Comparison: things to understand

Comparison is one of those things that we seem to pick up from a very young age without even being taught. There’s a familiar scene when two young children are together and one has a toy that the other doesn’t have, but finds most intriguing. Inevitably the one who doesn’t have the toy feels like he is missing out and starts to long for the toy that the other child has. He compares his situation of having every other toy but that toy as totally unacceptable and begins to resent what he has because he wants that toy. More often than not the scene that transpires next is where the wanting child, in a totally age appropriate infantile way would seek to reach out and try and elicit some cooperation from the other child to allow him to take it and share that playful enjoyment to satisfy that feeling of despair of not having. This child-centred scene is one that most people are familiar with, but rarely do recognise that sometimes as adults we re-enact these very same emotions in various scenes throughout our own lives.

So what is comparison? When you consider two things that appear to be equal and/or we expect to be equal, but actually appear to have some differences. If we left it there it’s not such a bad thing. A bit like a game in the backpages of a newspaper where you have to compare the difference between two images that appear to be the same; If you look hard enough you’ll no doubt find some very subtle differences. However unlike the newspaper games, we humans have emotions, and that largely dictates how we respond to differences in situations.

Comparison and envy – Whenever we deal with the human psyche and reasoning we are highly likely to come up with some level of subjectivity because our humanity (being in this world) causes us to see life primarily through the lens of our own experiences. However as people of God, we are constantly admonished through God’s Word that we are not to do as the world does because we are born of a different Spirit. Specifically here are a few key things God says about the way we see life:

  • Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect willRomans 12:2 

         For us this is a clear instruction by God for us not to conform to the world’s way of                thinking, i.e we don’t follow what is popular culture and customs of the world, but          seeing as our minds have more than likely been somewhat polluted by the world’s way of        thinking before we come to know God for ourselves, then we have to purge those worldly ways of thinking from our minds, and renew our minds by reading, studying, meditating on the Word of God so that it becomes our way of thinking; It’s the process of renewing our minds. Then as we begin thinking according to God’s Word then we will be able to test what is God’s will for the situations in our lives and approve things presented to us as to whether that is God’s will for our lives or not.  This nicely leads me onto the next point, which is at the crux of the issue of our lead topic, comparison!

  • “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord
     “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
      and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8

         Reflecting momentarily back to how we tend to approach our thoughts in situations of comparison; They are largely based on our expectations, reasoning and understanding of a situation. Just like the example with the child without a toy, we can quite easily get caught up in looking at someone else who seems to have something that we don’t have. Rather than appreciating what we have and accepting that there could be any number of reasons why they have been blessed in such a way, we can instead begin to resent our own life situations, and inevitably regard the blessings in our own life with contempt because they seem to pale in comparison to what someone else has. The very moment that we allow our thoughts to go in this direction, resentment is born and alongside it thoughts of envy, which is a very destructive force. If we are not careful to take hold of those thoughts and align our focus back onto God and repent we may very well allow those envious thoughts to become so deeply entrenched that they get a foothold in our minds. This is why the Word of God says at 2 Corinthians 10:5:

casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ

Envy is the breeding ground of hatred and is no more perfectly illustrated than in the biblical account of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4. 

Cain tended the ground for a living and Abel kept flocks. At the relevant time, Cain brought fruits of the soil as an offering to God and Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The bible says that God looked with favour upon Abel and his offering, but did not look upon Cain and his offering with favour. Cain was very angry. The Lord saw this and said to Cain If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Let’s pause here. Both worked, both gave an offering to God, yet God looked only at Abel and his offering with favour.  It is really important to see what happened here. Cain was angry because he didn’t obtain favour. The anger was a natural emotional response. God saw it and explained to him that if he does what is right, he will be accepted. Seeing as the offering was an act of worship and an act of reflection of the heart of the person toward God, then I tend to think that Cain’s offering was not his best, or perhaps wasn’t his highest way of honouring God. We have seen elsewhere in the bible (1 Samuel 16:7 at the choosing of David) that God is not concerned with outward appearances, but the condition of the heart. God doesn’t need food or flock, but He desires a heart that that is submitted to Him (Psalm 51:17) So perhaps for Cain it was business as usual for bringing the offering, but for Abel the offering was a conscious, reverent and sacred act from the heart toward God, and maybe that’s what made the difference.

Cain could have accepted the Lord’s discipline, repented in his heart and left the anger right there, but no he couldn’t see past his own perspective and because of that, despite God’s warning that sin was crouching at his door (symbolic of decision-making), Cain hatched this sinister plan; He suggested to Abel to go out to the field and whilst they were out there, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. You see what comparison can lead to if it isn’t nipped in the bud? This is why we are told to flee every appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22); Sin is an illusion that entices you to believe you have it all clued up, but when you dip your toe in you get sucked into way more than you bargained for, because as God told Cain sin desires to have you and will lavishly entice you with lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).

 

So what does this mean for us? In a nutshell it means that instead of being overly and excessively concerned about what is going on in another person’s life, we need to ensure that our focus is on God and that we are careful to examine and judge our own heart toward God using the standard of His Word. So long as our hearts are right before God, and if they are not we are genuinely and deeply repentant to get right before God, that is the acceptable sacrifice to God, and He said that if we do what is right we will be accepted.  It all sounds so simple but when you’re in the midst of situations and dealing with all sorts of emotions it takes the fruit of the Spirit Self-Control to be able to put things into the rightful God-perspective and fix up unto righteousness.

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God will bless however He wants to and you don’t have to understand it #sorrynotsorry

Remember the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard at Matthew 20:1-16? The Master went out at various points of the day from before 9am right up until 5pm. Each time he went out he hired some workers. At the outset He agreed with the workers that he hired from before 9am that he would pay them a denarius (a usual day’s wage) and it was all good. At the end of the working day the Master told the Foreman to call the workers and told him to call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first. So when the workers who started before 9am saw that those who were hired last were getting the same denarius pay as them, they grumbled against the Master complaining that it wasn’t fair. The Master turned to them and said  ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ The bible says that ”the last will be first, and the first will be last.” 

The point of that parable is this; God is a good and gracious. He will bless who He wants to bless and how He decides to bless another, quite frankly and in the bluntest of terms is really none of your or my business! Our business is making sure that no matter who or what is going on around us, that our hearts are pure and righteous before God and that our hearts are in a constant state of repentance before God.

 

Quick Summary

We must always keep at the forefront of our minds several things:

  1. God is Supreme. He can do what He wants how He wants and bless whoever He wants and however He wants.
  2. His plans for us are good. We have to have the measure of faith that we trust Him even when we don’t understand His ways. In fact, especially when we don’t understand His ways.
  3. God’s ways are higher than our ways. God is the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end of all things. He is omniscient, knowing all things so how could we possibly begin to resent the decisions of God with our own meagre minds and the paucity of our understanding.
  4. Our hearts are the living sacrifice that we need to surrender to God. That means accepting not our way, but His way and repenting promptly when we are corrected by the Word, because sin crouching right outside the door of an unrepentant heart ready to entice and consume it.

 

Lastly I will just add this from personal experience. One of the earliest pieces of advice I remember getting from my mother is this “don’t be concerned with what other people have because you don’t know how they got it. Be grateful to God for what you have” which in biblical terms equates to everything above and summarised as  count your own blessings. Over the years there have been literally countless opportunities for me to have gotten resentful over what appeared to people being favoured and blessed over me and I always kept that advice from my mother deeply rooted in my heart. Sometimes people were genuinely blessed of God and that is a great thing. However on other occasions time revealed what some people decided to do in order to get what they had gotten. Not everything was righteous. You never know if someone had to sell their bodies, will and/or soul to get what they do. Seeing this over and over again reinforced and solidified in my heart that I am not concerned about other people’s blessings. If it’s from God, Praise the Lord, and if not I wouldn’t know any differently because my focus is getting my heart right before God! Selah!

The thing to understand about comparison is that when it comes to God; 1. you shouldn’t do it, and 2. you will never understand.

Stay blessed and pure in heart!

 

 

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Let’s Talk About Sex….

Okay so this is one topic that I would prefer to stay away from because it is just so personal and I myself am not even married. Therefore I compose this blog in a posture of complete and sincere humilty and simply to share a few things that i’ve learned relatively recently about this topic of romance, God and marriage.

We all know the stats… women outnumber men, women in the church outnumber men and the good men with it all together headed in the right direction are like almost invisible! In the natural and being completely real it is therefore really easy to understand how some women, let alone God-fearing women feel absolutely hopeless or haven’t a clue where to go with this issue.

When it comes to love, romance and marriage it can be very difficult to get to grips with this as a God-fearing woman. You love God no question about it, but your humanity also leaves you feeling like you want ‘The Package’…. you know the husband, kids, cute house, picket-fence, family car etc etc etc. With the woman-man ratio as it stands and the customs of the world becoming increasingly looser with each minute, it is takes a lot of courage not to be filled with dread and hopelessness when wanting to do things God’s way.

Real desires

Wanting to be in a relationship and feel that close connection of love is normal and in fact I think God wired us with that very desire. However, God has been very clear from the beginning that marriage is the only forum for a romantic relationship. When we attend church, scratch that let me say when we attend some churches, the biblical principles of purity and abstinence are taught and we are expected to maintain a lifestyle of holiness because after all that is exactly what the bible says, right!  Those that have been going to church a reasonable amount of time will know all the relevant scriptures:

  • Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself – 1 Corinthians 6:19
  • Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body – 1 Corinthians 6:18
  • For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know Go – Thessalonians 4:3
  • Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. – Hebrews 13:4
  • But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Matthew 5:28
  • For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; – 1 Thessalonians 4:3
  • “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. – 1 Corinthians 6:13
  • Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

 

It is therefore very clear that God is serious about the issue of sexual purity and romance, no matter how fancy, cute and liberal it is portrayed in current culture. Sex is not something to play with as God-fearing people. However, let’s be real. We live in a world where popular culture, governance and a plethora of distractions perpetually bombard us with messages both clear and subliminal that somehow we are all free to choose what you want and every choice is okay! Then in our quiet moments we scroll on through social media and see people ‘loving’ without inhibition. It takes a phenomenally strong and resolute person to stand steadfast in God’s Word about purity. For some it is simply a matter of making up one’s own mind not to compromise with God’s Word. However for other’s the struggle is real, and unless you genuinely understand how seriously God regards sexual purity you may deal it with contempt – a very dangerous thing indeed.

 

Delving deeper into the Word…

So let’s start with this, our bodies are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. A temple is a building devouted to the worship of God. This means that our bodies should be deeply committed to the reverence and respect of God and His Word because it is the place where the Holy Spirit of God resides. If we were to visit a sacred temple, we would be careful not speak offensively, to be clean and show the appropriate reverence that God’s presence is there. Yet in this secular world  the body is treated with sacrilege. Sleeping around is often considered the norm, as is the use of profanity and failure to maintain standards of daily cleanliness. We won’t even talk about the sex acts that God regards as abhorrent that are normalised as acceptable in today’s society.

 

Then God admonishes us not to quench the Spirit’s fire (1 Thessalonians 5:19). It says to hold on to what is good and reject every kind of evil that our whole spirit, soul and body are kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This means that we are not to put out the fire and power of the Holy Spirit by doing things with the temple, our bodies that are contrary to God’s Word.

 

Context

For context about how seriously God regards the temple we need to reflect back to the old testament. God was absolutely meticulous about how the temple should be designed and gave very specific instructions. (Exodus 26). When it was built, God was very clear about who could enter and what they were authorised to do.  God gave instructions to Moses on how to build the desert tabernacle and He ordered that the tent be divided into two parts: a larger, outer chamber called the Holy Place, and an inner room called the Holy of Holies. The Holy Place was part of the tabernacle tent, a room where priests conducted rituals to honor God. Only the Priests could enter the Holy Place and there contained an altar where burnt offerings were to take place as a means to repent before God for the people’s sins. In Leviticus 9:24 fire came out from the presence of the Lord and God charged Aaron (Moses’ brother) to ensure that the fire on the altar did not ever go out Leviticus 6:13.

What this means for us is this; Our bodies are the temple of God and the Holy Spirit fire dwells within our temple/bodies. Only the Priest could have any dealings with the holy place in the temple. The bible says that we are priests (1 Peter 2:9)  and as such we are to govern our bodies, our temple with keeping the fire/Spirit of God continuously burning and functioning.  So what are our sin offerings? The bible says that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite (remorseful) heart (Psalm 51:17).  This is what we are charged to do with our bodies. Maintain a state of holiness. Keep the Holy Spirit flowing in our lives by doing the will of God and flee from every appearance of evil. God knows that we will sometimes miss it, and for that He makes provision that repentance from the heart is an acceptable sacrifice.

Because the fire came from God Himself upon the altar, He charged Aaron (and by extension his sons who were to continue the holy priesthood) to ensure that the fire of God was maintained by every morning adding firewood (Leviticus 6:12).

All this is very symbolic for how we are to live our lives today and treat our bodies.

Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu, who were carrying out priestly duties showed contempt for God by doing their own thing and bringing a different type of fire to the altar. Leviticus 10:1 states that

“..and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord,contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.”

The lesson here is this… When God is dealing with His holy place He is not messing around. He has lit the fire as a perpetual reminder of His presence dwelling within the tabernacle. For us, that tabernacle is our bodies and the fire is the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are charged with maintaining a holy life to keep the presence of God within. If however we show contempt to God by doing things our own way without repenting from the heart it is a very dangerous thing.

 

The significance of sex ONLY in the confines of marriage – I am going to try and make it simple without getting too technical. In the Hebrew language, there is a particular word for fire, esh. The word for husband is eesh. The word for wife is ee-sha. In the actual Hebrew script, the letters that change the word from fire to form the word husband, and the letter that changes the word from fire to form wife are the letters that form God’s holy name ‘Yah’. Bearing in mind that the Hebrew language is pictorial and has deep significance in expressing the intentions of God this is extremely profound, especially as we know how particular God is about fire in the tabernacle (His Holy Spirit in our bodies).

God is within the husband (fire with a man). God is within a wife (fire with a woman) and the only circumstances where a man and woman can have the same fire (coming together of man and woman intimately) is when God is in the midst of it i.e. marriage! AND to make sure that we really get it, He put His name on it, ‘Yah’!!! If we never really understood it by now, God is serious about His temple, His Holy Spirit, Fire and His people and how they conduct themselves particularly regarding the temple.

The only time that the fire is authorised by God is when it is kindled in accordance with His rules, no strange fire. Therefore using biblical language, the only time a man is allowed to ‘go into’ a woman’s temple especially her holy of holies (i.e have sex) is when he is going following the rules of God – i.e. IN MARRIAGE! No other fire, no other person is acceptable.

Just to land this plane and drive the point home, consider this: Back in the biblical times the High Priest had to go into the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement, and He would make an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the people to bring reconciliation between the people and God. However, before the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he had to wash himself, put on special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover his eyes from a direct view of God, and bring sacrificial blood with him to make atonement for sins (Exodus 28; Hebrews 9:7) In addition, he had to wear a special robe with bells on. As the high priest moved about in the Holy of Holies the bells would ring. However, if the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies without observing the protocol that God had set out, the silence of the bells would indicate that he had died before the Lord.  The point of this is to show that there is a correct way to enter the Holy of Holies and it is not by making up our own rules and going with popular culture. Yes God is a gracious God and He is just and faithful to forgive us of our sins when we repent. But when we regard a sin as a part of our everyday lifestyle and fail to see it the way God sees it, and especially fail to repent, then that is when His grace may start to lift.

So when God says no sex before marriage, no strange fire, no unauthorised person going into the Holy of Holies… just obey. And when you get that ring and are husband and wife  (yes that means purity during engagement til wedding day) you can dance right on into the Holy of Holies with bells and whistles and all that good stuff! But for now and until that appointed time just maintain your own fire of God within and maintain holiness living to please God and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you through life to the glory of God. Long story short: No sex outside of marriage!

Stay blessed!

 

Love

I had a discussion with a friend the other day about love, in fact let me qualify that… I had a discussion with a male friend the other day about love, and I was immediately faced with that testosterone fuelled Wall of Defence that men put up when soft subjects such as when matters of the heart come up. Somewhere along the conversation it became apparent that my friend associated love with weakness, vulnerability and thus fear (although he didn’t quite articulate it in these terms).  And it got me thinking – if love is suppose to be so good, why do so many people associate fear with love. My knee-jerk response to his defensiveness was “It is not a weakness to feel love; It is a weakness to feel it in the wrong environment”.  I wasn’t quite sure if I conveyed exactly what I meant but I knew that he kind of understood what I was saying. Then obviously I went away and lamented greatly about the whole love thing.

 

What Is Love?….

When we think of love we get warm tingly feelings, smiles stretch across our faces and when imagine picturesque scenes of two people strolling through a park on a hot sunny day holding swinging hands giggling in total oblivion to the world around them. At least that is what the movies would have us believe!  But let’s reign it in a minute, because love is so much more than just cosy and comfortable feelings. Love is ultimately a conscious decision. It’s what happens when something goes wrong and you decide to stick with it in spite of the wrong. Forgiveness. Faithfulness. Love is what happens when you’ve reached the end of your tether but you preserve regardless. Perseverance. Love is when you’re at your lowest ebb and someone close clinches an amazing victory and you feel the joy and clap in celebration too. Selfless.

What i’m saying is that whilst love certainly does include all the beautiful feelings and emotions of connectedness, it also embraces the all the awkward and inconvenient things that happen whilst in the midst of that connectedness. The most perfect definition of love that I have come across is this:

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LOVE IS… exactly all the components of what God is, because God is Love. At it’s foundation and core, love honours God and His Word. Love gives, forgives, obeys, is selfless, surrenders itself and own will, perseveres, is patience, shows kindness, faithfulness, meekness, humbleness, respectfulness, truthfulness and gentleness.

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Love produces goodness…

It’s clear to see that even in the midst of dire circumstances, love is the energy and power that produces positive behaviours and outcomes in going forward. Love produces Goodaaa5 Fruit and that ushers in the presence of God and brings His manifestation into a situation enabling the ultimate goal of RESTORATION. Love is the mechanism to bring everything back into correct alignment with God, RESTORATION.

 

 

What is Restoration?

Restoration is returning something to its former owner (usually a Monarch, which for us is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jehovah God Almighty). Therefore whatever the situations we face, we can successfully overcome them with LOVE, because love conquers all things. I do have to add this caveat though – the successful outcome might not necessarily be what you had in mind. If we love God we surrender our will and way of doing things to doing His will in our lives and by doing that we bring about the successful outcome even if it’s not what we had in mind.

 

In this control-obsessed world we have to constantly remind ourselves that God is the Alpha and Omega and He is omnipotent and omniscient. He is the beginning and the end and He is everywhere and knows ALL THINGS. All power is in His Hands and nothing can be without His permission. Remember Job’s test? Satan had to ask for God’s permission to do anything to Job, and even then Satan was still limited because God had a hedge of protection all around Job on every side.

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We are God’s masterpiece. He loves us and took great time to prepare our destiny. He paid a high price for us with the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus Christ. He literally gave us His Word of His blood. Therefore He loves us far more than we can ever imagine and has great and wonderful plans for us far exceeding anything that we can ask or imagine. The small confines of our own understanding and imagination cannot conceive of the wonderful things that God has prepared, and that is why we have to trust Him and lean not to our own understanding. His ways and plans are far higher than ours and if we want to live the life that He prepared for us (which is a successful life) then we have toaaa9 submit to His Word and walk by faith knowing that He is for us and will never leave nor forsake us. It is our love and trust in God that will help us to do this and if we don’t give up we will have the good blessings in our lives that God has prepared for us. They may not manifest the way that we thought they would or should, but they will be everything that they need to be and will be everything we could have ever asked for. When things work together the way that God had intended them to and in alignment with His perfect will, that is called going in the ‘flow’ of the Holy Spirit and everything is restored to God’s order. Restoration. And that brings perfect peace that surrounds our hearts and minds.

 

What does this mean for me and my life? If love is the power by which we can live the lives that God has prepared for us, then it first means that we need to get our lives in alignment with God’s Word. The first step is to know what God’s Word says about any particular situation that we’re facing. The second step is to submit to that Word by doing what we should to make our lives line up with the Word. It may mean surrendering a plan that God didn’t authorise, or a relationship that He didn’t authorise, taking a step of faith when He has told us by His Spirit to do something. We know what we ought to do because the Spirit of God within us reveals to us, and if we truly don’t know when we search the Word and pray to God to guide us He answers and guides us. But having LOVE in our lives is certainly not confined to a traditional romantic relationship. It is yielding our lives to LOVE, which is God and then allowing the principles and power of love to rule our lives. Eventually according to God’s will we will be so attuned to love that at the divine time that sitting-on-the-park-bench-swinging-our-interlocking-legs-together-gazing-into-each-other’s-eyes type of love will come our way. And even that love in the sanctity is for the purpose of accomplishing God’s purposes on earth.

a-trust

So in summary this is what is clear about love:

  • God is love
  • Love honours God and His Word
  • Love in our behaviours and character shows the world God through us
  • Love keeps our lives in alignment with God
  • Love gives us the power to make all situations better
  • Love never fails
  • Love begins with submission to God and end in restoration into His will and good plans for our lives
  • Love requires us to surrender that may require difficult decisions (but all things work together for the good of those that Love God and live their lives according to His purposes Romans 8:28)
  • When we know God for ourselves and honour Him we know love. When we meet the person whom God has prepared for us to enter holy matrimony then we will feel that fuzzy warm tingly feeling that we all fantasize about.

 

If we find ourselves in situations that employing love does not bring about the presence of God, perhaps we need to seek God on whether this situation is one we are meant to be in.

LET’S BE ALL ABOUT LOVE!

 

 

 

 

 

The Lifestyle of Jesus – WWJD (What Would Jesus Do)

I found myself reflecting about Jesus and what life may have been like for Him – how did He feel, what things did He regularly do, who were His confidants. Oftentimes we hear of Jesus in two extremes; what is our current culture of flashing lights stardom kind of Jesus, where He walks around and does miracles with ease and finesse, or the humble Saviour hanging on a cross. I give full honour and take nothing away from the fact that Jesus did amazing, phenomenal miracles by the power of God and restored life to lifeless situations.  And for the greatest gift of life by sacrificing His own for humanity I praise, honour and submit to Him. But the point of this post is not to get too caught up and distracted by the gifts that He gave, but rather to focus on the person that He was during His time on earth. If we are suppose to be mirroring Him then we need to have a deep appreciation for the values, custom and behaviours that should mean for our lives, especially in these current times. I do add one caveat right here right now – I am no Theologian and do not hold myself out to be one. I am simply sharing what I have come to understand in the hope that it may help us all become and serve each other better with the lives that we have been given.

 

JESUS

His Heart – It is without doubt that Jesus had a heart that loved people. He often identified and empathised with people’s difficulties and this often led to many of the miracles we read about today. One such instance was in Matthew 20 when the two blind men were crying out to Jesus for healing despite being hushed by the crowds. They were absolute ‘nobodies’ to the people in the crowd, yet the purity of Jesus’ heart discerned that their challenges were not solely confined to social stigma but also physical blindness. Doing the opposite to what everyone else was doing, Jesus stopped called them forward and asked what He could do for them. This scenario shows something else about Jesus – He was different. Everyone else in the crowd was a respecter of persons, yet Jesus gave His time to everyone, including the societal underdogs. I believe there’s a lesson in this for us; We cannot be so desperate to fit in to this world that we betray the core value of loving our neighbour as ourselves. It’s about empathy. Taking the time to get to know people, understand their struggles and see if there’s a way that we can be of service to them, because in their same position, we’d want someone take that same loving and caring approach with us.

His Lifestyle – Jesus lifestyle incorporated some key features; Mission, Service, Solitude, Prayer and Fasting. I am sure there are many more items that can be added to this list which is in no way meant to be finite, but a brief look at how He spent His time here on earth. We are all given some measure of time, and if we follow Jesus’ example of how to use that time wisely and successfully then it sets us in good stead to fulfilling the purposes and plans for which we have been created.

Mission – Jesus knew that He had been sent by God the Father to teach the world about Him and bring people back into relationship with Him by establishing the Church. ‘Church’ in this context is not the physical bricks and mortar that form the building of worship, but rather ‘Church’ refers to establishing a body of people who are the living stones who by their lifestyle of worship and honour of God, form a collective known as aaa1the church. However, the people at that time were separated from God. You had the Romans with their false gods, the Israelites who had begun mixing with other people and had taken their gods as their own in place of the One True God, and then you had the Jewish people who had their own intellectual perceptions of God and the Messiah. In order for Jesus to bring people back into relationship with God, He had to teach them about the Kingdom of God (which He did through many sermons and parables throughout scripture). Teaching was the foundational part of His mission in establishing the church, and we see many times throughout scripture that people would call out to Him as ”Teacher”. 

Service – We often hear the phrase ‘people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’, and this is an absolute truth. Nobody wants to be preached at. However if you offer people knowledge in the context of love, empathy and empowerment then moreoften than not that knowledge is received far more receptively and is likely to be internalised into a power source. Jesus knew this from the get-go and as such when He went about completing His mission, He also used His divine wisdom and foresight when He identified people in need. The purpose of this was manifold; to link in with people who had sufficient faith to receive the good gifts that He had to give, but also to be a Witness on earth of The One True God in Heaven and thus by His miraculous works spark the faith within the people around Him. In Matthew 8  there is an account of Jesus healing the Centurion’s servant. The man had so much faith that he believed that by Jesus simply speaking the words of healing (without coming to his home) that the servant would be healed. Verse 10 states that this faith amazed Jesus, and indeed the servant was healed at that moment without Jesus even having to go to the Centurion’s home. After this Jesus continued His journey for the day and along His travels came to Peter’s house. He saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever, and touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. Then when evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to Him, and He  drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. There is no doubt that there is none that came before Jesus that went about life have such extraordinary humble presence of miraculous power, empathy and life transformation for the people. By going about His mission in life with an ethos of love in service, He showed the people around Him the power of God in their presence.  Jesus did many more miracles in various different circumstances to demonstrate to people the Power of God working through Him in service to them through love. 

Solitude – As much as Jesus loved people, and although He often travelled with His 12 disciples during His ministry, and even though His popularity grew quickly with people, Jesus understood that it was an important part of His mission to spend time alone. It can sometimes be quite difficult for us in these times of great busyness of life with a plethora of distractions to be disciplined enough to break away from everything and everyone demanding our time and attention and get alone to centre our thoughts and power. This is something that we can learn from Jesus’ life. Jesus went into solitude for some key reasons:

  1. To Pray – Jesus understood the phenomenal power of prayer and knew that He could not fulfill His purpose or mission without it. Therefore He often withdrewaaa2 from the world for the very purpose of praying. The benefits and purpose of praying is manifold and not within the remit of this blog post but will be explored in a future blog. Luke 5:6

 

2.  To Focus & Pray In Preparation of A Major Test or Task – Before Jesus was about to begin His ministry, He was led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness where He fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights. Jesus knew that He could not complete His mission without the Spirit of God, which is the Power of God. So He retreated into the wilderness to get alone in prayer and fasting to prepare for the mammoth task and test before Him. The devil surely knew how important Jesus’ life and mission was to humanity and tried extremely hard to tempt Jesus to break His fast, and break His concentration and the devil even twisted the Word of God to get Jesus off balance. But Jesus rebuked the devil who eventually fled from His presence. Whenever we are about to or in the midst of trouble and storms, the single greatest power we have is prayer – speaking the audible word of God over our situations and then submitting to that Word and standing on it. God’s Word never fails.

aaa3

3.  To Re-centre and Recharge His Power After Powerful Ministry – Having had the 12-disciples with Him learning His ministry he sent them out in ministry themselves. After they returned He encouraged them to break away and rest Mark 6:30-32

4. Before Making Important Decisions – In this world it is so easy to get pressed to give answers urgently or on the spot. However if we are really suppose to be living vessels of the Spirit of God then we must consult God on decisions, especially big and important decisions. Jesus modelled this principle in Luke 6 where it is detailed that He spent the whole night alone in prayer and the next day He chose His 12 disciples.

 

As we reflect upon Jesus’ lifestyle I hope that we can see what strategies we need to put in place to hear God and live our lives more effectively in doing His will. Maybe we need to be more disciplined in putting our mobile phones away and breaking away from social media and use that time to pray. Maybe we need to be less impulsive or consult less with a whole host of people before getting more God-centred in prayer when making important decisions. Maybe we need to realise that life is not about being a Go-Getter but actually using our gifts, talents and resources to invest and help people as a means through which we can witness to people about God. And definitely we need to recognise that the enemy will always try to attack us with a storm to get us to lose our focus, trust and faith in God, and we must always try to be prayed up and focussed on God and have His Word hidden in our heart that we can be swift with the rebuke just like Jesus did.

Be very encouraged…. You got this and the Lord’s got you!

 

 

 

 

 

Three Inspired Thoughts….

TODAY I read something that inspired this post, it was an article entitled ‘What I Would Tell My 5-Year Old Self’.. It got me in one of those deeply reflective moods pondering what I would say to my younger self with the knowledge, understanding and life experiences that I have now. Then it dawned on me that whatever I would tell my younger self is what I hold as a deeply entrenched belief. That was a good soul searching exercise, as it not only revealed to me those principles that I hold dear, but also those that I value in other people.

So here goes, these are three of some of the most important principles I value and try to live by, and look for in people who may become closely associated with me:

 1.

do-not-worry

Worrying is an act that your faith in God has waned, which is a bad sign since we are admonished by the Word to Walk By Faith And Not By Sight! 2 Corinthians 5:7. Worry indicates that either I am trying to do things in my own strength, or that I do not trust God’s providential sovereignty to handle whatever situation I am facing – pure and utter lack of faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God, so I am keen on remaining conscious about times when I catch myself caught up in worry. Now I’m going to keep it 100% real. Sometimes when you’re facing a colossal trial of your faith it is normal to have a wobbly moment, whether it be at the beginning or at various internals in between, or even quite frankly at both times. Either way I think that can be pardoned for that, we are after all flesh and blood imperfect beings right?

without

However worry becomes a problem when we become consumed with it.  That overwhelming feeling of consumption is a sign that we have not surrendered the issue to God trusting that whatever the outcome, is whatever it is meant to be. Let’s be clear, I am not saying that we are suppose to go through life situations sitting back and letting things happen to us. For even the Bible says ‘having done all, to stand‘ (Ephesians 6:13) which indicates that there’s some action required in the process. What is the action? Putting on the armour of God in the situation; Walking in your identity  of Salvation (know who you are because you know Whose you are), Ensuring You Walk In Righteousness To Protect Your Heart, Ensuring Truth & Honesty Are The Foundation Of Your Lifestyle, Walking Only In The Paths Of Peace Being Guided By The Holy Spirit, Handling Every Thought and Situation In Accordance With the Word of God, and No Matter What You See To Hold Fast To God’s Word in Faith (because the enemy will fire situations at you to try and make you disbelieve what God has already said).

Armor-of-God

As for the people in my inner circle, I am keen and committed to support them in their faith walk. They are important to me because subconsciously their lifestyle and choices influence me…. We become like those we surround ourselves with.  I want my friends to excel greatly and fulfill their God-given destiny, and so I stand in faith with them supporting them and holding them up in prayer.

friends

 

 

2. HONESTY-175

This is a (((( HUGE ))))  one for me! I believe in honesty and that it should be the foundation of my lifestyle and those with whom I’m in relationship. Honesty is simply living in truth. Sounds simple right? Simple yes, living no. It actually takes a substantial amount of courage to live in truth especially in this world.

On a basic level, as people of God we are suppose to live our lives according to the Word of Truth which is the Bible. (John 17:17) Whatever decisions we make, they have got to line up with the Word, because that’s truth. Then there’s truth about our conduct. Our lifestyles should be free from lies and deception. Where it is necessary and appropriate to speak, we should speak the truth IN LOVE – lies should not come out of our mouths and if they do, we should be so uncomfortable we genuinely undertake a heartfelt repentance before God quickly.

Furthermore our lives should not be deceptive. We should not mislead people to believe things about us that are not true. Well this is something rampant in this social media self-obsessed, narcissistic society that we live in. Pretty much everybody wants to put across an image of perfection – perfectly upstanding people, with perfectly happy lives (actual and spiritual), with perfectly great bodies and perfectly happy relationships/marriages, with perfectly great children and zero challenges or just very minor imperfections. Well this is a lie if there ever was one. The greatest lie we can ever tell is the one which we convince ourselves of. That’s the problem with lies, if you get so comfortable telling or portraying them  you will eventually begin to believe them yourself, and then YOU won’t even be able to see your own imperfections.

As a child of God, that is a dangerous place to be. If you have deceived yourself so long, how can you face and accept the unction of the Holy Spirit to help you to change into better if you can’t face and be honest with your own imperfections? It takes great humility and a mammoth amount of courage, driven by an even greater desire to please God. I call it living with AUTHENTICITY. Living in a way where I am honest with myself about my life and I am honest with the people around me about it. I try very hard every single day to live to that standard. I know my imperfections, I am very honest about them and hold myself accountable to certain people in my inner circle. Why? Because I don’t want to become so comfortable with a false view of myself that I begin to live in bondage to a false image that stops me from growing into all that God has called me to be. My destiny is far more important to me than people pleasing and appearing perfect. Accountability is important in that regard – it is the measure by which honest and open change is evidenced.

God even said in His Word that we are to become as little children otherwise we cannot even enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:2-4) What does that mean? Children are humble (they are under someone’s authority usually their parents), they teachable (they are not know-it-alls are not offended when corrected), they can submit (they do not think they are above people, they are comfortable learning do not relish over positions of authority).  Unless we can comfortably sit in the learning seat of life and be willing to learn something from anyone and everyone, we have a way to go in becoming as a child and humble & teachable.

Personally, I think God wants us to live with Authenticity because it takes true humility to live it. It means that you can openly admit your flaws without accepting condemnation because your heart’s desire is seeking and striving to perfect your walk before God. That kind of humility is the truest testimony some people will ever witness that there is a God.

authenticity1

 

 

3. 

contentment

Again this is something I try to practice in my lifestyle every single day. Contentment is that place where you are thankful for what you have; Being emotionally and mentally satisfied and have a peace of mind with things as they are right now, even if you have ambitions to have somethings in life different. For me contentment is central to my trust and faith in God.

How I see it is this – If I am living authentically in submission to God with a pure and honest heart, then I trust that He is a Good Father with good plans for my life (Jeremiah 29:11) and whatever I need I will have at the right time, but whatever I need right now I already have. If there is something that I desire so greatly that it causes imbalance in my peace, I am clearly not ready for it at all because IT has become my focus instead of God, and it risks becoming my idol in my life.  God does not want us to have anything that will cause our downfall or destruction or separation in relationship with Him. If there are storms in my life, I can be confident that they could only have arrived because God allowed it, and if He allowed it then it He has given me the grace to bear it – The storms will not crush me and has lessons to teach me.

contemnetment

 

GODLINESS WITH CONTENTMENT IS OF GREAT GAIN – 1 TIMOTHY 6:6

When you’re content  you accept yourself and your place in life. You’re don’t allow yourself to be come jealous or envious of other people or what’s going on in their lives. Contentment allows you to be secure within yourself, because yourself is rooted in God. It allows you to be genuinely happy for their celebrations. You’re not anxious to have what other people have or do what they’re doing.

Contentment is that peace that comes when you can be honest with yourself and with God and be honest with your shortcomings, going boldly to the throne of God’s grace to obtain mercy when you need it.

 

FINALLY….

Those are three amongst many others of my most important life principles. If I could in some way condense and simplify that information into kiddie-sized bites, then that’s the information I would tell my 5-Year Old Self!

Stay Blessed.

 

 

All The Single Ladies…

So this one goes out to all the SINGLE LADIES! Us single ladies always seem to outnumber the married ones by far in whichever circles we tend to mix. But this roll-call is different to Beyoncé’s – whilst hers is all about rubbing your new man’s commitment into your old man’s face (because he didn’t put a ring on it and you still feel just a little bitter about that)… this roll-call is about staying close to the One True Love who can properly hold your heart, heal any broken heart and fill it with peace, joy and contentment.

(((( WAIT )))) before you sign off and think I’m talking some airy fairy cute gospelesque-speak please just hear me out. I know what it is like to want to be married and settle down. I know what it is like to have all your friends in relationships/engaged/married etc. And I have also been at that place of desiring to grow old with my husband, creating happy memories until our final breath. In fact newsflash I thought I had that relationship.

 

My story

I had been dating this young man and all was going extremely well from what we could see. We even went as far as getting a custom-made engagement ring, had obtained the blessing of the Pastor and First Lady at our church and all that was left to do was pop that wonderful 4-word question that every young committed church lady wants to hear… ‘will you marry me?’ Everything seemed perfect – the perfect church-attending man who treated me right, loved me hard – BUT… I could sense the Holy Spirit telling me all the while that something wasn’t right. The Holy Spirit and I had an ongoing back and forth, which in the main consisted of the Holy Spirit gently telling me that this was not God’s will, and me becoming increasingly bewildered at this experience which made absolutely no sense. Holy Spirit kept speaking, I kept analysing at my relationship convinced that nothing was wrong, and then there was that fabulous ring that was about to be in situ in prime position on my finger any time soon… I literally couldn’t see anything wrong. So what did I do? I began to ignore the Holy Spirit’s warnings and find ways to dampen the Voice of God. Bad move, very bad indeed. However God is amazing and graceful in how He taught me that to trust and obey Him straight away is better than delayed obedience until I could logically figure out the reasons why what God was saying was valid – This delayed obedience is of course disobedience.  1 Samuel 15:22

obey

 

Listening and obeying God fully is obedience

I will get to the end of my story in a minute, but what is more important are the lessons that I learned about obedience and the importance of trusting God even when it makes absolutely no sense…. even when it means surrendering something that you really desperately want or love.

The biblical account that so wonderfully illustrates this journey of lessons is in 1 Samuel. You will recall the experience of Saul. Saul was the first king that Israel ever got, and God allowed them to have a king because they were no longer content to be different to all the other nations and have the One True Living God as their Ruler and Head. Israel looked at all the other nations around them and decided that they wanted to be like the other nations and be ruled by a King.  They wanted to fit in. The Elders of Israel went to Samuel, The Prophet who was appointed by God and the Elders demanded a King. This is no minor situation. Samuel was an esteemed Prophet of God to whom the people went when they were seeking the will of God on life’s matters. So for them to say that they no longer wanted the theocracy of governance that God had set up for them, for Him to lead, guide and direct them was no small matter. They were effectively saying – “God you’ve been good and everything, but times have changed and we [Israel] don’t want to be different anymore, we want to fit in with everyone else around us. We want to be led by a King like in the modern world”.

israel king

So in response to Israel’s demands, God gave them a King to rule over them – Saul. However Saul wasn’t an effective leader. However by God’s grace, God directed Saul by giving Saul His Spirit. But even Saul got to the point where he went off and did his own thing. He ignored and did not obey the voice of God, and so God took His Spirit from Saul and sent an evil spirit to torment him. That evil spirit tormented Saul so badly that only David (who was anointed by God) could soothe his spirit. And God providentially still reigned as King as eventually God replaced Saul with David, a man after God’s own heart.

david

 

The Similarities

So briefly, back to my story. Like Israel I was seeing all these married couples and I wanted that too. In my eyes and limited understanding (and zero foresight) the man I was with was a good King for me. I didn’t want God to be the direct Head over me any longer, I wanted to be like all the other women. I wanted a King aka Husband!

The Holy Spirit was telling me that this wasn’t the King that God had prepared but quite frankly that didn’t make sense to me so I just wanted what I wanted. I was stubborn and although I loved God on this one issue I wanted a pass because I didn’t want to obey. I didn’t want to take the chance to relinquish the seemingly ‘perfect king’ I had in my hand, for a promise that God had hidden behind His back that I couldn’t even see. Eventually for all the times that I ignored the Holy Spirit, I know I grieved Him and just like Saul I became tormented. I had no peace. I was tormented day and night by the sense in my spirit that although everything looked perfect, I was doing the wrong thing. Just like Israel I wanted to reject God’s order for divine relationship directly with Him, so that I could have a King of my choice, and also fit in with everyone else. The paucity of my understanding!!!! That isn’t even marriage – marriage is when the two people that God has predestined and ordained come together at the right time in the right way when God deems them as ready.

 

The Lesson

So what happened in my story? I literally could not bear to live without the peace of God and without hearing His voice in my life. Therefore, not long after I told the man that I couldn’t marry him because I had no peace about it. That was a massive act of faith because I couldn’t see anything wrong with our relationship, but it was absolutely the right decision. He was very disappointed also. But what I learned from that experience is that God was phenomenally protecting my heart – that man would have broken it terribly if I had married him. Oh the thingspeace you learn in hindsight! This is why it is so important to trust God at His Word, because only He has the divine foresight and insight into all things as the Alpha and Omega. I know for sure that had I ignored God, that marriage would have been an absolute disaster. God saved me tremendously. I also learned another valuable lesson – that any decision that God is a part of brings the peace that surpass all understanding. When I made the decision not to proceed any further with the engagement/marriage plans my peace was fully restored and I began to hear God properly again.

despise

 

Faithful in little, humble beginnings…

I now have an amazing relationship with God where I trust Him explicitly. Every day I endeavour to submit to the Word of God and live my life with Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, knowing and trusting God that He has prepared everything I need which will enter my life at the right and divine time, husband included.

What I know from those around me is that marriage is no joke.  After the ceremony, the dress, the party etc. comes the real challenge – Life. A series of daily opportunities of self-sacrifice, submission and humility to each other because you love God and each other want your marriage to work. If we cannot learn these lessons of submission, sacrifice and humility to God in these humble single beginnings, we certainly don’t qualify for promotion into arenas of bigger responsibility like marriage. God doesn’t want us to damage our husbands, and vice versa as we are all His children. As a side note, God also does not want us to make idols of our husbands, worshipping them in place of God and falling away into lukewarmness in our faith after the marriage ceremony because we got what we wanted. Marriage is from God and it can only work successfully with God as the Head according to the divine principles that He is trying to teach us to embrace as a lifestyle in our single season.

Our singleness is not a curse, despite popular culture these days. God has set it aside as a time where we form deep and intimate relationship with Him, where He moulds us intolittle the image that He predestined us to become – removing all the hurt, pain, dross of past experiences and healing us into whole and beautiful beings from the inside out. In this process God purifies our hearts to reflect His own heart. God wants us to be in a place where we are content with Him despite what everyone else has. And when we have learned all the character lessons of knowing how to love and treat people, then in His divine time and order according to His will, God will align our paths with our husband-to-be. But first we must seek God and learn to be faithful in all the lessons in our own lives so we know how to do it as a lifestyle in marriage.

 

 

anxiousFinally…

As I wrap up this post I would exhort and plead with you to learn from my experiences…. TRUST GOD, HE WILL NEVER FAIL YOU. What you think you will lose will actually be a gain to protect you, but you may never know/understand how much and by His grace you will see it in hindsight.  Do not be anxious to be married. If you are not prepared by the life processes and lessons that God has ordained for you in The Single Season, then you are likely to have many more unnecessary crisis and hurdles to cross in marriage. Trust God and let Him lead your love story.

 

Stay blessed and in peace.   seek

 

Being used by God

Regardless of whichever walk of life we’re on at the moment, we all want to be good at what we’re doing. In fact I dare say it, I think most of us want to be great at what we’re doing in our chosen field (be it in the professional field, homemaker or in the arts). We all want our contribution in life to matter and have value both to ourselves and others.

It is not uncommon whilst we’re on our ambtious quest for greatness that we romanticize and fantasize what the end picture will look like when we finally ‘make it’. Personally I see nothing wrong with holding and nurturing a vision, for even God said that ‘without a vision the people perish’. So it is clearly important in life to have a vision of where we want to be and a plan of how to get there.

However I think it is absolutely critical to ensure that the vision that we have for our lives is from the Lord. For except the Lord build the house (life) they that labour do so in vain. Psalm 127:1

How do we know if our plans and vision are acceptable to God? We will know by a few things:

– we have the peace of God about it

– we are using our gifts and talents in service to others

– our vision correctly aligns with the Word of God – even in the broadest of terms, our lifestyle honours God and His Word and is a witness that He is God and good.

– Our path is a natural progression and does not require us to compromise our relationship with God or His Word.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are many more pointers that serve to show us whether we are on the right path or not. The more we read the Bible the more we become acquainted with God’s principles for living a life that honours Him, as there is a plethora of situations that illustrate these principles in the Bible.

 

THE JOURNEY TO GREATNESS

Unsurprisingly along our journey to greatness we can become discouraged about the length of time It is taking to ‘get there’, as we are only human and sometimes our humanity can causes us to want things in our own way, in our own time according to our own plan! We can even become frustrated at certain roadblocks that stand in our way that prevent us from excelling higher and faster. Quite sincerely (and absolutely empathically) I understand exactly how those low moments feel because I too have felt them. Many times over.

However I truly believe that God has deliberately  designed our life paths with certain trials and hardships as part of the journey, each of them designed to teach and equip us with all we need to function effectively, positively and fruitfully in the positions ofmasterpiece we greatness for which He has uniquely created us. Yes God loves us and in fact we are called His ‘masterpiece’. That means God has taken great thought and care to plan our lives with purpose, and knowing us from before we arrived on this earth (our personality, our decisions, our stubbornness, our decisions of obedience and disobedience).

I believe that God created our paths with certain trials and hardships that would bring us to a certain level of breaking point so that we change in a way that no other situation could make us change to align with the path that He created, and cause us to seek a relationship with Him in a way that no other situation could. The storms, mountains, valleys and trials all serve good purposes even though they don’t feel like it at the time. They are all positioned at exactly the right place and time to mould us into the person we need to become in order for God to be able to use us for His glory.

potter

 

BEING FAITHFUL WITH LITTLE IN SMALL BEGINNINGS

I have heard it once said that the only people that start at the top of their work are ‘grave diggers’. That means by and large we all have to begin at a humble start. Learning the basics and mastering each step along the way. The more we do this, particularly with aheart of king good attitude and disposition, the more likely we are to walk with favour from God and man.

As we work with excellence and a good attitude as unto the Lord, God will put it into the hearts of those in positions of influence to promote us – promotion the right way comes from God.

 

God is not in a hurry to promote us. He knows exactly what we need and when – He is a Waymaker  so He has already provided and prepared the way. We do not need to fear nor be stressed. The right way up is to learn how to serve, and properly. If we want to be great at being used by God then we cannot be masters for the sake of it. If we are going to be masters of our craft/vocation/profession then we have to do it with the right objective – to be of service to people and in doing so honour and be a witness that God is God and He exists. It is not about flying up the ranks at record speed and arrive with a proud ‘look at me’ smirk on our faces. There are also illegitimate ways of flying up the ranks but they do not honour God and in fact when you get to the top you haven’t learned anything about integrity, mastered the process and art of the work and therefore the fall is likely to be mighty. God has set good reason within process and we must be patient with it. When we can be faithful to be excellent in the humble little early on positions that we have to occupy and do so with a good attitude, at the right time, the Lord will turn the heart of those in strategic places to favour us and open doors that no man can shut.

 

CHECKING OUR MOTIVES FOR PROMOTION

So keep on keeping on. Your labour is not in vain if you labour as unto the Lord. Do not grow weary or discouraged for in due season you will reap a harvest if you do not give up. As hard, tedious and long as the process may seem try not to take the reins and do things ‘your way’ and compromise the Word of God to get to where you want to be. Often times that type of behaviour is indicative of an impure intention so it’s good to check our hearts regularly. Is pride at the root of our desires for promotion? Is it primarily to have a title? Titles without godly character are great catalysts for a fall – think King Saul. He became King but leaned to his own understanding and counsel rather than heeding the advice of the Prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 13. Furthermore, if our rise is only to satisfy our own desires and purposes then we will be of absolutely no use to God, because being used by God often requires sacrifice. We have to put others’ needs before our own desires because that is what love does and God is love. It would be much better for God to delay our progress than to allow us a promotion that will lead to our eventual destruction.

 

SUBMITTING TO GOD

It is not God’s will that any man should perish, but when we are led away from His path by our own fleshly desires then that is the outcome. This it is why it is supremely important to submit to God and His Word in our daily lives. As we submit our minds, will and emotions in alignment and obedience to His Word then we are less at risk of selling our soul to the evil one who keenly awaits to offer counterfeit solutions and ungodly ways to satisfy our desires. Our heart’s desires must reflect the goodness and Word of God. Everything else is of evil and will lead to destruction. A quick scripture to check our motives is 1 John 2:16 – are we lusting with our eyes, do our desires originate from lust of the flesh or perhaps pride of life? If we don’t exercise self-control over these things and keep a check on our heart’s desires, they will eventually control our minds, will and emotions and cause us to submit our soul to the evil one.

a-trust

 

Trust God’s timing, wisdom and Word as you walk out your path in obedience to the Bible. When you submit to His Word and keep Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, the right doors will open to you as you go in the flow of the Holy Spirit – without you having to stress, compromise your integrity and disobey God’s Word.

 

no eye

Keep being faithful, you have no idea what great destiny God has planned beyond what your eyes and mind can conceive!

Stay blessed.

 

 

 

What to do when feeling fear

The countless times that God has told people in the Bible over and over again amidst dire circumstances and I encourage you reading this too – FEAR NOT for God is with you. Hehelp will never leave nor forsake, He has gone before you to prepare your way in all of your tomorrows – He has ordained certain mountains for you to climb and equipped you with every good thing to enable you to climb them successfully to strengthen your spiritual muscles and faith in Him. God has gone before you and lowered mountains that stand to obstruct in your path. He has broken down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. If you seek Him in His Word and in prayer and you obey the Word, please know this – every single footstep that you take in obedience to His Word is ordered by God. And as you obey Him also be assured that He does not suffer the righteous to be ashamed.

No matter what you may be going through, God has worked it all out for His glory. Stand firm and stand strong with the Lord as your strength and stronghold – He is your always present help in the time of trouble.

 

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There is no trial that can come to you, no storm that can come near you that hasn’t had permission from God and if He allows it to come to you, He will surely get you through it.

You may not see why circumstances are the way that they present themselves today, but trust in God and do not lean to your own understanding. God has a great plan to grow you closer to Him and bring you into the destiny that He has prepared for you. Trust God and submit to Him and as you do this, He will give you the peace that surpasses all understanding to guard your heart and mind.submit

Remember – God is from the realm of eternity, the realm of the unseen. He has worked everything out in the unseen realm perfectly. Do not become downcast by walking and determining your emotions from what your physical eyes see and your physical ears hear (unless you are hearing the Word of God). WE WALK by FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT.

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Faith sees the impossible – the thing that seems impossible in the physical realm, faith sees and believes it is possible with God based on His Word. Stand strong. Stand firm. Stand on God’s Word because His Word never ever fails.

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Be very careful to whom you lend your ear as faith comes by hearing. The enemy would love you to begin entertaining his lies, and ruminating them over in your head. Protect your mind. Think good thoughts and mediate on the Word and bring every single thought captive to the obedience of Christ, the Word of God.

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Be encouraged. Much love.

 

Walking Through Trials

Yes it’s correct nobody said this life would be easy but my goodness sometimes these trials are downright difficult. It’s one thing understanding that crystal clear in your mind, and even accepting it, however when you actually have to walk that walk – I mean really WALK because there’s nothing you can do to speed it up and get it over and done with, it’s quite hard. Scrap that, it’s very hard. Phenomenally hard.

 

Being Tested

Our faith being tested is a necessary part of our walk and growth in our relationship with God. It helps us to know Him more clearly, develop our faith in Him more deeply, and when we purpose and fix our minds to be more like Christ, the trials are often purposed to refine our character. You know the type of test to determine whether we will show the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), be self controlled and exhibit the love and character of Christ amidst our trials and with that one person that in another lifetime we would have knocked upside the head in our imagination….  or are we somewhere on that sliding scale where God is still dealing with us as we haven’t mastered those wonderful virtues and it shows. Either way, trials are crucial to our growth in God. But there’s just something intrinsically difficult about knowing it and then living it.

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No Two Are The Same

One thing I do know is that no two trials are identical. If we fail a trial (because we get all in the flesh and feelings thinking everything is all about us) and haven’t mastered the all-important WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) then I truly do believe that God will send that trial around again in another form to teach us whatever lesson we need to learn. And we will keep getting that thing fall into our laps again and again until we learn to pay attention, strengthen our faith, crucify our flesh and be a good Ambassador of Christ in our lives.

Nothing so clearly shows us that God isn’t about the shortcut life like the journey of the Children of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land. A journey that should have taken them 11-days took them 40-years! Going round that mountain again and again because they were not learning the lesson and submitting to God. That in itself is a lesson. SUBMIT. Unless you want to learn the hard way by doing your own thing and being stiff-necked and rebellious, SUBMIT! For the children of Israel that lesson cost them a lot. A whole generation didn’t even get to enter the promised land because of their disobedience. We have to ask ourselves this question ‘is doing things my way more important to me than forgoing my blessing, no matter how hard it gets?’ Well obviously that’s a rhetorical question because of course nobody in their right mind who is serious about their walk with God would answer that question in the affirmative. Nobody wants to see somebody else enjoying their blessing because they were too impatient to ride out the storm.

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The Journey of Trials & Tests 

So what makes the difference between an 11-day journey and a 40-year journey? Something obviously caused a journey that was suppose to be a relatively straight-forward one to become extremely protracted.

When reading the Word it becomes very clear that the issue was not one of logistics i.e. the need of a good map or SatNav equipment. No. The issue was with the Children of Israel’s submission to God’s authority along the journey. It’s easy for us to sit here all comfortably and remark that if they had just submitted to being obedient to the Word of God through Moses, God’s appointed Leader, then surely they’d have got to the Promised Land, and got there in good time. However we must ask turn that question inwardly and ask ourselves what God is trying to teach us in our own seasons of wilderness. Nothing is without purpose. Everything is designed to teach us something.

 

Submission In The Trial

It’s all in the word ‘submission’ really, so what does it mean to be submitted This word has been of particular angst to me, and certainly so in my early walk with God. For a ‘control-freak’ to consider submission is like spilling black tea on the white carpeted home of someone with OCD… just not good. It helps to have some clarity on what submission in the trial is suppose to encapsulate so that we can weigh our own thoughts and behaviours accordingly.

To submit is to place oneself under the authority of another – quite literally yielding one’s own will to the authority of another. God’s will is His Word, so submitting to God’s will is to submit to His Word, and whatever that means for your situation and circumstance in life. To help even further (because some of us relate better in picture or examples) we have Jesus who is God’s Living Word who has given us a clear illustration of what it means to live the Word of God – and yes you will recall He was tested in all points as we are and yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore we have a variety of examples to glean what standard of faith, love and character God is trying to extract from within us during these tests and trials of life.

Principally (for me) the lesson is this – Whatever God says, just get your thoughts aligned to it (your feelings will follow) and obey without delay. Whether this means actively doing something to obey, or actively refraining from doing something, or quite simply waiting – our favourite pastime – NOT.

The Children of Israel picked up some bad habits in their former lives in Egypt, copying the customs of the Egyptians and incorporating it into their own lifestyles. God is not into that type of mixing. He wants His children to be holy like He is holy. This means coming out from among them in the world doing worldly things driven by lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life, and instead being holy. Thinking, behaving and living differently to the world in a holy lifestyle submitted to God.

I think for many of us, the transition time from receiving the Word of Promise to actually inhabiting the reality of promise is a period of immense waiting amidst trial and test for a reason. Just like the children of Israel, we have to be prepared for the Promise. We can’t take old mindsets, old behaviours and old coping mechanisms into a new and improved reality lest we destroy the promise. So God being the Potter has to refine us by breaking down the old mould of who we used to be and chipping away the things that are not good, and reshaping us through life lessons into who we need to be.mind By the time that the trial is over, we should mirror Him. Our character should be refined, we should naturally live life in the flow of the Fruit of The Spirit as our usual standard of living… not something that we have to remind ourselves of when we hit a tough spot. When we have been refined and reshaped like this, we will be the good vessel that God can now use for His promised purpose.

 

 

 

Every Trial Has Its Purpose

”And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” Mark 2:22

In the same way God is not going to give His absolute best to you without first preparing you to BE THE BEST to handle the promise, otherwise both your character and the promise will be destroyed. It is not God’s will that any blessing cause your destruction so He has to prepare you. God is not going to pour a fresh anointing on an old and unsuitable vessel. A new you is required for whatever plan God has promised to take you into. There are no shortcuts. Trust God in the process of preparation.

 

Time & Waiting

God is not confined by time, for He is a God from the realm of eternity. If God is not constrained by time for our lives then we shouldn’t allow time to restrict our faith in what God is trying to establish in our lives. Therefore it is in our own interests to forget about the timing and focus on the purpose. What is God trying to teach us in THIS SEASON? Let’s not overly focus on what is to come otherwise we won’t see clearly the lesson that is right in front of us that is quite literally the stepping stone into the next level of our destiny.

It sounds very cool to say ‘live in the present’ but really do have to do that. We have to focus on what God is trying to teach us in the present with an eternity mindset. This is not something that we learn from the world. What we have learned from the world is what causes the battlefield in the mind in the first place when we try to submit our will to God’s in our everyday living.

This is why we have to be different. Because we have to renew our minds to be aligned with God’s Word so that we can be transformed into the vessel He has predestined us to be and fulfill the purpose for which He created us, which means finally inhabiting the Promised Land. We cannot inhabit the promised land with old mindsets – the Children of Israel proved that. Similarly we cannot please God with a worldly mindset. Let the world do things their way, we have to submit to God’s Word and do it that way. The world is not about your God, so don’t be about their lives and comparing it to yours. God knows what He has prepared along the path of your life and knows exactly what will manifest and when. Trust Him.

 

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Be Patient with God and Be Patient With Yourself In The Process

Be encouraged. We all go through it. Sometimes we succeed epically in a trial. Sometimes we fall. In the words of Donnie McClurkin, a saint is just a sinner who fell down down, and got up. Don’t beat yourself up about falling short, we all fall short but God has given us His grace to endure the trials. It is this grace we must remember to enable us to get back up again and ride out the storm. God got this and He definitely has got you. Believe it. ALL His plans for you are good.

 

I will just finish on this thought – Remember Job? He was a blessed and faithful man of God with whom was well and truly pleased. When Job suddenly lost everything it was nothing to do with his failure but everything to do with proving his faith. God used Job as evidence that there is a truly faithful man on the Earth. You have no idea what greatness is inside of you that God wants you to walk out on this earth. Keep your faith because you have greatness within that God wants to display and use in this world for His glory and Kingdom that many may know Him and saved. Be patient with God and with yourself. All things are made beautiful in His time.

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Stay blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRYING SITUATIONS, ENEMIES & HARDSHIPS? YOU GOTTA LOVE THEM ALL!

 

What a command it is that we are to love our enemies. The people that put us down, ridicule us, sabotage our hopes, dreams and plans to accelerate in life – love ‘those’ people? That sounds like a very tall order in the first instance, yet it is exactly what Jesus told us to do

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Why Though?

If there’s one thing we know, that Jesus never said anything without very good reason and for our own good. And when I say our own good, I don’t mean in a happy-go-lucky way, I mean good in the terms of what God calls good – our own effectiveness, growth and productivity in the purposes for which He created us. Remember, God created us with intention, planning and purpose and for us to grow into fulfilment of all those things, we often need ‘catalysts‘ to help stimulate that growth.

Consider your enemies (those people that are diametrically opposed to you growing into that productive, effective and purposeful person that you were created by God to be) as the said catalysts that God places in our life path to grow us into the image that He predestined for us. You see if we are very honest, most of us want an easy life and through life we can become slightly apathetic in engaging in anything that causes us challenges, particularly very personal growth because let’s face it, life is challenging enough on an everyday basis without finding milestones within to overcome.

However that is exactly the roadmap to our lives. For us to attain, achieve and be productive in the very plans and purposes that God created and called us to fulfill, it means travelling the course of our everyday lives and dealing with the character, mindset and lifestyle shortcomings that we have, in order to prepare and propel us to our next level in God. And nothing quite so refines us and gets us into shape as our enemies if we approach the situation correctly.

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Why Are Enemies Good For Us?

Nothing so greatly reveals your inner potential than your enemies, and God strategically places our enemies in our path to teach us and grow us into what we are destined to become. God clearly revealed this in the Bible time and time again. Let’s consider the account of David’s face off with Goliath.

David -v- Goliath – The Face Off – So David had been walking in  a good and close relationship with God from his youth. One day seemingly out of the blue, the Prophet Samuel comes to Jesse’s house (David’s father) with news that he has come to anoint the next King of Israel.  Well that must have been exciting because in those days it was no small feat to be King of Israel. Whether you were reverent of God or living as a heathen, everyone knew that the King of Israel was an elect position of the One True Living God.

 

The Process

Now the usual family dynamics were in full play in Jesse’s household upon Samuel’s arrival. David was regarded amongst in family (especially his siblings) as the least in the family. David was not the one that the family regarded as the most physically attractive (for that was Eliab) the first one who was considered by Samuel. Yet God quickly offered Samuel valuable insight regarding the decision-making process – that whilst mankind looks/values/esteems people’s appearance, God looks at the condition (cleanliness/holiness/sanctity) of a person’s heart (1 Samuel 16:7). And so it continued with Jesse making all the ‘most likely’ candidates come before Samuel, but the Lord had chosen none of them. It got to the point where Samuel had to ask “Are these all your sons?” and then of course that prompted Jesse to declare the one whom nobody in the family thought would be ‘the one’, cue David. They fetched for David who was doing the hard manual labour reserved for the very least of the clan out in the fields. And upon his presentation to Samuel… yes you guess it, the Lord said “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” . I can only imagine the ghastly look of bewilderment in everyone else’s eyes as the least was promoted to the greatest by the Lord’s divine will and providence.

So back to the enemy bit – firstly in the eyes of David’s siblings, David was by far the least liked and a good read around the book of 1 Samuel illustrates this. However David needed them for his growth and building up his resilience in life for what God had planned for him later on down the road of his destiny. All their belittling of David taught him to lean upon and trust in the Lord as his strength, stronghold and champion. He grew resilient and therefore dealing with his big brothers’ difficulties had inadvertently set him up for building up his relationship with God even stronger. And just to put it into context – anyone with older siblings knows that even the thought of confronting or going against an older sibling is frightening, let alone living with the constant cognisance that they think so little of you. So David’s family set-up and crafted him to have a mindset that depended upon God as his strength and peace and thus he developed a strong and intimate relationship with God.

Can you imagine though what it must have felt like for David after the Prophet Samuel left? His brothers’ attitudes was probably not any more affirming toward him than before he was anointed, and to top it all off there was no strategy or plan given to him about when this whole kingship thing would get off the ground. For David it was back to the fields and minding the sheep. What faith and assured knowing of God it must have taken for him to go back and work in the field after being anointed in the midst of those heightened family dynamics. But David was faithful and continued on about his father’s business until the Lord called him about His business.

 

Revelation

By the time that the whole Goliath situation presented himself, David’s relationship with God was so on-point that he recognised that as a divine assignment especially for him. He promptly stepped forward (not cockily mind you but in the name and to the glory of God) and dealt Goliath one almighty blow that took him down with a single stone. And that precipitated the circumstances that brought David into perfect alignment into God’s plan for his kingship. He stayed and served King Saul whom God knew would disobey Him, and would be the catalyst to replacing David as King instead of Saul.

 

Perception Is Everything

This is a short summary of very big and significant accounts of events in David’s life to illustrate that how what we perceive people and events in chapters of our lives which we label as ‘horrible’, ‘worst’, ‘enemy’ are actually divinely placed there by God to help us grow into the great destiny that He has prepared for us. I can guarantee you that nobody in Jesse’s house thought that David would be the one anointed as King.

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Change The Way You See (Perceive) Things

The next time you have a challenging person in your life, or presented with a challenging situation just be assured that this has been divinely allowed by God to draw you closer tofuture Him and take you to the next level in Him. Don’t fight the situation. Be resilient and draw on godly character and God’s strength to see you through to finish well and get the crown of your destiny. God’s plans for you are good. Trust Him.

 

Stay blessed.