Monday, December 12, 2016

New Identity, New Mission

You do not exist to simply take up space, make money and consume. That’s great news! You have a very sacred and eternally significant calling and mission. As we previously discussed, our primary purpose and calling is to have a friendship with God; everything else flows from this place of relationship with God.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV
 
When you receive Jesus and become a Christian, you become a completely new person – the old is gone and the new has come! What many people don’t realize is that you do not merely become a new creation and continue with the same course of life. Becoming a Christian isn’t like joining another club where you add it to your lists of clubs that you’re a member of – no! Christianity is a whole new life. You get a new life, and a new mission.

“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 NKJV (emphasis mine)
 
2 Corinthians chapter 5 is speaking to all believers, not just a select few. Verse 17 emphasizes that you have a new identity; you are now a new creation. The verses that follow reveal that because you have a new identity, you have a new calling and a new mission. You’ve been given the ministry and word of reconciliation; telling people the good news of God’s forgiveness, and helping people receive God’s love and grace. Your new mission is to be an ambassador of Christ – to represent Jesus. Your new mission is His mission.


“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them (disciple) to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Matthew 28:19-20 KJV (brackets mine)

“He said to them, "Go everywhere in the world. Tell the Good News to everyone.”
Mark 16:15 ERV
 
These instructions of Jesus (known as the Great Commission) are for all believers, not just those in church leadership. We are all called to be a part of God’s salvation plan in spreading His Good News throughout the earth.

“But the Holy Spirit will come on you and give you power. You will be my witnesses. You will tell people everywhere about me--in Jerusalem, in the rest of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world."
Acts 1:8 ERV
 
Many of us think that the Holy Spirit’s purpose is to make us feel good -  and He is called the Comforter, so it’s true - but He is much more than your feel-good-fix. He empowers you to be an effective witness of Jesus wherever you are and wherever you go. The Holy Spirit wants to work through you to touch people’s lives and minister into their situations. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us on our mission to focus on helping others, but sadly the enemy has deceived many Christians into a self-centered approach regarding the Holy Spirit.

As a new creation you have a new mission. Your main aim and goal in life isn’t to merely make money and spend it – you’re a part of something much more significant than that. You’re privileged to be a part of God’s global salvation plan.

“For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?”
Romans 10:13-15 NKJV
 
We are not all called to stand at the pulpit and preach, but we are all called to be witnesses for Christ and help share His Good News with others. Firstly, you will reach people at your office or in your classroom that I will never be able to reach through the pulpit. We all have a part to play. Secondly, you may not go to a foreign country to preach the Gospel, but you can help send people to do so. It’s not accurate to say that this month my wife and I are going to Albania to preach and teach and minister. The reason it’s inaccurate is because many people are coming on the trip with us through their financial support towards this trip – they are sending us. Without them sending us we would not be able to go. We all have a part to play. Some are sent and some send. We are all called to be a part of reaching the whole world, but we are also all called to reach the world we’re in (your area of influence in your workplace, your family, your social circle).
 
Your calling and mission is not about a vocation (a job). But your job is important and a vital part of your mission as a believer. Your vocation carries your calling...


What do you desire?

“And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
Mark 4:18-19 KJV

God has a destiny for your life and walking in that destiny will satisfy you like nothing else can.  You are part of God’s great plan to reach people and impact their lives. The enemy doesn’t like that; he would love nothing more than to prevent you from walking in your destiny and fulfilling your purpose.

One of the destiny distractions that the enemy will try to use against you is the lusts of other things. This isn’t limited to sin. It is talking about a strong desire for other things; anything other than God and what He has for you. When your desires aren’t in line with what God desires for you it will cause your heart to be distracted and you will end up going in the wrong direction. If something else (or even someone else) is more important to you than God (and His purpose for your life) then you will not live in your destiny.

Many people wrongly believe that our feelings and desires are uncontrollable. But you can lead your emotions by purposefully controlling your focus. What you focus on you give power to, and you empower in your life. The way that you think determines the way that you live (Proverbs 23:7). One of the keys to walking in your destiny is that of focus. What are you focused on? Your focus influences and shapes your desires, and if you are consumed with thoughts about the wrong things, you will start to desire the wrong things and eventually you may reject the right thing for the wrong thing, all because you can’t deny what’s in your heart. Let’s take adultery for example: adultery is not your God-given destiny. God will never give you any desire to cheat on your spouse, but you can give birth to those kinds of desires if you do not control your thoughts. If you start to think about anything pertaining to adultery (how you need some attention or excitement, or how your spouse is neglecting you and not meeting your needs) then you are sowing seeds towards adultery. You may not want to commit adultery but you’re sowing seeds towards it, and you will become susceptible to the temptation to do it. We must remember that right is right and wrong is wrong, and it’s always the right time to do the right thing, no matter what we feel. If your feelings are wrong, change them by changing your focus and your thinking. If you want to fulfill your purpose and walk in your destiny then you need to focus right.
 
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”
Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV
 
Success comes as a result of focus. Focus means that you’re single-minded and paying particular attention to something. For us as Christians, success comes as we keep our focus on Jesus – He is the author and perfecter of our faith, and faith is what receives the blessing of God. We need to focus on keeping God and His kingdom and righteousness as our priority (Matthew 6:33). When we do this, our hearts and desires will be following our focus, and the lusts of other things will not be able to distract us from our destiny.


Friday, December 9, 2016

THE DECEITFULNESS OF RICHES

“And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
Mark 4:18-19 KJV
 
Another destiny distraction that Jesus mentions is that of the deceitfulness of riches. In this life, money is the leading contender for your heart. If you lost your wallet and credit cards, you’d probably worry a little. You’d be distracted, and rightly so! You’d wonder if it was stolen or just misplaced. It doesn’t matter if you have a lot of money or a little: the enemy is trying to make it take God’s place in your heart. The reality is that you’re either following money or following God. Jesus called it the deceitfulness of riches, which shows us that money can mislead us. If we allow ourselves to make decisions according to finances and not according to the leading of the Lord, we are going to be misled and deceived. For example, when you have to choose between two job offers, don’t just choose to take the job with more pay – pray about it first. Be led by the Lord, because He knows the future of that company and which job you should take.

“"You cannot serve two masters at the same time. You will hate one and love the other, or you will be loyal to one and not care about the other. You cannot serve God and Money at the same time.”
Matthew 6:24 ERV
 
Having money isn’t wrong! God wants you to prosper and have more than enough money so that you can live well, provide for your family and always be a blessing to others (3 John 2; 2 Corinthians 9:8,11). It’s not wrong to have money - but it is dangerous when money has you! When money is the aim and goal of your actions and decisions, it has you and you’re serving it. Money is simply a tool and should serve us and the mission we have.

How should we deal with this? How do we avoid allowing the deceitfulness of riches to distract us from our destiny? Firstly, we need to have the correct view of money. Money is a tool for us to use, and not something that should control us. Don’t allow money to have a hold on you! Secondly, we can keep money in its proper place by intentionally using our money as a tool to direct the interest of our hearts.

“Your heart will be where your treasure is.”
Matthew 6:21 ERV
 
Another way of saying this is that your heart will follow where you put your treasure. One of the simplest things that you can do to keep your heart focused on God and His kingdom is to invest (give) some money into it. If you don’t invest some of your money into the kingdom, then your heart won’t be there; but when you give, it helps to direct your heart towards the things of God.

I’m not talking about money and giving because I want you to give me some. No! I want you to walk in your destiny - and in order for you to walk in your destiny, money cannot have a hold on you. For you to fulfil your destiny, God has to be the one directing your heart – not money. If you’re upset because I’m talking about giving, it’s probably because you need to hear this more than anyone else.

We spend a large part of our life making money, thinking about money and spending money. Giving can loosen the hold that finances can sometimes have on us - because as you give away a portion of what you could use for your own needs, you are declaring that God is your source and you’re trusting in Him, and it gives you an opportunity to trust Him even more.
 
It is easy to get caught up in chasing after money and allowing money to dictate what decisions you make. Don’t allow money to deceive you. Money is not eternal and you can’t take it with you when you die. It is not the most important thing in this life. Choose to seek God first.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

What Is Most Important To You?


“And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
Mark 4:18-19 KJV
 
The enemy’s attacks on your life are ‘destiny distractions’, aimed at pulling you off-track from your God-given destiny. These attacks aren’t necessarily temptations to sin morally; sometimes they’re more subtle than that. The enemy will use good things to distract us from God things. The aim of the destiny distractions is to “choke the word” (to stop the life-flow) so that the word will not produce anything. These destiny distractions are anything that we allow to become more important to us than God and the Word God gave us, and they usually come in one of three categories: cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches and lusts of other things.

When you care for what the world cares for, more than what God cares for, you’re allowing the cares of the world to distract you from your divine destiny. The cares of this world is a question of what is most important to you. What are you prioritising? It’s true that we live in this world and that there are certain things we cannot ignore, but we must remember that God has a way of doing things which is far better than the world’s way of doing things, and which gets far better results than the world would.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Matthew 6:33 ESV
 
The way of the world is this: focus on meeting your needs and the needs of your family because you are your provider. But in God’s kingdom, you prioritize His priorities, and provision flows because God is your provider.

“So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.”
Matthew 6:31-33 TLB
 
The kingdom way (the Christian way) is to acknowledge that God is our provider (Philippians 4:19), and so we don’t chase after provision. Rather, we seek first God, His Kingdom and His righteousness.  The Christian life should be a carefree, worry-free life; a life where although we have problems they do not affect our hearts, because we trust in God and we are confident that He is taking care of us.

One of the cares of the world that often distracts people from their calling to be a good husband or wife, father or mother, is that of career or work. Don’t get me wrong: your work and career is important and God is interested in it, too. It is a means to provide for and look after your family and invest into the expansion of God’s kingdom. Work is important - but it is not eternal and it is not all that there is to life. And yet many people live as if work is everything. God wants you to work hard and be brilliant at what you do, but not at the expense of relationships with your family. Your career will not last forever and neither will your company – your family is eternal. Don’t sacrifice your family for a successful career. This might be a bit difficult for you to chew, but your career just isn’t that important. I work hard at what I do – ask my wife, or anyone I work with – but I decided a long time that if I have to sacrifice either my family or my ministry, ministry will lose every time. It’s a godly priority which causes me to be more successful with less effort. For example, it really helps my wife if I am involved with the boys’ suppertime, bathtime and bedtime routine. It’s also a part of the day that I really want to spend with them. Some evenings I can’t: on Sundays it’s because of church, and there might be one or two other nights in the week that I have a leadership meeting or something like that. But generally, I am not available from 4:30pm to 6:30pm for anyone or anything but my family. This time is sacred for me. I will meet people and counsel them (or whatever else) before or after that, but not during that time.

Sometimes you might need to work late and give a bit more attention to work than you’d like to – that’s okay! It’s when it becomes the norm that it becomes a problem. When your family feels that they have to contend with work (or in my case, church) for your love and attention, then you’ve missed it. Your position at the office can be replaced easily, but your position in the home is irreplaceable. Seek to have godly balance in your live, and seek to have it now. Don’t allow the cares of your career to prevent you from walking in your destiny of being a good spouse and/or parent. If you’re struggling with balance at the moment please know that there is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1) and I’m not trying to make you feel bad, at all. I want to show you that there is a better way. As you seek first God’s divine order in your life, you will experience the supernatural flow of God’s divine power and blessing.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Reflections - December, 5


“Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Luke 1:34-37 NKJV

Christmas is a great reminder that nothing is impossible with God. There were so many miraculous things concerning Jesus’ birth – prophecies of His birth hundreds of years before it happened; angelic appearances to many different people; a virgin conception and birth; a unique star which pointed to the birthplace of Jesus and led people from the east to come and welcome Him with gifts and worship; and so much more! There is nothing normal about what we celebrate at Christmas!

Without God there are many things that are not possible – but thank God we are not without Him and therefore nothing is impossible for us!

What impossibility are you currently facing? Is it a health issue or a financial challenge? Does it seem like nothing is working out with your business? Are relational issues keeping you up at night and even causing health issues? Has the doctor told you that you’ll never have children? It doesn’t matter what impossibility it is that you’re facing, because God is with you (Hebrews 13:5) and He is for you (Romans 8:31). Therefore there are no impossibilities - only opportunities for miracles!

Look to God, trust in Him and don’t give up hope.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Christmas Reflections - December, 4



“Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”Luke 1:34-37 NKJV

This is a miracle: a virgin will conceive and give birth to a child! Mary asked the angel Gabriel (who delivered this news to her) how this would happen, to which he answered that God would supernaturally, through His Holy Spirit, place the seed inside her womb. This means that God is Jesus’ Father, which reveals the deity of Jesus. He is God in the flesh.

Jesus was born perfect and sinless. He was not a descendant of Adam, but Scripture calls Him the second Adam (Romans 5:12-21). Jesus (God in the flesh) was able to break the power of sin because He was born without a sinful nature, unlike everyone after Adam. Jesus came to deal with the sin problem (Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; 1 John 2:2) so that we could be restored into right relationship with God. When we receive Jesus and are born-again (born of God – John 3:7; 1 John 5:1) our sinful nature dies (Romans 6:6) and we receive a new righteous nature (2 Corinthians 5:21). We exchange the lineage and heritage of Adam for that of Jesus Christ. We are new creations with a new bloodline, new heritage and new inheritance (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Friday, December 2, 2016

Christmas Reflections - December, 3


“Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Luke 1:30-33 NKJV

We never have to fear or be scared of God – He is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31). God is a loving Father who wants the best for us. He isn’t out to take advantage of us or cause negative things to happen to us. Mary had no reason to fear because God favoured her – not because of her behaviour but by grace! Likewise, we have God’s favour by grace – we don’t deserve it, but He extends undeserved favour towards us because He loves us.

Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus. That doesn’t make her more holy than or superior to Jesus – she was simply the vessel that was chosen to deliver God’s gift to the world. Even Mary recognized that she needed a Saviour (Luke 1:47), just like everyone else in the world.

God loved us so much that He gave Jesus as a gift for us (John 3:16), to save us from our sin and from perishing, and to give us the gift of eternal life.

Destiny Distractions.


“The sower soweth the word.”
Mark 4:14 KJV

“And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.”
Mark 4:20 KJV
 
Jesus said that that God’s Word is like seed: if you sow it into your heart, and your heart is like fertile soil, it will produce a harvest. This applies to the truths of healing, prosperity, freedom, peace and everything else. If you take the scriptures (seed) on these issues and meditate on them (plant them in your heart), they will produce the fruit they speak of. It’s not enough to hear the Word, we need to “receive it” – we need to allow the seed (word) to take root in our hearts so that they can produce their fruit. This also applies to your destiny – God has a word about your destiny! You need to hear and receive God’s general word (from the Bible) concerning your destiny, and you need to hear and receive His specific word through His Holy Spirit. When you hear and receive destiny seed you need to protect it and guard over it. You may have received a word from God concerning your destiny but if you don’t cultivate that word (seed) it won’t produce anything. Your destiny won’t happen by accident – you have an active role to play in tending to the seed. The seed will grow and produce – it is in the nature of a seed to produce fruit - all you need to do is cultivate the soil (your heart) and water it (feed it by focusing on it and making decisions in line with the word). There is nothing wrong with the word from God – it is the incorruptible seed of the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23). All you need to do is simply receive it and hold onto it; it will grow and it will produce!

“And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.”
Mark 4:15 NKJV
 
Your enemy, the devil, doesn’t like you or the destiny that’s on your life. He will try to take the Word away from you. Any attack on your life is only ever an attack on the Word; its purpose is to get you to doubt the word from God and the Word of God (Mark 4:17). The enemy doesn’t want you to fulfil your destiny because you are a threat to his plan. The purpose of his attacks is to distract you and pull you away from your God-given destiny. He can’t stop the Word from producing fruit in your life, but if he can get you to doubt the Word (steal the Word from you) he will prevent it from producing.

“And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
Mark 4:18-19 KJV
 
The enemy’s attacks on your life are destiny distractions, aimed at pulling you off-track from your God-given destiny. These attacks aren’t necessarily temptations to sin morally; sometimes they’re more subtle than that. The enemy will use good things to distract us from God things. The aim of the destiny distractions is to “choke the word” (to stop the life-flow in them) so that they will not produce anything. These destiny distractions are anything that we allow to become more important to us than God and the Word God gave us, and they usually come in one of three categories: cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches and lusts of other things.

When we prioritize what God prioritizes, and His desires become our desires, the destiny distractions will have no hold on us. As we keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33), we will effortlessly walk in our destinies.


Your Personal, Divine GPS.


“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
Proverbs 29:18 KJV
 
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going to get lost and be frustrated along the way. You might even end up somewhere you don’t want to be. If you aim at nothing, then you can’t be upset that you’re hitting nothing, every time. You need to have a vision for your life – a dream of where you’re going. God created you for a significant purpose and He has a special mission for you – it doesn’t matter who you are, where you live or what your education is. As you seek Him you will discover that purpose and that mission.

Fulfilling your destiny involves more than simply finding your purpose and mission in life. You also need God’s plan on how to fulfil the purpose and mission. Years back, I set out to drive somewhere in an area I had never been before. It was before the time of having a GPS on your phone, and instead of checking the route beforehand I just guessed what route to take. I got horribly lost. It was at night and although I knew where I needed to go, I had no clue of how to get there. I needed help. Eventually I came across a gas/petrol station and I was able to get some direction from someone who knew that area. In the same way, we have never been where we are going - and therefore we do not know the route. We need the help of Someone who knows the route! You will successfully walk in your destiny when you do it out of friendship with God – seeking Him, asking Him what your next steps should be and making decisions with Him. You will never walk in your destiny and fulfil your mission without a constant, consistent friendship with God.

“O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”
Jeremiah 10:23 KJV
 
We often think that we are very clever and that we’ll figure out where to go and how to get there - but we don’t have the capacity to do it. You were not created by God with the capacity to walk in your destiny independent of Him. When you seek God and build a strong friendship with Him, you will start to get His vision for your life. Then, as you invite His Holy Spirit to lead you, He will guide you – He will be your personal, divine GPS and guide you in the paths that you should take.

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
John 16:13 ESV

“…he shall speak whatever he shall hear and he shall reveal the future to you.”
John 16:13 Aramaic Bible in Plain English

Christmas reflections December, 2



Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you!


“26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed (engaged) to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” 29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.”
Luke 1:26-29 NKJV (brackets mine)

The angel Gabriel appears to Mary to bring her the news of the supernatural conception, and his introduction is “Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” This greeting troubles Mary.

“Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.”
Luke 1:29 NLT

Many Christians would also be confused and disturbed if an angel, or even God greeted them like this, because we don’t feel highly favoured, blessed and as is the Lord is with us. Many of us would feel more as ease if we were greeted with a rebuke or something condemning: “You pitiful one! You sinful and weak one! God is far from you!”.  If we feel more comfortable with the negative greeting more than the positive one, it’s because we don’t know God’s true nature and we don’t know our true identity as Christians.

The phrase “highly favoured” was translated from the Greek word “CHARITOO” which is also translated as accepted in Ephesians 1:6 (we are “accepted in the beloved”).


Just like Mary, we are accepted and highly favoured of God. This is nothing to do with our performance but is purely by grace. God loves you, God favours you and God accepts you because of Jesus and what He did for you.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Importance of Vision


“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
Proverbs 29:18 KJV
 
Life is a journey for everyone. The problem is that some people don’t know where they’re going! It’s important to know where you’re going and to have a vision. We all want to accomplish something and live purposeful lives, but if you aim at nothing you’ll hit it every time. When we don’t know where we’re going it leads to apathy, passivity and frustration. No one is on this earth to simply take up space and pass time. We were all created with a God-given purpose, and if we want to discover that purpose we need to seek Him.

Vision isn’t only talking about goals and dreams; it is also talking about a revelation of God’s ways.  When people do not know God’s ways – the way He does things, the way His kingdom functions - they can’t follow God’s ways and it causes them to perish. What is this “way” that can keep people from perishing?

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16 KJV
 
Jesus came to earth so that we would not perish, and that we would have eternal life (which is relationship with God). God’s way of keeping us from perishing – His way of saving us - is relationship with Him. Where there is no vision of God’s way (relationship with God), people perish. Religion (man’s effort to be right with God) has tried its best to get people busy with doing things to get accepted by God. It has promoted the way of doing right to be right and has ultimately blurred people’s vision, preventing them from seeing The Way – God’s way.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6 ESV
 
Jesus is The Way to relationship with God. Good works and holiness are good, but they cannot get you acceptance and relationship with God – only faith in what Jesus has done for you can do that (Ephesians 8:9; Romans 10:9). Christianity isn’t about doing good or living holy (even though it leads to doing good things and living a holy life). Christianity is about right believing: believing the Gospel. When you become a Christian you are made right (2 Corinthians 5:21) and that eventually leads to holy living, but holiness isn’t the root of salvation: it’s a fruit of salvation. 

Right believing leads to the right fruit. Right doing without the right root will lead to frustration, tiredness and burnout. 

God has called you to do something that is both specific and significant, but first and foremost He has called you to friendship with Him. Having this vision for your life – this knowledge of God’s way, which is relationship with Him – is the first step to discovering your mission and walking in your destiny! Knowing your mission and purpose in life starts with knowing God and enjoying relationship with Him. Out of that place of friendship He will lead you in the direction you should go, and you will not perish.


“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV
 
This is talking about relationship with God – when you are rooted in relationship with Him, you will be able to hear His voice as He directs your paths. You will know the direction you should go in life, and you will have a vision to follow.

Christmas Reflections - December, 1



Christmas is a time of celebrating the miraculous birth of Jesus and all that this means to us. It’s easy to get caught up in the Christmas hype and the consumerism, but I want to encourage you to join me over the next few days as we reflect on the birth of Jesus and prepare our hearts to celebrate Jesus this Christmas.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”Isaiah 7:14 NKJV

This prophecy from Isaiah foretold the virgin birth of Jesus 700 years before it happened. This verse is quoted in Matthew chapter 1 in the account of Jesus’ birth:
“So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”Matthew 1:22-23 NKJV

This is supernatural: a virgin will conceive! This is not normal; virgins don’t usually get pregnant but it was an essential part of Jesus coming to save us.
“When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. His sin spread death throughout all the world, so everything began to grow old and die, for all sinned.”Romans 5:12 TLB

Through Adam, sin entered into the world and became part of every person’s inheritance. From Adam onwards, every person born would be born with a sinful nature, except for Jesus.
“Mary asked the angel, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of God shall overshadow you; so the baby born to you will be utterly holy—the Son of God.”Luke 1:34-35 TLB

God’s Holy Spirit placed Jesus inside Mary’s womb, and that meant that Jesus was born perfectly righteous and holy; He didn’t have Adam’s genes. It was essential that Jesus was born without a sinful nature so that He could save sinful man.

“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”Matthew 1:21-23 NKJV 


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Follow The Favour


“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.”
1 John 4:17 ESV

 
This verse tells us that we – as believers – are just like Jesus. Right now. We are not going to be like Jesus one day in the future; as Jesus is at this moment (and He is righteous), so are we right now in this world. Not in the world to come, but now. Your actions and thoughts may not be perfectly righteous and holy, but in your core (your spirit), you are just like Jesus. The believer’s righteousness (and their confidence to approach God because of this righteousness) doesn’t come because of their personal holiness, good works and performance. It comes from their position and identity in Christ. The more you discover and focus on the condition of your spirit – the fact that your spirit is identical to Christ - the more your actions and thoughts will be Christ-like.
 
“For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 AKJV (emphasis mine)

We have been made righteous and cannot make ourselves righteous. Our born-again spirits are perfectly holy and righteous (Ephesians 4:24). Righteousness (right standing, or being right before God) is a gift we receive, not a status we achieve (Romans 5:17). Your spirit isn’t growing in righteousness; it is 100% righteous. The righteousness in your spirit is equal to that of Jesus, in quality and in quantity. In fact, it is the righteousness of God. You can be confident in your relationship with God because as He is so are you. Jesus is perfectly righteous, and so are you!   
Being righteous means that before God you are perfect, innocent, blameless and right. This isn’t because of anything you have done – you may have done some really bad things. But because of your faith in Christ and what He has done for you, you are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1) and your guilt has been taken away. As a Christian, you deserve the blessing of God and you have the favour of God on your life, regardless of your past sins and mistakes - all because of Jesus.

Wherever you go, you should experience God’s divine favour. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have problems (Jesus had problems on earth), but it means that you will prosper supernaturally because of God’s favour in your life.  It means that doors of opportunity will open for you because you have God’s favour on your life.
 
When you go for a job interview, when you are making a pitch for a new client, when you’re going for a visa interview or applying for something, boldly declare God’s favour on your life and expect doors to open. You aren’t asking for favour: you are acknowledging that you already have His favour on your life. Remember that this favour isn’t deserved; it’s by grace. One of the definitions of grace is undeserved favour – you have the favour of God even though you don’t deserve it! It’s yours because of Jesus!

In making decisions and walking in your destiny, one of the things that you can look out for is this favour. If something in your life isn’t working out, it might mean that it’s not from God; but closed doors could also mean that the enemy (who doesn’t want you to walk in your destiny) is trying to block you. When doors aren’t opening, you need to talk to God (remember: it all comes down to relationship with Him) and find out what’s happening. When things aren’t flowing like they should, check whether you have God’s peace in the situation or not. Ask yourself: is this desire from God, or is this something you are trying to make happen? If you realize that there is no favour because it’s not what God wants you to do, then simply seek God for the correct next step, and move on. But if you realize that you are submitted to the will of God and that the opposition is just the devil trying to get in your way, simply resist him and he has to flee (James 4:7).

Another thing you have to realize with regards to having God’s favour on your life is that sometimes His favour will attract more opportunities than you should take. I’ve seen that in my own life and have turned down many opportunities to minister in different nations because I knew that they weren’t “God opportunities”. You need to know when to say “yes” and when to say “no”.  We don’t respond to need; we don’t respond to opportunities just because they come; we respond to the direction and leading of God. In situations like this, it helps to know your mission in life and make decisions that line up with your mission. But ultimately, the only way to know which opportunities to take and which to pass up is to make decisions with God. We do everything in relationship with Him.

Follow the Peace


“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands”
Isaiah 55:12 ESV

Following God’s will for your life and walking in your destiny is the most exciting thing you’ll ever do. Some people are scared to seek God’s will for their lives because they think that He’s going to send them to some place they don’t want to go, to do something they don’t want to do! But that’s not true! Walking in your destiny won’t always be easy, and you will have to (like with any decision in life) give up some things to embrace everything that God has for you. Sadly, we tend to focus on what we have to give up, and we don’t always focus on what we’re gaining. The things God has for you are far greater than anything you will ever give up for Him.

Discovering your purpose and walking in your destiny starts with being a living sacrifice. This means that you have the attitude of not my will, but Yours, Lord”. It’s not a negative thing. God’s will for your life is exciting and life-giving and will satisfy you like nothing else can. As your desires start to become more like God’s desires, walking in His will for your life should mean that you’re going out with joy. God is a good Father who wants only good things for you. He hasn’t called anyone to live a mediocre, boring, dull life – your destiny is full of joy and peace, and it’s exciting!

When we’re surrendered to God and seeking His will for our lives, then making decisions is easy: as Isaiah 55:12 says, “You will be led forth in peace”. Making decisions is as easy as discerning whether you have peace or not.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
Colossians 3:15 NKJV

Peace can be defined as being secure amidst turmoil. It is not the absence of problems but the surety that everything will work out (even though you don’t know how) because God is leading you into it. When you need to make decisions that impact your destiny, you shouldn’t ignore common sense and worldly wisdom – but you shouldn’t simply follow them either. It’s not wrong to weigh up the options and consider the details, but God knows the beginning from the end and His wisdom is far greater than the wisdom of all the world’s greatest minds combined. When you need to make decisions, seek God. Ask Him to lead you in the right path. One of the ways that He will lead you is with peace. If you don’t have peace in your heart (a confidence that it’s the right thing to do), then don’t do it. And if you do have peace, even if it doesn’t make sense, do it. Let the peace of God act as an umpire in your heart, making the final decision on all matters.
“Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].”
Colossians 3:15 AMP

God wants to lead you with His peace, but you have to follow it. When you have decisions to make, follow the peace that God puts in your heart.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Following The Desires Of Your Heart


If you’re a living sacrifice and you’re changing your way of thinking to start thinking more like God, and less like the world, then your heart will begin to change and your desires will begin to change.

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
Psalm 37:4 NKJV
 
Most people interpret this verse to say that “I desire a house, so God will give me my heart’s desire” or, “God knows my heart’s desires; I want a husband who can fix things”. We often use this scripture to license our greed and carnal desires. That’s not what it is talking about. Most people assume this verse is saying that if you desire something, anything, all you need to do is delight in God and He will give it to you. That is not what it is saying. God isn’t just going to give you anything you desire. This verse is telling us that if you delight in the Lord, He will give you desires to desire.

In the Hebrew, the word delight means "soft or pliable”. I believe that “delighting in the Lord” is speaking of having a soft or sensitive heart toward the Lord. If your heart is sensitive to the Lord and (as a living sacrifice) you’re starting to renew your mind and think more like Him, then your desires will start to change (because your heart is mouldable) and His desires will start becoming your desires. This is where God gives you the desires of your heart; He gives you desires to desire.

Walking in your God-given destiny is simple when God is giving you desires to desire: because now you can simply follow what’s in your heart. When you are delighting in the Lord – when your heart is sensitive towards Him and yielding to His influence – then you can trust that the desires in your heart are from God, and you can simply follow them. This isn’t to say that every desire will be from God; you should always test what you’re feeling against the Word (and if it contradicts the Word, dismiss it). It’s always a good idea not to rush into anything and to seek godly counsel. But the more you seek the Lord and the more your heart is sensitive to receive from Him, the more you will start to desire what He desires.

I am not saying, “Just follow your heart”! I am saying, “Seek God, allow Him to change your heart, and then follow your heart”. The devil has perverted this godly principle and the world has embraced his lie to “just follow your heart”. You’re headed for disaster if you simply follow your heart without the foundation of seeking God and allowing Him to change your heart (being a living sacrifice).

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” 
Jeremiah 17:9 KJV
 
Too many people just “follow their heart” in violation of what they know to be right and true. I counselled someone once who felt in their heart that God was giving them permission to divorce their husband because “God wants me to be happy”. That’s deception. It’s making excuses for not being in control of your emotions. God will nevernever lead you to do something that goes against His Word. You cannot trust your feelings and desires if you aren’t a living sacrifice. But if you have the root of being a living sacrifice, you will have the fruit of godly desires.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thinking like God thinks.


“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
 
Discovering your destiny, and following God’s will for your life starts with being a living sacrifice (as we looked at yesterday). Part of being a living sacrifice is renewing your mind or changing the way that you think. This means that you’re coming to know God and His heart for you. It means that you’re choosing not to conform to this world and think the same way the world does, but rather you’re changing your way of thinking and starting to think like God thinks. You can only renew your mind, or change your way of thinking by getting into God’s Word. The more you know God’s Word the more you’ll be able to discern between truth and error, and the more you’ll be able to know God’s good and acceptable and perfect will for your life.

As you study Scripture and allow it to take root in your heart, it will transform your life. You will find yourself changing effortlessly and experiencing more of the abundant life of Christ. As your thinking changes, your heart will change. As your heart changes, you will find that your whole life is transforming.

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”
Proverbs 23:7 NKJV
 
As you think in your heart, so will you be – the way that you believe determines the way that you live. If your life is a mess, it’s probable that your thinking (and your belief system) is also a mess. Thoughts are like seeds that we sow – they will reap a harvest. Think like the world and you’ll get the same results as the world, but if you start to think according to God’s Word (think like God thinks) then you will start to experience the good things that God’s Word talks about.

As we renew our minds to God’s Word and start to think like He thinks, we will experience transformation in our hearts and lives. This is one of the ways that we allow God to change our hearts, and this is where we start to experience His leading us forward in His purposes for our lives.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Not My Will But Yours


“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Romans 12:1-2 NKJV

Deep in our hearts we know that we were created for a purpose. Destiny is in our DNA and we all desire to know God’s “good and acceptable and perfect will” for our lives. God has set it up so that you cannot discover your destiny by seeking it; you can only discover your destiny by Seeking Him (Jeremiah 29:11-13; Matthew 6:33). The first step to seeking God and discovering your destiny is becoming a living sacrifice.

Think about a sacrifice for a moment; if you put an animal on an altar and sacrifice it (kill it), it is dead. Now that it is dead it has no will or desires. The animal cannot get up and go somewhere, it cannot get hungry or thirsty, and it cannot decide to do anything. The Bible says that we should offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. This shows us how we need to be in seeking God and fulfilling our destiny.

Firstly, this means that the decision is yours, and you need to offer (or commit) yourself to God. God will not force Himself or His will on you. You choose to offer yourself and be a living sacrifice. This means that you choose to let go of your desires and will (what you want), and you choose to embrace God’s will and desires for you (what God wants).

Secondly, the Bible is saying that you should offer yourself as a living sacrifice– it’s not dead but alive. That means that as a living sacrifice you can still choose to get off the altar and follow your own will and desires. Being a living sacrifice isn’t just a one-time-commitment, it’s a daily decision to surrender to His will. The enemy will tempt you with many opportunities to do anything but follow God’s will – as a living sacrifice you resist the temptation and say, “not my will but Yours, Father.”
 
“Many plans are in the human heart, but the advice (guidance) of the LORD will endure (it is lasting and sustainable).”
Proverbs 19:21 GOD'S WORD (brackets mine)

The problem is that we think that we know best and we think that we know what will be good for us. God knows us better than we know ourselves and He is a good Father who only wants good things for His children and so we can relax, and trust Him. His plans for our lives are far better than our plans for our lives.
 
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Luke 22:42 ESV

Jesus didn’t feel like going through the suffering of the crucifixion that He knew was coming, but He chose His Father’s will over what He felt. An important side note must be made: Jesus suffered for us so that we wouldn’t have to suffer – the only suffering that we are called to as believers is to suffer persecution for our faith (2 Timothy 3:12). God does not call us to suffer with sickness, pain or poverty, ever. The point of this verse is that we should adopt the same attitude that Jesus had and desire to do God’s will above anything else. If you want to walk in your destiny then you need to adopt the Christ-like attitude of, “Not my will, but Yours, Father.”

Thursday, November 24, 2016

What is God’s Will?


Many people are eager to know God’s specific will for their lives: what job they should take, where they should live, who they should marry, what investments they should make. And yet the majority of these people are not seeking God’s overall will for their lives – the will He has already revealed to us in His Word.

“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 KJV
 
We shouldn’t only be seeking God’s specific will for our lives without seeking His overall will for our lives as revealed in His Word. God's Word reveals His will. For example, it is God will that we are always joyful, that we’re always praying (talking to God) and that we’re people marked by thanksgiving and praise to God. Sadly, many Christians moan more than they do praise, only talk to God when they need something and certainly aren’t full of joy (we should be the happiest people on earth).  

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.”
1 Thessalonians 4:3 ESV
 
God’s Word reveals that it’s His will for us to abstain from sexual immorality. Many believers ignore God’s general will for their lives in this area (and bank on God’s grace), but they are interested in what job they should take or who they should marry. Seeking God’s specific will above His general will as revealed in His Word is the result of incorrect priorities.

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:13 ESV
 
In Jeremiah 29:11, God speaks of His good plans for His people: plans of prosperity, no harm and a future filled with hope. God doesn’t tell us to seek this great future. He tells us to seek Him. God’s primary will for your life is to have relationship with Him (to seek Him). One of the ways we seek Him is by studying the Word and coming to know His heart and His will (general) for us. The better we know Him and His Word, the easier it will be for us to discern His specific will at certain stages of our lives. But it starts with the right priority: seeking Him.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
Matthew 6:33 HCSB
 
Our main priority in life should be seeking God first, and seeking His way of doing things. When we follow God’s divine order, His divine blessings flow without effort. His divine order starts with relationship with Him first and above all; everything else flows from that. We don’t seek after blessing – we seek the Blesser. We don’t seek healing – we seek the Healer. We don’t seek provision – we seek the Provider. We seek the Giver, not the gifts. We will not enjoy God’s blessings as much as we could if we aren’t enjoying relationship with Him.

As you seek God and grow in relationship with Him, you will grow in discerning what His will is for your life. Don’t neglect His general will for your life, because if you do, you will not be able to effectively follow and enjoy His specific will for you. It only works if you seek Him first.