Tag Archives: Heaven

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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5 Steps Towards Greatness (Part V) – Surrender

The pyramid of Khephren (Khafre)As mentioned in Part IV of this series, Jesus was not released onto the ministry He was called to fulfill until He had passed the test set for Him by the Holy Spirit.

Now, while being equipped, prepared, tested, and released onto ministry is one thing, actually fulfilling the purpose to which we are called is quite another. The essential quality we must have to run a good race and so win the prize of greatness that is set before us is the quality of surrender. We must have a heart and attitude that thinks nothing of ourselves but thinks everything of God. We must not rely on our own ability but wholly depend on His ability.

Jesus had this heart and attitude. The bible tells us that although He was equal to God, He made Himself of no reputation (thought nothing of Himself) but out of love and in humility and obedience took the form of a man and sacrificed Himself on the cross (see Philippians 2:5-9). Wow! How incredible that is for so many reasons. What a love driven surrender to purpose!

See, surrender was behind every single thing that Jesus did while on earth; surrender to the will of the Father as revealed by the Holy Spirit. This is why Jesus said ‘I only do what I see the Father doing and I say only what the Father tells me to say (John 14:10, John 5:19 paraphrase).  This is why He stayed behind to spend time with the biblical scholars in the temple at the age of twelve; why He chased out the money changers and traders out of the temple; why He willingly chose to die on the cross for us instead of choosing to let the cup of wrath that we deserve pass from Him.

Indeed, Jesus has shown us that surrender is the final ingredient needed to achieve true greatness that the previous four keys simply give us a chance of attaining.

But there is more! He not only showed us the key to greatness through His life, He also taught us. He taught us that the greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is one who becomes as a child and humbles himself (see Matthew 18:4). Just as a little child is wholly dependent on his/her parents for every single thing and those parents are the center of the child’s world, so does the Father desire to be the center of our world. He wants us to center our life around Him so He can lavish us with the very best that He has planned out for us. He wants us to center our life around Him so He may grant us life and grant it to us more abundantly.

Lightbulb MomentWhen we are most helpless is when Christ is most helpful.

So here is my question to you: Are you living the abundant life of love, joy, peace and so much more? If not, it may well be that you are holding onto something that should be surrendered to God. What is it? Offense, past experiences, past hurts, a person, a relationship, an idea, some fear, pride? Whatever it is, it is time to surrender it so that you may move forward towards greatness!

Now is the time for you to once again commit to a life of surrender to Christ. There is no better Christmas present to give you than Jesus. He is the present that will deposit all other presents you could ever imagine onto your lap.

Lightbulb MomentSurrender your life to Christ who is calling you today and He will take you on an adventure you will never forget.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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5 Steps Towards Greatness (Part IV) – The Test

The pyramid of Khephren (Khafre)Having being equipped and prepared for the purpose to which we have been called, the final hurdle we all have to overcome prior to being chosen by God onto greatness is the test of our faithfulness and readiness. Even Jesus was not exempt from the readiness and faithfulness test. Indeed, the bible tells us that He was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted (tested) by the devil (Matthew 4:1). It was not until after He passed that test in the wilderness that He was released onto His ministry. How do we know this? We know because the bible tells us that Jesus began to preach the gospel of the kingdom for the first time only after departing to Galilee –  after His wilderness experience (Matthew 4:17).

Just in case you think the Test only applies to Jesus who was both man and God, I want to assure you that this applies to ordinary men. Elisha was an ordinary man who was put to the test before he became a prophet. After calling Elisha to walk with him for years, Elijah suddenly told Elisha to no longer follow Him. In essence, Elijah was telling Elisha that their journey together was done (2 Kings 2:2)! I can only imagine what Elisha was thinking at the time. I imagine it may have been the following:

‘I can’t believe this guy. After I have served him faithfully for years, now he is just dumping me…especially after I left my family and my livelihood behind’.

Elisha could have chosen to depart in rage, BUT he did not and so passed the test of faithfulness. Later, when the sons of the prophets for lack of better words said ‘dude, your master is about to leave you man, why don’t you just go home?’ Elisha did not despair or say in his heart: ‘these guys are like top notch Christians, I will listen to them’. No! Instead, Elisha told them to hush their mouths (see 2 Kings 2:3)! See, Elisha was ready to follow Elijah wherever he went and so continued following him. For this, Elisha was rewarded with the mantle of prophet and a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.

What does all this tell us? It lets us know that a hefty reward is the end of our readiness to follow Jesus to wherever He leads us…even if it is towards the wilderness. It lets us know that a prize follows our dogged determination to stay faithful to Him no matter how great the temptation. Thus, we have to start taking a look at tests and temptation differently. Rather than wail and gnash our teeth at another attack from the devil, we ought to look at it as a last ditch attempt by a frantic enemy to keep us from the blessing that God wants to shower upon us. But here is the thing, the devil cannot stop us from greatness since we have been equipped with the Holy Spirit – the very power that conquered the grave and put the devil underfoot. Therefore, tests of the wilderness (where trials and tribulation abound) and of temptation should simply strengthen our resolve to push through by the grace (power) of God.

It is when we pass the readiness and faithfulness test that God says ‘okay, I can choose this one for his/her love for me does not flick on and off like a light switch’. You see, the bible tells us that many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). If we want to be chosen, we have to pass the test. In order to pass the test, we have to be equipped with the One who has never failed. In order not to fail at what we do, what we choose to do must be what God has called us to do!

Food for Thought: You have to pass the test in order to get the best

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The Love Position – Is my salvation predestined or do I have free will?

Are some predestined by God to be eternally saved (from eternal punishment) while others are not, or do we all have the option of choosing our eternal home? In other words, do we believe in predestination or do we believe in determination (free-will)? Rather than talk about what we feel, let’s take a look at what God shows us through His scriptures.

In the beginning, God created a perfect abode for man to lay his head. Man had no knowledge of evil in this abode and so there was no shame, fear, or justice to speak of. Man had dominion over every living creature and his only job was to tend the garden. See, God so loved man that he created a world where man could live in perfect and perpetual fellowship with man. How do we know this? He created a world without sin (for sin came with knowledge of evil) and did not keep the tree of life (eternal) away from man. Truly, God predestined man to live the good life forever!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: God so loved man that He predestined Him to live an awesome life of perfect and perpetual fellowship with Him

Now, since true love is never forced (for anything forced involves control and torment) but is freely chosen and given, God (who is love) gave man free-will to choose. Too bad man chose to end the good life. But when man did this, God was still merciful to stop him from eating of the fruit of life by removing him from the garden and guarding the way to the tree of life with a flaming sword (see Genesis 3:24). You see, if man had eaten of the fruit of life after his disobedience, he would have lived forever in eternal separation from God. God did not want that! So while putting him out the garden seemed harsh, it was actually done out of love. See, as soon as man disobeyed, God already had a master-plan to redeem man from being separated from Him but rather to be redeemed through the shed blood of Christ.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: God so loved man that even after exercising his free-will in disobedience, God predestined him not to be eternally separated from Him but to be redeemed through Christ’s sacrifice

To reiterate, when man exercised his free-will of disobedience, both evil and justice entered the world. Being a just God, He had to mete out the punishment that man’s choice (sin) deserved. But thankfully, He found Abraham righteous enough to make a covenant with him that through his Seed (Jesus) all the nations will be blessed (with the covenant blessings available in the Holy Spirit).

“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” – Genesis 22:18

“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ” – Galatians 3:16

See, because of Abraham’s faith, God predestined man (all nations) to be blessed through the redemptive work of Christ. Note that is does not say “this” nation or “that” nation, but it says all nations – meaning all peoples or all mankind.  Thus, it is clear that God wants all mankind (all nations) to be saved. But man still has the same free-will to choose Christ, just as the first man (Adam) and subsequent men had the free-will to disobey God in the garden at the beginning. Paul puts it this way:

“For since the creation of the word His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” – Romans 1:20

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: God so loved man after the fall that He predestined all mankind to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ

How much God loves us – that He would have His own son slewed in order for us to be saved from eternal separation from Him when we choose to believe in His Son (see John 3:16). All that is required is belief! It is not based on performance or our own self-accessed righteousness (which is as filthy rags) but it is a free gift which is irrevocable!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a free gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” – Ephesians 2:8-9

“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” – Romans 11:29

But the above is not the end of God’s love, there is more. For those that choose to believe in His Son, He seals with His Spirit who upon our choosing can direct our path. When we choose to walk in the Spirit and allow Him to lead us, we are lavished with the fullness of the covenant blessings – riches, honor, life, peace, and so much more. We are able to live heaven on this earth just as God designed it from the beginning! We do not have to wait till we get to heaven (our destination once saved) to experiences goodness.That is not to say that bad things will not happen to us (for we still live in a fallen world), but that things are eventually working for our good (see Romans 8:28)

So, looking through the lens of the love of God from the beginning of the world, it now becomes clear what Paul is talking about in Romans 8:29-30:

“For whom He foreknew (all nations or all mankind), He also predestined (through our acceptance of Jesus) to be conformed to the image of His Son……Moreover whom He predestined (all nations), He called (to accept Jesus); whom He called, these He also justified (though the blood of Jesus).

Thus, predestination does not work completely independent of free-will but in conjunction with it. Based on what we know from scriptures, we can conclude the following:

  • God predestined man to live in perpetual and perfect fellowship with Him when He created the world (God’s choice)
  • Man chose to break that fellowship through sin (Man’s choice)
  • God predestined (called) man to be saved from  separation through Christ’s sacrifice (God’s choice)
  • Man can neglect the call to salvation and justification  (Man’s choice)
  • God predestined man to enjoy the benefits of accepting His call to salvation through the Holy Spirit (God’s choice)
  • Man can choose not to walk in the Spirit although they have already accepted Christ unto unnecessary suffering (Man’s choice)

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Predestination is not the problem –  what God predestines is good. Rather, the problem is our choice – for some reason we like choosing death instead of life.  Adam was predestined to live a sweet life, but his choice made him live a “not so sweet” life!

Food for Thought: When we choose love (God), we are predestined to live a blessed life

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