Tag Archives: Love

How Do I Guard My Heart (Part II) – Prayer and Thanksgiving

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God  and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Instead of guarding our own hearts, Philippians 4:6-7 makes it clear that is it the job of the peace that comes from God to guard our hearts when we go to Him in prayer and with thanksgiving. Once we submit our request to God, we can rest assured that He is not hiding His face from us (Ezekiel 39:29) and that He who has the whole world in His hands loves us so much that He is working everything together for our good.

See, prayer and petition is the way we cast our cares upon God (1 Peter 5:7). It is what guards our heart and mind from worrying (anxiety) by unleashing the peace of God into our hearts. Therefore, when the bible says to ‘guard our heart for out of it flow the issues of life’, it is saying that we should guard our hearts from worrying (through prayer and thanksgiving), because worrying which comes from fear (or a lack of trust in God) causes the issues of our lives.  Indeed, it is a lack of trust in God that causes us to choose the world over the word (see How Do I Guard My Heart – The Word) and so unleashes turmoil in our world

Light-bulb moment: The way to stop worrying is to start praying wholeheartedly in trust and surrender.

In conjunction with Part I of this two -part series, we see that the way to guard our heart is to spend time in the word, through discernment, via prayer and supplication, and with thanksgiving. It is these spiritual disciplines when done in trust and surrender that allows us to walk obediently in the Spirit. They are what guard our hearts and minds from the filth of the world.

Without understanding this, the tendency is to guard our own hearts away from people out of fear. Since there is no fear in love and fear involves torment (see 1 John 4:18), it is no wonder so many people are tormented in their relationships. Let me explain:

Many times for a person – let’s say Kevin – who has been hurt before, guard your heart means ‘do not allow yourself to be hurt again’. If Kevin does not understand how to guard his heart with the word, prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, and through discernment, then ‘do not allow yourself to be hurt again’ for Kevin turns into ‘scrutinize my partners every move, try to control her life, and never allow yourself to fully trust her’.

Alas for Kevin, fear-based doubt and self-preservation leads the relationship instead of love-based faith. In response, Kevin’s partner feels suffocated, controlled, and imprisoned. As a result she fights back and the relationship goes through turmoil and fails.

Kevin, not realizing his fear was the culprit of the turmoil and failure feels that he successfully protected himself from hurt. He says to himself ‘Aha, I knew she was going to hurt me’. He does not realize that he has hurt himself. He has made his worst fear come to pass by taking fear-based actions which made it so – all because he did not know what is meant to guard his heart.

In the example, Kevin thought he was protecting himself from hurt, but all he was doing was keeping himself from love.

This also applies in our relationship with God. If we do not know how to guard our hearts, we guard our heart from love (God) and so are unable to unlock the power of God over our lives.

Food for Thought: When we guard our heart, we guard love (God) right out of it. When He guards our heart, He allows love to flow right into it.

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Prisoner of Love

 

I was a prisoner but You have set me free!

I was blind but You have opened my eyes to Your love and Your light

You have called me out of darkness and into Your marvelous light

So I will magnify Your name and do the mighty works to which You have called me; I shall not fear for You are with me and You are my help

I shall proclaim Your mighty name because You have empowered me beyond all measure to make You known and bring You glory

All the world will rejoice Your name and Your victory

No stone shall be left unturned!

You have called my name and given me a mantle to show Your love

I know You are my strength, so I know I will not fail

I live in You so Your victory through me and for me is assured

I love You Lord

You came down from Your palace to take my place as a Prisoner

You took me from my prison and made me sit in high places

I deserved death but you offered Yourself for me even though I despised You

I did not understand what you did and it is still difficult for me to understand

How can you love me so much?

Jesus, though you have removed me from my prison to Your Palace

I realize that I am just a prisoner of Your love

A love I can never escape!

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord  – Romans 8:31-35; 37-39

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My Plea to the Church: Be a Titus and Stop Killing Your Wounded

P1010003As believers, we have to stop killing our wounded through our inaction. Too many of us leave those who have been attacked by the robber (Satan) by the way side. We refuse to heed their cries for help as they are getting attacked but instead we love to cross step aside and go about our business.

The Good Samaritan

Rather than be the Good Samaritan (Jesus) to those in our ranks that have been wounded by the devil, too many us walk on by in pride! Instead of lending a helping hand, we enter into the unprofitable exercise of assigning blame while the patient is dying. We say, ‘You see, his problem is that he did not put on his cloak of zeal. Her problem is that she did not put on her armor this morning. If she had put on that armor, then Satan’s arrow would not have touched her. If he had his cloak on, then nothing would have happened to him’.

Too many of us are too quick to harshly judge one another as if we are perfect in putting on the armor of God on a daily basis before going out in the battlefield. If you tell me the answer is yes, then what you are telling me is that you have never told a ‘white’ lie (belt of truth), you have walked in perfect peace everyday of your life (shod your feet), and that you have never acted in an unrighteous manner ever since you got saved (breastplate of righteousness). You are telling me that you have always attacked every problem in your life with the word of God (sword of the spirit) and have never resorted to your own ways even once! If you say yes, all I can say is wow!

The truth is that it is only by the grace of God that we are protected from evil. It is God’s grace that prevents the devil from pulling our pants down and thus shaming us when we forget to tighten out pants with the belt of truth.  If we are to be honest and humble, it is the Lord that mercifully shields us in the areas we have left ourselves susceptible to attack. He Himself covers us and receives the blows of the enemy on our behalf just as He did and just as many animals do in order to protect their young-ling.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: If the animals understand the concept of shielding their weak ones, why is it that we simply tend to leave our wounded in their time of weakness?

Instead of following Jesus’ example in shielding His beloved (us) from death and destruction, why is it that we just prefer to watch each other crash and burn? Are we that prideful? Where has the love gone these days? Instead of being good Samaritans and nursing our wounded to health, we have tended to be quick in throwing stones.

Stone-Throwing

It is because of this stone-casting tendency that too many people cover and hide their short-comings rather than ask for help. They fear they are going to be ‘put down’ just like a wounded race horse is put down rather than receive the loving care and restoration that Jesus shows us daily and expects us to show one another. So, hypocrisy, phoniness, and deceitfulness reigns supreme.

Rather than put down, we are meant to help restore those who have wondered from the truth (James 5:19). Rather than run away from those who have stepped into the muck of life, we ought to wash their smelly feet. You see, Jesus tells us to wash each others feet because He knows that none of us go through life unsoiled at some point. The truth is that we need each other! We must be our brothers keepers – no only to keep each other from trouble, but also to keep each other alive when we are wounded.

How horrible that we have made our Christian journey a survival of the fittest where we are only looking out for ourselves; laughing in pride as we step on those that have missed the mark. When will we realize that no one is fit enough to go it alone?

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Only one is fit – God! Since we are not God, we all need each other to survive. Isolation leads to death!

It is because we are bent on going it alone and refuse to tend to our wounded that the number in our army – which is God’s army – continues to dwindle. And so we continue to lose the battle for families, communities, and nation for we ourselves are not healthy to do much good – too many are wounded and are not receiving care! Our numbers are too small and too many in our ranks are too weak to fight a good fight. And instead of crying for this, too many of us simply chuck it up to it being the end times and pat ourselves in the back for staying strong. Our mercy, grace, and love walk has become so shallow that our heart no longer breaks like God’s heart breaks every time something ungodly occurs.

When we say that the nation(s) have gone away from God, I wonder if God is saying ‘I know this, but I have made you my hands and feet. I have given you a task to make disciples (not just new converts) and handed you the baton for the ministry of reconciliation and restoration. What are you doing?

God’s Heart

Oh brothers and sisters, my plea is that we take care of our wounded so that the world may see and be encouraged to join our ranks for they know they will be cared for. For what is the benefit of joining our ranks if they are going to be treated the same way the world treats them. Let us take care of our wounded so that the heart of the enemy may grow faint when he sees that we are still as numerous and as strong as at the beginning despite our walk through perilous terrain.

Just as Jesus has promised never to leave us nor forsake us, our motto should be no soldier left behind! That our brothers and sisters will never walk alone. Let us be a Titus today!

“God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” – 2 Corinthians 7:6

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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 I) – The Call

The pyramid of Khephren (Khafre)The scripture tells us that many people are called BUT that few are chosen (see Matthew 22:14). What a shame! It is truly a tragedy that too few of us ever achieve the greatness to which God has called every single person that walks on this earth. Here is the truth! The same God who calls us and says ‘You can be great’ desires to choose us to be great; He longs to say to each one of us ‘You will be great’. Unfortunately, too many of us are either ignorant of the steps required for greatness or we are unwilling to follow in the footsteps of Jesus in doing the work that is required to be chosen.

Now, God in His love did not make us fully responsibility for being great but made it a shared responsibility – our part being the easy part. Even so, just as Jesus had a part to play in being chosen after being called by God, we also have a part to play in being chosen. So then, what part do we play and what part does God play? This will hopefully become clear as we peek at the 5 steps towards greatness.

The Call which is the first step towards greatness and is God’s responsibility. While in heaven, God called Jesus and said something akin to: ‘Son, it is your time. I have now called you to partake of flesh and blood (become human) for the sole purpose of reconciling and restoring mankind to us. This is what I am calling you to do. Ready to go?’. See, Jesus who is Spirit became a human with a living soul for the sole purpose of doing that specific will of God. Likewise, just like Jesus, we are all spirit beings who have been called and temporarily placed on this earth to do a work and to achieve a purpose.

“For we are his workmanship (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus unto good works (purpose), which God has before (prior to being born) ordained that we should walk in them” – Ephesians 2:10

Lightbulb MomentThe first step towards greatness is to know the specific purpose to which God has called us.

If you do not know your purpose, do not despair. Just keep your heart and ears open and God will reveal His specific purpose to you in due time. Prophet Jeremiah did not know his purpose until God said to Him: ‘Hey Jeremiah, I am now calling you to be my mouthpiece (prophet) to the people of Judah. I created you specifically for this purpose and I am now letting you know that this is the purpose for which I created you’.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations” – Jeremiah 1:5

Note that what is important is God’s call on our lives and not our call on our lives. It is only God’s purpose for our lives that streamlines our life’s energy into a single laser beam focus that is able to cut through distractions and foolishness while bringing true and sustained fulfillment into our lives. . It is only by following the will or purpose of God for our lives that we walk worthy of Him, fully please Him, and are fruitful in everything we do – for His power follows His purpose (see Colossians 1:9:10).

Conversely, our lives fall into the learned behavior of idleness without His purpose (see 1 Timothy 5:13). Now, idleness does not simply mean that we are doing nothing. Busyness that comes from following our own purpose is empty in the end and so is still idleness! Why? It is because idleness is defined as doing anything that is unimportant, insignificant, or holds no real worth. An example of this is idle banter where we are busy talking but our banter adds zero value. Since anything without God (love) is valueless and we know that God is great, we see that is it impossible to attain true greatness with God’s purpose (love) being involved.

So how do we recognize idleness? The symptoms of idleness (or lack of God-giving purpose) includes being easily offended, gossip-mongering, being a busy-body, depression, never being satisfied, being a workaholic, dilly-dallying, lack of commitment etc. Just think of how these lead to broken relationships!  So in reality, the root cause of many of the problems we encounter in this life is simply the lack of purpose or the shunning of God’s purpose. So we now see why Satan does not want us to walk in purpose (our responsibility). He knows if he can get us away from our purpose, he has a foothold in our lives and cause us problems. If you don’t believe me, just ask Prophet Jonah how Satan tried to kill him and tortured his life simply because he ran away from the purpose to which God called Him.

So today, instead of continuing in idleness, ask God to show you what He has called you to do! If you want to be great, you must know what He has called you to do at this point in your life

Food for Thought: It is impossible to be great without following the great One

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What Matters Most in Life

What matters most is love. Without it, everything we do is empty and pointless. Even if we can move mountains, without love we are nothing (see 1 Corinthians 13:2). If love is so important, then why do we not show it more often? Its easy to say ‘I love you’, but we are warned to love in deed and in truth rather than in word or in tongue (see 1 John 3:18). See, true love requires action and expects nothing in return.

Failure in life is doing all that you think will make you a success and then realizing none of it mattered. Since what matters most is love, how are you showing it to your loved ones? If the ones you care for passed away today, would they have known your love or would they have only known about your love?

If there is someone you need to call, write, send flowers to, or reconcile with, do it today without delay!

Lightbulb Moment Sow love today like there is no tomorrow, and your tomorrow will be filled with love

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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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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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The Mind of Christ – The Obedience That Wins

While humility, prayer, and seeking the face of God are the first three legs of our race towards victory, obedience is the power that pushes us across the finish line and unleashes the blessings of God in our lives. This analogy to the relay in track and field illustrates that obedience is only powerful when done out a heart of love – a heart set on humility which in turn leads us to prayer and seeking the face of God. If our obedient action is not motivated by love, then it is motivated by greed or by fear. Too many of us are obedient to God because we simply want to use Him as our cash cow!

 Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Cash cow obedience is not born out of love but instead is born out of our greed and self-seeking.

Jesus gives an example of obedience that does not please Him when he describes the people that put ashes on their cheeks to show they are fasting. Although they were being obedient to fast (for Christ says when and not if you fast), the motivation behind it all was the adulation of the people around them. In actuality, their action had morphed into a form of idolatry, with their god being the need to be recognized. Since the penchant to be glorified rather than give God all the glory comes out of fear (of not being good enough, or of rejection), we see that it cannot please God for it is not done out of love. This is why Cain’s offering was not pleasing to God; why Jesus called the seemingly perfect and obedient keepers of the law brood of vipers; why our obedience at times do not yield any fruit for us

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Obedience is simply a seed. Just like any other seed, it has to be sown into ground that has been fertilized by love to be effective and yield fruit

Since the opposite good is evil (wickedness) and anything that does not flow out of God (love) is no good, it becomes clear that the command to ‘turn away from our wicked ways’ is not simply talking about turning away from disobedience, but is also addressing obedience that is steeped in fear. Therefore, the only way to turn away from our wicked way is to turn to love. Why turn to love-driven obedience? We do it so that healing can take place in our life and we can have peace. See, while our obedience can yield fruit in other people’s lives, why we are obedient is what determines whether fruit is produced in our lives. A fantastic example of this is Prophet Jonah.  Although his preaching of the Gospel yielded the fruit of deliverance for the people of Nineveh, it produced bitterness in him because He was not obedient out of love. This is why Jonah asked God to take his life even when Nineveh was spared. Sheesh!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: What we do determines whether other people are blessed. Why we do it is what determines whether we are blessed!

Once we have truly developed the heart of love behind obedience, the question is how do we put it into practice? How do we ensure we do not fall into the trap of looking at ourselves in the mirror and forgetting what we look like as soon as we leave – of falling into complacency? (See James 1: 23 – 24).

Some Practical ways to ensure we do not fall into complacency and into disobedience are as follows:

  • Read the Word (Give no place to the devil – Ephesians 4:27): We do this by arming ourselves with the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God). We have to get to the point where we are so filled up with the Word of God that it leaves no room for any junk to enter.
  • Have Accountability Partners (Bear one anothers burdens – Galatians 6:7): We help each other lift our loads when we do not forsake godly gatherings but keep each other accountable to lead a godly life
  • Stay Away from Ungodly Company (A little leaven leavens the whole lump – 1 Corinthians 5:11): We have to ensure we rid ourselves of the sin (leaven) that is leavening our lump. At times, that means we must distance ourselves from people who do not care to discard their sin for any leaven is infectious and has a tendency to spread. Once the leaven is removed, the fellowship may be restored. Note that the relationship was never broken.

Food For Thought: Those who love God obey Him because they love Him

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The Mind of Christ – The Link between Humility and Answered Prayer

In ‘Are You Experiencing the Love of ‘The One’?’ we established that the mind of Christ (which is the mind of success and victory) consists of the key elements of Humility, Prayer, Seeking the face of God, and Obedience. Knowing that these key elements build one on another, we then looked at the importance of humility and the practical ways to grow it in ‘How can I grow in Humility’. It was important to examine humility first and foremost because without it, the remaining aforementioned elements are highly unlikely to yield any fruit or any victory in our lives.While this statement may be somewhat hard to swallow, we can examine the truth of it by taking a look at the role of humility in getting our prayers answered.

 Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Humility is paramount if the other keys – prayer, seeking the face of God, and obedience – are ever to produce victory in our lives.

When it comes to prayer, the good news is that God always hears it. We know this for the Word of God says that the ‘hand of the Lord is not heavy that it cannot save, nor His ear heavy that He cannot hear’ (see Isaiah 59:1). Hallelujah, there it is! The Lord is always willing to listen to our requests, petitions, and desires – He hears us every time we communicate with Him. Now, the not so good news from our point of view is how He may choose to answer those petitions of ours. While God hears our prayers, He has a choice to either accept them (say Yes) or to reject them (say No). Since this is the case, the question then becomes how do we get God to accept our prayers? The answer is humility (which produces faith for it is steeped in love)

Note: ‘Not now’ and ‘silence’  have not been included in the way God answers our prayers because these are simply ‘delayed yes’ or ‘delayed no’ responses. At times, we receive delayed responses because God is trying to grow us up, point our attention to some unsavory areas of our lives, or simply because a spiritual battle is taking place (see Daniel 10: 13).

With regards to humility and prayer, His Word tells us that He will NOT reject (despise) a broken spirit and a humble (contrite) heart (see Psalms 51:17). Therefore, we know that He will not reject our prayers (our requests, petitions) when we are operating in humility. We see further proof of humility being linked with answered prayer in the book of Daniel where the angel of the Lord says to Daniel:

“Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words” – Daniel 10:12

This passage tells us that humility is a pre-requisite to our words being heard (accepted) by God and for Him to move on our behalf – the sending of the angel in Daniels case. This passage also tells of the importance of actually speaking to God. Without speaking to God (praying), the angel would not have come, and Daniel’s request – which was the explanation of his vision – would not have been granted. That just goes to show that we indeed have to ask in order to receive (see Matthew 7:7). It also shows us that we do not have to guess concerning our visions and dreams or anything else in life. We can just go to the Father who will longs to give us what we desire of Him when we abide in Him (see John 15:7)

 Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Humility is a pre-requisite to our words being heard (accepted) because humility is required in order for us to abide in the Father!

So why is humility so crucial to answered prayer? Simply put, humility is the passport that leads us to a place of surrender and causes us to exchange our desires for His desires. In fact, if we do a study of the Greek word for prayer (proseuchomai), we find that it can be interpreted as interacting with the Lord by replacing our wishes with His wishes as He imparts faith! This then explains what James was talking about when he says that we ask and do not receive, because we ask amiss, that we may spend it on our pleasures (see James 4:3). He is saying that we ask (pray) amiss when we ask in order for our own desires (pleasures) to be fulfilled rather than His desires (plans, purpose and pleasures for us) to be fulfilled. Asking for our desires to be fulfilled rather than His desires comes from a place of pride (thinking we are more than we are and we know best) and not humility (knowing that God knows best). It comes from a lack of the knowledge of His love; that His plans are always to prosper us and to give us a future and a hope (see Jeremiah 29:11). While our plans glorify ourselves, His plans glorify the Son in the Father. When in humility, we align ourselves with His plan; we find the following passage to be true:

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” – John 14:13 -14

Furthermore, the scriptures say that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (see James 5:16). As such, for our prayers to be effective, they have to be steeped in humility. The bible also tells us that the promises of God in Christ are ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’ to the glory of God (see 2 Corinthians 1:20). Thus, if we want our prayers to be answered ‘Yes’, we have to be in Christ for it is then He is glorified, and we have to operate in humility. If we want to here ‘no’ we can continue in pride and self-seeking!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment:  Humility is intrinsically linked with the word ‘to pray’. Therefore, prayers that are not steeped in humility are simply ineffective words that help us tick the box of prayer but yield no fruit.

Food for Thought: We must grow in humility if we want our prayers answered

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