Category Archives: Teaching

Are You Really Worshipping? What it Means to Worship

Do you believe in God?During Sunday service, you may hear the pastor say for you to ‘press in to worship’ or ‘adopt a position of worship by lifting up your hands’. You may also hear he/she say that worship invites Jesus into our situation and that ‘His presence is here; can you feel His presence?’ If all this sounds like Christianese you’ve never understood then I hope this blog post helps.

Worship cannot be measured by tangible actions such as closing your eyes, lifting up your hands, shouting, crying, jumping up and down, or throwing yourself to the ground. While these may occur during worship, the actions themselves do not prove that worship is taking place. Indeed, it is all too easy to be so used to performing a particular act that it becomes second nature. True worship is a love-based outward expression of what has taken place in our heart. If this still sounds like Christianese to you, consider the following passage:

“And behold, a leper came to Him and worshipped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean” – Matthew 8:2

The passage tells us that the leper worshipped Jesus by saying something. Hence, we know that worship always says something. Indeed, worship always speaks from the heart. What came out of the mouth of this leper was a reflection of what was settled in his heart. What was settled in heart can be sifted out by paying careful attention to his words.

Worship Calls Jesus ‘Lord’

The first thing that worship entails is acknowledging Jesus as the Lord (master) of our lives. For Jesus to be the master of our lives means that we allow him to control everything. It means that he takes first position in our lives. When we come to worship, we come to say: Jesus, you are most important in my life and there is nothing or no one that I put above you. It means we have to put out and put away those idols that try to claim first position in our hearts. You know what idols I am talking about. Is Jesus the master of your life or is something mastering you right now? Is your mind half on your job, money, or a romantic interest all the time? If you are single, is your want to be married your idol? Let’s truly worship by putting these other things in their rightful place. To worship is to put Jesus back on the throne of our hearts

Worship Says ‘If You are Willing’

The heart of worship submits to the will of God in humility. Indeed, worship says ‘not my will but Your will be done’. In order words, worship surrenders all to God; it takes the burden off us and casts it upon Him. Worship acknowledges our own powerlessness and submits to our complete and utter reliance on Jesus. See, Satan wants us to be self-reliant because he knows he can continue to rain down those haymakers on us as he pummels us to bits in our mind. Worship on the other hand is a heart posture of being God-reliant. Instead of being in-secure, we become God-secure in worship. If there were words to describe this heart of worship, it would be the words ‘yield control to God’ and ‘humble yourself before God’

Worship Says ‘You Can Make me Clean’

‘You can make me clean’ is an assertion of what God is able to do. He trusted in the sovereign power of God to bring about good in his life and change his situation for the better. Just like the leper, a heart of worship is one that has faith in the power of God to bring about that which is good in our lives no matter what situation we face. See, worship comes expecting and trusting that something good will happen because we understand that our God is a good God; He is the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.  So we see that worship does not lose hope, is filled with endurance, and is convinced about the goodness of God in all situations and circumstances.

The Beauty of Worship

Why is this important you ask? Why is it important to (1) Place nothing above Him (2) Surrender to Him in humility (3) Have faith that He will bring about what is good and best in our lives. The answer is found in Matthew 8:3 where Jesus says ‘I am willing’, and then promptly makes the leper clean. In other words, the worship brought about the miracle!

See, God has never turned away anyone who worships Him in Spirit and in truth! Indeed, ‘Placing nothing above Him’ moves us towards Jesus, humility invites Jesus into our situation, and faith gives Jesus permission to do the good that He loves to do in our lives (See Daniel 10:12 and Hebrews 11:6).

So my friend, if you want God to move in your life, then you want to come to truly worship. I hope you agree with me that we have too much to gain for us to simply go through the motions.

Food for Thought: Am I acknowledging Jesus as master, surrendering to Him in humility, and have faith in Him in my life or am I just going through the motions in life?

Leave a comment

Filed under Teaching

How Can I Experience God’s Best For My Life?

Do you believe in God?This week I roused myself early each morning to attend 6:00 am prayer at church. Though we all sought the Lord for different things, a common theme emerged. We were all crying out to the LORD for His glory to be revealed in our midst, in our lives, and in our communities. In other words, we wanted to see his majesty, splendor, magnificence, beauty, honor and victory manifested in a tangible way.

As I pressed in with the rest of my brethren in prayer, asking the Lord to show me His glory, He spoke to me saying: You ask me to show you My glory; My glory is already present within you; All you have to do is yield to it. When He said this, He brought to my remembrance the following passage of scripture:

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of gloryColossians 1:27 (NKJV)

How Can I Experience God’s Glory?

Through the bible, we know that Jesus is the brightness and radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3). We also know that the Father is glorified when our lives bear much fruit (John 15:8). Hence we understand by these scriptures that Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory because His life bore an incredible amount of fruit. And Indeed Jesus life is still bearing fruit through the relationship He has with those who accept Him.

In fact while physically in this world, Jesus’ life bore so much fruit (through healing, preaching, setting people free…) that we are told that the world is not big enough to capture all that He did (John 21:25). So how did Jesus bear so much fruit and so manifest the glory of God? He did it by surrendering himself completely to leadership of the Holy Spirit who spoke to Him the words of Father (John 5:30).

  I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord—but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision], and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will [I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose] but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me – John 5:30 (Amplified Bible)

See, Jesus was able to manifest the glory of God because He surrendered to the Spirit of Grace (the Holy Spirit) who was within Him and empowered him to bear much fruit. Why did Jesus surrender to the Spirit of Grace? It was because He fully trusted the Spirit’s leadership and guidance for He knew the Spirit was from God the Father.

In other words, the trust and belief that Jesus had in God, enabled Him to surrender His life to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and so allowed Him to do those things that glorified God – things that were seemingly impossible before.

Hence, we see that faith (trust and belief) in God leads us to surrender to the grace of God (the Holy Spirit) who then in turn empowers us to radiate the glory of God. The truth is simply this: Faith leads to Grace; Grace leads to Glory.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: The glory of God is radiant and draws people to God because it accomplishes both the supernatural and natural things that defy man’s belief and expectation. In other words, evangelism is helped when the glory of God is manifested in a tangible way.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: It is impossible to experience the glory of God without  having faith and walking in it.

How Can I Recognize Faith?

Faith is the key to experiencing the glory of God. Without faith, we are unable to do the works of God. No wonder James, the brother of Jesus says that ‘faith without works is dead and that he will show his faith by what he does (James 2:14 – 18). By this we see that talk alone is cheap and profits nothing!

Real faith on the other hand unleashes the power of God and reveals the glorious works of God. Only words of faith carry life-changing power which in turn carry out the will of God. It does something tangible.

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it – Isaiah 55:11

Hallelujah, I will say it again: Real faith releases the power of God (grace) which then in turn unleashes the tangible presence and evidence of the glory of God. Real words of faith does something, it just doesn’t go into a vacuum!

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Faith releases power that accomplishes something tangible – that something is the will of God.

For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power – 1 Corinthians 4:20 (NLT)

How Can I Grow My Faith?

But I don’t have much faith you say! Well Jesus says that we can move mountains if we have faith as tiny as a mustard seed! So don’t underestimate what even the tiniest amount of faith can do.

If that’s the case then why is the size of my faith important you ask. The size of our faith is important because it determines what we ask of God and what we are believing in Him for. Indeed, God grants to us that which we have enough faith to believe in. First, if we do not believe, we will not ask. Even if we do ask  but not in faith, we receive no reward. So dare to believe. If we call ourselves believers, we ought to believe!

You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask – James 4:2

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him – Hebrews 11:6

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God – Romans 10:17

If you want to grow your faith, all you have to do is spend more time reading and meditating on the word of God. The more of His word you have within you, the more you are able to hear from God – for God will never speak contrary to what He has written in His holy word. The first things that God will start to speak to you is how much He loves you and how He is for you and not against you. He will show you the errors of your ways and then give you a promise for the future. How amazing!

This love which He shares with us is what draws us to lower our guards, get closer to Him so we know Him more. By so doing, we come to trust and belief in Him more. Faith = trust and belief in God. If we trust and believe in Him and trust and believe that He loves us, then it follows that we will trust and believe in what He says and move in it – thereby unleashing grace and glory.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: The size of our faith determines the size of our request. In other words, if we limit the size of our faith, then we limit the manifestation of God’s glory in our lives. So, believe big and ask big in faith – and go from glory to glory.

Food For Thought: If you want God to show you His glory, then you have to show God your faith

1 Comment

Filed under Teaching, Victorious Living

Prayers That Get the Job Done

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

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

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

What Made Jacob Righteous?

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

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

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

What Made Jacob’s Prayer Effective?

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

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

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

What Made Jacob’s Prayer Fervent?

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

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

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

1 Comment

Filed under Teaching, Victorious Living

If God is Good, Then Why Did He Banish Satan (Evil) to the Earth?

A few weeks ago, I met a lady who saw my cross and snickered. Soon enough, she asked if I was a believer or if my cross was just a fashion statement. When I told her I loved Jesus, she said to me “Well, I don’t believe in God”. When I asked why not, she said “I can’t believe in a Being that would allow Satan on earth. Tell me this, if God is good, then why allow Satan access to us in the first place”.

Good question I said. It seems that you know something of God. Yes, she said. I was raised church but I have now moved beyond all that. I don’t believe in God anymore. I asked if she would give me a shot at an answer. She said I would be wasting my time. I told her I would anyway.

Below is the gist of what I discussed with her (It is included in the book: No Victory Without Faith)

Though the Bible does not explicitly say, it is not far-fetched to believe that Satan’s unhappiness with God reached a crescendo when God decided to create man in His image and made him the ruler of the earth. Satan, who was never satisfied with leading a third of the angels of heaven, but was hungry for more power and was tempted to overthrow God, looked at the earth with longing eyes as God made it.

He must have said to himself, “Finally, I am going to get a place to call my own and rule over. I am now going to be like God. It is about time God came to His senses. He knows I have been eyeing His throne and He has surely seen it. So He has decided to create the earth and give it to me. Finally, I will have my own place!

Satan so wanted the earth that he had earlier tried to kill the child that was born to rule all the hosts of the earth beforehand (Revelations 12:4).

Now that the earth was being formed by the Word of God, he was sure that his time had come! When Satan heard that man was being made in the image of God – the image of love, faith, and authority – enough was enough. He must have said to his belligerent self,

Is it not enough that I have to serve God, now I have to serve man? Why should I have to serve a being that was created after me? He does not care about me at all. Why not just place me and my angels on the earth to rule? Why not give me what He knows I want?

Satan was outraged! So he (who is called the accuser of the brethren) approached the throne of grace and brought an accusation against God. He gave God a piece of his and accused Him of being unjust and uncaring. Of course, God knew the character of Satan and knew the content of his dead heart. In turn, Satan in his blind ambition thought he was making a good case to God. In truth, all he did was reveal the extent to which pride and greed had consumed him. He revealed that he had no ounce of love but was filled with evil. (Note: Evil sacrifices all things to achieve its self-seeking end). God could and would not allow such a creature to have dominion. For God to have allowed that would have made God unloving. Furthermore, the end of such a rule would be pandemonium for the creatures subjected to Satan’s rule.

Since God is holy and without blemish, Satan was no longer fit to live in the presence of God – once the iniquity of pride, greed, and self-seeking was found in him (see Ezekiel 28:14- 17). After this episode, God had to do something with Satan. Being merciful, God decided not to destroy Satan and his co conspirators (a third of the angels of heaven) – the price that his iniquity deserved. Instead, He decided in His goodness to banish Satan and his gang to the earth!

In making this decision, God executed both justice and mercy at the same time. First, He was loving and merciful in that He did not destroy Satan (His own creation). Wow! That God would show even Satan mercy reveals how big God’s heart is towards all creation. Second, He was just in that He punished Satan by banishing him to the earth – away from His presence.

Now, He not only banished him away from His presence, He banished him into the presence of man. Since man had been given rulership and dominion over all things on earth, God in effect made Satan subject to the rule of man.

“I cast you to the ground (earth), I laid you before kings (men), That they might behold (see, discern, take heed of) you” – Ezekiel 28:17b

In other words, God said to Satan, “I see that you do not like Me because I created man. I also see that you do not like man because he is created in My image. Well, you will now be subjected to the rule of the creation that you revile so much for absolutely no reason. I will not mete out the destroy your sin deserves just yet. You do not like My rule you say! Well, I will let man rule over you!

Instead of counting his lucky stars and thanking God for sparing him from destruction, Satan exploded with anger. Instead of accepting God’s judgment, he started a war in heaven and tried to force his way into power. Thankfully, Michael and his host of angels were able to defeat Satan and his gang (see Revelations 12:7:8). So Satan was booted out of heaven kicking and screaming! He landed on the earth having great anger towards both God and man (see Revelations 12:12).

So why did God banish Satan to the earth? He did it to punish Satan stripping him of his former glory and to subject him to the rule of the creation he hated so much.

She said she had not heard that before. Long story short, we proceeded to talk about this blog and she said she would visit. I hope she is finding answers. I hope I planted a seed on good ground that day.

Leave a comment

Filed under Teaching

10 Surefire Ways to Get Yourself Depressed – Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Purposeful Living, Teaching

Do You Believe In GOD?

 

 

Do You Believe in God

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

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

Do you believe in God?

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

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

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

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

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Teaching

No Victory Without Faith – Is Faith Really That Important?

An excerpt from No Victory Without Faith

If there is no victory without faith (see 1 John 5:4), the natural question that arises is this: why are there so many people who seem to be prospering in life despite rejecting God?

The answer is God’s unmerited mercy towards mankind. See, after the fall of man, God pronounced the ground cursed because of man’s disobedience (see Genesis 3:17). As a result, the only things the work of man yielded were thorns and thistles. In other words, nothing that man put his hand to outside of the will of God yielded fruit. All his toil and effort was in vain. One would have thought that this would turn man towards choosing God, but it did not. Man continued to choose wickedness in all his ways and so incurred the wrath of God (see Genesis 6:5). Being a God of justice, God had to punish man for the evil he had committed, so he sent the great flood. The only reason God did not destroy all mankind was because Noah was a righteous man and so found favor in His eyes (see Genesis 6:8).

 
The flood represented a new righteous beginning for mankind since only Noah and family inhabited the earth. This is when God in His mercy decided that, (1) the ground would no longer be cursed for the sake of man regardless of whether man remained evil or not (see Genesis 8:21). Furthermore, He declared that, (2) seedtime and harvest time would continue to exist for as long as the earth remained (Genesis 8:22). These two declarations are huge! They gave man a way to prosper from his hard work and toil irrespective of his heart, regardless of whether man was obedient to God or not! Jesus referenced this mercy of God when He mentioned that God makes the sun rise on the evil and good, and sends the rain on the just and unjust.

But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who spitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust – Matthew 5:44-45

To paraphrase the Scripture above, Jesus is saying, “You need both the sun to shine and the rain to fall for the plants that you have sown to grow. Whether you are good or not good, God makes the sun rise and the rain to pour so that harvest time can continue in the world; so that all humanity can prosper. God, in His love and mercy, makes no distinction between those who are good and those who are evil in this respect. Therefore, be like Him and make no distinction between those you love and your enemy.

 
Question: If this is true that we can ‘succeed’ without faith, that God has made a way for us to have faith in our own efforts, then why do we require faith in God?

 

Those of us who accept Jesus not only continue to walk in the extended mercy of God to forgive our sins, we also receive the ability to walk in the favor and power of God through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Only faith can release the favor and power of God in our lives. This means that we no longer have to toil and spin for what we need (Matthew 6:28). We can simply depend on God to provide those things for us as we walk in loving obedience to the prompting and guidance of His Spirit. Hence, we see that it is no longer hard toil and labor (works) that bring blessings. Rather, it is loving obedience that brings blessings. Though we can continue in the way of all creation, Jesus has shown and made a better way available to us – the way of favor and power – the way of faith and love!

 
Second, outside of faith, the extent of our blessing is proportional to the labor of our hands. The way faith operates, the extent to which we are blessed is proportional to the extent of our obedience. A good example of the power of faith (trust and belief) is found in the book of Daniel. Daniel went from being a captive in Babylon to becoming the second in command of the kingdom – which was the greatest in the world at the time– because he had faith in God and walked in obedience to Him. Could Daniel have toiled and worked his way to that position? No way! He was a foreigner and so would not have been given the opportunity. Nothing he could have done by his own strength could have taken him to such heights of power. By this example, we see that faith will always propel us further than what our own strength and works can achieve. Moreover, faith allows God to do it instead of us doing it. Since God can do it much faster, easier, and better than we can, we see that faith involves a modicum of peace and rest.

 
Third, faith comes without the internal struggle and the need to balance and juggle the many things that striving and toiling brings. Rather, it simplifies our life and allows us to hit the mark of the high calling of God. This is why the blessings that come from walking in faith come without sorrow (Proverbs 10:22). Conversely, the blessings that come from our own sheer grit and strength usually come with sorrow. An example of this is a man who works all of his life and becomes wildly rich because of his efforts, but leaves a wound in his children because he was never there.

 

Fourth, faith comes with the release of supernatural power. The power that conquered the grave was deposited within us when we chose to accept Jesus. This power is released as determined by God as we walk in faith. It is this release of power that ensures our victory as we walk in faith.
An example of faith’s ability to achieve the supernatural is found in 1 Kings 13:1-6. When a man of God got to King Jeroboam and proclaimed the Word of God, the king stretched out his hand and asked his officers to arrest him. Immediately, the king’s outstretched arm withered and the altar he stood by broke. When this happened, King Jeroboam changed his mind quickly about the arrest! This story tells us that God’s power will always follow those who walk in faithful obedience to Him, that He is our protector and our shield, and we do not have to be afraid of anything. When we walk by faith, we do not have to worry about the result, for we are backed by the indomitable power of God.

 

Why is faith important? Faith allows us to experience the chain –breaking and life-giving favor and power of God in our lives.

Click here to take a sneak peak into the book

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Teaching

Where Should I Go to Get Godly Advice?

Blessed are those who do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1).

Have you ever been in a situation where you are unsure of what to do? Where it seems that you are in between a rock and a hard place? A situation that throws you for such a loop that your head hurts from thinking? Perhaps your heart and head are fighting each other and it is driving you crazy! Perhaps you are trying to decide whether or not you should go ahead and marry your fiance! Perhaps you can’t decide whether you should take back an ex – has he or she really changed or has he not?

In times of trouble or uncertainty, many of us go to our friends, our family (usually parents), our pastor (man of God) for wise counsel. And so we should! Yet how do we know that what we are getting is godly advice?

When I put this question to a number of people, the answer I got ranged from “the advice must be in the bible” to “I trust my pastor”. So we decided to look at 4 instances in the bible where ungodly advice was given.

Ungodly Advice from Family and Friends

Jesus family could not understand why he left everything behind to start His ministry. Being a sinless man, all the blessings of the old covenant followed Him. As such, we know that Jesus was blessed in His carpentry and in all that He did. So it was a shocker when for His family when he called it quits at the age of 30. So much so that they thought he had gone bonkers! Here is what Mark 3:21 says: But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold on Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind”.

See, their advice to Jesus was for Him to quit all the works of love that He was doing. Why did they say this? Perhaps they did not understand. Perhaps it was because they were more worried about their own livelihood – for Jesus was the first born and so was the head of the family after the death of Jesus. What if Jesus had listened to their advice instead of following the will of God for His life? Buy buy salvation for man!

Just because your family cares about you does not mean they know what is best for you!

Ungodly Advice from the Prophet (man of God)

1 King 13 tells of man of God who went to warn King Jeroboam to turn away from his idolatry. On his way back home, he met a prophet who told him that God had spoken to him and told him to bring him (the man of God who went to King Jeroboam) to his house. The guy was lying! Here is what 1 Kings 13:18 says: The old prophet answered, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.'” (But he was lying to him.).
Unfortunately, the man of God listened to this prophet and followed him home instead of following the command that God had spoken to him (see 1 Kings 13:17). See, he trusted the word of the man of God instead of trusting in the words God had spoken to him. The end result is that the man of God was mauled by a lion for his disobedience! Ironically, his fate was revealed to him by the man of God who had earlier lied to him! This time the prophet truly revealed the word of God

Just because the advice comes from a man of God does not mean that the advice is from God!

Ungodly Advice from Many Counselors

When King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat asked the many false prophets whether they should go to fight the Syrians, they all said yes and promised victory! Here is what 2 Chronicles 18:11 says: All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the LORD will give it into the king’s hand.”
Only Prophet Micaiah told Ahab not to go and fight. Note that Prophet Micaiah had been advised to agree with the other prophets who said to go fight against the Syrians (see 2 Chronicles 18:12). Prophet Micaiah was thrown in prison for telling the truth and King Ahab went into battle because of the multitude of counselors. He died in battle! Prophet Micaiah was right after all!

Just because everybody agrees with the advice does not mean everybody is right!

Ungodly Advice that Seems to Line Up With the Bible

Wanting Jesus to jump, Satan quoted Psalm 91:11-12 to Jesus! Indeed, Satan did not misquote this verse of the bible. At face value, it seems as if this bible lined up with the word of God. At the very least, it certainly lined up with what was in the bible! But Jesus said no to Satan.Why? First, Satan was trying to use what was written in the bible to manipulate Jesus. Second, Satan speaks nothing in love. Third, to listen to Satan would have been to obey Satan (a sin).

We must not allow people to use what is written in the bible to manipulate us. We have the Holy Spirit so that we can discern the spirit. The word from the bible that the Holy Spirit will speak to us for a particular situation will always bring life. Conversely, the word from the bible that Satan will speak to us is designed to produce speak. For example, Satan will speak righteous anger when the Holy Spirit wants us to exercise mercy!

Just because someone uses the bible to prove their point does not mean it is godly. The bible should be used to prove God’s point for the situation as directed by the Spirit!

Goldy Advice from An Ungodly Man

Conversely, King Josiah who was a righteous King died in battle because he would not heed the word of God spoken by a heathen king – King Necho of Egypt (see 2 Chronicles 35:24). Here is what 2 Chronicles 35:22 says: Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Necho from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo

See, a righteous King died because he did not believe that godly advice can come from a heathen King

Just because the person is not a believer does not mean God is not speaking through them

Friend, godly advice is any advice that comes from God. Moreover, godly advice can come from anywhere or anything. Remember how God used a donkey to speak to Balaam (Numbers 22:28)! The only way we to decipher if an advice is godly or ungodly is to through the Holy Spirit. He is the one who will guide us into all truth! Without a close relationship with God, we will find ourselves making many mistakes! There is never any good substitute to hearing from God yourself!

Godly advice is advice that comes from the Holy Spirit. The only way to decipher it is to have a close relationship with God!

Leave a comment

Filed under Teaching

Why Does God Allow Non-believers to Prosper?

Why is it that God allows those who do not care about Him to prosper?

Right after the fall of man, God told man that the ground was cursed for his sake; that he was going to have to toil, and that all the work of his would bring him thorns and thistles (Gen 3:17). Mankind continued in this vain until after the great flood – which wiped out all humanity except Noah and his family. After this, God made a covenant with all creation. God made a new proclamation with man which made the proclamation of Gen 3:17 null and void. He said that the ground would no longer be cursed for the sake of man even though all that he imagines in his heart is evil (Gen 8:21). He said that there would always be seed time and harvest time for as long as the earth remains (Gen 8:22).

Thus, we see that God gave man a way to prosper from his toil and work irrespective of the state of his heart.

In His mercy, God allows mankind to eat of the fruit of his toil (hard labor) whether we are obedient to Him or not.

Jesus referenced the mercy of God that he pronounced in Gen 8:22 when he mentioned that God makes the sun rise on the evil and good, and sends the rain on the just and unjust (Mat 5:45).

But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who spitefully use you, and persecute you;That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust – Matthew 5:44-45

To paraphrase, Jesus is saying: You need both the sun to shine and the rain to fall for the plants that you have sown to grow. Whether you are good or not good, God makes the sun rise and the rain to pour so that harvest time can continue in the world; so that all humanity can prosper. God, in his love and mercy makes no distinction between those who are good and those who are evil in this respect. Therefore be like him and be make no distinction between those you love and your enemy.

Why should we strive to be obedient to him when there are so many who are disobedient and are doing well?

For those of us who accept Jesus, we not only walk in the continued mercy of God, we also receive the favor of God on our life as well as the Holy Spirit of power. We no longer have to toil and spin for what we need (Matt 6:28). We can simply depend on God to provide those things for us as we walk in loving- obedience to His Spirit. Hence we see that it is no longer hard toil and labor (works) that brings blessings. Rather, it is loving obedience that brings blessings. Though we can continue in the way of all creation, Jesus has shown us the better way – the way of favor and power!

In the way of the world, the extent of your blessing is proportional to the labor of your hand. In the way of the Word, the extent of your blessing is proportional to the extent of your obedience.

A good example of this is the man, Daniel (see book of Daniel). He walked in obedience to God and so became the second in command of the greatest kingdom in the world at that time! Nothing he could have done in his own strength (toil) could have made him attain that position, for he was a foreign slave. No way would he have been given that opportunity outside of God. Thus we see that obedience will get us to a higher position than what toil can. We also see that obedience is faster and easier than toil.

Second, obedience releases power! The man of God that went to King Jeroboam (read 1 Kings 13:1-6) was supernaturally protected from being arrested when he obeyed God. Furthermore, God released His power to break the alter for the sake of the man of God. Likewise, God will always release his power on our behalf as we walk in obedience – His power to save, heal, speak boldly and courageously; His power to achieve all that he has called us to achieve!

Faithful obedience releases the favor and power of God to do the miraculous in our lives.

So why choose God? We choose God because we want more than just the mercy of God. In our appreciation of His love for us, we also want to experience His chain-breaking and life giving favor and power in our lives. When we live in the fullness of His grace (mercy, favor, and power) is when the world will take notice and our influence on it will explode. Then we will start to live heaven on earth and more people would be drawn to God and be saved. In other words, love compels us to be obedient! Obedience in turn will release the abundant life in our lives.

4 Comments

Filed under Teaching, Victorious Living

Do Not Go Back to the Jail of Your Past – Pass Go and Collect 200

In the book of Hosea, God mentions that there will come a day when we will no longer call Him Master but we will call Him Husband (Hosea 2:16). Friend, that day came over 2000 years ago! It came when Jesus decided to (1) pay the debt that kept us as slaves and (2) marry us to Himself so that we could become royalty just as He is royalty.

What a promotion! Jesus took it upon himself to change our destiny from death (that comes from sin) to life (that comes from His righteousness – not our own). He not only decided to liberate us from bondage, He took it a step further and propelled us into kingship.

Why we go back to jail

Here is what Jesus did in a nutshell: (1) He put down his crown and descended His throne (2) He stripped himself of royalty and put on journeyman’s clothing (3) He traveled from a far country to our jailhouse (4) He sacrificed himself so that we would be released (5) He married us to Himself so that He could take us back with Him and experience what He experiences (6) He picked up his throne again but then gave us crowns of rulership when we got back to His country (See Romans 8:17 and Ephesians 2:4-8).

Since Jesus has done all this, then why is it that too many of us do not live the life Jesus suffered to give us? Is it because we think it is too good to be true? See, many of us are still trying to pay the debt that has already been paid by Jesus! We almost feel bad that we got away scot free! So, we take off our crowns and return back to the jailhouse and attempt to pay off a debt that no longer exists. We put ourselves back in bondage of works – which is the way of the world – so that there is no difference between them and us. We return to our past!

How crazy is this behavior – working to receive nothing since the price has already been given to us as a gift! The jailor (Satan) cannot believe his luck – he keeps his mouth shut and only opens it to repeat to us that we did not deserve what Jesus did. The King (Jesus) cannot believe it either. He calls out to us as we go back to the jailhouse pleading with us to stay with him. In truth, the King should be very angry because we have made his sacrifice of no effect. He set us free but we put ourselves back in chains!

Light-bulb moment: To live the life God intended requires that we stop trying to deserve His love – we do not –  and start accepting it for what it is!

Break out of Jail

Without accepting the truth of the unconditional love of God, we place ourselves back in chains and we attempt to work our way out of debt. This is like saying to a jailor: I know I broke the law to get in here and I have been given the death penalty. Now that I am in here, I am going to keep all the law so that you can let me out!

This does not even work in real life! No matter how much good a person does in jail, it does not negate what he has done before. Only the judge can pardon! God is our righteous judge who has already pardoned. We no longer have to live as slaves – trying to please our master through our good works. We are now married to the Master because of his love for us. All he now wants of us is to be faithful – to be full of trust and belief in Him (who He is and what He has done). If you are not faithful or “full of faith”, you will find yourself going back to the jailhouse!

Food for Thought: Today, I will not go back to jail; I will pass the test of faithfulness and collect on God’s goodness

2 Comments

Filed under Teaching