Tag Archives: Spirit

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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The Mind of Christ – The Link between Humility and Answered Prayer

In ‘Are You Experiencing the Love of ‘The One’?’ we established that the mind of Christ (which is the mind of success and victory) consists of the key elements of Humility, Prayer, Seeking the face of God, and Obedience. Knowing that these key elements build one on another, we then looked at the importance of humility and the practical ways to grow it in ‘How can I grow in Humility’. It was important to examine humility first and foremost because without it, the remaining aforementioned elements are highly unlikely to yield any fruit or any victory in our lives.While this statement may be somewhat hard to swallow, we can examine the truth of it by taking a look at the role of humility in getting our prayers answered.

 Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Humility is paramount if the other keys – prayer, seeking the face of God, and obedience – are ever to produce victory in our lives.

When it comes to prayer, the good news is that God always hears it. We know this for the Word of God says that the ‘hand of the Lord is not heavy that it cannot save, nor His ear heavy that He cannot hear’ (see Isaiah 59:1). Hallelujah, there it is! The Lord is always willing to listen to our requests, petitions, and desires – He hears us every time we communicate with Him. Now, the not so good news from our point of view is how He may choose to answer those petitions of ours. While God hears our prayers, He has a choice to either accept them (say Yes) or to reject them (say No). Since this is the case, the question then becomes how do we get God to accept our prayers? The answer is humility (which produces faith for it is steeped in love)

Note: ‘Not now’ and ‘silence’  have not been included in the way God answers our prayers because these are simply ‘delayed yes’ or ‘delayed no’ responses. At times, we receive delayed responses because God is trying to grow us up, point our attention to some unsavory areas of our lives, or simply because a spiritual battle is taking place (see Daniel 10: 13).

With regards to humility and prayer, His Word tells us that He will NOT reject (despise) a broken spirit and a humble (contrite) heart (see Psalms 51:17). Therefore, we know that He will not reject our prayers (our requests, petitions) when we are operating in humility. We see further proof of humility being linked with answered prayer in the book of Daniel where the angel of the Lord says to Daniel:

“Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words” – Daniel 10:12

This passage tells us that humility is a pre-requisite to our words being heard (accepted) by God and for Him to move on our behalf – the sending of the angel in Daniels case. This passage also tells of the importance of actually speaking to God. Without speaking to God (praying), the angel would not have come, and Daniel’s request – which was the explanation of his vision – would not have been granted. That just goes to show that we indeed have to ask in order to receive (see Matthew 7:7). It also shows us that we do not have to guess concerning our visions and dreams or anything else in life. We can just go to the Father who will longs to give us what we desire of Him when we abide in Him (see John 15:7)

 Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Humility is a pre-requisite to our words being heard (accepted) because humility is required in order for us to abide in the Father!

So why is humility so crucial to answered prayer? Simply put, humility is the passport that leads us to a place of surrender and causes us to exchange our desires for His desires. In fact, if we do a study of the Greek word for prayer (proseuchomai), we find that it can be interpreted as interacting with the Lord by replacing our wishes with His wishes as He imparts faith! This then explains what James was talking about when he says that we ask and do not receive, because we ask amiss, that we may spend it on our pleasures (see James 4:3). He is saying that we ask (pray) amiss when we ask in order for our own desires (pleasures) to be fulfilled rather than His desires (plans, purpose and pleasures for us) to be fulfilled. Asking for our desires to be fulfilled rather than His desires comes from a place of pride (thinking we are more than we are and we know best) and not humility (knowing that God knows best). It comes from a lack of the knowledge of His love; that His plans are always to prosper us and to give us a future and a hope (see Jeremiah 29:11). While our plans glorify ourselves, His plans glorify the Son in the Father. When in humility, we align ourselves with His plan; we find the following passage to be true:

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” – John 14:13 -14

Furthermore, the scriptures say that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (see James 5:16). As such, for our prayers to be effective, they have to be steeped in humility. The bible also tells us that the promises of God in Christ are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’ to the glory of God (see 2 Corinthians 1:20). Thus, if we want our prayers to be answered ‘Yes’, we have to be in Christ for it is then He is glorified, and we have to operate in humility. If we want to here ‘no’ we can continue in pride and self-seeking!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment:  Humility is intrinsically linked with the word ‘to pray’. Therefore, prayers that are not steeped in humility are simply ineffective words that help us tick the box of prayer but yield no fruit.

Food for Thought: We must grow in humility if we want our prayers answered

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The Mind of Christ – Are You Experiencing the Love of ‘The One’?

Today, it is not uncommon to hear people say ‘I am looking for the one’. While the use of ‘the one’ for me invokes thoughts of the Matrix, its use is more commonly reserved for that individual we just know is perfect for us. A real superhuman who brings us love, joy, and peace. A passionate, compassionate, forgiving, courageous, hard-working, faithful, kind, gentle, patient, and self-controlled soul who loves us for who we are. If you are looking for such a person, then today is your lucky day for I have their contact information. They can be reached at 1800-ELI-DIAL, 1800-THE-WORD, or Jesus@walkintheSpirit.com.

While this contact information is obviously fictitious, it does point to the truth that God has already made a way for us to reach or contact Him through the sacrifice of His Son.  There is no other way! It is only when we accept Jesus that we are given the contact information to get to ‘The One’.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” – John 14:6

When we call upon ‘The One’, He (God) stirs up the Holy Spirit within us to move on our behalf – to guide us, empower us, and to rain down all the goodies of the Kingdom of Heaven that He (Holy Spirit) has brought with Him. However, many of us do not fully experience these goodies (love, joy, peace etc) because we seldom dial Eli (God) on the prayer line, fail to spend time in His Word, and choose not to walk in the Spirit.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We have to spend time with ‘The One’ if we are to ever experience His love.

Now, our example of always being in contact or having perfect fellowship with ‘The One’ is Jesus. We know He had continuous unbroken fellowship with the Father because He did not sin. In fact, that fellowship was so tight and so close that Jesus said ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in Me’. And because of that fellowship, He was able to imitate God in speaking what the Father spoke and doing the great works that the Father did (see John 14:10).

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: When we contact and fellowship with God, He enables us to bring forth the goodies and works of heaven into the earthly realm through the empowerment of His Holy Spirit.

The question then is this: How did Jesus do it as a man? How did He stay in constant contact with the Father? If we can answer this question, then we have a real shot at experiencing love (God) the way we should (since we have been granted access), and do the greater works He said we will do (see John 14:12). If we can have the same mind as Christ, then we can follow in His footsteps.

Since God desires for us to be in constant fellowship with Him, He gave us the answer of what the mind of Christ looks like through Paul the Apostle. He says:

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” – Philippians 2:5 – 8

So there it is. The answer is humility and obedience.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment:  Every time we set our minds on humility and obedience, we achieve the mind of Christ.

Since humility and obedience are the keys, it is important to know the practical steps to become humble and obedient – although we know they both flow out of love. In the case of humility, we ought to get to the point of humbling ourselves rather than have life humble us through vicissitudes. Similarly, the prerequisite to obeying God is asking what He wants us to do (via prayer) and verifying His direction for us (seeking His face). Thus, the mind of Christ can be expanded to include prayer and seeking the face of God.

When we develop a mindset of humility, prayer, seeking God’s face, and obedience, the bible tells us that God hears us and heals our land.

“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

See, when we develop the mind of Christ, everything we think to request of God glorifies Jesus (for we have the same mind as Him) and so the Father hears us and grants us those requests (see John 14:13 – 14). Thus, when we tell the mountain to be moved, it is moved. When we tell the devil to flee, He flees. When trials and tribulations come, they do not stand a chance against us. Hallelujah! But God does not stop there! He also rains down righteousness upon us until the land of our hearts is restored and the fruit of love, joy, peace, faithfulness, gentleness, kindness, patience, goodness, and self-control is produced. He transforms us into ‘the one’.

We will examine the practical ways to develop the mind of Christ together in the concluding parts of the Mind of Christ. Please stay tuned.

Food for Thought: We cannot truly be ‘the one’ for our families until we develop the mind-set of ‘The One’ which consists of humility, prayer, seeking God, and obedience.

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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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What Love Has to Do with It – Why Is My Faith Not Working?

John the Apostle tells us that whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (see 1 John 5:1). He then goes on to say that whatever is born of God overcomes the world (see 1 John 5:4). Thus, as believers who have been born of the Spirit of God, we have the power to overcome every obstacle and challenge that life throws our way. We have the ability to attain victory in every area of our lives because Jesus, the One who has overcome the world (see John 16:33) lives in us.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” – Galatians 2:20

Even though endowed with the ability to overcome in Christ, too many of us are being overcome by the world rather than overcoming it. Why? We do not overcome because not every part of us has been born of God. Although our spirit has been born of God, portions of our minds have not yet been born of God (for we fail to renew our minds) and so that portion does not overcome but instead is overcome. Hence, the only reason we ever experience defeat in our lives is because we fail to surrender all of who we are and all of what our experiences have turned us into over to Him so that He can remold us and make every inch of us new.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Surrender is the first step towards victory. Every part of ourselves we surrender to Him, He is able to crucify and resurrect (born it again) into His image

If we do not surrender an area of our life to Him, it is because we do not know how much He loves us in that area. If we do not know how much He loves us in that area, it is because we have not thoroughly searched for His love through His word there; for the word says that if we seek, we shall find (see Matthew 7:7).

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: When we seek God by immersing ourselves in His Word, the Holy Spirit reveals to us how much He loves us. It is this revelation of His love that prompts us to surrender fully to Him

The truth is that we only trust the people that we know truly love us and so would not do a thing to harm us. Indeed, the bible says that faith works through love (see Galatians 5:6) or in other words, true trust is based on love. Therefore, when we tell God, ‘I cannot trust You with this area of my life’, we are telling God that we doubt His love. We are telling the God who offered Himself as a sacrifice for us and drew us to Himself that we cannot trust Him! Good Lordy! It is doubt, which is the opposite of trust (faith) that leads to defeat in life.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Any faith (trust and belief) that is not born out of love is not born of God (for God is love). It is not faith at all and so will not work

So there it is. When we surrender ourselves because we trust (or have faith) that His love for us is true, we overcome the world!  Simply put, faith is the ‘whatever’ that is born of God that produces victory.

“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

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Since faith is the victory that overcomes the world, it can be said that the defeat that overcomes us is our doubt of how much God loves us.

So how do we know that our faith is born of God? To know that what we are holding onto has been promised by God and not a counterfeit, we first have to take a look at how faith comes.

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” – Romans 10:17

This passage does not say that faith comes by hearing the word of God. No! Many have heard the word of God without ever developing faith. Rather, the word of God must speak to us in order for it to produce faith. For the word of God to speak to us, our hearts must be prepared to receive it. This is what happened when we got saved – the word of God cut through to our hearts and spoke to us so that we developed the faith (belief) to confess Christ.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment:  To truly have faith, we must truly believe in our hearts that the specific word is for us. Head or surface knowledge does not mean faith has been produced

When we study and meditate on the Word, the Holy Spirit reveals and confirms to us that the specific word (verse) we are reading is for us…we hear from the Holy Spirit. Now, knowing that the word which He has spoken to us will not be altered (Psalms 89:34) and cannot return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11) for He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19), we are assured that it shall come to pass; all of our doubt is removed and real faith that we can hold onto in obedience is produced!

Anything we hold onto that has not spoken to us is simply not of God for the Holy Spirit has not confirmed it. For example, if God has not spoken to us that we will win the lottery while studying His word, then we can say we believe it and confess it all we want – it is likely not to happen since it does not come from God but from our own desires (see James 4:3). Conversely, it is prudent to hold onto everything that God has spoken to us – that will always be confirmed as we spend time in the Word. In this light, we are wise to hold onto every promise that is written in the scripture for the bible is the word of God spoken to us. We are also wise  to hold onto everything that He has told us specifically as we fix our eyes on Him.

Food for Thought: If we want our faith to work, we must grow in love

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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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Ready for marriage – Are you equally yoked?

The scriptures advice us not to be unequally yoked with any person with whom we are about to enter into a relationship. In Unequally yoked – So you think you are marrying a believer, I shared some insights on how to spot a true believer versus a potential counterfeit. Specifically, I explained why believing that Jesus is Lord, knowing the Word, preaching the Word, exhibiting spiritual gifts, and obedience is NOT enough to put a stamp of approval on someone as a believer (although true believers also exhibit these qualities) but rather it is their faith-walk. I explain why it is not just enough to have the Spirit, but that we have to be led by the Spirit.

Now, for two people to be equally yoked, they have to be compatible. Since humans are triune beings (for we are spirits who have a soul and live in a body), we have to be compatible in the spiritual realm, in the soul realm, and the physical realm in order to be truly compatible.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: If two individuals are incompatible in either the spiritual realm, the soul realm, or the physical realm, they are unequally yoked.

In today’s world, most have shunned spiritual compatibility and navigated away from physical compatibility and have instead focused solely of soul compatibility (as evidenced by the popular use of the term soul-mates). As believers, we cannot drink the Kool-Aid of thinking we can be soul mates with someone with whom we are not spirit-mates. The only way a believer can have the same mind (be soul mates) with someone with whom we are not spirit-mates (having the same Spirit – that is the Spirit of God) is if that believer has strayed away from being spirit-led. Let me explain!

When we become born-again, we receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts, to seal our spirit till the day of redemption (see Ephesians 4:30), and to make our spirit incorruptible (see 1 Peter 1:23). Since it is the sealing of our spirit with His Holy Spirit that makes us the righteousness of God in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:21), it is clear that we cannot be spirit-mates with someone who has not received the Holy Spirit. Why? The incorruptible Spirit of God cannot agree with a corrupt and unsaved spirit for that would be communion between light and darkness. Simply put, the Holy Spirit in us will only agree with the Holy Spirit in someone else for the Holy Spirit can only agree with itself.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: A born-again (saved) person is spiritually incompatible with a person who is not born again.

Yet, the soul of a born-again (saved) person must come into agreement and alignment with their born of God (born again) spirit. The only way this alignment happens is if the soul (mind) is transformed to reflect the spirit nature by allowing the word of God to renew it. The bible puts it this way:

“…Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” – Romans 12:2

Note: This passage tells us that we can be transformed into the image of His Son; aligned with the Holy Spirit within us, by renewing our mind with the Word of God

“…The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of the soul, and spirit, and of joints and marrow…” – Hebrews 4:12

Note: This passage tells us that the word of God is what blurs the lines and is the glue that joins together (aligns) and works in the realm of the spirit, soul, and body (joint and marrow).

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: When we spend time in the word of God, our soul and our spirit become aligned and fall into agreement. Hence, it is impossible to be soul mates with a person with whom we are not spirit mates unless we have closed our minds to the Word (God). When we close our mind off to God, we cannot be led by Him.

When our own spirit and soul are equally yoked in Christ, we find that we only desire what God desires. Hence, we are more likely to yoke ourselves with those to whom we are physically compatible (just as a lock and key are compatible compared to a lock and a lock), and we find that we desire that compatibility to take place within the context of marriage.

If our own spirit and soul are not equally yoked in Christ, we find that we do not walk in agreement with ourselves (for the spirit of God cannot agree with our yet to be transformed soul). Hence, the extent to which we renew our minds determines the extent to which our soul and spirit agree. If we renew our minds regularly, we will be on fire for Christ. If we do not, we will blow hot and cold for Christ, be double-minded, and be more susceptible to sin (for we have not taken up our sword of the spirit).

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: First, we have to make sure we are equally yoked with ourselves ( that our soul and spirit in Christ are agreed and aligned) before we try to be yoked to someone else.

Hence, the bible passage, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed” – Amos 3:3, applies to both the individual and the couple. An individual whose soul does not agree (via the renewal of the mind) with his spirit (which has been born again of the Spirit of God) is not ready to be yoked with anyone else. This person must first get the soul to spirit compatibility right before he/she is ready for marriage. Likewise, two people who are not agreed together in their spirit and soul are not ready to be yoked together and certainly should avoid being yoked physically.

To summarize, here is what it means to be equally yoked

  • Both you and your future partner have received the spirit (born-again) and so have a relationship with God
  • Both you and you future partner fellowship with God daily and so renew your minds and put on the mind of God constantly
  • Both you and your future partner walk in faith (rather than just have it)
  • Both you and your future partner are Spirit-led (not just Spirit-filled) and so exhibit the fruit of the spirit (see Galatians 5:22 – 23)
  • Both you and your future partner keep your eyes focused on God no matter what (rather than on each other or problems, thereby making them idols)

Food for Thought: I need to be made whole (equally yoked) before I yoke myself to others

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Unequally Yoked – So you think you are marrying a believer!

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

Paul makes it clear that it is not enough to have the spirit of God, but that we have to be led by the Spirit. He further implores us not only to live in the spirit but to walk in the Spirit (see Galatians 5:25) for it is those of us that walk in the Spirit that do not fulfill the desires of the flesh and are able to produce the fruit of the Spirit.

To be led, we have to hear from our leader (God). Now, it is impossible to be led without studying and meditating on the Word of God, for the bible tells us that hearing comes by the Word. Actually, the whole verse tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word. Therefore, it is hearing that grants us faith (trust and belief) to obey (walk or be led) by the Spirit. Since it is simply not possible to be Holy Spirit led without having faith in God (Jesus Christ), we ought not to be mocked in the these two things:

  • It is only those who have faith in Jesus Christ that can receive and be led by the Holy Spirit (God)
  • It is our faith walk that makes us a child of God – it is what makes us a believer

The second bullet point elevates and challenges our thinking on what Paul means when he tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. He is telling us not to be married to someone who is not walking in faith. He puts it this way:

“And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever” – 2 Corinthians 6:15

When I first read this, I thought Paul was unnecessarily harsh or perhaps going off the deep-end a little. I thought to myself: Paul, you are comparing an unbeliever to Belial! Seriously!  Then it dawned on me that the only way to identify a true believer is a person’s faith walk. I stumbled upon this realization as I began to unravel what Belial (evil spirit/devil/demon) is able to do. Since no one would call Belial a believer, there must be something that separates believers from him. That something is faith! To bolster this assertion, here are some interesting facts about Belial.

Belial believes that Jesus is Lord

“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!” – James 2:19

The devil and demons have no problem believing that Jesus is Lord (see Matthew 8:29) for they know it fully well. After all, they were cast away or separated from God because of rebellion. Satan was disobedient (rebelled) because he did not love God. How do we know he did not love God? We know because the scriptures tell us that those who love God keep and obey His commandments (see John 14:21). Since genuine faith works through love (see Galatians 5:6), we know the Satan and the rest of his rebellious crew (demons) also did not have faith! If demons had faith, they would not tremble (fear) at the name of Jesus, for there is no fear in love (1 John 4:18). But they do not have faith or love, so they operate in fear.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: A believer is not just someone who believes that Jesus is Lord but walks in faith and produces faith-based work. Since genuine faith grows out of love, the walk (life) and work (actions) of a true believer is steeped in love.

Belial knows the scriptures

“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”” – Matthew 4:6

This is the devil quoting scripture to Jesus.What impudence! But it does show that the devil knows scripture and is able to quote it – probably better than we can and at will. Hence, the knowledge of scripture itself is not the mark of a believer. If it were, then we would be unable to distinguish a believer from the devil! Without the Holy Spirit to guide us and to lead us aright, we only apply the scripture erroneously and for our selfish gain –just like Satan tried with Jesus.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: A person who is filled with the knowledge of the Word of God is nothing but an historian if that knowledge does not produce faith (which is only possible through the Holy Spirit).  The scripture to a person without faith is simply a history book. Hence the ability to quote and recall scripture does not prove a believer.

Belial can exhibit “spiritual” gifts

Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour” – Acts 16:16 – 18

The slave girl had the gift to tell the future – a gift of prophesy so to speak! Yet it turns out that she was possessed with an evil spirit. It is also very interesting that although demon-possessed, she was helping to spread the gospel! It just goes to show that not everyone who is proclaiming the gospel is of God. This exemplifies why the bible warns us about false prophets and warns us in the last days not to be fooled by those that perform mighty works.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: The ability to exhibit “spiritual” gifts does not prove the believer as the gift may be from ungodly spirits working in that individual.

Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” – Matthew 7:22 – 23

Belial obeys God – but in fear

“And He said to them, “Go.” And when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine…” – Matthew 8:32

The demons obey the voice of God when He speaks to them. Hallelujah! The difference between the obedience of a believer and that of demons is this: The obedience of evil spirits does not come out of love (and hence faith) but instead comes out of fear. See, faith and fear are the polar opposites of each other, but both require that we believe something that is yet to be. Both faith and fear can produce obedience – fear produce obedience based on consequences; faith produces obedience based on love.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Faith released outside of the realm of love is fear in disguise.

Spot a Believer

So, if believing that Jesus is Lord, reading and knowing the scripture, preaching the Word, exhibiting spiritual gifts, and Pharisaical obedience to the law are not full proof ways to spot a believer, then how can we spot believers? How can we tell if someone is walking in faith?

The answer is simply this: By their fruits you shall know them (see Mathew 7:20). A person who walks in faith also walks in the Spirit for it is the Spirit of God that grows our faith as we spend time in His Word. Anyone who truly walks in the Spirit produces the spiritual fruit of love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

No one can fake these fruits. An impatient person cannot simply become patient at will. A selfish person will not be joyful because selfishness produces dissatisfaction or perennial unhappiness. A person who cannot control their tongue will not all of a sudden be able to master their tongue. These fruits cannot be faked because what we produce comes from who we are and what is in our hearts rather than what we do (obey, preach the Word…).

A person who is truly in Christ produces the fruit of the Spirit along with the works (read the bible, preach the Word…)

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: A true believer walks in faith and therefore produces spiritual fruit. If we do not see spiritual fruits, then we see a counterfeit believer. Whatever else they do should not impress us much!

Food for thought: We cannot believe in God and not produce love for He is love.

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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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