Tag Archives: Jesus

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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Don’t Fall for the Facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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A few Good Reasons Why You Should Stop Trying to Live for Jesus

There are two main modes of thought when it comes to how to live. The first mode of thought comes from the world. If you listen to the world, it’ll tell you to ‘live for you’. It’ll encourage you to be true to yourself and be honest with who you are. The problem with the advice ‘live for you’ can be summed up with the question ‘who are you?’ The second mode of thought comes from religion. If you listen to religion, it’ll tell you to ‘live for God’. If you are a Christian,  you’ll be specifically encouraged to ‘live for Jesus’.

Is there a problem with trying to live for Jesus? You better believe it. How can you and I live for a perfect and sinless savior? The simple answer is that we cannot. Try as hard as we might, we fall short of living up to the standards of Jesus (God). In fact, the only person who can live for Jesus is Jesus. Thus to try to live for Jesus is to set yourself up for a life of wondering if you are doing enough, a life of performance anxiety, a life of fear and doubt, and a life of endless striving to be good. It is a life of law keeping –  a life of bondage.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: If you find no peace in your christian walk and you feel shackled as a christian, it is likely that you are trying to live for Jesus.

The good news is this: God does not want us to live for Him, He wants to live for us! If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe the Holy Scriptures.

 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me – Galatians 2:20

The scripture above says ‘I no longer live’. If we are no longer alive, how can we live for anyone? Moreover, if we are dead, then someone has to live in place of us. That person who is supposed to live for us is Christ.

Since God is not a control freak, He will only live for us if we allow Him to do so. Now if you are like me, the only way I’d allow someone to take my place in anything is if (1) that person is better than I am (2) that person is worthy (3) I have faith (trust and believe in that person). I’d say Christ fits that billing extraordinarily well.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: The only way Christ can live for us if for us to surrender in faith

Why allow Christ to live for us rather than try to live for him? Here are 8 good reasons:

  • Living for Jesus involves works and requires a lot of effort, but allowing Jesus to live for us involves faith because only our surrender is required.
  • Living for Jesus leads to anxiety, but Jesus living for us leads to peace.
  • Living for Jesus leads to condemnation unto despair, but Jesus living for us leads to conviction unto repentance.
  • Living for Jesus leads us to keep up appearances, but Jesus living for us leads to transparency.
  • Living for Jesus leads us to be depressed about who we are not, but Jesus living for us leads us to be confident about who He is and who we are in Him no matter our shortcomings.
  • Living for Jesus leads us to shy away from God when we get it wrong, but Jesus living for us leads us to move towards God when we get it wrong.
  • Living for Jesus leads to fear and doubt, but Jesus living for us leads to faith and love
  • Living for Jesus comes out of religion, but Jesus living for us comes out of relationship (intimacy).

Story of Job

Job was a man who tried to ‘live for God’. By all intents and purposes he succeeded in doing just that. In fact he was blameless when it came to living for God. Yet, his life was filled with fear. He would quickly go and make penance for his children after parties out of fear (Job 1:5). He also feared that he was going to lose all he had (Job 3:25).

In due time he found out that religion could not sustain him. After losing everything, he came to the realization that he had only ‘known about God’ (religion) instead of knowing God (relationship) (see Job 42:5). The turnaround for him came after he realized that he could trust God and that there was nothing that God could not turn around (Job 42:1). Once he surrendered to God in his heart fully, he not only regained all that he had lost but got a double portion of what was lost.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Even if you are doing a great job living for Jesus (obeying the law), the glory of living for Jesus pales in comparison with glory of Jesus living for you.

 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious – 2 Corinthians 3:7-11

If we are to see the manifestation of the glory of God in our midst, we have to stop trying to live for Jesus and we have to allow Jesus to live for us. We have to move beyond religion and move into intimacy. I speak to myself.

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What is Holding You Back?

indexFear dreams of and creates non-existing monsters and obstacles that play the role of stopping us from attaining that which we desire the most. Moreover, it creates an ally called pride that justifies, cheers on, and encourages every action that fear takes. Hence, fear creates pride, and pride is a promoter of fear. Love on the other hand creates a bridge that towers over the danger that fear puts in our way and offers safe passage to our land of promise. Moreover, it gives birth to humility, the engine that provides the horsepower for continued progress along the highway of love.

The good news is that love is stronger than fear and humility is more powerful than pride. So how is that we can defeat fear and pride? Practically, the answer is to simply walk in love and humility – do not try to fight fear and pride for they are crafty and fierce foes.

Do you spend more time hiding from yourself and justifying who fear has made you become or do you spend more time improving yourself by conquering fear with love. It can be a frightful thing taking a look at who you truly are in the mirror. In fact, of all the people that we may lie to, we tend to lie to ourselves the most. Fear is a lie and love is the truth. Every moment we continue to in fear is a moment we continue in a lie – for the monsters that fear projects are merely illusions. So how do we get rid of this lie? The answer is to simply believe in the truth?

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life – John 14:6

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. To believe in the truth is to believe in Jesus. To believe in Jesus is to believe in who He is and to believe in everything he says about you through the scripture. When you begin to consider for starters that you have been made right with God, you are the son or daughter of the most high and powerful God, nothing can separate you from the love of God,  you are seated with Jesus in heavenly places, you are above and not beneath…you will begin to look at fear not as a juggernaut to fear but an enemy to trample over.

Jesus is the answer to every thing that holds us back.

If you have no clue what that means. It means that all the answers you are looking for are available in Him and through Him. Do not spend your time searching for that which is already available to your through Jesus. To get a hold of it only requires that you humble yourself and surrender to Him.

So how can we rid ourselves of fear and pride? The answer is to call on the name of Jesus Christ. The Psalmist makes mention of this when he says: I sought the LORD and He heard me, and delivered me from all of my fears – Psalm 34:4 

So I implore you to seek the Lord today and allow Him to deliver you out of your fears. You don’t have to keep fighting a battle that has already been won.

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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade!’ I heard it for the first time in 2002 from an older lady in college. See, I worked as a math tutor and she was a non-traditional student taking college courses after work. One afternoon, she came in wearing a sad countenance. Halfway into our session it became clear that her mind was elsewhere so I asked her if everything was alright. At this she apologized and told me she was thinking about her 9-year old son – how it hurt her that he was growing up without his father. She told me how she went from being a stay-at-home mom to having to go back to work, and is now taking college classes so she could get a better job and build a better future for her and her son. After she finished giving me a few more details about her divorce she said finished with, “my mom always says when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.

Friends, this phrase has become more prevalent in my thinking the last couple of weeks. Indeed, life has handed me some lemons lately. Yesterday, as I pondered the phrase, the Holy Spirit quickened me and used it to teach me 7 life lessons

Lesson 1: When 

It is not a matter of if lemons (troubles) will show up, it is a matter of when they show up. Lemons in life are inevitable. Instead of hoping that lemons never show up in our lives, we are better served to prepare for those lemons. Prior preparation allows us to respond in love rather than react in fearfulness when trouble does come. This is where we want to be.

Consider that the prince and princess that rode off on a shiny white horse into the sunset in the fairy tale did not ride forever. The horse got tired and they had to get off the horse at some point – even if it was just for a bathroom break. So don’t dread the lemon, prepare for it. Whatever you are prepared to deal with is less daunting when it comes to pass. Moreover, be careful not to break off a fairy tale just because a lemon shows up in it.

In this life you will have trials and tribulations, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world – Jesus Christ

Lesson 2: Life

Lemons come from life. Most of the lemons we encounter in life come from our own or other people choices and decisions. Some lemons do come from what mother nature dishes out (i.e. natural disasters) but these are in the minority.

No matter where your lemon comes from, know that it does NOT come from God. God does not give lemons, God takes away or redeems lemons. Settle that in your spirit right now.

No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone – James (brother of Jesus)

Lesson 3: Gives

While it is true that life will give us lemons, it is not true that we have to keep possession of it. For example, unless you are a farmer, if given a pile of dung, are you likely to keep it? No, you are likely to throw is away or sell it. Even if you are a farmer, you are unlikely to keep the dung in your house but you will put it to good use. The same goes with a lemon of a car. You will not keep such a car but get rid of it.

Similarly, we should not keep possession of every lemon that comes our way – especially the rotten ones that serve no useful purpose. If your old friends have become lemons in your life, find new ones. If your hobby is killing you, find a new one. If the demands of your job is causing a major rift in your marriage, it’s a lemon, do something about it.

There are somethings given to us to posses, then there are others things given to us to transfer. God does not want us to merely take possession of lemons but wants us to do something with them. Ask Him what he wants you to do with the lemon you have. Is He calling you to take possession of the lemon or throw it away?

 Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess – God the Father

Lesson 4: You

The lemons we have are trouble enough. We should not take possession of other people’s lemons.

Consider Joyce Meyer’s story: She is always very clear about the lemons that she had in her life – lemons she carried with her as a result of an abusive father and a cheating husband. Yet she is equally clear that Dave Meyer did not take possession of her lemons but stayed content while she wallowed for a while in self-pity.

In other words, we should not expect anyone else to take possession of our lemons and we should not try to give others our lemons

Furthermore, while playing the blame game makes us feel good, it does nothing to rid us of our lemons.

Cast your cares and anxiety on the Lord for He cares for you – Peter

Lesson 5: Lemons

Do not deny that the lemons in your life exists and do not meditate on them. Just as ignoring the lemons in your life will do nothing to give you rest, meditating on your lemons will do nothing but give your lemons power over you. Accept that the lemons exist but also accept that there is a God greater than your lemons. Lemons are simply opportunities for God to show off in your life when you give them to him.

We walk by faith (trusting and believing in God) and not by what we see – Paul   

Lesson 6: Make

The first thing we tend to do when we receive a lemon is to pray to God to take it away. Then if God does not take it away, we may blame God for not taking it away or we blame ourselves for either being too sinful or not having enough faith to get rid of it. Friend, if God does not take away the lemon, it is because he wants you to do something with it. If all lemons were simply taken away then we would not have lemon meringue pie or lemonade would we?

When life gives you lemon as an ingredient, do not get mad. Ask God what he wants to create from the lemon and get moving.

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours

Lesson 7: Lemonade 

To make lemonade out of lemons requires three things: (1) squeezing the lemon juice out (2) diluting the lemon with water (3) stirring in sugar or honey.

To squeeze the lemon means to sift out the life lesson the lemon is there to teach us. For me, after cutting one of my biggest lemons, I found out that fear and pride was the juice hiding within the cleverly packaged exterior of security and independence. If I had been afraid to squeeze the juice out, I would have missed out on growing.

To dilute the lemon juice is to attack the problem area with the word of God. For example, if the lemon juice is sickness, it is time to focus on healing scriptures. If it is pride, the book of Daniel may be a good place to start. As we read the word of God on purpose we realize that juice is not as bitter as we once thought as we understand there is a solution. Magically the juice becomes more palatable

To stir in honey is to start moving in accordance to the will of God. As we do that, what was meant to bring a bitter taste in our lives starts to taste sweet.

So friends, let us commit to turn a few drops of bitter and tart juice into a cup of delicious and enjoyable lemonade.

When life gives you bitter lemons,  do not worry, but turn to God and He will help you make sweet lemonade out of it – Emmanuel  

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It’s Difficult to Kill a Dead Man

81IwOxFrP4L._SL1500_Last night as I contemplated the suffering and adversity that Jesus endured on the cross, I thought to myself: Yeah, Good Friday was good for mankind but in no way, shape, or form was it good for Jesus (the man). No sooner had this thought entered my mind, it was replaced by a voice that reminded me that while a selfish man will avoid adversity at all cost, a selfless man who has died to himself welcomes and rejoices over the adversity that comes from doing what is right, upholding the truth, and fulfilling a purpose that is infinitely greater than himself.

Light-bulb moment: As a dead man, it is not a question of if you might go through adversity, it is a matter of when you go through it for doing what is right.

I was also reminded yesterday that Jesus was dead well before He ever died on the cross. He had totally and utterly died to himself and had become completely selfless – especially after the episode in the garden of Gethsemane. It was this selflessness that emboldened him to break the established rules in order to fulfill the law of love (God is love). The leaders in his time did not like that he broke the rules, so they found every reason to accuse him, arrest him, and sanction his suffering and subsequent death on the cross.

Light-bulb moment: As a dead man, you must regard obeying the unchangeable law of God as infinitely more important than obeying the changing rules of man.

In sanctioning the death of Jesus, the religious leaders thought they were putting an end to Him. How laughable! In truth they were only working to fulfill His most noble purpose. Moreover, he arose from the grave 3 days later. How shocked they must have been! What they did not consider is that it is ‘difficult’ to kill a dead man…a dead man cannot be killed off..he can only come alive!

Consider Nelson Mandela. The ones who held power thought they could put an end to his crusade to end apartheid by throwing him in prison; a place where they thought he would die. All they ended up doing was fueling the fire of change in the country. Mandela rose from the sentence of being a dead and forgotten man to being resurrected from his pitiful prison to rule the nation from his presidential palace.

The story of Mandela is in some way similar to that of Joseph in that Joseph went from the prison to the palace. Both left an undeniable imprint in their country and left a long and lasting legacy in the world.

Light-bulb moment: Though a dead man may endure adversity, adversity is nothing but a springboard to his success

So friend, if you are dead and selfless, be prepared to endure adversity. The folks who seem to hold sway may not like you (for whatever reason). They may even be convinced in their heart that they are right – like the pharisee believed. But remember that just because someone is honest in their belief does not mean their belief is not honestly wrong. Take heart and carry on in the will of God – no one can stop your impact in your world. Just as the only way a seed can produce fruit is if it dies (see John 12:24), the only way our lives will produce good fruit is if we die to ourselves and surrender ourselves completely to the will of God. Remember that the consequence of doing the right thing is not our responsibility; it is God’s responsibility. So die to live!!

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Prayers That Get the Job Done

Intense DevotionThe effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much – James 5:16

Jacob was in trouble! He was about to face his brother Esau twenty years after he had cheated him out of his birthright by pretending to be him to their father.  Jacob was sure that Esau remembered the episode. How could he forget such a thing! Jacob must have reasoned within himself: Not only did I steal his birthright, but I ran away as quickly as possible from the scene of the crime with my tail between my legs without uttering as much as a word of apology!

Jacob was in serious trouble. If the offense was bad enough, Esau was now coming to meet him. Oh yes, it was about to be on like Donkey Kong and Jacob knew that he had no chance. Esau was coming at him with 400 strong men while Jacob’s corner mainly consisted of women and children. Moreover, Esau had the advantage of passion on his side. Jacob knew he deserved the justice that was about to be meted out on him. What was he to do? It seemed his plea for mercy from Esau had fallen on deaf ears! What he did was make the first quality decision he had made in a long time. He went to Papa God in effective and fervent prayer as a righteous man. When he did, God answered him.

What Made Jacob Righteous?

I know what you are thinking. How can I say that Jacob was righteous? If righteousness is measured by what we do, then Jacob was on the opposite of righteous. Jacob was the kind of man with whom you did not want to be affiliated. He was a trickster and a cheater.

If righteousness is measured by what we do, then we are all in trouble, for the best that we can do in the arena of righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). All of us have fallen short of the passing mark (Romans 3:23). The good news is that righteousness is not determined by who we are but is determined by whose we are. It is not determined by performance but is determined by relationship. We know this for we are told that those who have a relationship with God are righteous. Here is how the bible puts it: For He (God the Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to become sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (Jesus) – 2 Corinthians 5:17

So what made Jacob righteous? He was righteous because he had a relationship with God through the promise God had made to his fathers. Similarly, we are righteous because of the relationship we have with the Father through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.

What Made Jacob’s Prayer Effective?

Know the Will of God: Jacob started his prayer by reminding God of His own words concerning him. He said to God: You told me to return to my country and family and I will deal well with you (Gen 32:9). I will treat you well and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude (Gen 32:12). See, Jacob knew the will of God for his life and so he prayed the will of God. The bible says that we ask and do not receive because we ask amiss (James 4:2). It is impossible to ask amiss when we ask according to the will of God! Jesus said that He will do whatever we ask in His name (John 14:13). To ask in the name of Jesus is to ask according to His will. If this is not too clear, consider the messengers in olden days who declared that they come in the name of the king. What they are saying is that they have come according to the will of the king and to declare his will. If we want our prayers to be effective, we have to know the will of God for that which we pray and then pray it.

Humble Yourself: Jacob continues with the words, I am not worthy of the least of the mercies and truth which you have shown me (Gen 32:10). In other words, Jacob submitted that his success had absolutely nothing to do with his own strength, efforts, position or character. He humbled himself before God. The bible tells us that God will not despise (turn away) a broken and a humbled heart (Psalm 51:17). Perhaps the clearest illustration of humility getting the attention of God is found in the book of Daniel. The angel of the Lord said to Daniel: From the first day that you set your heart to understand (the will of God) and to humble yourself before your God, you words were heard (by God); and I have come because of your words – Daniel 10:12.

Ask Honestly: Jacob continues: Deliver me, I pray from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children (Gen 32:11). Jacob was very direct with his prayer. He did not beat about the bush but he was very honest with God. He said, I am afraid, help me. He did not try to impress God with clever words. He simply surrendered to the gravity of the situation and prayed a truthful prayer. I have come to realize I must surrender to the truth. If I have been a fool, I surrender to that truth and go to God and say, Lord I have been a fool, help me. Surrendering to the truth requires that we pray what is truly in our heart. If what is in our heart does not reflect the truth, God will show us that as well. It is crazy not to tell God the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

What Made Jacob’s Prayer Fervent?

The Angel of the Lord visited Jacob because he prayed an effective prayer. Once visited by the Angel of the Lord, he continued in fervent prayer, asking for the blessing of the Lord over his quandary with Esau. He was so determined and relentless in his pursuit that he wrestled with the Angel of the Lord even after his hip came out of joint. He wrestled until day break. Elijah is another man who would not relent in prayer. He prayed seven different times until a cloud of rain appeared in the sky.

We must be as Elijah and Jacob. We must wrestle until day break (until there is light at the end of the tunnel). The presence of the Lord signifies that something significant is about to happen. That is not the time to give up but it is the time to press into God and wrestle with him until we receive the blessing.

When we doggedly pray the will of God in all humility and surrender is when we will see results in our lives.

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10 Surefire Ways to Get Yourself Depressed – Part II

Part I of this blog discusses how living in Disguise, having a sense of Entitlement, foolish Pride, Rebellion against the truth, and Envy promote depression in our lives. Another 3 character traits that tend to alienate us and promote depression are as follows.

(6) SELFISHNESS: Selfishness makes it “all about us”. It is trait that comes out us when we operate out of fear and greed. Society has done a great job hiding this trait under a rug of vernacular. Instead of saying we are only thinking of ourselves, we say that we are acting independently. Instead of admitting that we looking out only for our own self-interest, we say that we are looking our for our own security.

Good relationships require give and take. With selfishness, there is no giving…there is only taking. This is why selfishness never results in happiness.

Nothing breaks that cycle of selfishness more than engaging in giving and serving others – especially when the person does not deserve it. Just try it today, go over to someone who does not deserve something and make their day. Watch the smile on their face; watch joy fill their heart as you tell them there is no catch. In truth, when we engage in ‘catch-less’ giving, we receive more than we bargain for. There is something about selflessness that fills us up with joy and happiness. Thus while selfishness sucks the life out of us, selflessness rewards us with the gift of life. So ask yourself how you can make someone’s day today. Then be intentional to make it happen.

If you do not believe me, then believe the wisest man who ever lived. Jesus said: Give and it shall be given unto you. If you want love and happiness in your life, give love and happiness.

(7) STUBBORNNESS: The difference between determination and stubbornness is the state of the heart from which the action comes. While determination is born out of good heart, stubbornness is born out of an evil heart. While determination is positive, stubbornness is negative.  Stubbornness is what makes us dig our heels in – sticking for things we know are not right. Stubbornness is what causes us to never admit our wrongdoing or our wrong ways of thinking.

Setting a wall up against the will of God , moving against his spiritual laws, and not admitting when we are wrong are surefire ways to be depressed. Just ask Judas Iscariot. He stubbornly set himself against Jesus even after it was clear to him that Jesus knew he going to betray him. The result: His ensuing deep anxiety and remorse led him to hang himself. Other stubborn guys we know of are Pharaoh of Egypt, King Saul, and Jonah. They all suffered for it.

Lets not be like all  these guys who suffered deep anxiety.  Let us not hang our joy and happiness on a tree. Let us be determined to do what is right and let us be quick to turn towards what is good. We ought to accept being called a flip-flopper and do what is right than be known as a resolute people who steadfastly drove their lives off into the gorge of remorse and anxiety just because they were trying to save their image.

To win yourself off stubbornness, remind yourself that you do not have to be right all the time.

(8) INSOLENCE: Being loud, rude, and otherwise obnoxious wins us no favors in life. In fact, it tends to alienate us from peaceable people in the society. It causes unnecessary dissension and strife.

Since birds of a feather flock together, it is highly unusual to find insolent people walking around with peaceful people. At some point, insolent people will be rude to one another and take offense. Hence, the end result of insolence is that we miss out on the joy our relationships should bring us. That in itself can cause us a deep sense of anxiety as the people we love to get out of dodge for their own peace of mind.

In other words, it is difficult for people to love you for you if you are rude, crude, loud, and obnoxious. If they do, they would rather love you for you at a distance. Thus, it will be difficult for you to walk in fellowship with others when you are insolent. Once fellowship is removed, watch out. You are prime candidate for negative thoughts and the other tricks of Satan. Don’t I say “I don’t need anybody”. Everybody needs somebody.

Friend, lets us remember that we are to exhort and speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19). Only then will we have positive and meaningful fellowship with one another.

 

 

 

 

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Do You Believe In GOD?

 

 

Do You Believe in God

Do you believe in God? If you do not, you should! If you do, then you believe in faith! There is no greater story to be told than the story of the faith of Jesus. Jesus is our example of what is possible when a man places his faith completely in God. Such a man who is wholly surrendered to purpose will be able to believe the unbelievable and achieve the impossible. Truly, Jesus was only able to achieve the impossible of conquering death by first believing the unbelievable truth that God was able to raise Him up from the grave. This tells me that the impact of our lives will ultimately boil down to how we answer the question, how much do we believe in God?

While education, charisma, status, and wealth can produce great results, those results pale in comparison with what the right kind of believing can produce. Think about it. The most recognizable and most famous name on the earth is that of a carpenter who was born in the trough of a stable a little over 2000 years ago. How is that even possible? While it makes no sense in the eyes of man, it makes all the sense in the world in the eyes of faith. What about Mother Teresa? How did a nun out of the obscure country of Albania ever achieve so much good in the world? How was she able to help millions of orphans and starving children? How was she able to die a billionaire? How did this woman, of all women become a world icon? It is because she dared to believe in God and decided to move in the purpose to which He called her. Do you believe in God now?

Do you believe in God?

The story of faith is the story of victory and success. This is what Jesus knew – He knew faith was victory. He had read about how Moses delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt by faith, how Gideon defeated the Midianites by faith, and how Esther saved her people by faith. He knew that no matter how daunting the path of faith, the end result of it is always incredible victory. Jesus was so filled with the assurance of victory in the Father that He was willing to walk the road of death (see Hebrews 12:2).

Faith is the great equalizer. Faith does not care about your history, qualifications, or resources. Faith only cares about what we believe and in whom we believe! So do you believe in God?

The story of Gideon clearly shows us the power that is available in faith. Faith turned Gideon from a coward into a commander of the army of God. It turned a man who was so filled with fear that he would only go carry out the will of God at night, into a man who was so filled with courage that he chose to face an army of 135,000 with only 300 men!

Absolutely nothing is impossible by faith! When you truly understand and internalize this is when everything in your life will change. It is then you will no longer have to spend your whole life trying to accomplish things in your own power. Rather, you will spend your time believing right, so that the power of God may be released in your life.

There is No Victory Without Faith! Do you believe in God?

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