Tag Archives: Faith

3 Keys to Take Hold of Your Birth Right

Morning Sunrise near BellingenWhile the Lord had already given the promised land of Canaan to the Israelites, they still had to take possession of it (see Jeremiah 32: 22 -23).  Just as Israel had to take possession of the land God gave them, we also have to take possession of all the victory and glory that has already been won for us on the cross of Calvary. See, God has already paid the price for us so we may live heaven or earth and attain all the covenant blessings. It is now ours by birth-right – by being born again of His Spirit. Yet, many of us constantly forfeit our birth-right simply because we do not know how to take hold of it. How much it must hurt God to see us refuse His blessings.

So how do we take hold of our promised land (heaven on earth)? We take hold of it the same way that the Israelites took hold of their promised land – through faith and obedience, and by patience and prayer. And unlike the Israelites, we make sure that we keep our promised land by refusing to revert back to disobedience. We have to maintain an attitude of letting go and letting God.

Faith and Obedience

In the battle of Jericho, the children of Israel were successful because they obeyed the commandment of God by marching around the city seven times and by blowing their trumpets so that the city walls would fall. Think of how silly the commandment of God must have seemed. Some may have said, ‘Do what God? You mean to tell me that if I march around this city and blow my trumpet, that this wall, this great wall that is more than twelve feet wide is going to fall.  You are very funny God!’ But Joshua was well trained and understood that no commandment of God is silly. His faith was strong in the Lord and he had seen the power of His might beforehand. He knew He had to do just what God told him if the walls were to fall down and if they were to take the city.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Victory is not about our logic, thoughts, or feelings. It’s about faith-filled obedience to the word of God.

Patience

Looking again at the battle of Jericho, can you imagine the complaints against Joshua? ‘Come on Joshua, this is silly’, they must have said. ‘We have already walked around this city six times and nothing has happened. Instead of wearying us by walking, why don’t we build up our strength to take this city in battle?’ While it is tempting to revert to our own ways when we do not see the result of what God is telling us instantly, it is best to stick with what God has told us even if it means going around the same mountain many times. Remember, it took 21 days for the angel of God to reach Daniel because the Prince of Persia withstood him (see Daniel 10:12 – 13). Likewise, patience is essential if we are to take hold of the blessings God has for us. Remember, it is by faith and patience that we inherit the promises (see Heb. 6:12).

Prayer

After the victory at Jericho, Israel decided that they no longer needed God. They allowed success to get to their heads and so did not go to God in prayer prior to sending out an army against the puny city of Ai. As a result, they tasted defeat and lost men in battle. Oh, how too many of us leave God after He has granted the desires of our hearts. The story of the battle at Ai is a warning to us that we lose every time we forget God and take matters into our own hands.

If only Joshua had asked God (prayed) concerning what to do before he sent men to battle at Ai, God would have beforehand revealed the sin that existed in the camp (see Joshua 7:10 – 11). But no! Men had to die before God was sought after.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We suffer unnecessarily when we leave God out of our lives. Just as prayer was the first thing that went out of the window after the victory at Jericho, the erosion of a prayer life (not when asked) is always the first sign that we have begun to rely on our own strength.

To conclude, the keys to take hold of what is rightfully yours by birth are as follows:

(1) Seek God in prayer

(2) Obey His voice no matter what

(3) Patiently wait for the victory that is already yours.

When you do this and do not turn back, you ensure you spend all of your days in the Promised Land rather than be cheated taken into captivity by the king of Babylon (Satan). Satan has stolen too much from us. It’s time to take back what is ours!

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Fast-Forward Your Mission – Stay on God’s sling-shot

Our minds can be so focused on achieving the task God has assigned to us that we miss out on the blessings of God on our journey. If we find ourselves having no joy while doing God’s work, it is most likely because we have reverted to doing things in our own power and in our own way rather than relying on God’s power and God’s way. But are we not meant to be partners with God? Do we not have a part to play? Is faith without works not dead? It certainly is! Yet, God wants us to do what he wants us to do, how he wants us to do it – His way. A sure way of critiquing whether we have begun doing things in our own power is to examine the principles we are following. See, the truth is that God will never violate His own principles; therefore God’s way will not violate His principles.

The scripture highlights this in the book of Samuel where David answered God’s voice to take out the Amalekites who had attacked Ziklag and captured his family. Although on a god-sent mission that had deep personal implications, David did not fail to follow the principle of ‘loving your neighbor’. Instead of understandably rushing off to accomplish his mission, he paused to give aid to a distressed man on his journey (see 1 Samuel 30:11-13). As it turned out, this man had valuable information about the Amalekites that helped David achieve his mission faster. Note that David did not know who this man was or the information he had prior to loving him by giving him aid, yet, without this man, David might have spent days in search of his family.  Thus we see that, God honored David by fast-forwarding his mission and reuniting him with his family when David honored God by putting God’s principles first in his life.

Lightbulb MomentIn Christ, the seeming drawbacks to our mission are simply the pullback of the sling-shot that God uses to propel us towards our destiny.

To be successful, we must resist our tendency to get off the sling-shot in its pullback motion but learn to wait for the acceleration that is surely to follow. We must allow God to complete what He has started for He who has promised is faithful!

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Godly Vision: The Role of Vision in Creating Success

Faith does not allow our present circumstance to change our outlook (the vision of the sure future that God has spoken over us), but instead allows His outlook to change our attitude about our present circumstance. Unfortunately, when there is no vision of the sure thing that God has spoken to us through His Word, we tend to allow our present circumstance if bad to turn us over to bitterness. In doing so, we tend to perish in our thoughts – thinking that He has neglected us and questioning His love for us – and so fall away from the path of blessing that God wants to shower on us by taking matters into our own hands. If we do not understand that we will all face testing circumstances, we may end up in a mixed funk of melancholy and legalism; sure that bad things are only happening to us because God is mad at us. In the depths of despair, it is at times easy to forget that our situation is temporary if we do not give up on God, for He does not give up on us.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world – John 16:33

Without a godly vision, even the good times bring anxiety in that we can be dissatisfied with the status quo and hunger after more wealth and pleasure. The earliest example of a person who had this problem was Adam. He had the good life but he became dissatisfied with it after drinking the poisonous speech of Satan who gave him a false vision of a better life – the promise of a step-up life of being like God. Adam fell because he had no vision or outlook of the fantastic life that God has already prepared for him. All he had was a vision of lack. Since faith can be defined as the sighting/vision/evidence of the sure thing that God has promised (see Hebrews 11:1), we see that Adam ultimately perished for his lack of faith – for he disobeyed out of the fear that he was not living the best possible life.

We are not to be like Adam, but are to be like Jesus who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross (see Hebrews 12:2). What was the joy set before Him? It was the joy of being reunited with the Father, the joy of reconciling us to Himself, the joy of sitting at the right hand of the Father and being the overseer of all the Kingdoms that had been given into His hands. It was the vision of the sure things that He was to inherit that made his trials and tribulations bearable!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: If we know we are to inherit a great collection of jewels upon completing a marathon, the hardship and pain we endure during the training and subsequent run to not much matter. Our focus will simply be on the joy that is to come.

God has a vision for each of our lives, and the vision is to prosper us and to give us a good future. The problem is that many of us do not see it. The truth is we do not have to walk this life without vision. We can set ourselves apart and go up to our quiet place away from the busyness of the world below – seeking the Lord in fasting and prayer. When we do this, the scripture tells us that we will get a vision of what God wants for us.

I will stand upon my watch, and set myself upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved – Habakkuk 2:1

Once we are given our vision, we are then told to write it down so that we do not forget and so that we may continually chase after it.

And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, so he may run that reads it – Habakkuk 2:2

See, vision is what makes us run! The vision of the sure thing God has promised; that which will surely come to pass for God cannot lie is what produces diligence and energizes us for our work; it is what produces patience and perseverance. Let’s put it this way: If we know we will gain our dream vacation simply by cutting down a tree, we will find a way to do it and do it quickly! The problem is not the lack of patience, diligence, and energy (these are the symptoms). The real problem is the lack of vision.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: While vision produces faith, diligence, and patience, lack of it produces laziness, lethargy, and defeat

If you do not have a vision today, I urge you to set yourself apart and go up to your watchtower and then see what He will say to you. Say yes when you are corrected and acknowledge your wrong-doing. Clean the muck out of your house and start running after the target God has given you knowing that His power is following His purpose for you; knowing that all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them. Then watch and see again what happens to your attitude about your circumstance; watch and see what changes occur in your life.

Food for Thought: No man who has ever had godly (love based) vision has ever been defeated in life

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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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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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God’s Love is Not For Sale – Are You Trying to Buy God’s Love?

Bidding paddle

Are you trying to buy God’s love?

God’s love is not for sale. Yet, many of us are still trying to buy His love. It has still not sunk in that God loves us not on the basis of what we do or what we ever could do, but because of whom He is. If God’s love was based on what we do, then why would He have sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins while we were in the depths of our depravity to reconcile us to Him?

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”

 – Ephesians 2:4 – 5

The truth is that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus (see Romans 8:38 – 39). Nothing means nothing – nothing we think, feel, say, or do, no amount of works – absolutely nothing! Rather than try to buy God’s love, our aim should be to experience the fullness of His love. Our ability to experience the fullness of His love – his saving power, his riches, covenant blessing and much more – depends on how much we love Him and not how much He loves us.

Lightbulb Moment

Light-bulb moment: God’s love is not for sale. The extent to which we experience the fullness of His love depends on one fundamental question. How much do we love God?

Everything that we do – including our obedience and works – should come out of love for God. If it does not, God is not pleased. How do we know this? Well, the bible says that it is impossible to please God without faith (see Hebrews 11:6), and since faith works through love (see Galatians 5:6); anything that we do that does not come out a loving heart does not please God.

Therefore, when we say we are showing our faith by what we do (see James 2:18), that faith is not pleasing to God unless it comes from a heart of love. I want to make it clear that our hearts (not our works) has to be aligned with the heart of God. When our heart is aligned with God’s heart and we take action (do things) to bring Him glory in love, then we unleash the riches of the glory of His inheritance in us (see Ephesians 1: 18).

Let me further explain: The bible says that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Why you ask? This is because whoever seeks Him (in study of His Word and Prayer) will find Him (see Matthew 7:7). When we find God, we find love for He is love (see 1 John 4:8). As we begin to grow in the knowledge of His love (which comes as we seek Him more), then our love for Him grows (see 1 John 4:8). As our love for Him grows, our faith in Him grows. It is this faith that works through love that leads to obedience, and it is obedience that unlocks the covenant blessings that Jesus has made available to us through His sacrifice on the cross.

With that being said, anything we say we do for God that is not out of love is mainly out of three things: fear, pride, and selfishness. God is not pleased with that no matter how good it looks to man.  For example, if I give to charity only to lower my taxes and not because I have a heart for the hurting (which is God’s heart), I have acted for selfish gain. Man may be pleased with what I have done, but God is not. While we can fool other people, we cannot fool God. He sees beyond our actions and into our heart intentions.

So I am not saying that we should not give to charity because our hearts is not right! Instead, what I am saying is that we should always be cognizant of our heart intentions so that we may ask God to change our hearts as necessary.

Here are two questions I now often ask myself and I think are good questions to ask:

  1. Are my actions based on what God has placed in my heart or is it to please man or achieve a selfish need?
  2. Am I obeying just to tick the box of obedience to the law (so to buy God’s favor and blessings) or is my obedience coming out of genuine love?

When we experience God’s love, we stop fearing and then are free to love God with all our hearts.

Food for Thought: I put myself in bondage of the law when I try to buy love that is freely available

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