Tag Archives: Grace

One Good Reason To Read The Bible

Holy Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus – 2 Timothy 3:15

Holy means to be set apart, and scriptures means writings. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures are writings that are set apart. They are set apart in the sense that they are different from other writings. Moreover, they are writings that help set you apart from the crowd.

The scriptures help you live a life that is set apart and helps you stand out from the crowd

For the Scriptures to be effective requires that we put our faith in Christ Jesus. If you look at 2 Timothy 3:15 closely, you will find that it does not say to have faith in Jesus Christ. This is because after we have faith in Jesus Christ for our eternal salvation, we must put our faith in Christ Jesus for our everyday salvation.

Disclaimer: When I talk about everyday salvation here, I do NOT mean that we have to work and work to maintain our salvation.

There are many who have put their faith in Jesus Christ that have not put their faith in Christ Jesus. Faith in Jesus Christ gives you grace BUT faith in Christ Jesus allows you to walk in grace. This is because faith in Christ Jesus produces humility to the Holy Spirit. And the beauty of humbling ourselves to the leadership of the Holy Spirit is it makes us wise to salvation and releases the grace (unmerited favor and power) of God. This grace over your life is what makes you stand out from the crowd.

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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

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Gifts and Talents: What God Thinks About Us Squandering Our Talents

Just as the duty of every servant is to attend to the duty of his master, the duty of every believer is to attend to the purpose for which we were born, and do the will of God to which we are called. Being the just God that He is, He has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit who equips us with the ability and wherewithal to accomplish His purpose. Yes, we have all been granted a measure of gifts and talents to accomplish the purpose to which we are called. To those of us that decide to use those gifts and talents to do His will, He grants more grace (in the form on power, capability and ability) and magnifies what He has purposed for us.

“Therefore, take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents” – Matthew 25:28

In contrast, God does not too much fancy those of us that choose not to channel and use our given gifts and talents. He does not take too kindly to us using fear as an excuse for not carrying out His will nor is He impressed with us when we do absolutely nothing of value with our lives. He does not want us to simply bury our talents in the ground but to use them. Why? It is for the purpose of good works that He created us in His image in the first place (see Ephesians 2:10). It is for the aim of accomplishing His purpose and will that He grant us the Holy Spirit who empowers us to be courageous and so to overcome the fear that comes from the enemy.

When the servant told his master he hid his talent out of fear, the master responded with ‘you wicked and lazy servant’ (see Matthew 25:26)! While this may seem harsh, it is exactly how God feels when we squander our gifts and talents out of fear or whatever reason.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: When we do not use our gifts and talents, God says to us: You know my will and yet you choose not to take any action and use what I have given you. You are wicked and lazy!

God calls us lazy because the only reason we fall into inaction out of fear is due to our choice not to spend time in His Word. For surely when we spend time with Him, we are transformed into His image – the image or courage, love, boldness, strength, and power. We no longer allow fear to stop us from doing the good He wants of us but we overcome the evil of fear with the love of good. But when we choose to be lazy and fail to build ourselves up, we become like the man who refuses to go out into the street from his house for he says there is a lion out there to devour him (see Proverbs 22:13). Poverty is the end of such a man for he will lose what he has – just as the talent was taken away from the servant.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: When we spend time with love, it casts our all the fear that causes inaction.

God calls us wicked because we have chosen not to advance the kingdom of God by choosing not to use our gifts and talents. See, the desire of God is that we sow the talents He has given us so that is yields up to a 100-fold. He wants us to bless the work of our hands so that we can be a blessing to other people. Here is how the Word puts it:

“…It is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His Covenant…” – Deuteronomy 8:18

Thus, being wealthy is all things helps God establish the Covenant He made with Abraham and that is now made available to all nations or all people of the world through the sacrifice of Jesus. But if we do not use the power (gifts, talents, favor, courage, etc.) that comes from the Holy Spirit to become wealthy in all things, then how are people attracted to us? If people do not see us exhibiting the gift of hope and encouragement in a dire situation, then why would they come to us to inquire of how we can be so joyful? What I am saying is this: God wants to be wealthy is all things so that we can be light to this world; so that people are attracted to the light; so that we can be more effective has His ministers in this world. By burying our gifts and talents, we have hidden our light and we have not loved our lost family members in essence. We hinder the work of God in having those who do not know Him from entering into His Covenant.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We do not allow our lives to minister to other people when we fail to use the gifts and talents He has given us.

Food For Thought: We miss the mark (sin) when we fail to use our gifts and talents – it shows a love deficiency

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I Am a Good Christian, So Why Am I Not Being Blessed?

What Am I Doing Wrong?

Many of us miss out on the blessings that God wants to bestow upon us because we think we have not sinned – that we have no sin to confess. We say ‘I have not done anything wrong, so I have not sinned and so have no sin to confess’. We say this because we erroneously think that sin occurs in the doing; in our actions. But this is not what the bible teaches us about sin. See, if sin was solely based on actions (obeying a set of rules), then apostle Paul would have been sinless! We know this because he tells us that he was blameless (guiltless) with regards to the righteousness (purity or holiness) that comes from the law or works (see Philippians 3:6). But Paul knew better than to think he had no sin because he was flawless in obeying the ordinances of the law. He knew his righteousness was like a filthy rag (see Isaiah 64:6) in the sight of God and that only God could impart righteousness onto him (see 2 Corinthians 5:21)!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We can be perfect in our actions and still be full of sin, for sin is not measured by how well we are able to keep the law.

The question then is this: If sin is not about actions, when have I sinned? Jesus gives us the answer in the following passage:

“But I say to you that whoever looks at woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” – Matthew 5:27

Jesus is saying here that adultery (which is a sin) has already taken place when it reaches our hearts. In other words, we have to pay attention to our heart intentions. It is important to state that Jesus did not say ‘committed adultery with her in his mind’. If Jesus had said this, then sin would occur the moment we are tempted in our minds. But this is not so, for temptation is not sin. The scriptures tell us that Jesus Himself was tempted as a man in this world, but he did not sin (see Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, Jesus did not sin not because He was not tempted, but because He did not allow the temptation to reach His heart; He did not allow the temptation to linger long enough in His mind to enter His heart, but rather rebuked it away with the Word of God. Hallelujah!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Temptation only becomes sin when it crosses the barrier between our mind and enters into our hearts.

It is because sin has already taken place when temptation enters our hearts that the bible tells us that we deceive ourselves and that the truth is not in us if we say we have no sin (see 1 john 1:8). So you ask – how can I not sin? Well, here it is. The only way not to have any sin in our heart is to walk non-stop in the Spirit; we have to walk perfectly in the Spirit like Jesus did. Note that the bible tells us that if we are not walking in the Spirit, then we end up walking in the flesh or in sin (see Galatians 5:16). So, if you can master walking in the Spirit 24/7 for the rest of your life, then congratulations! You have no sin. If like us mere mortals (and you are being honest with yourself) you slip out of your Spirit-walk, then you have to confess your sins (see 1 John 1:9). The Hebrew word for sin (hata) literally means to ‘miss the mark’. We miss the mark when we are not walking in the Spirit. Conversely, we do not miss the mark when are walking in the Spirit (abiding in Him); this is why the bible says that whoever abides in Him does not sin (see 1 John 3:6). See, the challenge we fail is that of abiding in Him. It is not enough that He abides in us (that we have the Spirit), but we have to abide in Him ( walk in the Spirit). This is what Paul implores us to do (see Galatians 5:25).

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: If we say we have no sin, we are saying that we are walking perfectly in the Spirit. If we say we are walking in the Spirit perfectly, we have already deceived ourselves.

Now that we know we have fallen short, we have to check our hearts to see what is in there that is keeping us from God’s best. Is it the sin of unforgiveness? Is it lust? Is it envy or jealousy or pride? What is it? See, just because we put up all the barriers and boundaries we want so that we do not act on what is in our hearts does not mean we have no sin. All it means is that we are at best trying to keep ourselves and others from harm, and at worst hiding who we truly are by saying ‘see, my actions are flawless, therefore I am a righteous person’.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We fool ourselves when we do not take care of our sinful hearts (not sinful actions). While our actions determine whether other people are blessed, it is our heart intentions that determine whether we are blessed for those actions – for God cannot bless sin and disobedience.

Yes, God in His mercy can still pull us undeservedly out of situations and grant us favor, but with sinful hearts, we never experience the fullness of the riches of the inheritance that He has for us. To keep our hearts from being infiltrated by the temptations we endure, we must guard it with the sword of the Spirit (meditating on the word of God), prayer, command our angels to do battle on our behalf, and rebuke the enemy with His words flowing from our mouths. We must stay vigilant, humble, and surrendered.

When we fail to realize that sin occurs in the heart, we fail to put up barriers between our mind and heart and so we fall into sin immediately. Most of us spend our lives putting up all sorts of barriers (including locking ourselves away from the world because everything causes us to fall) between our heart and our actions without realizing that we have already sinned. It is those of us that do this that are always wondering why God is not moving in our lives! To this we usually fall into the trap of more legalistic law keeping or we simply convince ourselves that God does not have particular goodies for us! As if God withholds goodies from His children (see Matthew 7:11)

Food for Thought: If you are not eating of the good of the land, go to the doctor (see Paging Doc Jesus) to check your heart for you may very well have heart disease.

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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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Superman’s Kryptonite – How did Jesus Stay Perfect?

We are all undergraduates in the school of righteousness. The moment we think we have graduated is when we become a menace to anyone we come across and society at large. If we fail to admit our weaknesses, it is because we are wearing a mask to hide our true identity, except it is more like a balaclava (what robbers wear in movies) rather than a super-hero’s mask. Many of us try to mask our weaknesses because we are uncomfortable with who we are and so are uncomfortable allowing others to see how we truly are. Unfortunately, this mask wearing is rampant amongst those of us that have convinced ourselves that being conformed to Jesus’s image is to be conformed to the image of perfection. While this is correct, what we get wrong is our definition of perfection. We wrongly convince ourselves that perfection means that we have no chinks in our armor – no fears, no wavering, and no weakness! Therefore, we wear the mask of false fortitude because we want to show ourselves “strong” for we do not want to be counted as a weakling!

But I have not yet found where in the bible being perfect is equated with having no weaknesses. What we find instead about being weak and being perfect is that we should rather boast in our weakness, for God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness through His grace (see 2 Corinthians 12:5,9). It is important to say here that this is not a license to sin. Rather the passage is telling us that we can only achieve perfection (not sin) through His grace and by His strength when we are weak (susceptible to temptation).

This is exactly what Jesus did – rely on God’s grace when He was weak! If you are asking yourself if I am saying that Jesus in his humanity had moments of weakness, then I am guilty as charged. Yes He did. The reason He is such a wonderful intercessor for us is because He himself had weak moments – times when he had chinks in His armor. Here is what the bible has to say about it.

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” – Hebrews 4:15

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Weaknesses are areas in our lives where we are susceptible to succumb to temptation (disobedience); this may be different for different people. Perfection for man is found in resisting temptation (not sinning) despite our weakness.

Now, we know that the devil tempts us at times and in areas we are weak – that is why we at times have crazy and unspeakable thoughts. It is not surprising that we are tempted for this earth is Satan’s domain (see Revelations 12:9). Likewise, it is not surprising that superman (Jesus) was tempted when He walked the earth as a man. Note that Jesus as God (not in his humanity) has no weaknesses and hence is not tempted.

“…for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” – James 1:13

The question then is:  How was He able to overcome His kryptonitic (weak) periods to remain perfect (sinless) as a man.

Here is how He did it.

How Jesus Stayed Perfect   

The scripture tells us that Jesus asks that God pass the cup from Him (see Matthew 26:39). WHAT! Pass the what? The whole purpose of Him becoming flesh in the first place was so that He would drink from the cup; that he would pay the wages for the sin of mankind and thus redeem us to God (Himself). Jesus knew this, He said it many times, and he had no doubt that it was coming. Yet, when the hour was upon Him, He buckled as Satan unleashed an unfathomable spiritual attack upon Him. Satan did this because the stakes were extremely high – the souls of man. This attack was so intense that it brought Jesus to the cusp of disobedience (sin). It took all that Jesus had to resist that attack. The bible puts it this way:

“You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” – Hebrews 12:4

The author of Hebrews here is referring back to when Jesus prayed three separate times in the garden and his sweat became like blood (see Luke 22:44). But  glory to God that when his “star” disciples deserted Jesus by sleeping and thereby leaving Him to fight this battle alone, He stayed dogged in doing the will of God (being obedient) and got on His knees in prayer. When He did this, God showered His grace on Him by sending an angel to strengthen Him in His time of weakness (see Luke 22:43).

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: In our weakness, God shows Himself strong when we purpose in our mind and heart to do His will and pray. Thus, a consecrated mind and fervent prayer are keys in warding off temptation and remaining perfect.

Second, Jesus shows some weakness when He screams out ““My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me””. Here too, Jesus being God knew exactly why, but that did not stop Him as a man who had weak moments from crying out all the same. Superman was still after all man with some chinks in His armor until He went back to heaven to take His rightful place as God (without the humanity)

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: With Christ in us, we can be supermen too, but that does not mean we have no weaknesses. We all have our kryptonite, but we can overcome it by the blood of the lamb; by God’s grace

Lastly, the gospels describe Jesus coming under attack when He was tempted in the wilderness. This time, the keys to remaining perfect were fasting, rebuking the devil with the Word of God, applying the Word of God correctly, and acting on what the Word says.

Thus, Jesus warded off temptation and remained perfect by doing the following:

  • Relying on the grace of God (to help Him out)
  • Having a determined and consecrated mindset (to resist to the point of bloodshed)
  • Fasting and praying
  • Rebuking the enemy with the Word of God
  • Knowing the Word and always doing what it says to do and refusing to do what it tells not to do

If we are to be Christ-like, then we have to do what Jesus did. We have to rely on the grace that God has already granted us rather than receive it in vain (through non-reliance). Like Paul asked, we should also ask God to take away our weaknesses (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-8). He can do it! For the ones He chooses not take away, it is because He does not want us in pride and so we become our own gods (which leads to destruction). He wants us reliant on Him so He can bless us beyond all measure when we have resisted and stayed obedient. So what’s stopping us?

Food for Thought: If we are superman because He lives in us, we should stop pretending and acting like Clark Kent

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Temptation – Oh the Forbidden Fruit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Temptation we allow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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