not only finding the emotional trauma of the separation difficult but were experiencing major anxiety with regards to being separated from their children.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. That was the fourth request for those going through a divorce that WEEK. Why Lord? My spirit screamed out as I felt a wave of righteous indignation sweep over me. What is going on? I questioned.

No sooner had I asked that question, a bible versed popped into my head. If you guessed Genesis 3:24, you are right! Immediately, I heard the words, ‘the problem is that many people are settling for a wedding instead of striving to be married.’ Then the explanation came:

To be joined is to be wedded together. It means two things are connected together. But just because two things are connected together does not mean they are one. To be married is different. When two things are married together, that means they unite and become one. Think of two circles: Just because they are connected or joined together does not mean they are flush against each other (married)

The bible verse that the two SHALL become one flesh. The ‘shall’ is an expression of an instruction / intention of something that will happen in the future. In other words, the verse is telling us that first comes the wedding, then comes the marriage. Marriage is a process and NOT a one time event.

Light-bulb moment: When people say they want to be married, what many really are saying is that they want to be wedded.

What the wedding (joining) represents is a commitment to be married (becoming one). Without this commitment, a marriage cannot take place. Hence, we see that the bedrock for any marriage is a commitment. But note that commitment is just the foundation upon which a marriage is built.

Light-bulb moment: Being committed to each other is just the beginning and NOT the end. It is time to be wedded to the process of marriage.

 So what does the process of marriage look like? The scriptures reveal it to us in Ephesians 5:25-27 (NKJV): Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

The church in this passage represents the bride while Christ represents the groom. The groom in this case pays the bride price (in the case of Jesus by giving his life) thus signaling the betrothal. Note: In Hebrew culture, this was a de facto marriage, for the end of a betrothal required a divorce that could ONLY be initiated by the groom.

Why did He do it? He did it in order to cleanse her with the water through the word so that she should be holy and without blemish. In other words, he did it so that he could help her become the very best version of herself!

Why did He go through all that trouble? He did it because the only way we could become one with Him (married to Jesus) is by becoming spotless / without blemish as He is spotless and without blemish. In other words, He did it so that they could experience real closeness that comes with full compatibility (in spirit, soul, and body)

Light-bulb moment: Marriage comes when two people are committed to helping each other become the best person they can be and are committed to developing intimacy with one another.

Note: While wedding requires spiritual compatibility, marriage requires that we are compatible in spirit and soul. Being that each person in this world is uniquely made and has unique experiences (no one person is the same), the ONLY place we can find soul compatibility is also in Christ.

Points to Ponder

A marriage where both partners are not committed to putting God first is destined not to last.

How well your earthly marriage goes depends on how much you allow God to cleanse you in your heavenly marriage

For weddings to turn into marriages, each person must take their individual journey of oneness with God

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Practical Bible Wealth Tips: 3 BIG Keys to Living in Abundance

I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly – John 10:10b

Where do we get the idea that God desires for us to live on the  cusp of not having enough and barely making it through? Is it from the word of God or is it from tradition? Unless specifically called to live otherwise (due to something specific and magnificent that God wants to achieve in and though us), the words of Jesus quoted above makes it safe to say that God wants us to live an abundant life.

As hard as it may be for some of you to believe, this was the plan from the very beginning when God made a picture perfect world for our ancestors (Adam and Eve) and made provision for them to live their lives to the fullest (see Genesis 1 and 2).

Unfortunately, our oldest ancestors decided to trade in their abundance for poverty – strange and foolish decision. Now lest we should follow in the footsteps of our ancestors, we need to understand the drivers that led to that crazy decision. Though there are  significant spiritual nuggets that we can take away from the story of Adam and Eve’s crazy decision, there are 3 BIG practical lessons that we need to learn, that if we do not learn, will lead us to trade in the abundant life that God wants us to have for a life of poverty.

Books (B)

The first thing the enemy of abundant life (Satan) did was test what Eve knew about the principle of life in the garden. Specifically, he tested her knowledge of God’s word concerning a specific tree in the garden.

If she had not known God’s word, then he could have hoodwinked her right there. Thus we see that lack of knowledge will always rob us of abundant life.

Friends, we should make reading a habit. Once we know, it is nigh impossible to un-know. Moreover, the things that we know should help us make better decisions, combat falsehoods, and expand our horizon.

Food for Thought: Ignorance is not bliss but blitzes our lives and robs us of the abundant life that has been given to us.

Our top priority should be to feed our spirit (the bible) and then fill our minds with good and useful knowledge.

Individuals (I)

What Eve was doing hanging out with the devil, I will never know. Instead of excusing herself, she carried on a conversation with the creation that was jealous and envious of her position and only wanted her downfall.

The scripture reminds us that bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33). The opposite is also true – good company enhances and encourages good character.

The people we keep around us are influencers. If we want to know where we will be in the next few years, all we need do is take a look at a deep look at the totality of the lives of our influencers.

The people we keep around us will rob off on us and ultimately change our character.

Food for Thought: The best move  we can make is decide to keep company with the Holy Spirit (for He is our standard) and keep company with people that reflect the character of Jesus (for they are our examples).

Goals (G)

The goal of Adam and Eve should have been to get close to the tree of life and munch its life giving fruit the moment they knew of its existence. But no! They did not have the goal of making their lives even better by eating of the fruit of the tree of life.

It was the lack of having a grander vision for their lives that made them susceptible to banter about the tree of the knowledge of evil.

The same is true for us as well. Here is how it works: If you have a goal of attending Harvard, you have no time to entertain thoughts of hanging around the corner wasting time. If your goal is to save $10,000 per year, you will not entertain buying a fancy race car. Why? It is because it does not line up with your goals.

In order words, purpose is what streamlines our lives and keep us focused.

But what if you do not have goals? What if your goals are not big enough? Then you will entertain all sorts of crazy thoughts and find yourself in places you should not be in life.

We should set goals that make something of us to achieve them.

Food for Thought: The best goals are God-sized. That means that nothing other than divine intervention will help us achieve them. These God-sized goals help us keep our eyes on God and keep out feet on the right path.

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Practical Bible Wealth Tips: 3 Habits That Lead to Poverty

When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth – Genesis 4:12

The scripture quoted above talks of the story of Cain, the first born of Adam and Eve (the first couple on earth), who murders his younger brother Abel. In this biblical saga, Cain starts off as a successful tiller of the ground (who had enough to make offerings) and ends up as a man who loses his livelihood and becomes a fugitive and a vagabond in a short period of time. Why did he go from success to poverty in such a short time period? It is because of the 3 things discussed below.

Taking Failure to Heart

The story goes that both Cain and Abel made offerings to God. While Abel’s offering was accepted, Cain’s was not. At this Cain became angry and ‘his countenance fell’. Instead of taking this failing as an opportunity to learn and find out exactly what he had done wrong from God, he simply became downcast and stewed in his failure, thus opening himself up to unhelpful and outright immoral and dangerous thoughts. In other words, he had taken his failure to heart.

By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain… – Hebrews 11:4

Like Cain, there may be times where we do not do things excellently…either because we do not seek the prior input of knowledgeable others (in Cain’s case this was God or Abel) or for any other reason. No matter the reason for our failing, the key is that we do not take our failure to heart but that we learn from it, brush it off, and move on to the next thing. Just because you have failed does not mean you are a failure.

…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead… – Philippians 3:13

Being Prideful and Unrepentant

Knowing that Cain had taken his failing to heart, God immediately stepped in and warned him of his heart condition saying:

Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door… – Genesis 4:6-7

God was telling Cain not to mope around but to offer a more excellent sacrifice. Moreover, he warned him that sin was waiting to pounce on him if he did not budge. Well, as the story goes, Cain did not heed the word of God and so did not change his mind. In other words, he remained unrepentant – he did not act in accordance with what he now knew. What did he know? He knew that he could try  his sacrifice again and that he could ask for instruction on what to do! Did he ask for instruction? No! He became prideful. It was now his way or the highway. The problem was that his way led to the highway of poverty and lack.

Friends, there is no recipe for disaster quite like pride (being dogged about one’s way being the best) and unrepentance (unwillingness to change ones mind and do things differently) even in the face of failings. When this recipe is cooked with the fire of an external loci of focus, we get the end result of calamity.

Having an External Loci of Focus

Now unable to admit his own culpability in his failing because of his pride, he had to find a suitable scapegoat. Seeing that he could not take out his frustration at God, he chose to lash out at his brother.

Now Cain talked with Abel his brother, and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him – Genesis 4:8

The truth is that our reaction to events depends on our loci of focus – whether internal or external. Pride and unrepentance always leads us to have an external loci of focus. An external loci of focus tells us that we cannot do anything about what is happening to us and that we are not at fault. This focus leads to bitterness and leads us to point the finger of blame. This is what happened to Cain. Note that while an external loci of focus leads to external blame, an internal loci of focus leads to internal change.

So friends, instead of trying to change everything and everyone else, remember that real change starts with us.

Change the way you see failure, change the way you respond to failure (respond in humility and repentance), change your focal point, and you will change the trajectory of your future.

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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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