Tag Archives: Heart

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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Do yourself a favor – Do not remove your own plank

“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank the plank in your own eye….” (see Matthew 7:4 – 5).

With good intentions, many of us read this passage of scripture and then start to work on the plank in our eyes. Because we cannot see, we blindly start fumbling and fooling around with our eyes and do more damage to that very part that is often described as the gateway that is able to fill our being with light (see Matthew 6:22). See, since Jesus is the light of the world and we can only see light and fill our being with light through our eyes, it becomes clear that the eye can be used as a metaphor for the mind. Hence, Jesus is the light that brightens (or renews) our eyes (mind) so that our inner being (heart) is filled with light. And when our inner being (heart) is filled with light (Jesus), what comes out of us cannot defile (see Mark 7: 20 – 21) for Jesus is undefiled.

To ensure we do not fool ourselves by thinking we do not have any specks or planks, a good definition for specks and planks are as follows: the plank is any barrier that stops the light (the Word) from reaching and staying in our eyes (mind); anything that takes our focus off God. The speck is anything that stops the Word (Jesus) from reaching and illuminating (or having victory) specific areas of our life. So you see, we all have specks and planks!

Now, should we attempt to fix the problem specks and planks on our own? No! While we can choose to remove them ourselves, we find that we have gouged a huge hole in our eye so that it is now no longer able to receive God’s light. By going solo, we lose parts of our minds to our own devices (ways of thinking) and glory in ourselves for a job well done. What is now blocking the light of God is no longer a problem we know is there (speck or plank), but something we often cannot see – pride. Although our eyes are no longer irritated, the issue is now that our eyes have become dim of the light of God because we are so full of our own ‘light’; we are full of ourselves.

Therefore, the only way we should ever remove that specks and planks in our eyes is by humbly surrendering ourselves to the doctor (the plank remover) who is able to do His job gently, lovingly, and skillfully .

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: The only way we can solve the problems in our lives without creating more problems is by submitting them to God. Anything other than this is sifting out a gnat and then proceeding to swallow a camel (see Matthew 23:24)

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I think I feel – You could be your own worst enemy!

Oh I think this; Oh I feel that! Just because we think it does not make it the truth, and just because we feel it does not make it real. And just because a friend agrees with it does not confirm it. Since what we feel stems from how we think, it stands to reason that we can change how we feel by changing how we think. The scripture gives credence to this by letting us now that ‘as a man thinks in his heart, so is he’ (Proverbs 3:27). So what kind of men or women are we? Does what we think line up with the Word? If whatever we are thinking does not line up with truth (the Word), then it is a lie! This lie in turn creates fantasy (untrue) emotions that lead us to speak lie-based words and take lie-based actions. We start living a lie-based life that keeps us in bondage – for only the truth brings freedom.

Since words create worlds and words come from thoughts, it is best to create a world of life and truth by inclining our ears to God’s word instead of creating a world of lies and death by acting on our own thoughts and feelings, even if they are supported by the world – which they most likely will be.

Yes, we all have our own thoughts and feeling and we will always have opinions. Yet, we must scrutinize them against the perfect law of liberty (the Word) when they come. If they do not jive with the Word, we must surrender them to God in humility for they are fear-based lies from the father of lies (Satan) who is most likely plaguing on our past experiences, fears, and insecurities.

Should we find that our thoughts never jive with the Word, it’s a sure sign to us to surrender our hearts, spend more time with Him in Word and prayer, and give up our control for His control. When we do this, our thoughts will begin to reflect more of his thoughts.

Remember, His thoughts towards us are good; always to prosper us and to give us a future and a hope (see Jeremiah 29:11).

Lightbulb MomentWhile our thoughts tend to be motivated by a mixture of good (love, hope) and evil (fear, pride, selfishness) and leads to foolishness at best, God’s thoughts are motivated by agape love and always lead to life.   

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I Am a Good Christian, So Why Am I Not Being Blessed?

What Am I Doing Wrong?

Many of us miss out on the blessings that God wants to bestow upon us because we think we have not sinned – that we have no sin to confess. We say ‘I have not done anything wrong, so I have not sinned and so have no sin to confess’. We say this because we erroneously think that sin occurs in the doing; in our actions. But this is not what the bible teaches us about sin. See, if sin was solely based on actions (obeying a set of rules), then apostle Paul would have been sinless! We know this because he tells us that he was blameless (guiltless) with regards to the righteousness (purity or holiness) that comes from the law or works (see Philippians 3:6). But Paul knew better than to think he had no sin because he was flawless in obeying the ordinances of the law. He knew his righteousness was like a filthy rag (see Isaiah 64:6) in the sight of God and that only God could impart righteousness onto him (see 2 Corinthians 5:21)!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We can be perfect in our actions and still be full of sin, for sin is not measured by how well we are able to keep the law.

The question then is this: If sin is not about actions, when have I sinned? Jesus gives us the answer in the following passage:

“But I say to you that whoever looks at woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” – Matthew 5:27

Jesus is saying here that adultery (which is a sin) has already taken place when it reaches our hearts. In other words, we have to pay attention to our heart intentions. It is important to state that Jesus did not say ‘committed adultery with her in his mind’. If Jesus had said this, then sin would occur the moment we are tempted in our minds. But this is not so, for temptation is not sin. The scriptures tell us that Jesus Himself was tempted as a man in this world, but he did not sin (see Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, Jesus did not sin not because He was not tempted, but because He did not allow the temptation to reach His heart; He did not allow the temptation to linger long enough in His mind to enter His heart, but rather rebuked it away with the Word of God. Hallelujah!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Temptation only becomes sin when it crosses the barrier between our mind and enters into our hearts.

It is because sin has already taken place when temptation enters our hearts that the bible tells us that we deceive ourselves and that the truth is not in us if we say we have no sin (see 1 john 1:8). So you ask – how can I not sin? Well, here it is. The only way not to have any sin in our heart is to walk non-stop in the Spirit; we have to walk perfectly in the Spirit like Jesus did. Note that the bible tells us that if we are not walking in the Spirit, then we end up walking in the flesh or in sin (see Galatians 5:16). So, if you can master walking in the Spirit 24/7 for the rest of your life, then congratulations! You have no sin. If like us mere mortals (and you are being honest with yourself) you slip out of your Spirit-walk, then you have to confess your sins (see 1 John 1:9). The Hebrew word for sin (hata) literally means to ‘miss the mark’. We miss the mark when we are not walking in the Spirit. Conversely, we do not miss the mark when are walking in the Spirit (abiding in Him); this is why the bible says that whoever abides in Him does not sin (see 1 John 3:6). See, the challenge we fail is that of abiding in Him. It is not enough that He abides in us (that we have the Spirit), but we have to abide in Him ( walk in the Spirit). This is what Paul implores us to do (see Galatians 5:25).

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: If we say we have no sin, we are saying that we are walking perfectly in the Spirit. If we say we are walking in the Spirit perfectly, we have already deceived ourselves.

Now that we know we have fallen short, we have to check our hearts to see what is in there that is keeping us from God’s best. Is it the sin of unforgiveness? Is it lust? Is it envy or jealousy or pride? What is it? See, just because we put up all the barriers and boundaries we want so that we do not act on what is in our hearts does not mean we have no sin. All it means is that we are at best trying to keep ourselves and others from harm, and at worst hiding who we truly are by saying ‘see, my actions are flawless, therefore I am a righteous person’.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We fool ourselves when we do not take care of our sinful hearts (not sinful actions). While our actions determine whether other people are blessed, it is our heart intentions that determine whether we are blessed for those actions – for God cannot bless sin and disobedience.

Yes, God in His mercy can still pull us undeservedly out of situations and grant us favor, but with sinful hearts, we never experience the fullness of the riches of the inheritance that He has for us. To keep our hearts from being infiltrated by the temptations we endure, we must guard it with the sword of the Spirit (meditating on the word of God), prayer, command our angels to do battle on our behalf, and rebuke the enemy with His words flowing from our mouths. We must stay vigilant, humble, and surrendered.

When we fail to realize that sin occurs in the heart, we fail to put up barriers between our mind and heart and so we fall into sin immediately. Most of us spend our lives putting up all sorts of barriers (including locking ourselves away from the world because everything causes us to fall) between our heart and our actions without realizing that we have already sinned. It is those of us that do this that are always wondering why God is not moving in our lives! To this we usually fall into the trap of more legalistic law keeping or we simply convince ourselves that God does not have particular goodies for us! As if God withholds goodies from His children (see Matthew 7:11)

Food for Thought: If you are not eating of the good of the land, go to the doctor (see Paging Doc Jesus) to check your heart for you may very well have heart disease.

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The Peril of Being Unequally Yoked!

We should not deceive ourselves. Our existence is more likely to resemble that of Penelope Pit-stop who stumbled into peril after peril, if we are unequally yoked within ourselves (see Ready for Marriage – Are you equally yoked?) and become yoked with an unbeliever (see Unequally yoked – So you think you are marrying a believer!). Should we become unequally yoked, we find that we encounter the hooded claw of life’s dangers; it is only the mercy and grace of God that keeps us from disaster. Therefore, it is best to avoid testing God by choosing to be unequally yoked – both individually and corporately.

The peril of being unequally yoked in a relationship

Many a men have experimented with marrying unbelievers to disastrous ends. The first ones to try were the sons of God who took the daughters of men as their wives (see Genesis 6:2). By choosing not to yoke themselves with the daughters of God, but instead with those that were not being led by the Spirit of God, their hearts turned towards evil.

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” – Romans 8:14

God was not well-pleased with man’s disobedient decision! Rather than strive with man, He first decided to shorten man’s life to 120 years and then proceeded to send a great flood to wipe man off the face of the earth – except for Noah and those housed in his ark! Hmm! All other men ultimately perished because godly men decided to become unequally yoked with ungodly women.

Note: While emphasis is being placed on men because the Word says that it is a man who finds a wife (see Proverbs 18:22), it goes without saying that women have to ensure they are marrying godly men as well.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment:  Our thoughts turn towards evil when we decide to yoke ourselves with ungodly partners. Eventually, those evil thoughts manifest into heavy burdens that lead us away from the victorious life God intended for us and potentially shorten our life-span.

Rather than learn from the earliest of warning against being unequally yoked and heeding the warnings of Moses and Joshua, King Solomon decided to marry ungodly women. As a result, he lost his kingdom which was split into two (Judah and Israel) and ushered in a period of prolonged idol worship (spanning many kings) that led previously loyal territories (such as Moab and Edom) to revolt.

If we choose not to learn from the Word, which is profitable to us for correction (see 2 Timothy 3:16) and choose to yoke ourselves with unbelievers, we have no one to blame for the unnecessary troubles (that God can fix) we heap on ourselves.

The peril of being unequally yoked with ourselves

When we do not bring our minds (soul) into full alignment with our spirit (which has been infiltrated by the Holy Spirit) via the transformation that comes from the perennial renewal of our minds with the Word of God, we find that we become double-minded. We find ourselves flip-flopping between being led by the Spirit and being led by our own fleshly desires. We yo-yo between fear and faith and so never gain a productive and full harvest, for we never fully nurture the seeds of faith we have been given with the water of the Word.

The mark of the unequally yoked believer is inaction, indecision, procrastination, timidity, vacillation, and an overall lack of boldness. Such a one is a good starter but a poor finisher – for sustained effort is hard to achieve without sustained faith.  If we are unequally yoked, we find that we make many plans and conquer many kingdoms with our mouths! Worse of all, we do not receive anything from God

“For let not that man (who doubts) suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” – James 1:7 – 8

How sad it is that we do not receive anything we ask for, simply because we will not allow our minds to be renewed by the Word.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We cannot just tick the box of reading the Word, but we have to prepare the soil of our hearts so that the Word can renew our minds and so transform us into who we truly are in Christ

Rather than yoke ourselves to our flesh, we are wise to yoke ourselves to the Spirit and join the winning team.

Food for Thought: No one who has ever yoked themselves to Christ has ever been defeated!

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Favor Gone Berserk – Recieving grace in vain

What are you doing with God’s favor? (listen here)

God’s grace is multifaceted! His grace saves us from eternal separation (through the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ), covers us in a myriad of situations and covers our sins when we confess, and empowers us (through the Holy Spirit) to live righteously and to attain all the covenant blessings or promises (favor, healing, prosperity, wisdom, might, and much more) that has been won for us.

Since we receive grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8), as we grow our faith (belief and trust) in the Lord through the study of His Word (see Romans 10:17), we ensure we experience more grace (power, gifting) in our lives. Thus, a life of faith is an empowered life that leads to the manifestation of the fullness of His covenant blessings in our life.

Yet, many of us receive the grace of God in vain when we fail to realize that God lavishes His grace on us not just to proper us but for us to be His hands and feet and to fulfill the requirements of love through His gifts – to walk in His purpose for us, to reveal Christ to others, and to be a blessing to others. Paul puts it this way:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me – 1 Corinthians 5:10

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We receive grace in vain when we stop laboring to fulfill the requirements of love by walk in His purpose for us, revealing Christ to others, and being a blessing to others. When we think it is just for us and we become lazy

Favor Gone Berserk

Favor goes berserk when we receive favor in vain. I started thinking of how favor goes berserk when I was asked this question: What would you rather have – favor or blessing? I found the question puzzling, not because it is difficult to answer, but because it makes a fundamentally flawed assumption. The question assumes that favor and blessing are mutually exclusive.

The will of God is to pour out his blessing on us and doth on us as a loving Father. He longs to bless us so that we can be a blessing to others – not to hog all our blessings in selfishness. By blessing others, we show God’s heart and walk in obedience. We open the door to God’s blessing when we obediently follow the path the He has for us. Favor is something that God grants us as we continue on the path of obedience. It is God’s favor that propels and catapults us towards the blessings that He has in store for us. So the relationship between favor and blessing is simply this:

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Favors are simply doors that God opens to accomplish His purpose through us

The mindset that favor and blessing are exclusive keeps us from reaching our destiny! People who chase after favor rather than blessings can be compared to those that base their performance on effort rather than results. They congratulate themselves on effort without ever achieving much. Hence, favor minded people often find themselves stuck in the same situation in life.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Favor is the means to an end, and not the end in itself.

The story of Mark lays out the peril of being solely favor minded

Mark Receives Grace in Vain (listen here)

Mark is a favor-monger! He loves favor. Mark does not have much but he does very well on favor. He is favored everywhere he goes – he gets free parking in places others need to pay; he gets the closest parking at sporting events, and a friend usually picks up his tab at dinner. Mark enjoys so much favor that he has come to expect it. It has come to the point where he can just about budget favor into his monthly financial plan.  For this, He is very thankful to God and prays to God for even more favor. From the outside looking in, it would be nice to be Mark right? Wrong!

Here are some things that being solely favor minded has done to Mark

  • He Cannot Bless Others: Mark is never able to pick up the tab for any of his friends. He is never able to help or bless anyone as he is the one that is always in need of a blessing. He needs others to continue favoring him and so is unable to be God’s hands and feet.
  • He has Become Lazy: By being solely favor minded he has imbibed a poverty mentality where he is satisfied with barely scraping by. He has the ability to achieve more, but laziness has crept into him. He has become the servant that the master admonished in the parable of the talents for being lazy (see Matthew 14:26). Mark has buried his potential under the seductive soil of favor!
  • He is Dissatisfied: Mark is never fully satisfied with any particular blessing his friends bestow upon him as he is always looking for more! His friends have noticed that while he always smiles and thanks them for blessing him, Mark becomes very sad, withdrawn, and even cold when he does not obtain their favor. They secretly wonder if Mark is only friends with them because of what they do for him. They wonder if their friendship with Mark is built on being his cash cow, and they wonder why he does not do more with the talent he possesses. On the other hand, Mark wonders why his friends have not picked up the tab especially when they are able and he is unable! He rationalizes it as his friends being cheap and not really loving him. He judges them for not following the biblical injunction of caring for the “needy” – as he is one who is in need! He conveniently forgets about all the other times they pick up his tab……. Mark has truly become a burden. And since he is never truly satisfied, he is never truly content. As such, he always nags. He has become a person that bible calls quarrelsome and nagging (see Proverbs 21:19).
  • He Cannot Keep a Relationship: Mark cannot maintain relationships because he is always the “taker” in them. He never gives because he rationalizes that he has nothing to give – but a whole lot of condemnation which he considers advice. He sees nothing wrong with always being a taker. In fact, He thanks God for blessing him and for putting people in his life he can take from. They are such a blessing! But in time, his partner realizes that Mark loves favor more than her and leaves him. Mark is stunned! He cannot see his own selfishness. He prays that God sends him another partner – another partner to drain!

Mark has forgotten that the bible says we should give and it shall be given unto us. It does not say to take so that we can get more.

“Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:38

Mark’s Heart Condition (listen here)

The story of Mark illuminates what can happen when favor goes berserk – when we make favor the goal and not a means. It may lead to laziness, ingratitude, inability to fulfill our potential and broken relationships. As heirs to the throne, Jesus has unlocked for us covenant blessings; not just covenant favor for our selfish gain. We must not allow the enemy to twist favor in such a way as to keep us from God’s best. If this is happening, we have to examine our hearts. If we truly have a heart for God (a heart of love), then we will have a heart to be a blessing to others. We will have a heart to be givers.

So to answers the originally levied question of whether I would rather have favor or blessing, I say give me bless me so that I can be a blessing to others.

Food for Thought: The path to God’s blessing is paved with favor

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Growing Up Elisha – Old School versus New Skool

Change your heart; change your life

Elisha was undoubtedly one of the greatest biblical prophets. He had a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and thus performed twice as many miracles; he did not fall prey to fear like Elijah (when he hid in a cave from Jezebel and asked God to take his life); and the final miracle performed through him was after his death. In the fanfare of Elisha’s greatness, it is easy for us to overlook the truth that God had to grow him up at the start of his tenure as prophet of Israel. The proof of Elisha’s growth (as evidenced by a change in his thinking and behavior) is this: Elisha went from killing forty-two kids because they ridiculed him about his baldness (2 Kings 2:23 – 24), to sparing and treating to a feast an army that was sent specifically to kill him (2 Kings 6:14 – 22).  Something happened to Elisha to change him from his old way of thinking (old school) to a new way of thinking (new skool).

We can infer that old school Elisha was intolerant, quick to anger, swift to pronounce judgment, and hence meted out harsh (if not criminal) justice. Power in the hands of such a man as old school Elisha is dangerous as the kids who survived the mauling by the two bears can attest. I mean, Elisha was out of control! He did not pause to think to himself that kids sometimes will behave like kids. Yes the kids were wrong for what they did, but they were not “dead” wrong – they did not deserve death. Even if he was upset, a sensible fellow would have chastised the children and moved on. But no, to him the ‘sin’ of ridicule was punishable by death. Old school Elisha was a child himself who was not grown up in the Lord. He simply focused on “what” the kids were doing (mocking him) rather than “why” the kids were doing what they were doing (possibly to have some fun).

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: When we simply focus only on what was done to us (from a selfish point of view) rather than try to understand why it was done; we tend to over-react and throw the baby out with the bath water.

Note: Taking our eyes off Elisha for a moment, the story of what happened to the youths teaches us that we have to be careful who we mess with for we can never be sure how they will react. It is better to avoid trouble by not messing with anyone in the first place.

When we look for parallels between old school Elisha and other people in the bible, we find something interesting. We find that the Pharisees were the ones that concentrated on the “what” (action) rather than the “why” (heart). They chose to focus on what Jesus was doing only from their own selfish point of view and so acted solely based on that point of view. They could not see beyond themselves and so made a decision that is even crazier than the decision Elisha made. They decided to crucify a man who did nothing morally reprehensible but was healing, teaching, feeding , and caring for people and instead released a man who was a violent thief.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Old school Elisha was similar to the Pharisees (self-focused) and so acted like them; much like we are and do before we truly come to know Jesus (God).

New skool Elisha on the other hand was a different man. He not only showed mercy to the men that were sent to kill him but threw them a party. What new skool Elisha did can be paralleled with what Jesus did. Jesus was merciful to us by paying the price for all our sins and then threw us a party by making available to us all the covenant blessing of God through the Holy Spirit with whom He sealed us.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: New skool Elisha morphed into a man who behaved like Jesus; much like we do when we are conformed to the image of Christ after we come to know Him.

So what changed Elisha? Simply put……God. As he continued walking with God, his heart started to resemble the heart of God. And the heart of God is this: that people do not perish but come to repentance.

“For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!” – Ezekiel 18:32

While old school Elisha would probably have called down lightning to set the Syrian army ablaze, new skool Elisha simply blinded them temporarily and escorted them to the King so they may be thrown a party. He did not destroy the men but showed them mercy. As a result, the men sent to kill Elisha turned back from their old ways of raiding Israel for the bible says that the raiders no longer entered Israel (see 2 Kings 6:23) – they did not perish but repented.

Just as God remains long-suffering towards us and extends His loving kindness to us through Jesus (who sacrificed Himself for us), we are to extend the same courtesy to others.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment:  As new skooler’s, we no longer live for ourselves but rather throw parties for our enemies in love so that they may be changed and live!

God wants us to be transformed from old school to new skool by dumping the ruler of this world (Satan) and allowing Jesus to live within us and walk with Him. He wants us to truly know Him by studying His Word. As we do this, we build our knowledge of Him and build our faith in Him. In time, we are able to act out of a heart of love rather than act out of our own selfishness. When we do this, we find that we are no longer instruments of calamity in our own lives and other people’s lives but rather become bridge builders and vessels of positive change in the world.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: When saved, we become Elisha’s as we become empowered by the Holy Spirit. Yet, our old school must be transformed to a new skool. When we choose to grow in God by renewing our minds (see Romans 12:2), the impact of our life grows.

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” – Galatians 5:25

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God’s Love is Not For Sale – Are You Trying to Buy God’s Love?

Bidding paddle

Are you trying to buy God’s love?

God’s love is not for sale. Yet, many of us are still trying to buy His love. It has still not sunk in that God loves us not on the basis of what we do or what we ever could do, but because of whom He is. If God’s love was based on what we do, then why would He have sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins while we were in the depths of our depravity to reconcile us to Him?

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”

 – Ephesians 2:4 – 5

The truth is that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus (see Romans 8:38 – 39). Nothing means nothing – nothing we think, feel, say, or do, no amount of works – absolutely nothing! Rather than try to buy God’s love, our aim should be to experience the fullness of His love. Our ability to experience the fullness of His love – his saving power, his riches, covenant blessing and much more – depends on how much we love Him and not how much He loves us.

Lightbulb Moment

Light-bulb moment: God’s love is not for sale. The extent to which we experience the fullness of His love depends on one fundamental question. How much do we love God?

Everything that we do – including our obedience and works – should come out of love for God. If it does not, God is not pleased. How do we know this? Well, the bible says that it is impossible to please God without faith (see Hebrews 11:6), and since faith works through love (see Galatians 5:6); anything that we do that does not come out a loving heart does not please God.

Therefore, when we say we are showing our faith by what we do (see James 2:18), that faith is not pleasing to God unless it comes from a heart of love. I want to make it clear that our hearts (not our works) has to be aligned with the heart of God. When our heart is aligned with God’s heart and we take action (do things) to bring Him glory in love, then we unleash the riches of the glory of His inheritance in us (see Ephesians 1: 18).

Let me further explain: The bible says that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Why you ask? This is because whoever seeks Him (in study of His Word and Prayer) will find Him (see Matthew 7:7). When we find God, we find love for He is love (see 1 John 4:8). As we begin to grow in the knowledge of His love (which comes as we seek Him more), then our love for Him grows (see 1 John 4:8). As our love for Him grows, our faith in Him grows. It is this faith that works through love that leads to obedience, and it is obedience that unlocks the covenant blessings that Jesus has made available to us through His sacrifice on the cross.

With that being said, anything we say we do for God that is not out of love is mainly out of three things: fear, pride, and selfishness. God is not pleased with that no matter how good it looks to man.  For example, if I give to charity only to lower my taxes and not because I have a heart for the hurting (which is God’s heart), I have acted for selfish gain. Man may be pleased with what I have done, but God is not. While we can fool other people, we cannot fool God. He sees beyond our actions and into our heart intentions.

So I am not saying that we should not give to charity because our hearts is not right! Instead, what I am saying is that we should always be cognizant of our heart intentions so that we may ask God to change our hearts as necessary.

Here are two questions I now often ask myself and I think are good questions to ask:

  1. Are my actions based on what God has placed in my heart or is it to please man or achieve a selfish need?
  2. Am I obeying just to tick the box of obedience to the law (so to buy God’s favor and blessings) or is my obedience coming out of genuine love?

When we experience God’s love, we stop fearing and then are free to love God with all our hearts.

Food for Thought: I put myself in bondage of the law when I try to buy love that is freely available

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