Friday, 1 October 2010
Tried and Tested
Pastor Gbenga Shadare
We have a major confrontation, a lifetime challenge that as believers and God's people, we must deal with as long as we are Christians. Believers are not guaranteed a rose garden or a peace haven. We are not promised a pain-less, suffering-less and losses-free life. Indeed, the mark of a believer is defined by the battles he is called to confront and the 'real' issue is not how many battles we fight but the constant, consistent saving grace of God. Life is full of tests. Just like we get tested in normal things to obtain qualifications, certifications and licenses or employments or even medical examinations so also are we faced with various tests in life. It is inevitable that many of us will experience and grow through tests: tests in our finances, marriages, relationships, careers/jobs/businesses, academic pursuits, societal and institutional tests. We respond to these tests either with hopeful-ness or with hopelessness(confidence and despondence). Sometimes we are confident and at other times we are despondent and fearful.
Tests are daunting and we all hate them. We feel terribly anxious about them. We are terrified, petrified and apprehensive whenever we are called to observe or undertake a test. We are never at our best when tests are involved. Sometimes we become indifferent, dismissive and philosophical and most times, without being aware or realising it, we fail to see how God demonstrates His presence and love for us whenever we experience tests and trials.The fact is: whether we like it or not TESTINGS and TRIALS are guaranteed phases of life. We shall have several tests in our journey of life and it helps to know that many of the tests, trials and challenges that we face or are confronted with are orchestrated and engineered by God. We read from Psalm 66:10-12 (KJV) “For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. .Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place”.
The Psalmist pointedly asserts that God is the author of tests. To be “proved” by God is to be tried and tested by God. The old English word, “prove” connotes a process of being called to demonstrate our abilities and qualities; to show our true mettles and what we are made of. The strength of a precious metal does not lie in its raw-ness but in its potential - its ability to glow, shine and radiate quality after being tested. Gold and silver became what they are because they are proven in the furnace of fire to reveal their true worth. In the same way, God takes us through “the fire, the furnace of life” so that His right grind produces, and, gives us the right flavour that we need to fulfil His destiny. The trials and testings are God's prerogative and He does them for one purpose: to make us wiser, better and stronger in order to fulfil our divine destinies. Testings and trials are designed to build in us godly character and strength which helps us become better individuals doing God's will in a world that is full of perversion and corruption.
If you go through the lives of the patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Job, Peter, Paul and the apostles, there was not a single one of them that did not go through divine testings and trials. They became MEN of GOD and obtained divine attestations because of how they gracefully learnt obedience through the things they suffered. Even the scripture speaks of Jesus in the same way.
Why are divine testings and trials necessary?
We need to understand why God permits testings and trials in our lives. Let me attempt a checklist of some of the reasons that I have, in my own life, experienced. The list may not be exhaustive but it would surely help us to educate us as to why we have to endure these trials with grace, patience and wisdom.
1.The first reason is so that God can “put His fear” before our faces so that we can acknowledge His sovereignty and be rightly guided to become righteous by learning to avoid sin. In Exodus 20:20(KJV) we read,“And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.” The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Reverential fear is in indispensable quality that is sorely needed in today's church. When we fear God we will stop taking so many things for granted. When the fear of God is absent in a community or in a church or in the lives of men and women, there is a lack of a proper sense of perspective and errors, perversion of truths and transgression of God's law becomes inevitable. The fear of God helps us to stay on the right path; that is why God says he will put it before our eyes – literally what this means is akin to God using it as our his fear as our divine “sat-nav” to help navigate life as we journey through it.
2. The second reason which is a corollary of the first, is so that God can build our character and strengthen our aversion to sin. God wants us to be people of integrity and men and women of character. Without good character, violating God's laws and commands becomes an easy pattern of living where our own liberties take over and drive us to live life as we like. But when we have solid character, we develop the ability and the stamina to withstand pressures that comes when rough times comes. Character is what comes to the fore when satan tempts us to violate God's laws. Joseph refused to sin even when he could have convinced himself that no one will discover it. Bob Gass puts it nicely when he wrote, “Joseph refused the advances of Potiphar's wife, not because he thought he couldn't get away with it, but because he knew he couldn't live with himself if he accepted them.” Our Lord pointedly told Satan to get off his back when He was tempted. Daniel refused to defile himself in a sinful environment. Sin is a direct result of lacking the fear of God. Where there is no reverence for God, it becomes easy to sin. The psalmist affirms boldly that the recipe for sin is to put God's word(Godly fear and reverence) in our hearts (and before our faces)
3. The third reason God allows trials, is, as strange as it may sound, to enable us love him more. Deuteronomy 13:3(KJV) “Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Loving God more is a command in the scripture and though we may question why a loving God, would allow pain and suffering in our lives we can question His motive. Just like our earthly fathers lovingly correct us and make us suffer from our own errors, in the same way, God uses situations and circumstances to draw us to the place of affection and love for Him.
4. We are permitted trials and tribulations by God so that we may love His WORD. God uses trials and tests to teach about what is the most important thing in our lives. We may complain and groan but God wants us to know that He's got our best interests and His desire is that we realise that the solution to whatever adverse situation we may be going through lies entirely in HIM and HIS WORD. If we cooperate with God, we can survive any adversity with aplomb and grace and we can become proficient in His Word. Deuteronomy 8:3(KJV) “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.”
5.Trials and testings also help us to discern between what is RIGHT and what is WRONG so that we can choose the former. Deuteronomy 6:18 (KJV) “And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers.” We learn from mistakes and failures and when God puts us through tests, we learn to discern correctly what pleases God and what displeases Him. In the world, there is a maxim about experience being the best teacher. That is not completely true though. Testings and trials that are orchestrated by God are the best teacher.
6. Another reason why God allows us to be tested and tried in the furnace of life's experiences is so that we might learn humility. Humility is a virtue that is in short supply in this age where celebrities are revered and treated like gods. What makes humility possible is meekness and teachableness. In Deuteronomy 8:2-3, the scripture declares, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” God understands that the hearts of men is desperately wicked and evil and proud and, only by taking us through trials and tribulations can we ever learn to surrender to His will and become humbled, this is why the bible speaks of God resisting the proud and giving grace to the humble. (James 4:6)
7. God uses trials and testings to prepare us for higher service and accomplishments. In Psalm 105: 19-22 we read about Joseph and the way God used his painful experiences to catapult him to greater heights “He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.
The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free. He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance:To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom.” The story of Joseph is a remarkable story of resilience and strength of over life's adversities. God used the trials and testings he went through as training to prepare him for higher service. The whole journey of our life in many ways mirrors the life of Joseph. What can be gleaned from the the scripture is: God determines the duration of the trials we go through. It was not “until the time” that God's word came to set Joseph free and push him into his destination that things started changing. Unless the word of God had come at the time it came, Joseph's time in the prison was to continue. You might think it was Pharaoh's word that set Joseph free, and you might be right unless of course you have a divine perspective on how God orchestrates events to suit His divine plan. It was God's word the prompted the King Pharaoh to set Joseph free and it was God's word that began the process the eventually culminated in his promotion to Egyptian Premiership. If the Word sentenced you to the prison of afflictions, the Word will set you free and promote to honour.
8. Trials develops in us the virtue of patience. The bible declares that we have need for patience to help us do God's will (Heb.10:36). Nothing helps to accelerate the virtue of patience in us more than God's orchestrated trials and testings. James 1:3 says “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” The tests of our faith produces patience if we learn to cope with them with philosophic stoicism and graceful comportment. Patience helps us to develop the spirit of discernment and the graceful demeanour that we need to remain calm in the face of life's challenges.
9. Tests of faith helps us to receive eternal reward – the crown of life – which God has promised to those who endure to the end. Paul captured it best when he exhorted us to “endure afflictions” (2 Timothy 4:5) before finally charging us to fight the “good fight”, “keep the faith” and “finish the course”so as to eventually gain the “crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). I believe the ultimate is for us to receive the crown of eternal life after our journey has ended on this plane. What a shame it would be if after running the race and beating all the odds only to end up not inheriting the crown? God delights in our success and He knows that the journey would be rough but we have His assurances that we should be of good cheer that He has already overcome and thats cheering news indeed.
10. The last thing I would like to talk about is how the test of faith helps to build our spiritual gifts. Divine trials create the pathway to excellence in the operations of spiritual gifts. One of the ways we can know the spirit of the antichrist is through the strength of character and the spirit of patience that is produced in us through the tests of our faiths. 1 John 4: 1- 6 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. And every spirit that confessseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist whereof ye have heard that it should come and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Beloved knowing that trials and tribulations are inevitable, it is better to surrender willingly to them than to struggle against them. 1 Chronicles 29:17 “I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people , which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.” God ordains, controls and orchestrates the trials, and tribulations in our lives in order to make us spiritually stronger and grow. God had ordained that “the overcomer” shall inherit the promises - Revelation 2:7 “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life”. Also, in Revelation 3:12, Christ declares, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God.”
In every age, it was to the overcomer that the Lord made the promises. Therefore, if we must be overcomers, there must of necessity be things to overcome. The Church of God today need an understanding of the the fact that God means the BEST and has the best plans for us when it comes to testings and trials. Job, the man of God epitomises the kind of expectant and hopeful spirit that we need to have when we are undergoing terribly tough times. In Job 23:10 we read “But He knoweth the way that I take, when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” The question I would like to ask of you my readers is : To whom do you give credit to when you are going through hard and difficult times? Prophet Zechariah saw the revelation about the glorious end of believers and he wrote of that glory in Zechariah 13:9, “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine (them) as silver is refined, and try them as gold is tried. They ( the tried ones) shall call on my name and I will hear them. I will say it is my people, they shall say the Lord is my God.”
Abraham, the father of faith (and the faithful) got that title because he was not ashamed to be put to trial by God. Indeed, there is something interesting about the way the scripture put it in Genesis 22:1, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt (test) Abraham....” That remarkable, matter-of-factly, mildly put style is incontestably clear in its connotation. We are not left in any doubt as to the act, and the author of the act and the actor of the act. God TESTED Abraham. Abraham had no choice but to be tested by God. The test of Abraham's faith was designed and intended, as all our own tests are as well, to teach us to learn not just to wait to gain what we hope for but to also learn to give up what we have gained. In short, it was teach us that no matter how long and how painful it takes to wait for something, it should never be too difficult to give it up, if giving it up was required by God.
Going further, we read in Hebrews 11:17 how, “by faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac, and he that had received promises offered up his only begotten son.” In 2 Chronicles 32:31, we read about how God left King Hezekiah to “try him so that He might know all that was in his heart.” Proverbs 17:3 declares “the fining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold; but the Lord trieth the hearts” The word picture or imagery used in that scripture clearly demonstrates how we should see the tests that God takes us through: our test are like silver or gold burnished in the furnace so that we become precious saints whose, intrinsic value/quality emerge from out of the harshness of our tests. As believers, we have been enlisted in a race; and this race calls for one thing and one thing only: finishing well. Just like Christ set us an example of how we can endure these trials and the pains that inevitably comes with them, in order to finish the race, so must we too be strong to endure to the end. We develop the stamina that helps us to weather the storms of life through these tests so that we can say like Apostle Paul, “we have fought the good fight, we have finished the race and we have kept the faith.”
How to endure God's tests
The following principles will help us in not only enduring the tests of life and faith but also to grow the stamina that gracefully helps us to cope with them.
1. Understand that the battles and struggles that God brings our ways are good. The fights we fight are a good fight! These battles ultimately teaches us, trains us, stretches us and develops our characters, our visions, our faiths; our convictions and they make us qualified, fit and ready candidates for the Kingdom. When we come through these battles, we can apprehend the totality of God's plan for humanity and consequently gain a divine perspective on many issues which in turn grants us the emotional and intellectual stability that helps us focus on the bigger picture. We fight a good fight because we realise that the outcome is already determined. We know of a certainty that our victory is guaranteed. This assured, settled knowledge helps us to remain cheerful and confident that ALL things always work together for our good and that God who began a good work in us will surely complete it on the day of Christ.
2. You will require the ability to go through your struggles and challenges stoically. The bible calls you “blessed” by just going through your trials and testings. The last thing you want to do is complain. God does not like complainants and murmurers. God detests those who complain. Moses had to contend with such characters whilst he was leading the Israelites in the wilderness. 1 Corinthians 10:10, Numbers 11:1, Numbers 14:22, 27 and Psalm 106: 21 -27. Murmurings and complaints tempt God and could be a major clog in the transition from failure to success. There is nothing more catastrophic for a believer than having a complaining and murmuring attitude. When we undergo testings one of the most dangerous things we can do is to tempt God by our complaints. The consequences for those who did was disastrous. Why exactly is complaints and murmurings dangerous? Because they infuriate God and they prolong the pains and sufferings needlessly. So avoid murmurings, complaints and endure your struggles with stoicism.
3. Guard your mind. Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life” The greatest challenges to your faith and the greatest opposition to your ability to “fighting the good fight” is the constant, unrelenting demonic/devilish assault on your mind. Your mental state and your mind is attractive to the devil. He wants to have as much ground and influence on it as possible. He will do all that is possible to have control of it by constantly assailing your emotions, your intellect and your creative faculties. He will try to con, deceive, trick, hoodwink, lie, defraud, dupe, inveigle, gull, double-cross, outwit, mislead, beguile, diddle, hoax, swindle, delude, shaft and fool us. Mental health has become a major issue in the last two decades. The number of sufferers has risen steadily in the decade in most countries, especially with the level and extent of research that has been carried out not only to understand the nature and complexity of the illness but also to cope with increased therapies for victims. People are literally losing their minds and are given to depression and all kinds of mental sicknesses. This is a dangerous trend. The bible says God has given us authority to trample upon snakes, scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall be able to harm us (Luke 10:19). Also, Paul told Timothy that God has not “given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). The scripture has also declared that we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). The mind of Christ is the mind of complete surrender to the will of God (see Phillipians 2: 5)
4. You are symmetrically connected to God. You have an open heaven space; this connects you directly to heaven's throne room by a prayer line. You can always activate your open heaven space. David echoed this sentiment when he said “for my love (for God and Godly lifestyle) they became my adversaries; but I give myself unto prayer” (Psalm 109:4). The effectual and fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). In all things, the bible enjoins us, to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Our open heaven space is the space allotted to us by God that controls our divine destiny. Everyone has an allocated open heaven space that can be opened and closed by prayers of faith. When our open heaven space opens, there are releases and outpourings of blessings and graces.
5. Cultivate a disciplined lifestyle. Discipline is acquired through diligence. “Seest thou a man diligent in his business, he shall stand before Kings and not before mean men” (Proverbs 22:29). Hebrews 12:1-3 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds”. This scripture reminds me of my purpose and how to cope whenever I am facing challenging situations. The example of Jesus here is a very good one which the Bible is encouraging us to emulate. God knows we can endure the cross as long as we go by our Saviour's example. The future has always belonged to those who are disciplined. Those that are disciplined knows how to compete and compete in line with the rules (1 Corinthians 9:23-27). If you want to be disciplined, you will not engage in useless, aimless and unproductive endeavours. You will live your life purposefully. You will aim high and you will be pursuing noble ideals. Apostle Paul, writing to Timothy enjoin him to be strong and be discipline as “a good soldier” of Christ. The metaphor of a “good soldier” is very instructive, because a good soldier is noted for his understanding of warfare and high level of discipline, sense of duty, and absolute dedication and commitment all of which comes from his training . From the book of 2 Timothy 2:1-5, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.” Hebrews 12: 4 -11. Paul understood how to be disciplined. He wrote, “I keep my body under, (Living Translation – “I discipline my body”) so that when I have preached to others I will not become a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27). One way to endure afflictions is to always ask yourself this question: How can I use my current challenges and problems to strengthen myself for further service to God and to humanity? If you can sincerely answer that question and do what you promise yourself to do
6. Develop a positive mental attitude. “Count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations” (James 1:2-4). “Counting it all joy” is about the learning to demonstrate a cheerful mien in the face of adversities without letting a sour mood dampen our spirit. It is about showing the devil that he has not got the last word about our situation. When I write about positive mental attitude, I am not referring to the worldly, carnal type, which encourages you to acknowledge the psychological strength of having a positive mental attitude without accepting the Lordship of Christ. That is hogwash as far believers are concerned. But positive mental attitude is not just about being “psyched up” but about being fully conscious that God is with us in our struggles; and there are many books out there that talks about positive mental attitude too, so we should be careful the kind of materials we are feeding our spirit. What the bible is asking us to do is that we rejoice in the knowledge that our sufferings are actually working for us a far more excellent “eternal weight of glory”. I am fascinated by what the scriptures declares in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”. This scripture makes it very clear that our afflictions, our troubles are momentary and are actually working for us; this means that whenever we having troubles and difficulties in life we just have to remember that those troubles are temporary and are at work - actually working for us; working on our behalf to produce something greater, more significant that would outweigh all the pains and stress that are caused by the troubles! I find this very profound.
7. Patience is something the Bible declare matter-of-factly that we need. In Hebrews 10:36 the bible says, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise”. The lack of patience is there reason many do not receive the promises of divine blessings. If we do not learn to be patient we shall miss out of what God wants to do in our lives. God is not going to allow an impatient man to inherit promises that requires a lot of equanimity and composure. Hebrews 6:11-12, declares what God desires: our patience! “And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises”. What produces impatience? Diligence and Steadfastness. We are enjoined to “possess” our souls by being patient in Luke 21:19; “In your patience possess ye your souls”. Romans 8:24 -25 Our faith works well with hope and patience. Without patience hope can't work well.“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it”. Tribulations and divine testings actually produces patience but we must allow patience to have its full course so that we do not truncate what God wants to do. Romans 5:3-4 “..but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.” From these words, it is crystal clear that our tribulations are training us to become more patient.
8. Studying God's word is something that Christians cannot play with. What better time to study God's word (and actually become more proficient at it) than when we are faced with trials. We learn to conquer by knowing and applying God's words. We become a terror to the kingdom of darkness the more of God's words that we know. When our Lord was tempted by the devil, He overcame him by the word. Indeed, we overcome not just “by the blood but by the WORD of their TESTIMONY and they loved their own lives unto death.” (Revelation 12:11) All things always work together for good for those who love God – who love His word and are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28). Those who love God, will love His words!. Knowledge of God's word is essential for living a sanctified and obedient life to him. When we become addicted to the scriptures, we become very powerful in coping with the pressures that would make tribulations and trials unpleasant. My advice for anyone wanting to know how to study God's words is to start by reading the whole of Psalms 119. In 2 Timothy 2:15, we read: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed but rightly dividing the word of truth.” There is nothing more to be said upon a deep reflection on this verse: we must study to become divinely approved and to live an overcomer's life in all ramifications.
9. Employ the Holy Ghost support and aid in prayer. The effectual and fervent prayer of the righteous man always avails much (invaluable) and delivers much too, in value terms. I have seen the power of prayer and, one of the convictions that I have (and share with believers and others), is that you can never pray too hard or too much. Faith in prayer is important but there are many styles and methods of prayers. You should cultivate a style that suits you, but remember that the Bible enjoins us to “pray without ceasing”. The bible has a prescription for how to pray whenever we are clueless about what exactly we need to pray about. Romans 8:26, puts it like “ For we know what to pray for but the Holy Spirit helps our infirmities with groanings that cannot be uttered.” The Holy Spirit is our helper, teacher, guide and comforter. There is nothing that we need answers to that the spirit cannot help us deal or cope with.
10. No pain, No gain! As I end this, I would like to point out one universal truth in the parable of talents: God endowed us with talents so that we can become productive “workmen” who knows how to reap fruits and bring in prosperity. We learn from that parable that there is a divine mathematical formula that works in favour of those who are perceptive and diligent. Without faith, we understand that it is impossible to please God, for anyone that comes to God must believe that God exists and that He is a rewarder of those who “diligently” seek him (Hebrews 11:6). We cannot compromise that scripture anymore than we can expect to go to a workplace and claim salary for work/job not done. With God, one plus one does not equal two. It equals majority! Trials keeps us busy and if we purposefully seek God, and love Him our lives shall radiate forth more and more of His beauty and glory. God wants us to know that there are eternal rewards for our earthly existence and we must not only look forward to inheriting that heavenly reward but we must also be eager to enjoy earthly blessing. “There is no one who has left home(house) or brothers or sisters or mothers or fathers or children for the Christ's sake and for the gospel's sake that will not receive a hundredfold now (in this time, and dispensation) and in the age to come – eternal life” Mark 10:29-30.
“If you faint in the days of adversities, thy strength is small”(Proverbs 24:10). This scripture, without equivocation, declares that those who faint; those who give up too quickly, when undergoing trials and tribulations are made of less sterner stuff that those who endure to the end. You have to ask yourself that question: do I give up too easily; too quickly! Am I losing my strength in the days of adversities? Do you realise that whatever, you are going through is only momentary? (1 Corinthians 4:17). Please put your afflictions to work for you. You are made to outlast your troubles and pains. There is something inherently stronger in you than the situations you might be in at the moment. Draw strength from your inner man and the comfort of scriptures and let your faith rise to the occasion.
The prayer of David in Psalm 139 : 23 – 24 is instructive and I would like to end this write up by praying that prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (life).”
Sunday, 13 June 2010
What FAITH Can Do For You
Pastor Gbenga Shadare
I have always loved talking about faith. Faith is not just the substance of things hoped for or the evidence of things unseen or the means through which believers obtain good report. Indeed, faith is much more than that. Faith is the basis; the foundation of our christianity. It is the vehicle through which we apprehend God and through which we receive eternal rewards. Without faith we cannot please God. Without our faith we cannot totally satisfy or appease God. Faith allows us to measure up to divine expectations; it enables us to pander to the divine desires and pleasures. If we do not have faith in HIM and faith to apprehend and appropriate all the fullness of the riches God has for us, then we risk living a sub-standard life. We risk living below God's foreordained standard for us when we do not live according to our faith. Faith is the bridge we walk across to meet God on the other side, to go over to the eternal, divine end where we receive the rewards of our diligent service (Hebrew 11:6)
Today though I want us to look at another angle of faith. I was blessed, while reading this a few days ago and it totally blew my mind. In the following scriptures are contained what I have come to believe as the powerful workings and manifestations of a faith – driven life.
Let us read Hebrews 11:30 – 40
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented — of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us”
1. Faith will bring down the walls of your “Jericho”.
Faith will demolish, destroy, dismantle, bulldoze and bring down all the barriers to progress, the impediments to success, the obstacles to living a life destined and ordained by God. Faith is the antidote to the limitations and the inhibitions, the hindrances, the challenges and the hurdles, the obstructions, the roadblocks, the handicaps, the difficulties, the setbacks and the restrictions to living a ZOE kind of life. Faith will procure victory over life's challenges and trials for the believer. Ask Abraham, Moses, Job, David, Daniel and the patriachs of old. Indeed, without faith our mountains cannot and would not move.
2. Faith is the security for your eternity. It is the guarantee of your salvation
There is only one way to assure our eternity. Faith is both the passport and the visa that secures our entrance into God's kingdom. Even an harlot and a prostitute or a person that is considered the dreg of society or someone without earthly goods can still earn the exclusive access and privilege into God's kingdom. All that is needed is faith. Do you believe in God? Do you have faith that He would do just as he has promised. The bible says that God is faithful in keeping His promises (Hebrews 10:23). Even God is a God of faith! And He requires that quality in humanity. The bible declares that the “just shall live by faith”(Hebrews 10:38; Galatians 3:11; Romans 1:17; Habakkuk 2:4) I like the rendition of the Habakkuk version, “the just shall live by his (own) faith”. In other words, you are responsible for living by your own faith. You determine your eternal destiny by your own faith. I guessed that was what happened to the other robber on the cross who said to Jesus, “Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42) and he got exactly what he requested. It's as simple as that!
3. Faith would subdue your “kingdoms”.
To subdue a kingdom means to dominate and be successful in your environment. It means having favour in the land and enjoying the blessing of your environment, living in peace and security. Whether you are aware of it or not, you are constantly engaged in a battle. This is the battle between the forces of good and evil and we are inextricably involved in this battle. It is not about whether we can opt out of it. This is called Spiritual Warfare. However, we have the comfort of scriptures in knowing that we are on the winning side. Victory is already assured even before we engage in warfare but with faith we shall obtain the victory already promised.
Many people are caught in wrong environments, wrong locations and they are unwitting victims in an unending spiral or cyle of defeat, failure and frustrations. Sometimes, this situation is entirely not of our making but we need to overcome it by our faith. Faith is what helps us to thrive whereever we live. Faith can help you right where you are, to succeed and take advantage of the surroundings where you are. It helps to remember that the kingdoms of this world is the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Rev 12:10). And our God is Jehovah, the man of war (Exodus 15:3) who is the Commander-in- Chief. The battle is the Lord's and our Lord is the King of Glory who is strong and mighty in battle (Psalm 24:8).
4. Faith helps you do the right thing (faith helps us to “work righteousnes”).
Doing the right thing requires us to have perception - to understand the situation and know what is the right thing to do. And this perception, or clarity of vision, cannot be adequately expressed without courage. Faith gives us that courage to perceive and do the right thing. Sometimes we come against things that violates our core principles and we may not be able to speak up or stand up for what we know we should. But with the conviction and power of faith, we stand up for our beliefs and consequently do the right thing. Doing the right is powered by faith! The bible says that “whatever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). This is a very powerful scriptural truth because it affirms the force and the potency of doing the right thing which may not be popular or politically correct but which nevertheless, is right. I love this scripture in 2 Peter 3:17 where it says we should beware of being led away with the “error of the wicked”. One of the best way, an effective antidote against being led away with the error of the wicked, is faith.
5. Faith helps us to “obtain” divine promises.
A divine promise is a divine prophecy that is waiting to come into reality, a potential picture of a future reality. Everyone has equal chances to obtain the promises of God. The promises of God are free; freely given and they are unimpeachable. They are “yea and amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). What makes a person able to appropriate these promises is faith. Faith unlocks the promises of God. With that we can lay claim to the promises which are waiting for manifestation. Because God's promises do not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11), they possess the ingredient, the ability to come to pass; however it takes the power of faith to cause them to manifest. Also, because He watches over His word (His promise) to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12), God has an unyielding commitment to making sure His promises are fulfilled in us if we have the right kind of faith for it.
We have to remember too, that because promises have their own time for fulfillment, they have to be appropriated. A promise is like a pregnancy that must be given birth to. You cannot always see the events that set a pregnancy in motion, but have to wait for 9 months to see the fulfillment. Some promises take a longer time to come into fruition and it is faith that can endure that long period of expectation. It was faith that kept Abraham and Joseph going when the promises they had was, it seemed, at the risk of not being fulfilled. Sometimes, we have to suffer many things or endure challenges whilst we are waiting for the promises to come to pass. Without faith, we might give up but we are sustained by the power of faith at such times.
Faith keeps us going so we can endure till the fulfillment of divine promises.
6. Faith can stop the mouth of lions - or protect you in dangerous situations.
"The enemy walks about like a lion seeking those he can devour"(1 Peter 5:8) but we are counseled in the scriptures to resist him – the devil, “steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9). Faith helps us stay safe in any situation.There is a man in New Zealand called the “Lion Man” who lives with lions and is able to stay safe by radiating fearlessness so lions don't dare attack him. The things we are afraid of are actually afraid of us. We have to take terror out of ourselves if we want to stay safe despite all odds. Faith helps us be fearless. It was the faith of Daniel that stopped the lions from devouring him. His faith spoke terror to the lions. Fearless men are men of faith. Fear terrorizes while faith energizes.
7. Faith quenches the violence of fire and the fire of the violence.
There is a difference between 'violence' and 'fire'.Violence causes destruction - which might be repaired or recovered from. But fire incinerates and consumes, its effects are irreparable and its result is a product that cannot be used. And yet, faith can quench destruction and helps us avoid losing things we cannot recover. Faith can stop violence from breaking out and at the same time it can consume fire from devastating any situation. When we carefully look at the examples of the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3), we can glean the way their faith worked in the ugly situation they found themselves. They trusted completely not in their own abilities but upon the saving grace of God. And did God come through for them? Absolutely! Psalm 91:3 says our God is able to deliver us from the snare of the fowler (the trapper) and the deadly pestilence. Also, in Isaiah 43:2 we are assured of God's presence when we pass through the waters, rivers, and the fire. God also promised us in Jeremiah 1:19 that he would deliver us from the hand of the wicked. Putting all of these together, I am convinced that men and women of faith, coming together in intercession can prevent the outbreak of wars, violence, riots, unrests and insurrections. There is nothing that is impossible to them that believe. Jesus Christ our Lord categorically declare in the scriptures that if we can believe, all things are possible to us (Mark 9:23). Let all people of faith everywhere get to work and we shall begin to experience awesome results.
8. Faith helps you escape the edge of the sword.
Sometimes we become victims of hatred just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The edge of the sword makes victims out of people who have nothing to do with the situation. Injustices and travesty of justices have led many into untimely deaths, avoidable punishments, persecutions and unnecesssary imprisonments.
I remembered Nelson Mandela. He went to prison as prisoner of conscience, fighting injustices outside even while in prison. But whilst so many others like him died or were possessed with revenge and hatred, he came out a much better person. He was preserved alive for a reason: so that he could be a beacon of hope and love. Emerging from imprisonment after 27 years without bitterness, he became the leader of a free South Africa. Today, he is widely respected as an icon. But suppose he had not survived? What kept him alive? His faith.
I also remembered a man who was wrongly jailed for raping a woman; an incident that never occurred. The woman had lied about the incident. She had concocted it and unfortunately she was believed by the jury and the judge. No DNA evidence was collected and inspite of the man protesting his innocence, he was sentenced to jail. But some years later, the woman plagued by her conscience came out to confess that she lied and eventually the man was released. What changed the mind of the lady – prayer of faith. The man when interviewed made a comment about his faith: he said he knew that he would be released because the woman would come out confessing. And that was exactly what the woman did. Praise God for the power of faith!
Faith always keeps us safe, no matter the situation. On a very tumultous day, the day of the assasination of the Head of State in Nigeria, my brother and I were stranded at school in the middle of the day. The government of the nation, in the pandemonium that ensued had directed that all schools be closed abruptly and there was no one to take us back home. We got into a car with a group of others going towards home. On the way our car met with an accident and everyone died, except my brother and I. But what happened that day before we traveled, was our mum had had a dream in which she saw us in an accident and she started to pray. Others also prayed and we, as kids, as the accident started just believed God and began to pray, and confessing that we would not die but live to proclaim the works of the Lord (Psalm 118:17) and glory be to His name, my brother and I are alive today to tell the amazing story.
9. Faith makes you stronger than your weaknesses.
Faith magnifies your strength above your weakness. Faith is you doing things everybody thought you couldn't do; overcoming pain, limitations, trials; triumphing over your adversity. One of the biggest differences between Christianity and other religions is the belief that one who was weak can be strong. The common thread holding the Bible together is stories of weak people becoming strong.
Joseph as a teenager was not a very wise, diplomatic or strong person. Not only did he provoke his brothers, he could hardly defend himself. And yet when the right time came, his faith gave him the wisdom that lifted him up; from the dung heap right to the top. David was also a very precocious child who often displayed signs of irreverence as a teenager but his faith in God kept above his weaknesses. Even when those weaknesses threatened his kingdom, it was the same faith that restored him back to his throne. Faith makes us bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1) and helps us to remain energetic in the face of enervating situations.
Faith makes us valiant, victorious no matter how hopeless the situation. Faith is what makes us audacious, indomitable, spirited, unputdownable, resilient, tough.
Faith gives us a higher intelligence than our enemies so we can prevent attacks, and have stronger defences as a result.
Faith encourages our gifts to bloom, overcome setbacks and keeps us focussed on our goal even in the hard times. The universe was made out of things visible. Its like words coming from invisible ideas.
Faith is the connecting force that makes unseen things seen. We triumph over situations through our faith and we can remain strong and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10) only through faith.
Let us go out and activate the power of faith so that we can see lives and situations transformed. Amen.
Sunday, 9 May 2010
Friday, 7 May 2010
Glory be to God Almighty for the grace and favour He has granted us to be here for the 54th edition of this Conference of the Church. I consider it a very great privilege indeed to have been asked to speak on the topic: “The Role of the Son in the Family”
We read in the Book of Ephesians, this line from Apostle Paul, (Eph 3:14-15) “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is name
The family on earth has the imprimatur of God. Every family on earth carries the signature of the Almighty written upon it. God's signature on every family is the authority (divine) that empowers every family to function the way God designed it to function.
This is why the family is the strongest unit on the planet. God cherishes families. He does not want anyone to live without it. The bible declares in Psalms 68:6 “God sets the solitaries in families” God does not want anyone to exist alone, 'family-less', without the love, care and support of others. Infact, when God designed the earth, he made it impossible for this scenario to occur. Therefore, to underscore the importance of, and the relevance of a family, God made it the most important institution on the Earth.
To fully understand why the SON, the male child, is important in the family, we need to understand, what occurred in the Garden of Eden. When the first Adam was created, we need to understand that he had to be a male, in a sense a son! Why did God not create the female first? Whilst there may be many or several answers to this poser, it should be worthwhile to consider one essential aspect, which is relevant to the topic: 'The Role of the Son in the Family' which is that God wanted to have an heir, who would continue HIS lineage! Remember, God had said “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..so God created man in His own image, in the image of God, created He him”. (Gen 1:26-27)
James Dobson tells a story about a frog who was out into a shallow pan of cool water. Slowly the water was heated. Almost imperceptibly, the temperature began to rise, gradually moving to the boiling point. The frog continued, however, to sit in the pan, totally unaware of the rising temperature---even when the steam began to curl. Eventually he was boiled to death, although at any point he could have jumped out and avoided that fate. (Dare to Discipline [Wheaton, Ill.; Tyndale, 1970], p. 15).
I think that this is an apt illustration of what has happened, in many cases, to the Nigerian family. We have been sitting in what appeared, at first, to be rather cool water: a God-fearing country where the environment was in many ways conducive to spirituality. However, while we have been content to sit in the midst of the system, it has gradually been heating up and drifting afar from where we first felt secure. The family is being destroyed, and Christian families should have jumped out of the pan a long time ago. When you considered that only 57 percent of Nigerians currently live in what is known as a traditional family, where the father is the breadwinner and the mother is the homemaker, you know we have been complacent far too long. When you start to realize the divorce rate among Christians is rising almost as high as it is among non-Christians, you know we have been apathetic. It is high time that we escape the evil world system that is engulfing us and begin to establish ourselves on the basis of God's revelation. We can no longer count on the luxury of living in a quasi-Christian country that is conducive to out spiritual well-being. That is just not the case. Satan has hit the family with an all-out attack, and we need to re-awaken ourselves to the biblical priorities if we are going to get out of the pan before it's too late.
The principles we are going to study, which are related to the inter-personal relationships in the family, are possible only when there is an acknowledgment of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, these principles become only nice ideas that are impossible to fulfill. But when an individual gives his life to Christ, when Christ moves in to a family, and when that family is filled with the Spirit of God, it then becomes possible - even reasonable and normal - to function according to those principles.
As we look at a Christ-centered, Spirit-filled family, what are the factors involved? First of all, the submission of the son(s) or child (ren) and then the submission of the parents, who are submitting to a God-ordained standard, before zeroing in on the roles and duties of Sons.
I. THE SUBMISSION OF THE SON (CHILD) (v. 1)
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right”
The word for 'children' (Gk., tekna) is not used to speak of an infant. It is a broad term used to speak of all offspring (i.e., anyone born from another person). We are all Children (Sons) in the strictest sense of this word. But the idea here is that anyone who is still under the roof of, under the domination of, under the control of, or under the responsibility of his parents, which begins when you are in the home, will in a sense extend through the rest of your life. You will still have a deep sensitivity to respond to what your parents say, no matter how old you are, if you have learned that from your earliest years. But as long as you are under their care, and they accept the responsibility to care for you, you must obey them.
2. “Obey your parents”
a. The definition
The word obey is a simple yet graphic term in the Greek. It is the compound word hupakouo, which is from akouo, meaning 'to hear', and the preposition hup, meaning 'under'. So the Holy Spirit is saying, 'Children, get under the authority of your parents and listen'. The society we live in is saying that we need to liberate children (sons) from parental authority. They are saying that a child must have the right to his own destiny, his own religion, his own thoughts, and his own perspective on economics and morality. But the Bible says the contrary. Children (Sons) have no business being liberated; they are to get under the authority of their parents and listen to what parents say. That is God's basic design and always has been.
The Key to Right Relationships
God first introduces His law in Exodus 20. In examining the Ten Commandments, we find they are divided into two parts: the first four commandments deal with man's relationship to God, and the last six deal with man's relationship to man. In moving from the commands regarding human relationships, verse 12 says, “Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee”. Notice that this is the only statement in the Ten Commandments on the way the family is to function. Why? Because it is important, critical to produce right relationships within the home and society. In fact, it is the key to all relationships, because a person who grows up with a sense of obedience, discipline, reverence, awe, and respect for his parents will be someone who can make any other kind of human relationship work.
God was serious about a child's respect and obedience to his parents. Exodus 21:15 says, “He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death”. Verse 17 says, “He that curseth his father or mother, shall surely be put to death”All human relationships are based on what is learned in childhood. If you learn reverence, awe, respect, and obedience as a child, then the basis for having proper relationships will be present throughout your life. Undisciplined Children (Sons) who did not know how to respect authority or to honour their parents would have created a chaotic world, so God said to the Jews that the life of a rebellious child was to be taken away.
b. The design
God's basic design for Children (Sons) is that they be obedient to their parents. If you are still living at home, whether you are in elementary school, junior high school, high school, or college, you have the responsibility to obey your parents. But on the other hand, it is the parents' responsibility to teach their Children (Sons) to be obedient. Why? Frankly, because Children (Sons) are not that way normally. You don't have to teach Children (Sons) to disobey; they know how to do that. The first thing you have to teach them is how to obey. Children (Sons) come into the world disobedient because they have inherited a sin nature, and the only way they will learn obedience is to be taught. So it's the design of God for Children (Sons) to be obedient to their parents' instructions; but parents must also give instruction that their Children (Sons) can obey. That is well illustrated throughout the book of Proverbs.
1) “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother” (1:8). That is the keynote of the book. Sons are to listen to what their parents say, not because they are infallible, but because it is necessary that Sons learn authority and submission, and that they learn to be disciplined.
2) “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee' (2:1).
3) “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments” (3:1).
4) “Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live” (4:1-4). That is how God wants truth to be passed on: from one generation to the next. A child must be commanded, and he must be made to listen and obey. Since his natural proclivity is toward sinfulness, if you spare him teaching and discipline, you will spoil him.
5) “Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many” (4:10).
6) “My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge” (5:1-2).
7) “My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye” (7:1-2). As carefully as you protect the pupil of your eye, so too the law of God, given by your parents, is to be protected.
8) “Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth” (7:24).
9) “Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not” (8:32-33).
10) “Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish” (12:1). Why? Because he will grow up undisciplined.
11) “A wise son heareth his father's instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke” (13:1).
12) “A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent” (15:5).
The point is obvious. The Bible says Children (Sons) are to obey their parents.
Why Must Sons be Closely Guided and Made to Obey?
Children (Sons) have a basic problem: they are children, and as such are lacking in four areas. Those areas are delineated in Luke 2:52. In this verse we see Jesus Christ, from the perspective of His humanity, as a twelve year old child. He was all that a child could be - apart from being sinful. According to Luke 2:52, from the time He was twelve until His ministry, but He “increase(d) in wisdom and stature, and (was in) favour with God and man”. Thus, the four areas in which Sons are deficient are: wisdom (mental needs), stature (physical needs), favour with man (social needs), and favour with God (spiritual needs).
1. Children (Sons) lack wisdom
Children (Sons) lack discretion, instruction, and knowledge. When a baby comes into the world, his brain is void of information. So whatever he is going to know must be first taught to him. Also, Children (Sons) have no discretion; they don't know what's right and what's wrong. They don't know the right foods to eat, and they don't know not to put certain things in their mouths. Those things must be taught.
2. Children (Sons) lack stature
Children (Sons) are weak physically; they are unable to support or sustain themselves. Parents have the responsibility of feeding them, nourishing them, and making sure they get the proper rest. Children (Sons) can't fend for themselves; they can't make it in the world alone, so the parents must protect them.
3. Children (Sons) lack favour with men
Children (Sons) are not socially acclimated. The dominant trait of a newborn child is selfishness. He can't conceive of anything but “I want it now” or “It's mine”. It's difficult to teach Children (Sons) to share. They don't know any of the social graces like humility or unselfishness; they must be taught.
4. Children (Sons) lack favour with God
In the spiritual area, Children (Sons) don't naturally grow to love God. When they are little, they will comprehend God, but without proper instruction they will drift away. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. That is the responsibility of the parents.
c. The disaster
Children (Sons) face problems in the mental, physical, social, and spiritual areas of life. Parents, you must provide an environment in which your Children (Sons) can grow in those areas of inadequacy. If don't provide for spiritual, social, physical, and mental growth in all the dimensions of life, you are going to come up with “a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother. There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness” (Proverbs 30:11-12). In other words, you are going to have an evil, unruly generation. And, according to verse 17, when you get that kind of a generation, “the eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it”.That is God's judgment.
Look around you. We have raised a generation of young people who do only what is right in their own eyes. They mock their fathers, despise their mothers, and are unruly. Children (Sons) need to be taught to obey. How? By discipline and example.
3. “In the Lord”
a. The sphere
When Paul says Children (Sons) are to obey their parents 'in the Lord'; he is saying that obedience is in the sphere of serving, pleasing, honoring, and worshiping the Lord for His glory.
b. The specifics
Colossians 3:20 says, “Children, obey your parents in all things”. Does that mean Children (Sons)are to obey their parents even if they tell them to do evil? No. That's where they have to stop. In Acts 5:29 Peter and John said, “We ought to obey God rather than men”. When God's commands intersect with men's commands, you must obey God. Daniel was told not to pray, but he prayed anyway (Dan. 6:10). Some parents have told their Children (Sons)not to worship Christ, read the Bible, pray, fellowship with other believers, or share their testimony. But the Bible says to do those things. So Children (Sons)are to obey their parents in everything, except when it goes against God's stated revelation. Then they have to be willing to suffer the consequences of violating their parents' desires (cf. Matt. 10:37-39; Luke 14:25-27).
4. 'For this is right'
a. The reason
Why are Children (Sons)to obey their parents? Because verse says, “For this is right”. You may ask, 'But where's the psychological evidence? Who did the case studies? Where's the philosopher's opinion here?' You don't need any other evidence except what is right here. God says it is right.
The word translated 'right' is the Greek word dikaiov, which means “righteous” 'just', or 'right'. It is used of God, Christ, the Word, holy living, and obeying one's parents, all of which are right and good.
b. The references
The word right and its corollary are used 183 times in the New Testament alone. God has established what is right. Some examples of its use in both Old and New Testaments are in Nehemiah 9:13; Psalm 19:8; 119:75; 128; Hosea 14:9; Romans 7:12, 12:2; and revelation 15:3; 16:5, 7; 19:2.
B. The Attitude of Honour (vv. 2-3)
“Honor thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth”.
Honour is the attitude behind the act. The act is obedience, and honor is the attitude. Remember that an act without the proper attitude is hypocrisy. If you do what your parents tell you to do but you hate it and you are unwilling and nasty about it, then you are a hypocrite. If you do what your parents tell you to do but you are bitter, fearful, reluctant, and selfish, that is not the right spirit. God is after the attitude much more than He is after the act, because if the attitude is right, the act will follow. But a right act with a wrong attitude is nothing but hypocrisy.
1. The precept (v. 2a)
“Honour thy father and mother”
a. To honour with reverence and respect
The word translated “honor” is the Greek word timao, which simply means “to reverence, to worship, to hold in awe, to value at a high price”. It is used to speak of Jesus and God the Father in John 5:23. We are to have this attitude of honor, respect, and reverence toward our parents all our lives.
b. To honour with financial support
Honoring our parents is not an attitude only. In Matthew 15:1-6, Jesus interprets the commandment “Honour thy father and mother” as referring to financial support. He uses the word honour the way it is used in 1 Timothy 5:17. It can be translated 'to give money to' or 'to pay'.
So, the Old Testament law of honoring one's parents meant that as long as a person loved, he was to respect and support his parents. During the first half of a person's life, the parents give everything they have to supply the needs of their children. When they get to the point in life where they are no longer able to meet their own needs, it becomes the responsibility of their Children (Sons)to take care of them. That is God's way of making families stick together. The parents raise their children, and when the Children (Sons)are grown, they take care of their parents while also raising their own children, who are going to take care of them while they are raising their children. That way the family always stays together, and the righteous seed keeps being passed along.
2. The primacy (v. 2b)
“Which is the first commandment with promise”.
The first four commandments of the Decalogue were related to God and didn't have a promise with them. You may ask, 'Why is the fifth commandment so important that God puts a promise with it?' Because it is the key to all human relationships and the passing on of a righteous heritage.
3. The promise (v. 3)
“That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth”.
a. Quality of life
'That it may be well with thee', refers to a full, rich life.
b. Quantity of life
'That thou mayest live long on the earth', refers to a long life---living out the fullness of the time God has allotted to you.
When we are obedient children, when we honor our parents, and when our relationships in the home are right, we will have full and rich lifetime here, we will live with Him in the kingdom for a thousand years, and we will live with Him in the new heavens and the new earth for eternity.
Focusing on the Facts : What are the roles of a (the) SON in the family?
1. The Son is the Custodian of the family's tradition of faith and godliness; steadfastness in the faith to the next generation. Paul in his letter to Timothy, whom he affectionately calls “my dearly beloved son” (2 Tim: 1:2) made reference to his knowledge of scriptures from a tender age (2 Tim 3:15) and the 'unfeigned faith' he shared with his mother, Eunice and Lois his grandmother. (2 Tim: 1:5). Timothy was without doubt an epitome of youthful piety, a trait that he inherited from his family. No wonder he became an instrument used by God to establish churches and evangelize a greater numbers of cities in the Asian minor and part of Southern Europe then.
2. The Son has a critical role in understanding the Heart of the Father. Of all the roles that the Son may be called upon to play, this is the one that entitles him more than any to the blessing -The venison-induced blessing- of the Father. Every Father has a dream and vision for the son to fulfill and when a son is properly connected in spirit and soul to his Father, understanding and realizing this vision becomes an integral part of the process of maturing. Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus is the supreme example here: He understood the heart of the Father concerning universal salvation and cooperated fully with the father to accomplish this. At the twilight of His Ministry, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26: 36 - 44) to pray. At that point the burden of the assignment became too burdensome and Jesus could have reneged on the plan, but the words he spoke rings eternally true : “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt'. “Again a second time he went away, and prayed, saying, My Father, if this cannot pass away, except I drink it, thy will be done”.
As they journeyed to the mount of Moriah, and up until he was laid bound on the altar of wood, Isaac's example of full cooperation with Abraham perfectly illustrates the heart connection between a Father and Son. Oh that we had more sons with a clear understanding of the mind and heart of their fathers!
3. The role of acceptance of forgiveness. Many sons are not like the prodigal sons. Absalom and Judas Iscariot weren't, obviously! The prodigal son's acceptance of forgiveness from his Father is a pointer to the axiom that sons would be sons is prone to mistakes and errors; whilst fathers would be fathers tolerating and forgiving the indiscretions of sons. Luke 15:11-32. Notice that the father never stopped nor prevented the son from departing from home and in spite of the obvious idiocy of the son's actions, his homecoming was greeted with a joyous and flamboyant reception. The father's heart and capacity for forgiveness was equally matched by the son's readiness and willingness to turn a new leaf.
4. The role of understanding the times and generational seasons of blessings. Every generation is characterized by its dominant thinking and mindset. In Proverbs 30: 11-14, we see four marks of evil generations and the dangers of their generational mindset. Sons are expected to rise above generational flaws to the pinnacle of success. Jabez was more distinguished than his brethren, because he had a clear understanding of the God of transformation. He prayed to God to change his situation and God granted his request. See 1 Chr. 1: 9-10. Also, the Sons of Issachar “were men who understood the times” (1 Chr. 12:32). These sons displayed the uncanny attribute of rising above challenges and inhibitions of society and family to accomplish great things by simply trusting in the Alimghty as the source of wisdom.
5. The imperative of good conduct. A good son's role is bound up with his character. “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right”. Proverbs 20:11. Of David it was said in 1 Sam18:5 that “he behaved himself wisely and was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of all Saul's servants”. It is easier to understand why David did not miss ascension to the throne despite being a king without a throne and a domain for seven years! He earned his reputation and integrity because of his ability to behave wisely, which is such an important aspect of a son's upbringing and function as a male child. If God could give a testimony about David being a 'man after God's own heart', then failure of projecting good behaviour could threaten/damage future opportunities.
Pondering the Principles
1. Parents, how are you helping your Children (Sons) increase “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52)? Are you holding your breath and closing your eyes, hoping your Children (Sons) will automatically turn out all right? Your Children (Sons) are like an investment that must be constantly tended for maximum yield. Unless you know how to read the trends in the economy, adjusting your investment accordingly, there is a good chance you could end up with a loss. Similarly, you need to carefully oversee the valuable investment of your children. Make sure it can weather the depressions and recessions of growing up in an ever-changing society. How are you helping them discern right from wrong? Think of some ways you can help them grow in social and spiritual maturity. Do you know of neighborhood Children (Sons) who are being neglected by their parents? Encourage them to interact with your family so you might introduce a godly influence into their lives.
2. Sons, do you honour your parents as God ask us to, even if they are not Christians? The manner in which you treat your parents will set an example for the way your Children (Sons) will treat you. Do you criticize or ridicule them when you talk to others about them? Are you unwilling to forgive a wrong they may have committed against you? Do you graciously tolerate their criticism of you? If the family you grew up in lacked a healthy family atmosphere, there is still time to change that. Determine what you need to do to resolve any differences or meet any needs they have. Do they need financial assistance? Can they benefit from your spiritual guidance? Do they have any errands you can run or chores you can do for them? If they live far away from you, communicate with them by letter or phone on a regular basis. Make the last years they spend on this earth their most rewarding.
It is my prayers that all the Sons of this church shall be purged of ungodly behaviours and sinful lifestyles, that their mouths shall speak of glorious acts of God and that their right hands shall a right hand of truth so that they may be as plants grown up in their youth (Psalms 144:12) in Jesus name.
Thank you for listening! God bless
Thursday, 6 May 2010
When there is a need for expansion (enlargement, explosion, increment, prosperity, moving to the next level, promotion, advancement, progress, upliftment, success, magnification, addition, augmentation, amplification, elevation and excellence) but constriction is a challenge, then its time to break out. It may sound like a simple concept but oh yes, the principle of “Breaking Out” is excitingly daunting. It takes possessing some unique qualities to live this principle out on a daily basis.
Let me try and put a definition to “B.O”(Breaking Out). What exactly do we mean when speak of breaking out? Simply put, to break out means to overcome your limitations, the barriers that are set to limit you, the challenges; the odds staked against you and succeed in spite of those impediments and hindrances.
May I humbly propose to you brethren that one of the best way to illustrate this principle is by seeing it an escape! To 'break out' therefore, is to escape from the barriers; the overwhelming odds that should have defeated you and, instead of being incarcerated or confined by those challenges you overcame them and instead of you being stopped from flourishing or blossoming with the talents and giftings God has endowed you with you, you became a conqueror – an overcomer, a success!
Let's look briefly at the scriptures in the book of first Corinthians verse thirteen we read –
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as in common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a WAY of ESCAPE that you may be able to bear it”.
Now, its interesting to see that the first thing about challenges, worldly struggles, (I mean the trials and tribulations that confronts us daily as we try to make sense of living a godly life in a world so consumed with secularism and liberalism), is that they are common. Its pretty safe then to aver that one of the things that unites humanity is our collective travails/troubles. No wonder our Lord assures us that we should “be of good cheer because in this world it is certain that we shall have tribulations, because HE has overcome the world”. But then, I find something intriguing in that verse that I would like to share with you friends, look at it there in the first four words – God warns us about temptation – the dangers of it. Now, temptation is not something you associate with trials and tribulations. its something you associate with pleasures. Temptation is something you associate with pleasure so is God saying that challenges and tribulations and trials and adversities are pleasurable? The answer is YES!
To some they glory in and celebrate their failures. But what does the word says in second Corinthians chapter four from verse eight:
8 “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-- 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you. 13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak,14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.16Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal”.
So, why is God or the scriptures being antithetical, since temptation is mutually incompatible with suffering?. I wondered. But then the Holy Spirit quickened my understanding and I was challenged by the revelation that one of the secrets that can help us break out of limitations is to embrace escape as the only option. Because we are of a different SPIRIT. The bible declares that:
“we have received NOT the spirit of the world, but the SPIRIT which is of God, so that we might know (knowledge, very crucial) the things that are freely given to us by God” ( 1 Cor. 2:12).
When we activate this Spirit (for spiritual verities are not discoverable by worldly wisdom)( ref: 1 Cor 2: 11, 13, 14), thats when we break out, when we break free from the confinement that that temptations and seductions of distress, despair and perplexity that wants to engulf, overwhelm us! You see when you accept the travails that confronts you as too normal then you have become enticed, seduced, lured and ensnared, trapped, enslaved by the conditions and state of your deprivations to the point that your mindset is reconfigured to be negative and defeatist that you lose sight of God's plan for your life. You are no longer motivated and challenged to want to be God's best. You have accepted defeat and mediocrity and failure as norms. You have become infatuated with, and enslaved to a sub-standard life. Say to your neighbour, thats not my portion!
Oh My God!! Tell your neighbour, you are breaking forth today, all barriers, all shackles, all limitations and all restrictions are off! It seems to me therefore, ladies and gentlemen, that God is telling us that we should not love to be confined, restricted, constricted, limited, incarcerated and imprisoned by the world. That means, we need to break out of the jail or prison (of limitations and confinement) and possess the liberty that is ours through Jesus Christ. Tell your neighbour: I have become totally liberated. The bible declares “if Christ has set us free then we are free indeed” but is that the reality? Are we truly and sincerely free? Are we enjoying the freedom that Christ has given to us? Okay. Consider with me for a moment – how can we say we are free when we are in debt, when we sin, when we are losing our spouses to divorce, when we are losing our kids to the world. How can we be free when our society is discriminating against us for being who we are? How can we free when we are still sick, poor and in bondage?
Well, its all because we have subjected our minds and thinking processes to the elements, the system of the world for we know that “as a man thinketh so is he”. We have stopped living by faith – one of the most important commandments for us by God – THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH. But faith has been substituted with reason and logic. And since we now reason and think like the rest of the world, we who are people of faith have suffocated our faith. And you can tell what kind of faith somebody has by the kind of language they use. The bible says :“how forcible are right words but do your arguments and worldly mindset reproof” (Job 6:25). Reasoning, the intellectual perspective, deals with limitations, looks at things as they are and tries to come with logic and when it get stuck it cannot go further. But faith deals with expectation. Faithful people are expectant since they know that God can always do the impossible. The bible declares that “ with God ALL things possible” and in fact the bible even goes further to say of the believer : to him that believeth all things are possible.
People of God its time to distinguish between reason and faith. Why? Because, faith is always greater than any circumstance! Tell yourself and your neighbour: MY FAITH IS ALWAYS GREATER THAN MY CIRCUMSTANCE! Faith being the substance of things hoped for (expectation) and the evidence of things not seen (impossibilities). For by it the elders – the men and women of faith – obtain good report. People of God, please always remember that God always, consistently, rewards faith over reason. Faith says that God is commanding me to do something that doesn't make sense (because if does make sense, it does require faith – Whatever makes sense does not require faith!). A praiser knows nothing about reason. All he knows is faith – F.A.I.T.H! Tell your neighbour – I have got faith and it doesn't make sense!!!!
People of faith, it's time for us to resist mediocrity and logic borne of worldly science and calculations. The kingdom of God does not operate on those principles. Tell yourself, I HAVE TO BE ALLERGIC TO MEDIOCRITY.
We are in a season of overflow and abundance. I hear the sound of the abundance of prosperity, success, expansion, increment, enlargement and multiplication. God is looking for a new set of believers who will demonstrate their faith in a convincing manner. You must realise that even in your current prostrate situation you are still above your enemies. As you sit thinking about your conditions, your current indebtedness, your joblessness, your sickness, your failures, your mistakes, your losses, your regrets, your anger and your sadness, you are still above your enemies!!!! Help me ask your neighbour : Who is on the Lord's side? Are you on HIS side?
Let me show you a man called Peter. The pebble that became the ROCK. How he failed and then got back up. Failure is going to put you in good company friends. Winston Churchill – the wartime British Prime Minister - failed the 6th grade and was not elected into office till he was 62. Yet he went on to win the Nobel Prize. Albert Einstein could not speak until he was 4, his teacher said he would never amount to anything and he suffered several bouts of asthma and he could not breath until he was 9, yet he came up with the groundbreaker(the law of relativity) and won a Nobel Prize. Henry Ford was bankrupt five times and yet he founded the world first Auto Plant! R. F. Macy, the founder of Macy Supermarket ( UK version of Marks & Spencer) was jailed for tax evasion and he left prison to start the MACY SuperStore! I can talk of Oprah Winfrey, Simon Cowell, Michael Jordan, Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, Charles Haddeon Spurgeon, A.W. Tozer, C.S Lewis, Barack Obama.....the list is endless!
If you want to understand what happened to Peter check out Luke 22: 31 – 32 when Jesus told him 31 "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." But in Acts 3 we see the same Peter healing a lame man and in Acts 4 we are told in verse 13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marvelled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus”.
In order to see a great success you have to experience a great failure. Failure is the price of success. Failure qualifies you for success. Tell somebody: You faith cannot fail! Its an expensive proposition! No matter what you are going through, I am declaring to you, in the name of the risen Christ, that your faith cannot and shall not and will not fail! I know right now some of us are like Peter, we are not keeping our focus – can you imagine that Peter walked on water until he shifted his focus. Tell your neighbour: Don't shift your focus. Keep it on Jesus! I Colossians 3:1-2: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth”
The second thing was that Peter failed to keep his integrity! Boasting he could not never deny Jesus he trusted in his own strength. But when the crunch came, he failed and failed woefully. Friends, integrity matters! Am coming back to this later but suffice for now to say that, in this day and age, when men and women are living without a moral compass, living dangerously, recklessly, we as people of faith, should promote our alternative lifestyle but we must demonstrate INTEGRITY! My failures would not sidestep and compromise my faith! Faith is a great substance! By that I mean its tangible, stable, solid, significant, meaningful and its got character. It is real!!!! After Peter failed you will think his life, his ministry was over. But despite all of his failures, Peter still got FAITH. His failure did not compromise his faith! His failure did not undermine, weaken, damage, harm; jeopardize, prejudice; discredit, dishonour, shame, embarrass his faith.
After his failure, see Peter, after the resurrection in the Upper Room; check him out in the on the streets preaching, ministering, healing and performing miracles. Check out his audacity! Check out his confidence. See him escaping from Jail, raising the the dead (raised Dorcas) and declaring the kingdom of God. Why? Jesus never lost faith in Peter and that was what brought him back. You will break out. God has not HIS faith in you so why should you? You have to shake off that despondent, disheartened, discouraged, dispirited, downhearted, downcast, crestfallen, down, low, disconsolate, despairing, wretched; melancholic, gloomy, morose, dismal, woebegone, miserable, depressed, dejected, sad; informal blue, down in/at the mouth, down in the dumps, spirit that is clobbering, massacring, thrashing, overwhelming, trouncing, inundating, devastating, steamrolling you. The Lord is set to deliver you today. You are delivered in Jesus name.
The child of God should always anticipates not apprehend. Faith is always anticipating. “By this time tomorrow”! That is the language of faith. That is the voice of anticipation. 2 Kings 7:1. Thats an interesting story and the greatest lesson or moral of that story is that God does not bless you because of how good you are or how educated or how handsome or beautiful or how privileged you are! (Consider, the doubting Lord in the King's (royal) court), but God blesses you because of your faith in HIM!
The will to succeed, to win, to overcome is worthless if you do not have faith. And when you activate faith, the will to win and succeed will compel you to have the will to prepare. It is work that worketh (works, engenders, produces, performs, activates, manipulates, contrives, put to effect, galvanizes us, stirs us, creates, drives, agitates, fires, rouses, whips up, controls, accomplishes, excites, moves, compels) in us both to do and to will of his good pleasure so that His pleasure shall prosper in our hands!
How do we sustain or conservative a “break out” life or break out momentum (movimentum)?
1. You need to distinguish yourself in HIM.
John 7: 14 – 18
New King James Version The Message (MSG)
14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.
14 With the Feast already half over, Jesus showed up in the Temple, teaching.
15 And the Jews marvelled, saying, "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?"
15 The Jews were impressed, but puzzled: "How does he know so much without being schooled?"
16 Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.
16 Jesus said, "I didn't make this up. What I teach comes from the One who sent me.
17 If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.
17 Anyone who wants to do his will can test this teaching and know whether it's from God or whether I'm making it up.
18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.
18 A person making things up tries to make himself look good. But someone trying to honour the one who sent him sticks to the facts and doesn't tamper with reality.
We see the secret to the success of the Man Jesus. He saturated himself with the divine and consequently he excelled. You don't degrees, qualification or a good family name to excel. You need only Christ. Christ is enough! Christ is sufficient! Your excellence is found in Christ I believe we can model that same example and reflect it in our lives. You are no body until God certifies you and it is what we should all aspire for! How do you distinguish yourself in Christ? By immersing yourself in the totality of Christ. Subsumed, absorbed and completely enamoured of Christ. Let him be your all in all. In him is your life, your life is hid in him, he is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature and for him were all things created.....and he is before all things and by him all things consist. He is the head of the body, the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, he has preeminence in all things....it pleased the Father that in Him all fulness should dwell.Now the beauty of all these is Christ is in us AND CHRIST IN US IS THE HOPE OF GLORY! (Colossians 1:15 -19; 27). To be distinguished in Christ you need to be rooted, built up and established in the faith so that you can abound with thanksgiving/praise and you can ward off philosophies, vanity, and traditions of men after the rudiments of this world (Colossians 2: 7-8).
There is need, ladies and gentlemen for a new generation of believers who are CHRISTOLOGIANS. May I humbly propose that in order to escape the corruption (the carnality, the evil monstrosity in the world, the worldly system and culture and everything that is alien to the teachings of Christ) we need to exhibit the mindset, the thinking and the lifestyle of Christ. Christologicals are not theologians but they are Christ-centred individuals. It is not what you are that matters but who you are! And to know who you are, you must know who HE is and What he is? If you know Jesus, you will discover your real identity – who you really are – and your eternal salvation is assured. If only in this life we have hope, the bible declares, we are of all men most miserable. Unless there is a revelation of God, of Christ, there is no salvation, no freedom, no lasting success. You have got to wrap your Christology in your theology so that your ideology will become your ontology (which is the philosophical study of the nature of the being, existence and reality!). Whenever you need spiritual awakening or spiritual power, you need JESUS. He is our source! Let us become lifetime believers, unshakeable, unconquerable, unimpeachable and intransigent.
You need to activate the ZOE – the inherent God-life, God energy, God-inspiration and God-force in you – 2 Peter 1:3 - 4 “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”.Christ is your life (Colossians 3:4). There is a Spirit in man, the inspiration of the Almighty, giveth understanding (Job 32:8). For me to live is Christ – Phillipians 1:21. Christ is my purpose of being! Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, (which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”!
Be a rigorously disciplined man or woman!
Discipline is a virtue that is in short supply nowadays. We see men and women demonstrating a dangerous lack of self restraint and discipline. People do things just because they feel like it, ignoring the consequences. What there is no restraint, no discipline is that people are destroyed. As believers we must continually affirm brokenness as a virtue. Brokenness does not diminish your strength. Once brokenness is absent in the church we lose our moral compass. Our collective consciences becomes numb. Brokenness keeps us on our toes. It refines, perfects, and purifies us. It is what makes us disciplined. A broken man who mortifies himself, who dies daily is a strong individual with a solid core. He is a true disciple. Discipline is central to our success and it guards us against temptations and mistakes. It helps us to avoid the malpractices – Kingdom Malpractices – that can destroy our faith. The secret to breaking out is discipline which helps us to avoid making serious covenant or kingdom malpractices like unforgiveness, secret sins, abuse to yourself, family, profanity, idolatry, anger, bitterness, fornication, adultery, murmurings, disrespect to authority, immoral practices, deliberately breaking the laws of the land and knowingly engaging or supporting or validating immoral practices.
Get yourself together.
You have to take control of you. You have to relationship with yourself and you have to get yourself together. You have to check yourself before you wreck yourself. You must learn to get along with you! When you get along with you, you will get along with me! The part you have the most control of is you and you should ask God to allow you to keep it in check. Let me tell you Truth without grace is a disaster and grace without Truth is catastrophic. You cannot continue to defile yourself and profane Godly ordinances and expect to be blessed. Learn to be honourable. Heaven cannot honour what has been dishonoured. Learn to correct yourself. You have an internal critic – its your conscience. Don't sideline it! Listen to it and let it guide you accordingly.
You need to develop the ability to recognize what IS important and what is NOT! Define your values. Have the courage of your convictions and avoid anything that waste your time. Luke 9: 62 “And Jesus said unto him, NO MAN, HAVING PUT HIS HAND TO THE PLOUGH, AND LOOKING BACK, IS FIT FOR THE KINGDOM”.
Sharpen your willpower and your determination becomes potent! The will to win is worthless if you do not have the will to prepare. You sharpen your will by being well prepared. Proverbs 24 : 27 “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field and afterwards build thine house” Luke 14:28-32 “ For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost,whether he have sufficient to finish it”...........
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, we thank you for your abiding love and acts of surpassing faithfulness....as we seek to know you more and more, we pray that we shall become ardent believers; believers who are committed to living by faith and pursuing excellence in Christ. Help us Lord to shun all forms of idolatry and to avoid the seductions of the world around us but to always set our focus upon your kingdom and the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ. May our lives continue to reflect the truth that your kingdom is supreme over all and even despite the tribulations that may confront us in this world, we continue to move ahead, confident that yours is an everlasting Kingdom. Help us Lord, to serve you with one mind, resolutely, selflessly and determinedly. Thank you Father for hearing our prayers. This we pray in Christ name. Amen!!