Tag Archives: Spirituality

4 Things We Keep Doing That Keeps Getting Us In Trouble

IGNORING WEAKNESSES

We all have weaknesses. To say we do not is to lie to ourselves. But what do we do with our weaknesses? Do we simply ignore them and focus on our strengths? No, that would be a mistake for we are only as good as our weakest link. Is the answer to focus on strengthening our weakness at all cost? No, that is also a mistake because our weaknesses will never match our strengths no matter how hard we work at them.

So its darn if you do and darn if you don’t right? No again! God gives us a way to handle our weaknesses without expending energy and without compromising our strengths. Instead of moping about our weakness and wishing it goes away, what we have to do is submit our weaknesses to God and allow His power and favor to wash over us. What? Is that all there is to it, you must be wondering. Yes, that’s it. It is so easy that it is difficult.

Practically, the way we do this is by: (1) realizing those things that trigger our weaknesses  and (2) praying to God when those triggers are pressed. How do we know this works? We know by these two things: First, when the prospect of dying on the cross triggered weakness in Jesus, He responded by praying to the Father who in turn sent an angel to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43). Second, God told apostle Paul when he was tired of his weakness to simply really on His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Personally I have found out that it is impossible to beat myself because (1) it hurts when I punch myself and (2) no matter who wins, I lose. I find that it is much easier to submit to God and have Him handle me. He is gentle and oh so effective!!!

KEEPING  THE WRONG COMPANY 

Just as keeping bad company will keep you from achieving anything in life, keeping the wrong company will keep you from achieving all that you can achieve in life. If you keep the wrong company, you will not feel fulfilled AND it will cause a lot of trouble in your relationships. Just think of the eagle and the dove. While both the eagle and dove are wonderful in their own right, they are not meant to flock together. If the eagle flocked with the dove, the dove would feel like it is holding the eagle back and the eagle would feel unfulfilled because it is not reaching its fullest heights. If they loved each other, they would let each other go to be the best that each can be.

If you are a dove, should you try to be an eagle? No way!!! There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a dove. If you feel as a dove that you are inferior to an eagle, then you have drunk the Kool-aid of comparison and self-imposed inferiority complex. The dove cannot help being a dove just as much as an eagle cannot help being an eagle. God made them the way they were supposed to be. Our job is simply to reach our fullest potential (not someone else’s). Anything else will bring dis-contentment!

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus – Galatians 3:28

REJECTING HONEST AND TRUTHFUL INPUT

We all need four sets of eyes. We need a set of eyes in front of us to see where we are going and we need another set of eyes in the back of our head to see what is coming behind us. Now perhaps the reason we are made with only one set of eyes is so that we are reminded of our need to be in relationship with other people.

All of us need someone to watch our backs to make sure we are not blind-sided by unseen forces. Failure to do this means that we are always learning by experience instead of by correction. If you are like me, you do not want to learn everything by experience – experiences are just too painful.

If you are the ‘I don’t need anybody’ kind of person, I implore you to reconsider your stance. The truth is that we all need somebody. If you have someone who is encouraging you to change (like your family), do not despise them. Take your pride out of it. It is much better to learn a lesson from home than to learn it from the world. The world will not be as forgiving and only wants to capitalize on your flaws.

Remember, the people who love you most will give you the most honest and truthful input. Also remember that just because an input is honest does not mean it is truthful. You do not want someone to just tell you what they honestly feel – for the feelings may be erroneous. You want people to tell you what they have honestly seen based on their close observation of your behavior.

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses – Proverbs 27:6

BEING INSENSITIVE

If you wrap a diamond ring in dung, do not be surprised if no one opens up the package. If you think that it is silly to forego a diamond ring just because of its package, you are right! But the point is not that you are right, the point is that the gift has not been received.

The point of the diamond ring example is this: People act more on emotions than they do on facts. If you do not cater to people’s emotions, people will immediately take it to mean that you do not care about them – even if that could not be farther from the truth. Since nothing has the ability to damage emotions faster than words, you must be careful of not just what you say but how you say it. Most people will remember how you said something versus what you said. If fact, how you say something will often change the meaning people associate with what you said. Thus you must continue to be sensitive to people in the way you communicate at all times to ensure that the love you so want to give is received. Do this and you will save yourself a lot of grief.

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some – 1 Corinthians 9:22

 

 

 

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What is Holding You Back?

indexFear dreams of and creates non-existing monsters and obstacles that play the role of stopping us from attaining that which we desire the most. Moreover, it creates an ally called pride that justifies, cheers on, and encourages every action that fear takes. Hence, fear creates pride, and pride is a promoter of fear. Love on the other hand creates a bridge that towers over the danger that fear puts in our way and offers safe passage to our land of promise. Moreover, it gives birth to humility, the engine that provides the horsepower for continued progress along the highway of love.

The good news is that love is stronger than fear and humility is more powerful than pride. So how is that we can defeat fear and pride? Practically, the answer is to simply walk in love and humility – do not try to fight fear and pride for they are crafty and fierce foes.

Do you spend more time hiding from yourself and justifying who fear has made you become or do you spend more time improving yourself by conquering fear with love. It can be a frightful thing taking a look at who you truly are in the mirror. In fact, of all the people that we may lie to, we tend to lie to ourselves the most. Fear is a lie and love is the truth. Every moment we continue to in fear is a moment we continue in a lie – for the monsters that fear projects are merely illusions. So how do we get rid of this lie? The answer is to simply believe in the truth?

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life – John 14:6

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. To believe in the truth is to believe in Jesus. To believe in Jesus is to believe in who He is and to believe in everything he says about you through the scripture. When you begin to consider for starters that you have been made right with God, you are the son or daughter of the most high and powerful God, nothing can separate you from the love of God,  you are seated with Jesus in heavenly places, you are above and not beneath…you will begin to look at fear not as a juggernaut to fear but an enemy to trample over.

Jesus is the answer to every thing that holds us back.

If you have no clue what that means. It means that all the answers you are looking for are available in Him and through Him. Do not spend your time searching for that which is already available to your through Jesus. To get a hold of it only requires that you humble yourself and surrender to Him.

So how can we rid ourselves of fear and pride? The answer is to call on the name of Jesus Christ. The Psalmist makes mention of this when he says: I sought the LORD and He heard me, and delivered me from all of my fears – Psalm 34:4 

So I implore you to seek the Lord today and allow Him to deliver you out of your fears. You don’t have to keep fighting a battle that has already been won.

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What is God’s Will for My Life?

Yesterday, I came across the words,

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me‘ – Psalm 138:8

The words hit me like of blow to the solar plexus. Immediately, the thoughts ‘The LORD will NOT perfect that which does NOT concern me‘ entered my spirit.

Wanting to know more, I asked Him the question: What are those things that do not concern me? Immediately, He reminded me of the words He spoke to Peter towards the end of His time on earth:

 

‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow me’  –  John 21:22

In other words, Jesus told Peter that His will for John should not concern Peter. The lesson for us here is this: The only thing that we should concern ourselves with is His will for our lives. We should not concern ourselves with God’s will for another person, talk-less of becoming consumed by it out of envy.

Knowing God’s will for our lives is key if our walk is to be perfected.

What is God’s Will for My life?

This is the question I get asked most often. Friend, another words for God’s will is what He wants us to do on a daily basis. God reveals His will for our lives on a daily basis as we follow Him (walk by faith).

Going back to John 21:22, God’s will for Peter at that point in time was to take a walk with Him. Nothing more, nothing less. Only as Peter followed God did He continue to reveal more to Peter. The same thing happened with Abraham. God told Him to go to some foreign land – the identity of which He did not reveal to Abraham. In other words, God’s will for Abraham was for him to pack his bags and take a journey to nowhere in particular! Only after taking the journey did God reveal more of what was to come to him.

The will of God for our lives is revealed to us moment by moment.

Now, what if Abraham had not obeyed the will of God because He did not see the purpose in taking the journey? Abraham would have missed out on the blessing of God. He would have missed out on his destiny. By this we see that the way to fulfill the purpose of God for our lives is to walk in His will for our lives.

So what is God’s will for our lives? It is simply to pay attention to His words and obey it diligently. Thus the only pre-requisite to knowing and following the will of God for our lives is having an intimate fellowship with Him. For how can we hear a person we are not walking closely with? And how can we obey someone we have not heard?

Living God’s will for our lives requires trust. Fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives requires consistency in following God’s will. Only as we walk in God’s purpose for our lives does He perfect that which concerns us (His will). Only then is our destiny revealed.

So spend time with God so you may know His will. Once you know His will do not question it but just do it. Then let Him take care of your purpose and destiny.

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How Can I Make the Right Decisions in Life?

Point to Ponder: Life is what we make it. What we make of life depends on the choices that we make. We make choices based on what we believe. Hence, we ultimately live what we believe!

No matter how we label ourselves – Christian, non-Christian, Atheist, Agnostic etc – we have all chosen to believe something. In this sense, everyone is a believer. The only difference is in what we choose to believe. From the point to ponder, it is not out of the question to say that the right kind of believing will create the right kind of life. Conversely, the wrong kind of believing will create the wrong kind of life. The three things that influence our belief in life are opinions, facts, and truths. The one we engage in the most will ultimately determine the course of our lives.

OPINIONS

Opinions are born out of our mode of thought, our life experiences, our fears and insecurities, our general understanding of the world around us, and the stories told to us. Hence, everybody has an opinion.  While everyone is entitled to an opinion, we should not use opinions as the basis of our decision-making. The issue with opinion is the how they are formed. Opinions are formed based on how we process information. There lies the problem: Many people process information differently.

For example, if you and I are exposed to a particular situation, our experience (what we feel) of the situation may be different depending on who we are and our make-up. This makes the description of what we experience differ. This in turn makes our opinions differ. Thus we see that opinions may very well have nothing to do with what is true or what is the truth about a situation. Opinions are always biased and cannot be trusted!

Just because someone has an opinion (about you) does not make it true or the truth (about you)

FACTS

Facts are those things that can be proven. Hence, facts are things that are true. We are all taught to make decisions based on facts. Yet facts without context can lead to the wrong decision. If you heard that a man killed another man, it is a fact that the man is killer. But what if you found out that the man killed a man who was trying to kill the president of the U.S. Though is remains a fact (true) that the man is a killer, the truth is that he is a hero. By this we see that the facts do not always lead us to the truth.

Just because we have all wet our beds or diapers before in life does not mean that we identify as bed-wetters. Just because it is true that Jesus was a man does not mean that he just a man. The truth is that He is God. It may be a fact that you made a mistake. Yet, the truth is that you are not a mistake!

Here is the problem with facts. Facts change over time! Hence, what is true today may not be true tomorrow. While it is a fact that Lebron James is the best basketball player right now (based on stats), even this fact will change. To make decisions based on the facts is to make decisions on something that changes. We must never make permanent decisions based on temporary situations!

Just because something is true (about you) today does not mean it is the truth (about you)

TRUTH’S

Truths are those things that remain unchanged regardless of time and situation. What we get from truths are laws and principles by which we lead our lives. To be a person of principle is to be a person of character. A person who operates by the truth is predictable. This person also gets predictable results in life. A person of principle is trustworthy and does not change – and so is a natural candidate for leadership positions.

A person of true character stands for what is right regardless of consequence. The bible tells us that the word from the Lord is right and that all His works are done in truth (Psalm 33:4). Hence the only way to be a man of truth (a man of true character) is to be a man who is devoted to obeying the word of the Lord. This means we must know which is truth. We must be students of the word of God.

Many men have chosen to live by the truth over thousands of years and have achieved the same result – success and victory – time and again. Think of Daniel who went from being a slave to being the second in command of the Persian empire. How about Joseph who went from the underbelly of the dungeon to the palace of the king. How about a carpenter becoming the savior of the world? See, truths allow us to achieve the impossible!

To live life by the facts is to live by what we see; to live life by the truth is to live life trusting that the immutable principles of God will achieve great results. Hence to live life by the truth is to live a life of faith. Facts, if taken out of context can place us in bondage, but the truth will always set us free.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life! So chose to live your life in Him

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Stop Working on Your Testimony and Start Living Your Promise

In a recent conversation, a friend of mine said of her daughter, ‘she is working on her testimony’. Knowing the daughter, the first thing that entered my head – right or wrong – was this: Will she ever stop working on her testimony? To give you some context, the friend I am speaking about happens to be roughly twice my age. Her daughter is older than I am and has been working on her testimony for a while. The thing about it is that she is saved and has good knowledge of the word of God. Even so, she has decided to hold onto her pride, which has in turn caused her to walk in outright disobedience to the Lord.

Wilderness ExperienceIn the event you are not familiar with the term ‘working on your testimony’, it refers to the state of a person who does not know the Lord or has backslidden away from the Lord.

While there is no timetable for a person to stop working on their testimony – for the Lord can do wondrous things in anyone’s life at any point in time, and do it quickly – my concern is that some people never come out of their testimony to be able to tell it.

There is no better example of this than the children of Israel who perished in the wilderness. While the journey to the Promised Land was meant to take 3 – 11 days, fear and unbelief led God to send them through the wilderness of the Red Sea.

This is the period that God had in mind for the children of Israel to ‘work on their testimony’. During this time period, God showed them incredible mercy and worked mighty miracles, and even spoke in the hearing of the people. He did this for a period of 2 years so that they would come to know Him, trust Him, and rely on Him.

But no! When it came time to enter into the Promised Land after 2 years – the time God had allotted for them to stay in the wilderness of testimony, the people refused to enter into Canaan. As a result, they ended up spending another 38 years in the wilderness and the original generation that left Egypt died in the wilderness except Joshua and Caleb.

Note: The Ark of the Covenant was called the Ark of the Testimony when the children of Israel were in the wilderness. All the things that were placed in the Ark – covenant tablet, manna, Aaron’s rod – were placed there during the wilderness years.

God wanted the children of Israel to ‘work on their testimony for 2 years but they decided that they were going to work on their testimony for 40 years! As a result, only 2 of 600,000 men achieved that which God had ordained for them! They rest of them perished while still working on their testimony.

The uncomfortable truth is that too many of us today are still working on our testimony even though God has already made a way to enter into his promise for our lives. We say God is going to do it when He has already done it! We continue to pray to God but refuse to walk in obedience when He answers our prayers and gives us instructions.

If this is you, my plea is that you stop working on your testimony and start living the life of promise God has for you. It’s time to stop eating the manna and start feeding on milk and honey! Aren’t you tired of the snake bite of the wilderness?

Light-bulb moment: Leaving the wilderness will cost you your pride, ego, fears, and unbelief. But your reward for paying this price will be rest, peace, joy, and strength!

Let us do something ‘crazy’ as believers: Let us actually believe what God and move when He tells us to do so!

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Tales from The Amazon – The church built on a pond

We walk by faith and not by sight

I have often wondered what first entered the mind of Jesus when the Holy Spirit instructed him to spit on the ground and make mud out of the soil and rub it in the eyes of the blind man! Did He think like me and say, ‘You want me to do what? Surely, there must be another way?‘ Or did He blame the devil for the thought (like some of us would when God asks us to step out of our comfort zone) and say, ‘I rebuke that thought! Devil, I bind you up right now!

Being Jesus, He probably just said, right away sir, as you wish! See, it is easy to justify, rationalize, intellectualize our way into why we are not doing what God wants us to do, when He wants us to do it, and how He wants us to do it. But no matter what the excuse, disobedience is disobedience.

Pastor Natalino of Renovation Church in Belterra had the opportunity to walk in disobedience when the Holy Spirit stopped him and told him to declare that he was going to build a church in what was a good sized pond! From a conversation with him, his first thought was, ‘Really God! Of of all the places, you want me to build a church here!’

Unlike many of us,  Pastor Natalino decided not to make the voice of the Holy Spirit of no effect! He went to the city council and informed them of what He wanted to do.

They thought he was crazy and laughed at him!

Do not be surprised if the world laughs at you when you are walking by faith

But Pastor Natalino would not be deterred! Like Nehemiah, he would not listen to the laughs of his detractors but pressed forward towards the mark of his calling. He rented a pump and over a number of days promptly drained the large pond. But would you know it, no sooner had he finished draining the pond, an enormous deluge of rain befell Belterra and filled up the pond once more! Now what was he to do? He did not have any more money to spend to drain the pond a second time! What was he to do?

Though crest-fallen, Pastor Natalino would not stay disheartened! He passed the test of endurance and obedience.

He said to God, ‘God, you are the one that told me to build a church on this land. This is your will. I am being faithful to you, therefore, help me bring to pass what you have ordained.‘ Lo and Behold, the pond which was completely filled up dried up within the next few days! In his testimony, Pastor Natalino said: The first time, I climbed the mountain of draining the lake. The second time around, I spoke to the mountain to be removed

I tell all of you with certainty, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ if he doesn’t doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him

– Mark 11:23

See, the bridge to success is many times filled with trial and tribulation. When they come, what we must not do is fill our minds with doubt of God’s calling on our life. Instead, we must ask God for wisdom while actively waiting patiently for the manifestation of the promises of God. (see James 1:1-8).

Ultimately, Pastor Natalino was able to build the first phase of the church God had promised him. It is his picture that you see in the top left corner of this blog. I am honored to have met and him and to have had fellowship with him and his congregation in Belterra!

Food for Thought: Though the enemy will laugh at me in the beginning, I will have the last laugh in the end if I do not grow faint and weary but continue in faith

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Comfirmation is good, but never become a junkie

Today, many people seeks signs to confirm what God has told them. It is not uncommon to hear ‘I need a confirmation from the Lord’ or “I will go for prophesy to confirm what the Lord has told me’. I find this quite interesting and ponder-worthy. Have you ever asked yourself why we would need to confirm what the Lord has spoken to us? The two reasons I can think of are these: (1) We do not really know if the Lord has spoken to us (2) We doubt what the Lord has spoken to us.

Babies R Us

That we do not know if the Lord has spoken to us  reveals that we are still babes in Christ. All of us have to go through this stage in our walk with the Lord. As babes, we lack in-depth knowledge and understanding of the word, therefore our level of discernment is low. Note: The correlation between knowledge of the word of God and discernment can be found in Hebrews 4:12.

As babes, it is easy for the devil to take passages of scripture out of context and try to pass it off as truth. Remember how Satan tried to fool Jesus in the wilderness by quoting scripture out of the context? This is why we need confirmation at this stage!

There is nothing wrong with admitting that you are babe in Christ. Even the great Prophet Samuel started off as a babe in Christ. He did not know that God was calling out to him at night, so He kept on going to Eli. After the third time, Eli realized that it was God calling out to Samuel and so told Samuel to answer (1 Samuel 3:1-10). In essence, Eli confirmed to Samuel that it was the Lord.

It is okay to be a confirmation junkie in the baby stage of our walk with God

But what if Samuel did not grow to know the Lord and know His voice? What if He always needed someone else to confirm the word of God? He wouldn’t have been chosen to be the next great Prophet, for he would have led the people astray. In other words, He would have missed out on fulfilling his calling.

Think about this: What if Moses waited for confirmation and so never moved to mark the door posts for protection before the Angel of death descended down into Egypt? That would have been the end of the story of Israel!

Jesus says that my sheep know my voice. Do you know the voice of Jesus or do you think you know it?  In truth, we cannot follow Jesus closely if we do not know His voice. This is why babes in Christ tend to stray. To remain a confirmation junkie is to remain a babe in Christ!

The reason only a few are chosen out of a great multitude that are called is because too many of us choose to remain babes!

‘Sign’ Me Up

There is no doubt in my mind that doubt has caused too many of us to spend hours in prayer in search of confirmation instead of actually doing what God has called us to do. As we do this, the blessing that the Lord wished to bestow upon us walks right by as we keep our heads buried in our pillows. Then we turn around and wonder why it is that we miss out on God’s blessings. For example, we say to God, ‘that guy that you told me was my husband, how come he married someone else?’. The answer may very well be that you never said a word to him as God commanded you!

Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here. It is always a great idea to pray when in doubt. But the whole point of praying when in doubt is to receive the guidance of the Lord. Once we have received the guidance of the Lord, the next step is to obey the Lord. In the context of which I am speaking, doubt causes us to pray for confirmation instead of simply believing God and moving on with what He wants us to do. Like Gideon, we look for a sign before we make a move.

Gideon was a babe and so needed confirmation –  and so it was granted. Once we move from being babes, any sign seeking reveals unbelief! 

The Pharisees were no babes in having knowledge of the word of God, yet they sought a sign time and again. Here is what Jesus thought of their sign seeking ways:

 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah – Matthew 12:38-39

Ouch! Jesus called then evil and adulterous! He called them this because their asking for confirmation showed that they were filled with doubt and unbelief. Doubt and unbelief is the opposite of trust and faith. Doubt and unbelief is the result of hardening our heart to the truth; it is the result of tolerating fear; fear toleration is from the evil one. Moreover, Satan is also very good at signs and wonders! Hence, it is easy to be led astray if we are looking for signs.

Many of us seek confirmation through prophetic words because we secretly doubt our ability to hear from God or doubt what the Lord has spoken to us. So we would rather base our life on what someone has prophesied – at times still not realizing we have to take action. Instead of hearing from God, we want to hear from God through a 3rd party, and we want that word to be a word of exaltation! Hmm, I suppose we would not like Prophet Jeremiah too much if he was here today!

The best type of prophesy is confirmation of what God has spoken to you; not instruction of what God wants you to do!

Food for Thought: If all prophesy is instruction to me, then it is a ‘sign’ that my walk with the Lord is weak! If I do not hear from God, it is confirmation that I am a babe in Christ.

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‘The lamp of the body’ needs regular oil change

Ancient Brass LampThe lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! – Matthew 6:22-23

In biblical times, the lamp used was an oil lamp. Now, if an oil lamp is to give light, it must be filled with oil. The quantity and quality of oil the lamp contains determines the quality of the light the lamp gives. Moreover, it is the oil lamp that leads the way since it gives the light shows the way and illuminates a path.

So when Matthew 6:22 says ‘the lamp of the body is the eye’, it is telling us that the lamp of the body is the mind. In other words, the mind is the oil lamp that leads our body.

Light-bulb moment: The mind is the oil lamp that influences and controls our ways and actions.

For the oil lamp of the mind to be judged as good, it has to fill our entire way of life with light (Matthew 6:22). Since Jesus is the light of the world (see John 8:12), the only way for our entire being to be full of light is for us to be filled with Jesus.

Light-bulb moment: It is not just enough to have Jesus; our minds have to be filled with Him if we are to be a light to the world

Since the only way Jesus can lead us (fill our body) is through the Holy Spirit, then it becomes clear that the only way our light is good is if the oil lamp of our mind contains the pure oil of the Holy Spirit. Simply put, just as Jesus completely surrendered his mind to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we must surrender the oil lamp of our mind to the influence and control of the Holy Spirit.

The problem is that we tend to allow impure and junky bad oil to enter our oil lamps. Note that this ‘bad oil’ is like water to the pure oil of the Holy Spirit – it cannot mix with the Holy Spirit but can only displace the oil. Once bad oil is introduced, we can no longer say that the oil lamp contains pure oil.

When the oil lamp of our mind is contaminated, sometimes our mind operates on bad oil (flesh) and at other times it operates on good oil (Holy Spirit). In those times our oil lamp is running on bad oil, the light it produces is dim to the point of darkness. But when the oil is good, the light it produces is as bright as day. In other words, yo-yo like behavior is a result of good oil mixed with bad

Light-bulb moment: If we are being led by the Spirit in an area of our life but cannot get it together in another area of our life, then we need an oil change!

So how do we change our oil? First, we must dump the bad oil through confession – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness – 1 John 1:9. Then, we must flush the residual junk out by renewing our mind with the word of God. Once flushed, the purified oil lamp is now ready to be filled with the pure oil of the Holy Spirit.

Light-bulb moment: The word of God is the valve that activates the inflow of the Holy Spirit into our minds. Moreover, without confession and the renewing of our minds, we find that our lights will begin to grow dark.

After this infilling of the Holy Spirit, we must then apply the right filter. Indeed, the oil lamps of our mind run smoother and shine a brighter light when we apply the filter of spiritual disciplines – reading the bible, prayer, fasting, fellowship, serving, giving, and worship.Without this filter, all we do is go through a cycle of confession without shining much in life.

So I ask you once again, when was the last time you had an oil change? If it was not today, then your light is already becoming dark.

Food for Thought: No spiritual oil change is complete without the application of spiritual disciplines


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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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How Do I Guard My Heart (Part I) – The Word

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it – Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Proverbs 4:23 clearly says that the reason we should guard our hearts is because everything flows out of it. This scripture is further explained by Jesus when He tells us that ‘from within , out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness’ – Mark 7:21

Hence, we see that we must guard our hearts so that filth does not to flow into it. Why is this? It is because whatever flows into our heart will ultimately flow out of our hearts. Once filth flows into our hearts, it becomes sin and leads to sinful actions.

Now, while it is clear that we should guard our hearts away from the filth of the world, what is at times unclear is how we actually go about this. Should we keep lock ourselves up so we do not get contaminated by filth or is there another way? Here is the answers: The way we go about guarding our heart away from the world is by keeping our minds filled with the word of God. Since the mind is the gateway to the heart, whatever we keep in our mind will ultimately make its way to our heart. If we keep out mind filled with the word, our hearts will reflect the word of God and so we develop a heart that is akin to that of God.

Moreover, our mind is either being influenced by the world or it is being influenced by the word. By filling our minds with the word of God, there is no room for the world in there; hence we have effectively guarded our hearts from the world and its influences.  Put another way, by filling our heart with the word of life, we find that only life flows out of our hearts.

Light-bulb moment: An effective way to guard your heart is to fill your mind with the word of God

The alternative to guarding our heart with the word is trying to avoid the world. Doing life this way requires that we cease to be salt and light to a fallen world because everything in the world would cause us to backslide since there is no ‘word’ barrier. It is not the will of Jesus that we seclude ourselves away from the world. Jesus did not do seclude Himself but spent time with tax collectors and other marginalized people so that He could be salt and light to them. Furthermore, He said He does not want us to be taken out of the world but to be protected from evil (John 17:15). Why? It is because He wants us to influence the world by shining our light in the darkness – instead of hiding our light under a basket and away from the darkness.

Light-bulb moment: We should never turn the guarding of our hearts into something we force to happen instead of something that happens naturally as we spend time with God.

So how does God protect us from evil that works through people? He does this through the Holy Spirit via the spiritual gift of discernment. Thus, it is the Holy Spirit that protects us from evil. This is why Jesus prays to God that He protect us from evil. He does not pray that we protect ourselves from evil through our own prejudiced and experienced based thinking. Hence, just as Jesus kept away from certain men because he discerned their hearts (John 2:24), we must keep away from evil company through spiritual discernment – not experiential or cultural discernment.

To conclude, guarding our heart with the word allows us to insulate ourselves away from the effects of the turmoil of the world and the actions of people, without alienating ourselves from people out of fear. Since guarding our heart Jesus style allows us to be salt and light to the world, we see the guarding our hearts has everything to do with love and has nothing to do with fear.

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