Category Archives: Growth

Why Can’t I Unlock the Power of God in My Life? (Part I)

Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God – Luke 22:69

During His trial, Jesus tells the members of the Sanhedrin that He is going to be seated at the right hand of the power of God after His death (Luke 22:69). Note that Jesus does not say He is going to be seated at the right hand of God, but at the right hand of the power of God. This means that the power of God is released only through Jesus or that God only releases His power through Jesus who is seated at His right hand. In addition, this means that any power released outside of Christ is NOT of God but of a worldly and sinister nature.

Now, here is the process by which God’s power is released: When we call upon Jesus, He hears us and makes intercession on our behalf to the Father (Hebrews 7:25). The Father then decides whether to grant the petition of the one who calls on the name of Jesus based on whether it will glorify Him (John 14:13). Should the request be granted by God, Jesus then releases the power to fulfill the request through the Holy Spirit who resides within us (John 14:16-17). In the event the fulfillment of the request requires our action, Jesus speaks the instruction from God to the Holy Spirit who then instructs us (John 16:13).

Though we are worthy of getting the attention of God through the sacrifice and worthiness of Jesus,  John 14:13 reminds us that God will only grant those requests that glorify Him. Here is how the bible tells us we glorify the Father: If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, so you will be My disciples – John 15:7-8

So we see that it all starts with abiding in Jesus. Since Jesus is love, we can say that it all starts with abiding in love. When we abide in love (Jesus), then everything we ask will reflect the heart of love and will fulfill the requirement of love. In other words, God will only grant those requests that come from a heart of love and fulfill a loving purpose. Since the heart of God is the heart of love, we see that our heart and God’s heart align when we abide in Jesus. That’s why He grants those requests that flow out of love.

Now we see why Jesus tells us that all the law and prophets instructions are fulfilled in the commandment to love – to love God with all our being and to love one another (Matthew 22:37-40). Simply put, love is the secret to unlocking the power of God! This is why Jesus wants us to focus on love! He wants us to have victory in our lives so that we can share the booty of the victory with others.

So I ask you this: How is your love life? Do you really care for people or only care for people that can offer you something? Is your heart right or is it hardened?

In part II, we will see that we cannot buy God’s love through words and actions

Food for Thought: The only way to truly love yourself is to learn to love – by submitting your fears to God

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Truths to Keep in Mind in Times of Trouble

You are Not Alone

Just as God provided His people a pillar of cloud by day for guidance and a pillar of fire by night for safe travels in the wilderness, it is also true that God will never leave your nor forsake you. No matter if it is daytime in your life or if you are experiencing a dark period in your life, He is ever present. What you must do is make sure that you stay under the cloud by day and that you stay by the fire by night. You must stay close to God. If you do not, you are liable to get scorched by the hot sun and get chills from the cold nights.

Lightbulb MomentThe truth is that God will not allow you to suffer alone but will always provide a comforter to help you (see 2 Corinthians 7:6).

Today, do not shy away from the comforters that God has provided you but move closer to them. It may very well be that they have walked through the same wilderness you are walking through and they can provide guidance. It may very well be that they are walking through the same desert you are right now and you can comfort one another. Whichever the case, avoid the urge to go it alone and reach out to whomever you need. Reach out to both God and man.

Your Attitude Can Make Things Worse  

An attitude of complaint can change what you experience in your wilderness.

It is interesting that the manna God provided in the wilderness was originally white and being sweet like wafers with honey (Exodus 16:31). But after much complaining, we see that the manna became off-white and tasted like pastry with oil upon being grounded and baked (Numbers 11:8). See, the original manna was naturally sweet, but the new manna tasted shabby even after doing a lot of work.

That tells us that a bad attitude will always make the sweet things in life tasteless. It will turn a blessing into a something that does not satisfy.

Lightbulb MomentThe truth is you must drive out the scoffer in you in order for all contention, strife, and contempt to cease (Proverbs 22:10)

Today, choose to focus on what you do have (your manna) and be grateful for them instead of focusing on what is wrong. When you focus on will consume your life. If you focus on negativity, then negativity will consume your life and nothing will ever be good enough. When you focus on the positive and on the goodness of God is when you are able to make lemonade out of lemons.

 Your Victory Waits on the Other Side    

The only good thing about the wilderness is that God uses them to lead us to a land flowing with milk and honey. Why are you going through a wilderness? If you are faithful, the wilderness experience is simply a set-up for greater victories to come.

Remember how Jesus was released onto His ministry after He passed the wilderness test? Remember how Daniel was promoted after experiencing the den of lions? Remember how God promised to bless Abraham after He passed the test of obedience? You too can experience the spoils of victory if you do not faint in the wilderness.

Lightbulb MomentThe truth is that God will not allow you to be tested in life beyond what you can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13)

You can handle all the tests that life throws you. If you do not faint, you will experience the victory after the test. Why doesn’t God take away every single test Satan throws at you? It is because He wants you to experience the victory that comes after the test so you want nothing while He provides for all your needs during the test.   

The only way for gold to be refined is to be put through the fire.

You Can Shorten Your Time of Trouble

Lightbulb MomentThe truth is that persistent unfaithfulness can lead you from one fire (trouble) to another (Ezekiel 15:7-8)

The problem with unfaithfulness is that you experience the fire of life without ever becoming refined as gold. If you have been in the wilderness for a long time, then you must re-evaluate your thought process, decision making, and most importantly, the state of your heart. Do not be like the tribes of Israel who spent 40 years in the wilderness although the journey should have been over in a matter of days. Just as their unfaithfulness led them to circle around the wilderness for years, you spend more time than you need in the dark places of life if you choose not to do what is right and obey the voice of God.

What is right is to soften your heart and give it to God. So I ask you: Is your heart open or have you allowed someone or something to harden your heart.

Remember, while the walls you put up keep away hurts, it also keeps away love.

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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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Temptation – Oh the Forbidden Fruit

The bible says that God does not tempt anyone (see James 1:13). Yet, Jesus includes “lead us not into temptation” when teaching His disciples how to pray to God (see Matthew 6:9 – 13). So what then is Jesus saying? Is He saying that God allows us to undergo temptation…or leads us into temptation? While it is certainly implied in The Lord’s Prayer, the proof can be found in the gospel of Matthew where it states:

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” – Matthew 4:1

Jesus being specifically led into the wilderness to be tempted tells us that God (the Holy Spirit) does allow us to be tempted. It sounds crazy until we take a look at what the temptation that God allows looks like.

First, the temptation did not occur till Jesus was well prepared. See, Jesus had just undergone spiritual calisthenics (fasting) and so was buff and ready to swat away any temptations the devil would levy against Him. Likewise, God does not allow us to be tempted without readying us and giving us the tools to handle the temptations that come our way. So does that then mean that God allows us to be tempted to test our spiritual maturity and our readiness to handle what He has for us? Absolutely! Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted to gauge His level of readiness for the ministry to which God called Him. We know this because the temptation occurred before He ever started preaching.

“From that time, Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”” – Matthew 4:17

Jesus passed the test in the wilderness and so moved on to the ministry which eventually led to salvation for all humanity and His glorification.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Many are called but few are indeed chosen because we keep failing the test that God levies on us to see if we are ready. In the process, we miss out on the glory (honor, distinction, prosperity) that God wants to shower on us.

Thus, while all temptation comes from Satan, God allows us to be led into some temptations to test our readiness for His goodness.

Second, the temptation that God allows will not be more than we can withstand.

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Therefore, God makes a way out for the temptations He allows through His grace; we just need to follow it. When Jesus foiled Satan’s plan, the angels ministered to Him, and He left the wilderness. He was ready!

Temptation we allow

But now, there are those temptations into which we lead ourselves. These are not of God and these are no good for us. This is what happened in the garden! What I have always wondered is this: Why of all the places to hang-out in the garden were Adam and Eve anywhere close to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; why were they hanging about the forbidden fruit in the first place?

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: In the story of Adam and Eve, the bible teaches us its first lesson – stay away from temptation. Thousands of years later, we are still having a hard time learning it.

Just like Adam and Eve, we tend to willingly put ourselves in situations God would not have us be a part, all the while using every reason, excuse, and rationale to justify our behavior. To illustrate this, imagine a recovering alcoholic who deliberately steps into a wine bar to get away from the rain outside. When asked why he stepped into the bar, the excuse is instant – to get away from the rain. When asked why not choose an adjacent store, again the justification is instant – the bar was the closest. All the while, Satan is laughing all the way to the bank to deposit a “slip” into the account of the man who ended up having a few too many harmless “samples” from which he ought to have stayed away.

For the man described, the act of going into the bar iteself was an act of disobedience because the man did not abstain from every appearance of evil (see 1 Thessalonians 5:22) – for the bar was his evil. He was disobedient to the word of God, and so it was not God that led him to be tempted…he led himself. In this situation, we are simply reliant on God’s mercy to pull us through.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment:  We set up a snare for ourselves when we disobey the promptings of the Holy Spirit and lead ourselves into situations where we are likely to compromise God.

In summary, we have to be prepared to swat away the devil by keeping ourselves battle ready through renewing our minds, our fasting, and our prayer.  We also have to make sure we are being obedient and so do not lead ourselves into temptation.

When we do the above, we find that what the bible says holds true:

“…he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him” – 1 John 5:18

Food for thought: If you look too long at the apple, you will eventually take a bite.

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