Tag Archives: Faith

Fear Or Faith – Which will you feed?

An old Cherokee teaches his grandson about life, saying:

“A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Faith and fear are two powerful wolves that do battle against each other. The wolf we feed determines whether we live a life of adventure or absentia; whether we live as a warrior or a wimp; whether we are a champ or a chump; whether we live a life of wonder or we live our lives in the wilderness (dry and desert place without life).

Speaking of wilderness, the bible tells of a story of a group of people who after spending roughly two years in the wilderness were faced with the option – feed their faith or feed their fear. Ahead of them was an awesome land flowing with milk and honey –  a land promised to them by God, therefore a group of twelve men were sent ahead to spy out the land for 40-days.

While each of the twelve men lived in the same environment, they experienced different realities. Ten of the twelve men said the congregation should stop making progress because they had fed their fear. The last two of the twelve said to take possession of the land because they had feed their faith. By this, we already see that fears puts a halt to progress in life, but faith always looks to move forward.

The story, which can be found in 13th and 14th Book of Numbers teaches us about the symptoms of faith and fear. Below are some symptoms the story points out. Hopefully, this will help you identify whether you are walking in faith or fear.

Fear

Numbers 13:28: Fear see’s what is good just as people with faith see what is good, but fear chooses to focus on the bad, and what could go wrong. Fear is not grateful for what it has but always looks for what is missing. They key word to ponder is the word ‘Nevertheless’

Numbers 13:31: Fear is a naysayer (always says I can’t) instead of a can-doer (which says I can). Fear discourages people and tells them there is no point in trying.

Numbers 13:32: Fear exaggerates and tells lies to defend its position. Look at this verse again. If the land truly devours people, how is it that they were able to stay there for 40-days?

Numbers 13:33: Fear causes us to have a poor self-image and assumes other people see us the same way. Think of this verse where it says, we saw ourselves as grasshoppers and we were as grasshoppers in their sight.

Numbers 14:2: Fear always complains and always looks to blame others.

Numbers 14:2 Fear would rather die than try – fear gives up before it ever gets a chance to begin.

Numbers 14:3: Fear would rather go back to the past it knows rather than a future that is promised. Fear would rather go for security rather than go after significance.

Numbers 14:4: Fear is disobedient to God and rebels against Him.

Numbers 14:4: Fear does not look to past victories for strength but quickly forgets them

Numbers 14:10: Fear does not listen to reason or opposite points of view. In fact, it can’t stand opposing views.

Faith

Numbers 13:30: Faith always quietens an intense situation to provide a calm in the middle of a storm.

Numbers 13:30: Faith looks to take immediate action and does not procrastinate to take hold of God’s promises. Faith does not see obstacles but opportunities.

Numbers 14:8: Faith focuses on the good and not the bad

Numbers 14:8: Faith understands that all things are possible with God

Numbers 14:9: Faith see’s things through the eyes of God and not through the eyes of man.

Which Will You Feed

As the story goes, ten of the spies fed their fears and caused others in the wilderness to feed their fear. As a result, all of them wondered in the wilderness aimlessly, and all died in the wilderness (except the two who had faith) and never entered into the good land that was promised them. Only the two who had faith entered into their promise land.

This carries some warning for us:

  • Be careful not to listen to or take advice from people who are feeding their fears – fearful advice will keep you in the wilderness (desert) of life
  • Feeding our fears will lead us to wonder aimlessly in life and we will miss out on God’s best for us
  • Living with those who are feeding their fears will impact how quickly we will be able to live God’s best, so be careful who you associate with for it will delay destiny.

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Are You Really Worshipping? What it Means to Worship

Do you believe in God?During Sunday service, you may hear the pastor say for you to ‘press in to worship’ or ‘adopt a position of worship by lifting up your hands’. You may also hear he/she say that worship invites Jesus into our situation and that ‘His presence is here; can you feel His presence?’ If all this sounds like Christianese you’ve never understood then I hope this blog post helps.

Worship cannot be measured by tangible actions such as closing your eyes, lifting up your hands, shouting, crying, jumping up and down, or throwing yourself to the ground. While these may occur during worship, the actions themselves do not prove that worship is taking place. Indeed, it is all too easy to be so used to performing a particular act that it becomes second nature. True worship is a love-based outward expression of what has taken place in our heart. If this still sounds like Christianese to you, consider the following passage:

“And behold, a leper came to Him and worshipped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean” – Matthew 8:2

The passage tells us that the leper worshipped Jesus by saying something. Hence, we know that worship always says something. Indeed, worship always speaks from the heart. What came out of the mouth of this leper was a reflection of what was settled in his heart. What was settled in heart can be sifted out by paying careful attention to his words.

Worship Calls Jesus ‘Lord’

The first thing that worship entails is acknowledging Jesus as the Lord (master) of our lives. For Jesus to be the master of our lives means that we allow him to control everything. It means that he takes first position in our lives. When we come to worship, we come to say: Jesus, you are most important in my life and there is nothing or no one that I put above you. It means we have to put out and put away those idols that try to claim first position in our hearts. You know what idols I am talking about. Is Jesus the master of your life or is something mastering you right now? Is your mind half on your job, money, or a romantic interest all the time? If you are single, is your want to be married your idol? Let’s truly worship by putting these other things in their rightful place. To worship is to put Jesus back on the throne of our hearts

Worship Says ‘If You are Willing’

The heart of worship submits to the will of God in humility. Indeed, worship says ‘not my will but Your will be done’. In order words, worship surrenders all to God; it takes the burden off us and casts it upon Him. Worship acknowledges our own powerlessness and submits to our complete and utter reliance on Jesus. See, Satan wants us to be self-reliant because he knows he can continue to rain down those haymakers on us as he pummels us to bits in our mind. Worship on the other hand is a heart posture of being God-reliant. Instead of being in-secure, we become God-secure in worship. If there were words to describe this heart of worship, it would be the words ‘yield control to God’ and ‘humble yourself before God’

Worship Says ‘You Can Make me Clean’

‘You can make me clean’ is an assertion of what God is able to do. He trusted in the sovereign power of God to bring about good in his life and change his situation for the better. Just like the leper, a heart of worship is one that has faith in the power of God to bring about that which is good in our lives no matter what situation we face. See, worship comes expecting and trusting that something good will happen because we understand that our God is a good God; He is the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.  So we see that worship does not lose hope, is filled with endurance, and is convinced about the goodness of God in all situations and circumstances.

The Beauty of Worship

Why is this important you ask? Why is it important to (1) Place nothing above Him (2) Surrender to Him in humility (3) Have faith that He will bring about what is good and best in our lives. The answer is found in Matthew 8:3 where Jesus says ‘I am willing’, and then promptly makes the leper clean. In other words, the worship brought about the miracle!

See, God has never turned away anyone who worships Him in Spirit and in truth! Indeed, ‘Placing nothing above Him’ moves us towards Jesus, humility invites Jesus into our situation, and faith gives Jesus permission to do the good that He loves to do in our lives (See Daniel 10:12 and Hebrews 11:6).

So my friend, if you want God to move in your life, then you want to come to truly worship. I hope you agree with me that we have too much to gain for us to simply go through the motions.

Food for Thought: Am I acknowledging Jesus as master, surrendering to Him in humility, and have faith in Him in my life or am I just going through the motions in life?

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How to Fight to Win with Minimal Fuss

Are you in a battle that you just can’t seem to win? Does it feel as if the enemy is just overwhelming you? In life, we do not have to go looking for a fight before a fight comes knocking at your doorstep. Yet, no matter how the fight comes to be, the important thing is to know the keys to victory.

Having spent a good part of the past month reading about the wilderness journey of the children of Israel, a strategy for victory has crystallized in my mind and heart.

When the children of Israel employed this strategy, they were able to destroy a Midianite more than double their size without a single casualty.

With this strategy, they were able to go against the giants in Canaan and utterly destroy them. To get an idea of how big these giants were, the bed of King Og measured roughly 13.5 ft long and 6 ft wide.

Most astonishingly, it was this same strategy that Gideon was employed such that he was able to defeat a Midianite army of well over 100,000 with just 300 men.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Though the tactics for victory may change, the strategy for victory remains unchanged.

The 2-fold strategy they employed is as follows:

Only Fight the Battles God Tells You to Fight

How could one chase a thousand, And two put ten thousand to flight, Unless their Rock had sold them, And the Lord had surrendered them? – Deuteronomy 32:30

Another way of putting this bible passage is this: The only way for a man to chase down a thousand is with God’s help. Think of it this way. You and I cannot take down a thousand men unless the men had somehow been completely immobilized so that they were as stiff as statues. In such a scenario case, the battle is not fair for the thousand men!

That’s the way it is when God is fighting on our behalf…the battle is not fair!

Truly, the probability of victory is not determined by the size of the enemy we are going against or the size of our own army. The probability of victory is determined solely by who is with us. If the ‘Who’ is God, then the probability of victory is 100%, inasmuch as we follow the blueprint for victory.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: God fights only in the battles He sanctions. Engaging in a battle that has not been approved by God leads to heavy casualty with no promise of victory.

When the Lord told the children of Israel to wander about in the wilderness for 40 years because of their refusal to enter Canaan, the people were so disappointed that they decided to try to enter Canaan in their own effort and without the blessing of God. The result is that they were crushed in battle (see below).

And Moses said, “Now why do you transgress the command of the Lord? For this will not succeed. Do not go up, lest you be defeated by your enemies, for the Lord is not among you. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you shall fall by the sword; because you have turned away from the Lord, the Lord will not be with you.” But they presumed to go up to the mountaintop. Nevertheless, neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed from the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that mountain came down and attacked them, and drove them back as far as Hormah – Numbers 14:41-45

Fight the Battle the Way God Tells You to Fight it

God is the master strategist and tactician. His tactics are always right and always work no matter how crazy they sound. If He tells you to walk around the wall seven times, just do it. If he tells you to scream on top your lungs, just do it. If He tells you to tell a bunch of people to drink water and go up against a great army with 300 men, just do it.

Any deviation from the plan of God results in the withdrawal of God’s power. I don’t know about you, but I do not want the power of God to be suddenly removed while I am in battle – especially when I am outnumbered. If we want to be victorious in battle with minimal fuss, we must make up our mind that we are going to do what God commands, no matter what it takes to execute the strategy.

When the children of Israel first fought the Amalekites, they gained the upper hand as long as Moses’ hands stayed raised. No sooner did Moses’ hands drop, the Amalekites gained the upper hand. To ensure God’s strategy for victory remained in play, Aaron and Hur propped up his hands.

Why does God use such unusual strategy and tactics? I believe it  is because He wants to leave no doubt that victory is only possible with Him. Why does He want us to have no doubt that He is the author of victory? He does this because He wants to show us that we can trust in Him (have faith in Him) and surrender to Him, the one true and good God.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Faith is the key to victory. The proof of faith is obedience.

Application For Today

Though the enemy (Satan) is still on the battlefield (the earth), God has disarmed and surrendered him to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Because of the victory Jesus has won on the cross, the enemy is like a barking dog with no teeth and no claws. The only thing that stops us from fighting such a dog is the belief that the dog still has some teeth and claws. Since God tells us clearly that Jesus has disarmed all powers and principalities (see Colossians 2:15), it goes that the only thing that stops us from victory is our unbelief (inasmuch as God’s will is for us to fight the particular battle).

When it comes to the enemy, God tells us to fight. He tells us to fight because He has already surrendered the enemy. Thus the only thing we have to fight for now is faith, so that we align ourselves with the plans of God in complete obedience. This is why we are told to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). We have to trust and belief (have faith) in what God has told us about the enemy and boldly go onto the battlefield to claim our victory (whatever that looks like). No more fear, no more surrender, no more retreat!

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: The circumstances and situations in life have no power over us BUT that which we give to them. It does not really matter what happens, we can have inner victory over them.

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8 Things That Christians Should Never Say

I AM A FAILURE

You became a new creation when you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior (2 Corinthians 5:17). If you have indeed accepted Jesus, it is no longer you who lives but Christ who lives in the real you (Galatians 2:20). Since we know that the Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of power, love, and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), and we know that the fruit of that Spirit consists of love (Galatians 5:22), then it goes that love lives inside of us. Why is it important to know that love lives inside you? It is important because love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8). So if Christ who is love is living in you, and love never fails, then it goes that you are not a failure. Since your identity is now in Christ, you should never again identify as a failure.

You have to be able to separate the results of what you did from who you are. In fact for the believer, there is no such thing as failure, the only thing that exists is results. Moreover, the reason any of us fails is because we chose not to do things God’s way. When you do things God’s way, you do things love’s way. Though love’s way may at times take you through trials and tribulation, you can rest assured that the end result is victory and success.

If you want to know more about love’s way, I implore you to mediate on 1 Corinthians 13: 4- 7.

I CAN’T

Henry Ford is famously quoted as saying those who believe they can and those who believe they can’t are both right. If you believe that you can’t, then it is likely that you have turned many opportunities into traps and many stepping stones into stumbling blocks. It is likely that you take decisions based on security and reality – playing it safe all the time and never disturbing the waters of familiarity.

As a believer, you are not meant to live by the reality that you see around you.  Though you are to acknowledge it,  you are meant to live by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). If you focus on reality, your focus will be on the way things are. If you focus on faith, then your focus will be on the way things should be. In that sense, all progress requires faith! To make my point, just imagine what the world would look like today if the cave man never saw beyond his present reality.

Remember this: Faith can but fear can’t

You and I are meant to live by faith (Galatians 2:20). We are meant to achieve great things to the glory of God. To live by faith requires that we trust and believe in God’s ability no matter what.

Therefore it is not a question is of if you can or can’t, it’s a question of how strong your trust and believe in God is!

I AM A NOBODY

The moment you accepted Jesus is the moment you were adopted into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5). In that moment, you took the name of God and gained access to all the power and privilege that the name commands. Since God is the King and you are now a son or daughter of God, then it goes that you are now a prince or princess. Moreover, you are not just a prince and princess of any earthly king, you are that of the King that made the heavens and the earth.

So for you to say that you are a nobody is to misunderstand who you have become in Christ. You are not just somebody but you are a very important body. You were born again not only to receive eternal security but to rule and reign in this life. Isn’t it time you started to live your true identity?

I AM POOR

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it belongs to Him (Psalm 24:1). If that is the case and you and I have become heirs of God and co-heirs with the Lord through adoption (Romans 8:17), then you and I are very wealthy indeed. Now just because you and I are not enjoying the fruit of our inheritance just yet does not mean that we are not wealthy. In Christ, all the resources that we could ever need are available to us.

Yet here is the thing: God will only entrust his riches to those good stewards that will carry out His purpose. God will not give you and I something we do not have the character to handle. If we do not have the character to handle wealth, then wealth becomes an instrument of destruction and not of blessing. God loves us too much to allow that to happen. So instead of saying I am poor, the best question to ask is where can I make a tangible change.

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE

Since Christ tells us that nothing is impossible for those of us who believe (Mark 9:23), Impossible is a word that you should remove from your vocabulary. While it is okay to say in humility that it is impossible for you, you should follow it up by saying nothing is impossible with God. Since Christ lives within you and I, impossible things can and will flow through us through faith-full action.

So stop saying that it is impossible for your situation to turn around. Stop saying that no one wants you because of your situation. Stop saying that it is not possible for your relationship to be mended. We serve a God who specializes in the impossible.

Do not let your unbelief be the reason you are not seeing the manifestation of God’s power in your life.

I AM PHYSICALLY UGLY

God says that we are wonderfully and fearfully made. While God spoke the worlds into existence, we are told that He formed us (Genesis 2:7). This means that He took His time to craft you and I. He decided what you should look like and He set your features especially as He liked it.

For you to say that you are ugly is to say that God has made something that is imperfect. The only reason you think that you are ugly is because you have gone away from God’s standard of beauty and imbibed that which has been made popular in your particular culture.

Friend, the only thing that makes you and I ugly is sin – both as persons and in person. That’s it.

IT IS TOO LATE FOR ME

To say it is too late is to give up on God. God never gives up on us so we should never give up on Him. There is nothing we have done or can ever do that God cannot redeem.

No matter what you have done so far, it is not too late. Just because you have written a few bad pages, chapters or have written a horror story so far does not mean that you cannot change the story around. Simply hand the pen of your life to Jesus and watch how He turns your story around. With God it is not over.

If God can perform a miracle through Elisha after his death, realize that even death does not end the impact of your life. So do what you can now even if you have a few days and watch your story live on forever through the people you touched.

We serve a God that may tarry but is never late (Habakkuk 2:3).

I HAVE NO FRIENDS

No matter how many earthly friends leave you – perhaps because of what you did or what you did not do – I want you to know that you will always have a friend in Jesus. His friendship does not hinge on your behavior but hinges on who He is. So do not allow the enemy to tell you no one loves you and cares about you. It simply is not true! Jesus is a friend who loves at all times (Proverbs 17:17).

Now Jesus is your friend but are you His friend? Have you accepted Him into your world? If not, then today is your day to ask Him into your heart. Now here is the cool thing, the more you become a friend of Jesus (love), the more you will find that real friends who are loving gravitate towards you.

In Christ, you are never alone!

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How Can I Experience God’s Best For My Life?

Do you believe in God?This week I roused myself early each morning to attend 6:00 am prayer at church. Though we all sought the Lord for different things, a common theme emerged. We were all crying out to the LORD for His glory to be revealed in our midst, in our lives, and in our communities. In other words, we wanted to see his majesty, splendor, magnificence, beauty, honor and victory manifested in a tangible way.

As I pressed in with the rest of my brethren in prayer, asking the Lord to show me His glory, He spoke to me saying: You ask me to show you My glory; My glory is already present within you; All you have to do is yield to it. When He said this, He brought to my remembrance the following passage of scripture:

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of gloryColossians 1:27 (NKJV)

How Can I Experience God’s Glory?

Through the bible, we know that Jesus is the brightness and radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3). We also know that the Father is glorified when our lives bear much fruit (John 15:8). Hence we understand by these scriptures that Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory because His life bore an incredible amount of fruit. And Indeed Jesus life is still bearing fruit through the relationship He has with those who accept Him.

In fact while physically in this world, Jesus’ life bore so much fruit (through healing, preaching, setting people free…) that we are told that the world is not big enough to capture all that He did (John 21:25). So how did Jesus bear so much fruit and so manifest the glory of God? He did it by surrendering himself completely to leadership of the Holy Spirit who spoke to Him the words of Father (John 5:30).

  I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord—but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision], and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will [I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose] but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me – John 5:30 (Amplified Bible)

See, Jesus was able to manifest the glory of God because He surrendered to the Spirit of Grace (the Holy Spirit) who was within Him and empowered him to bear much fruit. Why did Jesus surrender to the Spirit of Grace? It was because He fully trusted the Spirit’s leadership and guidance for He knew the Spirit was from God the Father.

In other words, the trust and belief that Jesus had in God, enabled Him to surrender His life to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and so allowed Him to do those things that glorified God – things that were seemingly impossible before.

Hence, we see that faith (trust and belief) in God leads us to surrender to the grace of God (the Holy Spirit) who then in turn empowers us to radiate the glory of God. The truth is simply this: Faith leads to Grace; Grace leads to Glory.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: The glory of God is radiant and draws people to God because it accomplishes both the supernatural and natural things that defy man’s belief and expectation. In other words, evangelism is helped when the glory of God is manifested in a tangible way.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: It is impossible to experience the glory of God without  having faith and walking in it.

How Can I Recognize Faith?

Faith is the key to experiencing the glory of God. Without faith, we are unable to do the works of God. No wonder James, the brother of Jesus says that ‘faith without works is dead and that he will show his faith by what he does (James 2:14 – 18). By this we see that talk alone is cheap and profits nothing!

Real faith on the other hand unleashes the power of God and reveals the glorious works of God. Only words of faith carry life-changing power which in turn carry out the will of God. It does something tangible.

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it – Isaiah 55:11

Hallelujah, I will say it again: Real faith releases the power of God (grace) which then in turn unleashes the tangible presence and evidence of the glory of God. Real words of faith does something, it just doesn’t go into a vacuum!

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Faith releases power that accomplishes something tangible – that something is the will of God.

For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power – 1 Corinthians 4:20 (NLT)

How Can I Grow My Faith?

But I don’t have much faith you say! Well Jesus says that we can move mountains if we have faith as tiny as a mustard seed! So don’t underestimate what even the tiniest amount of faith can do.

If that’s the case then why is the size of my faith important you ask. The size of our faith is important because it determines what we ask of God and what we are believing in Him for. Indeed, God grants to us that which we have enough faith to believe in. First, if we do not believe, we will not ask. Even if we do ask  but not in faith, we receive no reward. So dare to believe. If we call ourselves believers, we ought to believe!

You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask – James 4:2

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him – Hebrews 11:6

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God – Romans 10:17

If you want to grow your faith, all you have to do is spend more time reading and meditating on the word of God. The more of His word you have within you, the more you are able to hear from God – for God will never speak contrary to what He has written in His holy word. The first things that God will start to speak to you is how much He loves you and how He is for you and not against you. He will show you the errors of your ways and then give you a promise for the future. How amazing!

This love which He shares with us is what draws us to lower our guards, get closer to Him so we know Him more. By so doing, we come to trust and belief in Him more. Faith = trust and belief in God. If we trust and believe in Him and trust and believe that He loves us, then it follows that we will trust and believe in what He says and move in it – thereby unleashing grace and glory.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: The size of our faith determines the size of our request. In other words, if we limit the size of our faith, then we limit the manifestation of God’s glory in our lives. So, believe big and ask big in faith – and go from glory to glory.

Food For Thought: If you want God to show you His glory, then you have to show God your faith

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Tales from The Amazon – The church built on a pond

We walk by faith and not by sight

I have often wondered what first entered the mind of Jesus when the Holy Spirit instructed him to spit on the ground and make mud out of the soil and rub it in the eyes of the blind man! Did He think like me and say, ‘You want me to do what? Surely, there must be another way?‘ Or did He blame the devil for the thought (like some of us would when God asks us to step out of our comfort zone) and say, ‘I rebuke that thought! Devil, I bind you up right now!

Being Jesus, He probably just said, right away sir, as you wish! See, it is easy to justify, rationalize, intellectualize our way into why we are not doing what God wants us to do, when He wants us to do it, and how He wants us to do it. But no matter what the excuse, disobedience is disobedience.

Pastor Natalino of Renovation Church in Belterra had the opportunity to walk in disobedience when the Holy Spirit stopped him and told him to declare that he was going to build a church in what was a good sized pond! From a conversation with him, his first thought was, ‘Really God! Of of all the places, you want me to build a church here!’

Unlike many of us,  Pastor Natalino decided not to make the voice of the Holy Spirit of no effect! He went to the city council and informed them of what He wanted to do.

They thought he was crazy and laughed at him!

Do not be surprised if the world laughs at you when you are walking by faith

But Pastor Natalino would not be deterred! Like Nehemiah, he would not listen to the laughs of his detractors but pressed forward towards the mark of his calling. He rented a pump and over a number of days promptly drained the large pond. But would you know it, no sooner had he finished draining the pond, an enormous deluge of rain befell Belterra and filled up the pond once more! Now what was he to do? He did not have any more money to spend to drain the pond a second time! What was he to do?

Though crest-fallen, Pastor Natalino would not stay disheartened! He passed the test of endurance and obedience.

He said to God, ‘God, you are the one that told me to build a church on this land. This is your will. I am being faithful to you, therefore, help me bring to pass what you have ordained.‘ Lo and Behold, the pond which was completely filled up dried up within the next few days! In his testimony, Pastor Natalino said: The first time, I climbed the mountain of draining the lake. The second time around, I spoke to the mountain to be removed

I tell all of you with certainty, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ if he doesn’t doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him

– Mark 11:23

See, the bridge to success is many times filled with trial and tribulation. When they come, what we must not do is fill our minds with doubt of God’s calling on our life. Instead, we must ask God for wisdom while actively waiting patiently for the manifestation of the promises of God. (see James 1:1-8).

Ultimately, Pastor Natalino was able to build the first phase of the church God had promised him. It is his picture that you see in the top left corner of this blog. I am honored to have met and him and to have had fellowship with him and his congregation in Belterra!

Food for Thought: Though the enemy will laugh at me in the beginning, I will have the last laugh in the end if I do not grow faint and weary but continue in faith

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The Waters of Noah

“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you – Isaiah 54:9 – 10

In the time of Noah, God used mighty flood waters to wipe away the sin of this world. Unfortunately, the only way sin could be wiped away at that time (since we did not yet have a redeemer) was to wipe away man. Why? It is because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Hence without a redeemer, the only way for God to get rid of sin was to get rid of man; it was justice being done!

After the flood when God promised never to flood the whole earth again, He was really saying that He would never again use natural waters (death) to cleanse the world; He was saying that we would never again have to pay the price of death for our sins. Though we gave ourselves over to the nothingness of sin, He was never again going to require the wages (payment) of our sins from our hands.

For thus says the LORD, “You were sold for nothing and you will be redeemed without money

 – Isaiah 52:3

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Instead of using natural waters to purge the world of sin as in the days of Noah, God decided to use supernatural waters.

God proclaimed this when He said that He shall sprinkle clean water on us and so we shall be clean (Ezekiel 36:25). Jesus explains this further when He said to the disciples that they were clean because of the words that He spoke to them (John 15:3).

So we see that it is the supernatural water of the life-giving word of God that cleanses us from our sins.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: It is the water of the word that enables us to receive the Holy Spirit or to be born of the Holy Spirit – who can only inhabit a clean and in-corrupt vessel for He is holy.

This is why Jesus told Nicodemus that man must be born of water and the Holy Spirit (John 3:5). Simply put, Jesus is saying that we must first be cleansed of our sins and then receive the Holy Spirit who seals us (Ephesians 1:13 – 14) onto salvation. Jesus was simply describing what truly happens when we believe and confess:  (1) our sins get eradicated and (2) we receive the Holy Spirit.

How is it that the word washes us? Here is how: The words that God speaks to us produce faith – for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word (Romans 10:17). It is this faith (trust and believe) that Jesus is Lord and that Christ raised Him from death that produces salvation (Romans 10:9-10) by giving us access to grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Hence, it is faith (which comes from words) that helps us tap into the forgiveness of sins – which was accomplished over two millennia ago.

How wonderful it is that God considers the sacrifice of Jesus for us (our transgressions and iniquity) as the waters of Noah! It is a one and done deal that required nothing from us! Instead of being angry with us or rebuking us (see Isaiah 54:9-10), God poured out the cup of His wrath on Jesus (Himself). What a loving Father! What a loving Son to accept His fate!

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Overcome Your Mountain: ‘Speak in Faith’

iStock_000000883811XSmallThere are two kinds of mountains (troubles) we will face in this life: natural mountains (those we stumble upon) and self-made mountains (those we create).

Natural Mountains

Natural mountains are those that Satan places in our path to do us harm and to stifle our God given purpose and in so doing change our predestined path. Whether in the form of a lovely distraction or a deadly circumstance; whether inflicted by sickness or inflicted by people, these are real mountains we encounter simply because we live in a fallen world. Natural mountains represent the trials and tribulations to which Jesus says we shall overcome because He has already overcome the world (see John 16:33). Furthermore, the way we attain victory over these mountains is by introducing faith. Here is how the bible puts it:

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith – 1 John 5:4

Note that this passage does not say faith brings victory. It says that faith is our victory. Hence, faith is victory. It does not say victory (faith) will overcome the world. No! It says that victory (faith) has already overcome the word (past tense). From this, we can no longer call ourselves people of faith without living in victory over the trials and tribulation in our lives.

Self-made Mountains

Man-made mountains are those troubles we heap on ourselves though sin and disobedience. These are the mountains we have built up over time as we refuse to turn back from our evil ways (our heart) and our evil doings (our actions).

Now, it is this particular kind of mountain we have built in the impurity of our inner self (our ungodly hearts) that many of us fail to recognize, for we convince ourselves that God is only interested in what we do (actions). But this is not true! Here is what the bible says:

…For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart… – 1 Samuel 16:7

Hence, God cares as much about our hearts as He does about our actions. It is because of this truth that He calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers. Although they (the Pharisees) were blameless when it came to righteousness that came from the law (works or actions), their hearts needed major reconstruction!

Wait Emmanuel; does God correct us based on what is festering in our hearts? I am glad you asked. Here is what the scripture has to say about it:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart; I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings – Jeremiah 17:9 -10

The answer is yes! Moreover, this correction may come through the actions of other people – such as when God allowed the Chaldeans to take Judah captive as a result of Judah’s sin. While some of the false prophets thought it was the Chaldean’s fault, it was really the fault of the people of Judah for not repenting. Let me put it this way:

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: If people are always causing you trouble, check yourself for you may be the problem. People tend to manifest and become the manifestation of what you have allowed in your heart.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: If you are always climbing one mountain after the other, it is likely that you have put some of the mountains there. Have you?

Overcome Your Mountain – ‘Speak in faith’

Now, no matter the source of the mountain, faith remains the answer. All we have to do to overcome is ‘Speak in faith’. Note, I did not say ‘Speak in hope’. If your mountain is self-made, all you have to do is confess (acknowledge) and repent (turn away) from your sin and ask God in faith to relent in the time He may be found, and He will.

The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it – Jeremiah 18:7-8

Similarly, when you tell the natural mountain that you have stumbled upon to be removed in faith, the mountain will move.

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says – Mark 11:23

If in doubt as to the source of the mountain, instead of praying ineffective prayers, ask God to reveal its source (your heart or Satan) and then speak to it in faith. Remember what God has promised:

 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them – Mark 11:24

Food for Thought: We should not be mountain climbers but should be mountain movers

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3 Keys to Take Hold of Your Birth Right

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

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

Faith and Obedience

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

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

Patience

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

Prayer

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

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

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

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

(1) Seek God in prayer

(2) Obey His voice no matter what

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

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

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Fast-Forward Your Mission – Stay on God’s sling-shot

Our minds can be so focused on achieving the task God has assigned to us that we miss out on the blessings of God on our journey. If we find ourselves having no joy while doing God’s work, it is most likely because we have reverted to doing things in our own power and in our own way rather than relying on God’s power and God’s way. But are we not meant to be partners with God? Do we not have a part to play? Is faith without works not dead? It certainly is! Yet, God wants us to do what he wants us to do, how he wants us to do it – His way. A sure way of critiquing whether we have begun doing things in our own power is to examine the principles we are following. See, the truth is that God will never violate His own principles; therefore God’s way will not violate His principles.

The scripture highlights this in the book of Samuel where David answered God’s voice to take out the Amalekites who had attacked Ziklag and captured his family. Although on a god-sent mission that had deep personal implications, David did not fail to follow the principle of ‘loving your neighbor’. Instead of understandably rushing off to accomplish his mission, he paused to give aid to a distressed man on his journey (see 1 Samuel 30:11-13). As it turned out, this man had valuable information about the Amalekites that helped David achieve his mission faster. Note that David did not know who this man was or the information he had prior to loving him by giving him aid, yet, without this man, David might have spent days in search of his family.  Thus we see that, God honored David by fast-forwarding his mission and reuniting him with his family when David honored God by putting God’s principles first in his life.

Lightbulb MomentIn Christ, the seeming drawbacks to our mission are simply the pullback of the sling-shot that God uses to propel us towards our destiny.

To be successful, we must resist our tendency to get off the sling-shot in its pullback motion but learn to wait for the acceleration that is surely to follow. We must allow God to complete what He has started for He who has promised is faithful!

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