Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Mind of Christ – The Obedience That Wins

While humility, prayer, and seeking the face of God are the first three legs of our race towards victory, obedience is the power that pushes us across the finish line and unleashes the blessings of God in our lives. This analogy to the relay in track and field illustrates that obedience is only powerful when done out a heart of love – a heart set on humility which in turn leads us to prayer and seeking the face of God. If our obedient action is not motivated by love, then it is motivated by greed or by fear. Too many of us are obedient to God because we simply want to use Him as our cash cow!

 Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Cash cow obedience is not born out of love but instead is born out of our greed and self-seeking.

Jesus gives an example of obedience that does not please Him when he describes the people that put ashes on their cheeks to show they are fasting. Although they were being obedient to fast (for Christ says when and not if you fast), the motivation behind it all was the adulation of the people around them. In actuality, their action had morphed into a form of idolatry, with their god being the need to be recognized. Since the penchant to be glorified rather than give God all the glory comes out of fear (of not being good enough, or of rejection), we see that it cannot please God for it is not done out of love. This is why Cain’s offering was not pleasing to God; why Jesus called the seemingly perfect and obedient keepers of the law brood of vipers; why our obedience at times do not yield any fruit for us

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Obedience is simply a seed. Just like any other seed, it has to be sown into ground that has been fertilized by love to be effective and yield fruit

Since the opposite good is evil (wickedness) and anything that does not flow out of God (love) is no good, it becomes clear that the command to ‘turn away from our wicked ways’ is not simply talking about turning away from disobedience, but is also addressing obedience that is steeped in fear. Therefore, the only way to turn away from our wicked way is to turn to love. Why turn to love-driven obedience? We do it so that healing can take place in our life and we can have peace. See, while our obedience can yield fruit in other people’s lives, why we are obedient is what determines whether fruit is produced in our lives. A fantastic example of this is Prophet Jonah.  Although his preaching of the Gospel yielded the fruit of deliverance for the people of Nineveh, it produced bitterness in him because He was not obedient out of love. This is why Jonah asked God to take his life even when Nineveh was spared. Sheesh!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: What we do determines whether other people are blessed. Why we do it is what determines whether we are blessed!

Once we have truly developed the heart of love behind obedience, the question is how do we put it into practice? How do we ensure we do not fall into the trap of looking at ourselves in the mirror and forgetting what we look like as soon as we leave – of falling into complacency? (See James 1: 23 – 24).

Some Practical ways to ensure we do not fall into complacency and into disobedience are as follows:

  • Read the Word (Give no place to the devil – Ephesians 4:27): We do this by arming ourselves with the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God). We have to get to the point where we are so filled up with the Word of God that it leaves no room for any junk to enter.
  • Have Accountability Partners (Bear one anothers burdens – Galatians 6:7): We help each other lift our loads when we do not forsake godly gatherings but keep each other accountable to lead a godly life
  • Stay Away from Ungodly Company (A little leaven leavens the whole lump – 1 Corinthians 5:11): We have to ensure we rid ourselves of the sin (leaven) that is leavening our lump. At times, that means we must distance ourselves from people who do not care to discard their sin for any leaven is infectious and has a tendency to spread. Once the leaven is removed, the fellowship may be restored. Note that the relationship was never broken.

Food For Thought: Those who love God obey Him because they love Him

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The Mind of Christ – Praying and Seeking God’s Face

Humility is a must if we want our prayers not just to be heard BUT accepted by God (see ‘The Link between Humility and Answered Prayer’). When we humble ourselves and pray to the Father, for many of us, the first thing that He shows us is the reason why He has not been able to say yes to us. When we go to God in humility, He shows us the true condition of our hearts – those portions of our heart that have not been broken up and so cannot bear the good fruit we have requested. The truth is that when we go to our watchtower – that quiet place where we cannot be reached or disturbed; that place of solitude where we can humbly set our sight on God in prayer – our vision becomes clear and we can through His help see the true and full layout of our land (our heart). I love the way this truth is written in the book of Habakkuk. There, the word of God says:

I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me,
and what I will answer when I am corrected – Habakkuk 2:1 – 2

It is through fasting and praying that we stand our watch and set ourselves on the rampart. When we do this, God reveals to us what we truly look like and corrects our prideful and flawed attitudes and image. If we are at all smart and want to shorten our wilderness experience, we will not try to argue with God when He corrects us but instead will apologetically fall on our face, say sorry, and agree to what He tells us to do.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Prayer is a key ingredient in discovering what is keeping us from God best!

After we have sought the Lord and He has corrected us, the right response is to break up our fallow ground. If we do not, anything we do is simply a waste of time – just as a farmer who plants on soil that has not been prepared is simply wasting his seed. The house of Jacob did not understand this during the time of Prophet Isaiah. They did not understand why God was not responding to their fasting, praying, and reading His Word. They asked God ‘Why have we fasted and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls and You have not taken notice?’ To this, God in essence replies ‘You have sin. You keep on doing the ‘right’ things but you have not corrected your erroneous ways’. The 58th chapter of Isaiah describes this very well – one excerpt from the chapter is given below:

“Tell my people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God…they take delight in approaching God – Isaiah 58:2

Our refusal to be corrected by God is the biggest impediment to us progressing in life. No amount of fasting, prayer, seeking or any other magic formula will do. We can ask, but His response will always be ‘Clean house in this area I have shown you first’.

Just as a piece of jewelry is just another lost item in a very junky house, the seed of the word of God gets lost and quickly losses its value if not sown into a receptive heart. The word of God tells us that the pre-requisite to seeking the face of God (seeking the word of God) is breaking up our fallow ground. Once prayer has revealed the location and depth of the ground we must break up, we must actively begin the digging with the help of God by exercising forgiveness, letting go of past baggage, journeying through our childhood to rid ourselves of past hurts, and laying all of what we are at His feet.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: After prayer has revealed the junk in us, we must begin the process of ‘cleaning house’ if we are to find the face of God!

Glory to God that we do not grow weary in seeking His face but persevere, we will find it and He will shower us with the riches of His inheritance. Hallelujah!

Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you – Hosea 10:12

So, why is important to pray and seek the face of God? It is the only way we can experience the flood of His goodness (righteousness) in our lives.

Here are the practical steps we have seen so far to set ourselves up to experience the flood of His goodness:

  • Humble ourselves (see How can I grow in Humility?)
  • Fast and pray to discover unsavory areas of our lives (see Habakkuk 2:1 – 2)
  • Deal with the junk that God reveals is present in us by His power (see John 15:2)
  • Seek His face (His word)

Food for Thought: We experience the blessings of God when we till the land of our heart

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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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