Friday, September 30, 2016

A good time to take up fishing

“You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.”
Matthew 6:24 MSG

It’s not wrong to have money but it is wrong for money to have you! You can have God and money, but you cannot serve both. Seeking and serving God will bring true happiness, and God’s supply flows as we prioritize Him and His kingdom (Matthew 6:33).

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”
Matthew 6:25 NKJV

A lot of people allow their joy to give way to worrying about provision. Jesus tells us that we don’t need to worry or be anxious about material needs. He’s not saying that you should ignore the fact that you have needs. Even Jesus considered His earthly needs: He was hungry and He paid taxes (Mark 11:12; Matthew 17:24-27). Jesus is saying that you don’t have to worry about where the provision for your needs will come from. When confronted with having to pay the temple tax, Jesus told His disciples to go fishing. He said that the first fish they caught would have money in its mouth. And that’s what happened. He wasn’t worried about where the provision would come from. Neither should we be.

If God can provide supernaturally through something natural (fishing), then we shouldn’t limit Him by thinking He can only provide for us through a job and a salary. He isn’t limited by the things we are limited by. I’m sure many of people reading this might consider taking up fishing - but that’s not the point of the message. The point is that God isn’t limited in how He provides for you, and supernatural provision may come in the most natural way possible. The key is not to worry but to trust Him and seek Him first (Matthew 6:33).

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
Matthew 6:26 NKJV

God is the Creator of the birds and He looks after them. Their provision isn’t based on sowing or reaping; it’s not based on gathering into barns (savings or investments), and yet God provides for them. He’s their Creator - but He is your Father.

“For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:32-33 NKJV

You’re much more valuable than all the birds on the face of the earth. Your loving heavenly Father provides for you based on the fact that you’re His child and He wants to look after you. The provision flows as we trust Him and seek Him first.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

True Happiness Is Found In The Will Of God

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]”
John 16:33 AMP
The Christian life isn’t a trouble-free life; it’s a troubled-free life. Jesus said we’d have trouble (tribulation, distress and suffering) in this life, but that shouldn’t stop us from being filled with joy. No matter what our circumstances are like, we should be the happiest people on the face of the earth - because we are in Christ (which means that our victory is eternal). What often causes us to loseour joy and peace is that we tend to focus on and value the temporal more than the eternal (spiritual). We would do well to remember that we are in this world but not of it (John 17:16) and we are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20). Our supply is not of this world. We are not limited by the world’s economy because God provides for us according to His economy: His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19)! What’s going on in the world’s economy shouldn’t determine our joy and peace.

“So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 4:18 TLB
We often give way to worry, fear and unhappiness because we are more focused on things which are temporal. If your happiness is dependent on finances, then you will always be at risk of being unhappy and not experiencing the joy of the Lord.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
Matthew 6:19 NKJV
Jesus is encouraging us to focus on the eternal more than on the temporary. But He isn’t saying to ignore the here-and-now. Even Jesus considered His earthly needs; He was hungry and He paid taxes (Mark 11:12; Matthew 17:24-27). Jesus is not speaking against savings, or leaving an inheritance for your children – the Bible encourages both of those. Jesus is talking about laying up treasure for yourself. The purpose of wealth isn’t so that I can be wealthy, it’s so that I can be a blessing by helping to expand God’s kingdom (Deuteronomy 8:18). The reason for not laying up treasures on this earth is so that we will not have our hearts drawn away from the God and the things of God. Money is a big contender for your heart! It is so easy to lust after money and focus on the things it can provide. We should be focused on God and seeking His will, not our lusts. True happiness is found in the will of God, not in our desires being fulfilled. God’s way to prosper is different from that of the world - in God’s kingdom wealth and prosperity is a by-product of seeking Him (Matthew 6:33).

Money is not evil; it is a temporal tool that we can use to impact eternity by impacting lives now. Money and wealth should never be our focus: it should be a by-product of seeking God, and it should remain a tool for us to accomplish great things for Him.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How Much Leftovers Do You Have?

“41  And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. 42  And they did all eat, and were filled. 43  And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. 44  And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.”
Mark 6:41-44 (KJV)

There is no way to explain this except that it was a miracle! Jesus fed 5000 men (about 15,000 people in total) with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Jesus blessed the little that they had, and the food was multiplied to provide for the multitude so that “they did all eat, and were filled.” Everyone was satisfied! That means that they didn’t just each have a light snack of bread crumbs and a smidgen of fish – no! They ate their fill and that after they probably didn’t eat the whole day. We sometimes believe that God only wants to provide the basic minimum – through this belief we limit the flow of God’s supply in our lives.

God is a God of more than enough; a God of abundance. He’s not on a tight budget or worried about how to make ends meet. He’s not limited by our limitations. He can multiply 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to feed 15,000 people so that they were all satisfied – their stomachs were full! What’s even more amazing is that there were 12 baskets full of left overs. Jesus didn’t just meet the need. This is God’s standard of provision and abundance: more than enough to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. With leftovers!
“7  And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8  So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9  And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.”
Mark 8:7-9 (KJV),

On another occasion Jesus fed 4000 people with a few small fish. Once again He blessed what they had, and the little became much – it became more than enough to accomplish the task of feeding the multitude. On this occasion there were seven baskets of leftovers.
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work”
2 Corinthians 9:8 (KJV)

God’s doesn’t just want to meet your needs; He doesn’t want to provide the bare essentials for you. God wants to make all grace (undeserved favour) abound (be generous) toward you. He doesn’t delight in you just getting by; He wants you to have more than enough so that you’re providing well for your family and so that you have a couple baskets full of leftovers so that you may abound (be generous) towards every good work. He wants to bless you so that you can be a blessing!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What To Do With The Little In Your Hands

Jesus had been teaching the multitudes all day and it was now late (Mark 6:34-35). It’s recorded that there were 5000 men in this multitude – these men seem to have been more concerned with what Jesus had to say (spiritual food) than with what their stomachs were saying. This is a miracle: 5000 men didn’t consider their hunger for food! It was the disciples who came to Jesus and told Him the time, and said that they should maybe dismiss the meeting so people could go to the villages around to get food. I bet they were hungry and using the people as an excuse! Jesus responds to them with a challenge…

“But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.”
And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?”
Mark 6:37 NKJV

The disciples responded to the challenge by looking at how expensive it would be to feed the crowd. There were 5000 men; if you include the women and children there would have been between 10,000 to 15,000 people. It would have cost them about R55,000 (or US$4000) to feed this multitude. It seems that they didn’t have this kind of money available - but Jesus knew what He was doing.

“But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.”
Mark 6:38 NKJV

Jesus asked them what they had. Often we look at a task that we need to do and automatically respond by saying, “We don’t have enough!”. The task might be your budget for making dinner for your family, or your budget for a building project at work. It doesn’t really matter how many zeros there are in the budget (if you’re working with tens, thousands or millions), we often respond the same: “It’s not enough!”. We forget that “with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26 ESV). Little is much in God’s hands!

 “41  And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all. 42  And they did all eat, and were filled. 43  And they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments, and of the fishes. 44  And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men.”
Mark 6:41-44 (KJV)

How often do we look at the little in our hands and curse it? We say things like, “This isn’t going to be enough!” or “We’ll never make it with this!”. The Bible says that the power of life and death are in what we say (Proverbs 18:21).  We are often the cause of our own problems because we’re only considering what we see - and then we proceed to speak death over it, instead of reminding ourselves of the limitless supply that is in Christ and speaking life over what we see. We often look at the little in our hands and curse it (speak death) but Jesus looked at the little (the five loaves and two fish) and blessed it (spoke life). If you’re speaking death over the little you have, it’s because you are carnal: you’re only focused on what you see. Being spiritual would be seeing through the eyes of faith, the limitless supply that we have in Christ.

Don’t look at what’s in your hands and curse it; be thankful for what you have and speak life and blessing over it. God is able to use the little that’s in your hands to accomplish miraculous things. It might be feeding many people on a little budget or stretching a budget to complete a project at work, but this isn’t limited to finances. God is able to multiply your efforts as a small team to accomplish extraordinarily big things. He is able to use the little people resources, time and skill that you have to do more than you could imagine. You may feel like you don’t have enough energy, but He can multiply your strength. It all comes down to trusting God as your supply (in all areas) and not being limited by what you see (or feel).

Monday, September 26, 2016

God’s standard of abundance

When you think of God supplying your needs, what do you picture? A lot of us limit what we see because we think according to the world’s standards. One of God’s names is El Shaddai which means ‘all-sufficient, all-bountiful God who satisfies and supplies’. God’s desire is that you have more than enough so that you can be a blessing (Genesis 12:2; 2 Corinthians 9:8). His supply always far outweighs the demand or need that we experience.

“Two days later there was a wedding in the town of Cana in Galilee, and Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus and his followers were also invited. At the wedding there was not enough wine…”
John 2:1-3 ERV
Jesus and His disciples were at a wedding with His mother, but there was a problem: there wasn’t enough wine! I love this passage of Scripture because firstly it records that Jesus was at a party (He didn’t live in His prayer closet or at the temple), and it records Jesus’ first miracle: turning water into wine. In an effort to deal with their insecurities about alcohol, some religious folk have tried to explain this away by saying that Jesus turned water into grape juice. But the Greek word used for “wine” here refers to fermented grape juice. It is also the same Greek word used for “wine” in Ephesians 5:18 which says, " not get drunk on wine". You can’t get drunk on grape juice! Wine may be an important part of a celebration for some people, but it certainly isn’t a necessity. Jesus didn’t say to the wedding guests, “Hey, you don’t really need wine”! Instead Jesus provided for the party by turning water into wine.

“Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it.”
John 2:6-8 NKJV
I grew up picturing 1 litre jugs of wine; not a lot, but just enough. But if we look at how much wine Jesus actually made, it was more than enough. Each water pot contained 20 to 30 gallons of water. It’s recorded that the servants filled the waterpots to the brim (right to the top). So, let’s say that each of the six waterpots contained 30 gallons of water. 1 gallon is just less than 4 litres.  Each water pot contained about 113.6 litres, bringing it to a total of 678 litres of water which Jesus turned into wine. Keep in mind that the party is already underway and the people had probably already had enough wine. The Lord supplied more than enough wine; more than they could ever use.

The supply that we have in Christ is much greater than the lack we are experiencing. It really doesn’t matter how big your need is, it is no problem for God. He is the God of abundance.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Be Cheerful

“And it is he who will supply all your needs from his riches in glory because of what Christ Jesus has done for us.”
Philippians 4:19 TLB
We tend to focus on the word “need” here and think that God only supplies the bare minimum – only what we truly “need”.  But the word “supply” in this verse should be our focal point. It basically means to cram full or to satisfy. God doesn’t just want to provide you with enough to get by on; He wants to cram you full and satisfy you so that you’ll be blessed and can be a blessing to others. When God called Abram, He told him that He would bless Abram and make him a blessing (Genesis 12:2). The point here is that you can’t give what you don’t have; to be a blessing to anyone you must first be blessed. God wants to make you a blessing by blessing you! One of the major reasons for this is that there is a huge joy in giving and being a blessing. Jesus said that it was more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35) – there is a real joy and blessing in being a blessing. I haven’t met a generous person who isn’t a happy person.

“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
2 Corinthians 9:7 (KJV)
Giving correctly (under New Covenant principles) means that we’re giving purposefully and that we’re giving from our hearts – because we want to. We shouldn’t give out of obligation (feeling we have to), guilt (to try and make our wrongs right) or manipulation (wrongly thinking that if we don’t give we won’t be blessed). When we’re giving correctly we certainly will be cheerful givers (joy-filled and happy) and God delights in that kind of giving. Did you ever get a gift from someone and you could see that they just gave out of obligation? They are usually not too happy about having to give you something, even if it’s not much (and it usually isn’t). But you can see when someone gives you a gift from their heart! It may not be big or expensive but you can feel the love coming with the gift, and they’re giving it with joy. Likewise, we should be happy givers, and if our motivation in giving is correct, then giving will help us to be happy.

The word “cheerful” here is “hilaros” in the Greek which literally means, “merry, hilarious or cheerful.” Our giving should really be out of a place of joy. Another way of looking at this is that God loves a “hilarious giver”, someone who’s giving is plainly hilarious: they are giving to the degree that it is clear that they are certainly trusting God! Cheerful giving also implies a willingness on the part of the giver to give. You can’t give cheerfully if it’s forced (most people aren’t cheerful about being forced to pay taxes); our giving must be free-willed as we purpose in our hearts.

Generosity is part of the nature of Christ, and therefore part of our new nature as Christians. When we choose to be generous, we’re choosing to be who God has created us to be which will lead to much joy. Generous people are happy people!

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Bare Necessities?

“And it is he who will supply all your needs from his riches in glory because of what Christ Jesus has done for us.”
Philippians 4:19 TLB

Our trust isn’t in the economy but in God. He provides for us “according to his riches in glory,” not according to the world’s economic system. Man’s resources are always limited but God’s supply is limitless; God’s supply far outweighs the lack we see. We shouldn’t have a shortage-mentality but a hopeful, faith-filled mentality.

The problem for most believers is that we limit God by believing for (expecting) very little. We aren’t really trusting God to supply like He wants to because we believe that He only wants to provide us with the bare necessities. We tend to focus on the word “need” (in Philippians 4:19) which leads us to believe that only the bare necessities are covered in this promise. We seem to think that wanting more than we need is greed but the opposite is true. Many Christians see God as El-Cheapo not El Shaddai (our all-sufficient, all-bountiful God who satisfies and supplies). The word “supply” in this verse should be our focal point; it basically means to cram full or to satisfy. God doesn’t just want to provide you with enough to get by on; He wants to cram you so full of blessing that you’ll be a blessing to others. The truth is that every believer has already been crammed full of God’s blessing, power and everything they could ever need (Ephesians 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3). We don’t need more from God; we simply need to access through faith what God has placed in us by grace. We need to get the blessing flowing in our lives so that it’s not only a spiritual reality but a tangible one too.

I’ve heard nice Christian people say things like, “Oh, I just pray that God would supply enough for me to look after myself and my family…” and they think that they’re being humble. It’s greedy to only want enough to look after yourself. The purpose of abundance isn’t so that you can be excessive in your lifestyle, it’s so that you can be a blessing to other people. You should want to have more than enough so that you can be more of a blessing – this is God’s will for you!
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work”
2 Corinthians 9:8 (KJV)

God is able to make “all” (not some) “grace abound” (that’s talking about abundance) “towards you”. God wants you to abound in blessing but the abundance is not for abundance sake – it has a significant purpose! The purpose of abundance is so that you “having all sufficiency” (not just enough but more than enough) “in all things” (not just spiritual blessing but “things”) “may abound” (again, it’s talking about abundance) “to every good work”. God wants you to be blessed so that you can be a blessing to “every good work.” I believe that the “good work” is talking about ministries which are helping people by actively fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus to go into all the world, disciple nations and help people turn from darkness to light (Matthew 28:18; Mark 16:15; Acts 26:18). There isn’t a better work than a work which is helping to change people’s eternal destinies.

You need to learn to be content with little or much (Philippians 4:12). Learning this will help you to be happy in life despite the circumstances, but don’t forget that God wants you to have abundance so that you can experience the joy of being a blessing!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

My God Shall Supply

It is easy to have negative emotions when you’re not trusting in God. But if we will take God’s promises and meditate on them, knowing that He is faithful to His Word, then it will help us to experience peace and joy no matter what is going on (Romans 10:17; Isaiah 55:1).

“And it is he who will supply all your needs from his riches in glory because of what Christ Jesus has done for us.”
Philippians 4:19 TLB
It is God’s will to supply all our needs. He isn’t limited by the world’s economic situation - but He is limited if we don’t cooperate with Him through faith. God’s riches (His grace) has been extended towards us and every believer has already been crammed full of God’s blessing, power and everything they could ever need (Titus 2:11; Ephesians 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3). But it doesn’t flow in our lives automatically. Salvation has to be received through faith, as does God’s blessing and power. It is already ours by grace (we could never earn it), but if we want to see it manifest in our lives we need to take hold of it by faith. God is never withholding His grace or blessing from us; we prevent it or frustrate it by not cooperating through faith.

My God shall supply all your needs… Paul was writing to the Philippian church who has supported him financially on more than one occasion. He was writing to thank them for their generosity and encourage them that God would supply all their needs because they were evidently believing and trusting in the Lord as their provider. Let me explain this a bit: If you believe that you are hungry, you’re going to try and satisfy that hunger by eating (even if you have eaten recently and won’t die if you don’t eat). If you believe that you’re cold, you’ll generally respond by trying to make yourself warm. If you believe that you are blessed, then you will be a blessing. The Bible says that the Christian is blessed (Ephesians 1:3) and so Christians should be generous in giving - in helping people in need and in sowing into the advancing of God’s Kingdom. We don’t give to be blessed. We don’t give so that God will give back to us. We give because we are blessed, and we give because we believe that we are blessed. If we aren’t giving, then it’s probably because we don’t really believe that we’re blessed. Giving is an indication of faith. Faith receives what God has already freely given by grace. Paul could tell the Philippians with all confidence that “my God shall supply all your needs…” because he had seen their faith in action. He had seen an indicator that faith existed in their hearts. Giving isn’t an indicator of the size of your bank balance; it’s an indicator of whether or not you believe God’s Word that you are blessed, even if you don’t have a lot of earthly wealth. In the area of finances, faith is expressed through our giving. It takes faith to give away something that you think you need and trust God that you will have enough. Giving shows that you trust God as your source. If there were no God and if His promises were not true it would be stupid to give, but God is faithful and His Word is true.

“My God shall supply all your need” - if you’re trusting in God as your source and provider. If we aren’t trusting God and exercising our faith, then it’s more appropriate to say “My God can provide…” - not “shall”. He wants to provide, but His gracious gifts need to be received by faith, and faith always reveals itself in demonstration. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17), or as the Message Bible puts it, “Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?”.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

You cannot be happy and worry at the same time

“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”
Matthew 6:31-32 TLB

You cannot be happy and worry at the same time. You have to choose which one you want. Jesus told us not to worry (on many occasions) because He knows that worry (stress) will make you sick and can prevent you from fulfilling your purpose and destiny – anxiety paralyzes you. Jesus didn’t say “don’t stress” without a good reason. The reason He said that you shouldn’t stress about provision is because you are not your own provider: He is.
“And it is he who will supply all your needs from his riches in glory because of what Christ Jesus has done for us.”
Philippians 4:19 TLB

A number of scriptures reveal that God is our provider. We do not need to stress and worry about provision because it’s not our responsibility to provide for ourselves or our families. God is our provider (our caregiver) and so we need to trust Him, not in ourselves. We can cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7)! As long as you’re trusting in yourself and your efforts to provide, you are not allowing God’s power for provision to be released in your life. I am not saying that you should sit back and be lazy – no! God calls us to work and add value to society through using our gifts and abilities, and this is how He primarily provides for us – so we trust Him to bring us business and increase our efforts. But our faith (trust) must be in His ability to provide, not in our efforts to provide. You would do well to remember that God is not limited by your salary. He can provide for you in many other ways, too.

God is not limited by the economy, and so we shouldn’t look to what the economy is doing and base our faith for provision on what is happening in the financial climate around us. God is bigger than the economy and He doesn’t provide for us according to the economy; He provides for us according to His “riches in glory”.  Things are not tight for God. He isn’t counting every last cent and trying to figure out how things are going to work out. His “riches in glory” far, far, far outweigh any need you may have. God’s economy is not affected by the world’s problems.

It’s easy for us to get into fear and worry if we’re focused on the wrong things. Many people fear about how their needs will be met because of a bad economy or layoffs. But God isn’t limited by what man is limited by – He uses His resources in glory to meet our needs. There is absolutely no shortage in heaven. Don’t focus on the little or the lack that you see; focus on the limitless supply that we have in Christ because of His unconditional love and grace.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Only Thing That Will Make You Truly Happy

“Beware! Don’t always be wishing for what you don’t have. For real life and real living are not related to how rich we are.”
Luke 12:15 TLB

People seek after many different things. If you’re seeking after material things you’ll never experience true happiness. As long as you’re focused on what you don’t have and you’re wishing for it, you won’t be happy. Material things will never satisfy you; life is about more than riches. Everything you accumulate in your lifetime can burn, and you can’t take it with you one day when you die.  We need to learn to be thankful for what we have (be content) while we press on to receive more of the abundant life that Jesus came to give us (John 10:10). It starts with focus. Where is your focus? What are you seeking? If you’re seeking after stuff you’ll never be satisfied; you’ll always feel like you need more.
“I say this because I know the plans that I have for you.” This message is from the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future. Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will search (seek) for me, and when you search (seek) for me with all your heart, you will find me.”
Jeremiah 29:11-13 ERV – brackets mine

God has good plans for you. His plans for you are for a good future filled with hope. But these good plans and this great future are not just going to happen by accident. God’s will doesn’t automatically come to pass. He wills for you to have a good life, but if you make bad decisions or respond to circumstances negatively, you will limit His ability in your life. God wills that no one perish but that all come to receive Him and be saved (2 Peter 3:9). Sadly, many people perish, every day, in this life and in the afterlife. God’s good plans for you don’t happen by accident or automatically: you need to cooperate with Him. His amazing grace which brings salvation has appeared to all people (Titus 2:11) but not all people have believed, accepted and received this grace. Experiencing God’s good plans for your life (which is the only thing that will make you truly happy) starts with seeking Him with all your heart. It’s all about relationship with Him.

Seeking Him isn’t about religious service or holy living. It’s about getting to know Him through the Word and in prayer (talking to Him). It’s about learning to trust Him and allowing Him to lead and guide you. The Christian life is all about relationship with God (seeking Him). You can be a Christian and not seek God - but that only makes an unhappy Christian. If you want to experience the abundant life of joy that Jesus came to give you, then it starts by seeking relationship (friendship) with God.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Matthew 6:33 NKJV

Monday, September 19, 2016

What You Have Is More Than What You Don't

You can be happy whether you have more than enough to eat, or whether you’re hungry; whether you have a lot, or nothing. You can go through a rough time with a smile on your face and a song of praise in your heart. You do not have to respond to challenging circumstances by falling apart. But being content in any circumstance isn’t something that happens naturally - society has trained us to focus on lack and think about and meditate on the negative, all of which leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. We have to train ourselves to be content, to stop focusing on the negative and what we don’t have, and start focusing on the positive and be thankful for what we do have.

What we have in Christ is far more valuable than what we could ever have in the natural. Sadly, most of us are focused on what we don’t have in the natural and we aren’t really considering the limitless supply we that we have in Christ. If the blessings we have in Christ were real to us and we focused on them, we would not give into dissatisfaction.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”
Ephesians 1:3 KJV
We are blessed (past tense) with all (not just some, but all) spiritual blessings. Many people think that just because they are “spiritual blessings” that it means they are blessings for us to experience one day when we’re dead. Or they don’t believe that the blessings are real tangible blessings – just “spiritual” ones. These blessings are real and they are for the here and now, not just for one day when we join the Lord in heaven. God is a spirit (John 4:24) and He spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1:3; Psalm 33:9; Hebrews 11:3). That means that the spiritual reality existed before our physical reality. The spiritual is eternal and will outlast the physical. All the blessings we have in Christ are real. If only we were more conscious of them, we would not so easily give in to dissatisfaction - because what we have in Christ will be ours for eternity, while everything we have in this life is temporary.

 “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”
2 Peter 1:3 KJV

If you have Jesus, you don’t lack anything. God’s divine power (the power that makes Him God, and created and sustains everything that exists) has given (past tense) us all things (not just some) for life and godliness. We have all we need to live our lives and be godly. If it seems like there is lack in our lives, it is not God withholding from us. It’s either the devil attacking us and preventing us from walking in God’s blessing, or it’s merely that we don’t know what we have in Christ or don’t know how to walk in the blessing. What we don’t know is causing us to perish (Hosea 4:6). All things for life and godliness have been given to us, but we experience it “through the knowledge of Him”. We experience it in proportion to our knowing Christ. It’s like any relationship: the more you know the person, the more fruitful the relationship can be. Adam “knew” Eve and she conceived and had a child (Genesis 4:1). The more we come to know Jesus, the more we are able to walk in the blessing of God. But you have to know that you have the blessing, and you have to focus on it. If you’re more focused on the lack in your life than on what you have in Christ, you will be discontent. It will lead you towards unhappiness.

Stop focusing on the things you may lack and start focusing on the endless supply you have in Christ!

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Secret to Happiness

“I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”
Philippians 4:10-13 MSG
True happiness isn’t found in circumstances (wealth, health, politics, weather, getting along with people, being loved etc.) because circumstances are subject to change without any warning. If you want to be truly, unshakably happy, you need to learn to be content (satisfied) no matter what is going on. Contentment is not something that happens by human default; it’s something that Paul learned (“I have learned the secret of contentment”). If you want to be happy in life, you need to learn to be “quite content whatever [your] circumstances”. You can be happy whether you have more than enough to eat, or whether you’re hungry; whether you have a lot, or nothing. You can go through a rough time with a smile on your face and a song of praise in your heart. You do not have to respond to challenging circumstances by falling apart. But being content in any circumstance isn’t something that happens naturally; society has trained us to focus on lack and think about and meditate on the negative, all of which leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness. We have to train ourselves to be content; to stop focusing on the negative and what we don’t have, and start focusing on the positive and be thankful for what we do have. Contentment is a choice.
 “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”
Proverbs 27:20 (KJV)
The problem lies in what we’re focused on – what are your eyes looking at? Your heart will fill up with what your eyes focus on. Just like there is always space for more in hell and in destruction (it can never be full), carnal man’s eyes will never be satisfied. Even carnal Christians are never satisfied always seeking the latest spiritual revelation or experience. Indulging in lust for more (money, power, sex, material possessions) only produces more lust – you will never satisfy your lust for more.
“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
Luke 12:15 KJV
We easily judge ourselves and others according to what we have in terms of worldly possessions, but Jesus made it clear that what He values isn’t what the world values. Jesus warned us of the dangers of covetousness, which is greed: having or showing a strong desire for material possessions. Life isn’t about stuff that can burn (material possessions). No, it isn’t wrong to have nice stuff, and yes, God wants you to be blessed and well looked after. But if you don’t value what God values you will be covetous and it will affect the direction of your life and the level of joy you experience.
 “…I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation…”
Philippians 4:12b TLB
You can learn to be content, but what is the secret to contentment in every situation? What is the “recipe for being happy” as the Message Bible puts it? The scripture goes on to say,
“For I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.”
Philippians 4:13 TLB
The secret to contentment, and true happiness, is Jesus and His empowering to be able to endure hardships. What does this mean practically?
  1. We need to accept that Jesus is enough. He is our all-in-all and the answer to every problem we have. If we are not satisfied with Jesus, we will not be satisfied with anything else.
  2. We need to remember that Jesus is eternal while material possessions are temporary. In difficult circumstances we need to keep perspective and focus on the eternal glory and blessing we have in Christ. Christ empowers us not to accept our circumstances but to be content in them. We do not accept attacks from the enemy, we resist them (James 4:7). We don’t passively allow negative circumstances to overcome us, but even if for whatever reason we aren’t seeing the victory that we should, whatever we are experiencing is temporal and one day we will die and go to be with the Lord for all eternity. Having an eternal perspective in situations disarms fear and enables us to walk in faith.
  3. We need to realize that Christ’s power isn’t just available for us to endure hardship but to rise up and be victorious. Jesus paid a great price so that we could live an abundant live and live in victory. Living in victory means living in contentment and joy, but it also means that we can overcome every attack of the devil. We are more than conquerors through Christ (Romans 8:37) and the greater One live in us (1 John 4:4). Christ is in us, empowering us to be victorious. We are not victims of our circumstances – we are victors!
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I can be content and enjoy life, no matter what I am going through. I can be victorious over every attack of the devil.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Do You Want The New iPhone 7?

Dissatisfaction is the result of focusing on what you don’t have - and not on what you do have. The apostle Paul was content and happy in prison, and yet today many Christians are depressed while living in luxury. Dissatisfaction can cause a lot of unhappiness in your life and can lead you to sin. This is what happened in the Garden of Eden.

“The snake was the most clever of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. The snake spoke to the woman and said, "Woman, did God really tell you that you must not eat from any tree in the garden?" The woman answered the snake, "No, we can eat fruit from the trees in the garden. But there is one tree we must not eat from. God told us, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden. You must not even touch that tree, or you will die.'" But the snake said to the woman, "You will not die. God knows that if you eat the fruit from that tree you will learn about good and evil, and then you will be like God!"  Genesis 3:1-5 ERV

Adam and Eve were living in perfection; they had everything they could ever need. They didn’t struggle or worry, and they had more than enough food to eat. How do you tempt someone like that? How do you tempt someone who is living in perfection? Well, Satan got them to start focusing on the one thing they didn’t have. He stirred up discontent in them. The enemy tempts us in the same way. We often aren’t satisfied with what we’ve got because we’re focused on what we don’t have. We think “I’ll be happy if I get a girlfriend/ boyfriend/husband/wife…” Then the novelty wears off and we start thinking we’d be happy if we had a new, more godly girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife. You might have an iPhone which works perfectly fine, but since the new iPhone came out you won’t be satisfied until you get it. Dissatisfaction comes as a result of not being thankful for what we have and focusing on what we don’t have.

Adam and Eve had nothing wrong in their lives, but satan got them to be discontent by thinking they were missing out on something. If the enemy can convince perfect people (living in perfection and who lack nothing) that they are lacking something, then how easy do you think it would be to tempt us (living in a broken fallen world) to become discontent?

Your focus and perspective determines your contentment. Adam and Eve sinned because they became discontent as a result of focusing on the one thing they didn’t have. A Google search told me that there are 270,000 plant species in the world of which 1000 to 2000 are edible for humans.  Satan didn’t come to Eve and say, “God said you can only eat of 1999 trees; He’s withholding 1 tree from you. You’re missing out!”. The temptation was more subtle than that. The enemy won’t get you to focus on all the good going on in your life, in your church or at your work; he will get you to focus in on the few things which are negative. He gets you to focus on the negative, not the positive. And when you focus on the negative, meditate on the negative and talk about the negative, all you will see is the negative. You might be dead-center in God’s will for your life, and yet if you choose to focus on the negative and cultivate seeds of discontentment it could lead to you stepping out of the place where God wants you. Discontentment can lead you to sin, but it can also lead you out of your God-ordained destiny.

If you cultivate seeds of discontentment by focusing on everything wrong with your marriage and your spouse, it could lead to adultery. You might not be aiming for adultery but you would certainly be sowing seeds towards it. You may be working exactly where God wants you to - but if all you do is think about what you could be doing instead or how much you should be earning, then you will eventually seek change and if you are following your feelings and not being led by the Spirit of God, you might step out of your destiny. I see the same thing happen with people and our church. They arrive saying that God brought them here and then, after the excitement wears off they start focusing on things we should be doing or are doing wrong or aren’t doing, they start getting dissatisfied. There is no perfect church. Every church has problems. They say that if you find the perfect church, don’t join it - because you’ll ruin it! Often people will focus on the problems we have and not on the good that there is, and that prevents them from receiving ministry and from growing. Their dissatisfaction grows to the place where they infect others with their negativity (ungodliness) and eventually they feel the Lord leading them to leave. I know that God moves people to other churches, but a lot of the time people move churches simply because they aren’t thankful for what they have and they’re only focused on the few negative things there are. Now, there are bad churches out there and if you are in a bad church, you should leave - but make sure you leave for the right reasons and not because you gave birth to dissatisfaction.

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”
Philippians 4:12 NLT

If you want to be happy in life, you need to learn to be content with what you have and stop focusing on what you don’t have. If you want to enjoy the job you have, you need to be thankful for it and focus on the good in it (not the negative). Your marriage may be difficult and you may be suffering, but start to focus in on even the little bit of good in your spouse; start to compliment them on things and start thanking God for the good in them and in your relationship. If you can’t find something good, thank God that there is always hope because He is with you. If you want to be happy in your church and continue to grow, then be thankful for the good things going on there. We need to stop focusing on the few negative things in our lives and start focusing on the good. Cultivate seeds of contentment by being thankful for what you have, and then we will start to enjoy life more.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Are You Satisfied?

“…I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”
Philippians 4:11 NLT

The apostle Paul was writing from prison where he was facing possible execution, and yet Philippians was his most joy-filled letter. He’s writing to the believer (who would have been outside of prison) and he’s encouraging them to rejoice in the Lord always! We may not have reason to rejoice in our circumstances but we always have reason to rejoice in the Lord. One of the secrets to Paul’s happiness was that he had learned to be content with what he had. If we can learn to be content with what we have, we will also learn the secret to true joy and happiness.
“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”
Philippians 4:12 NLT

You’ll never be happy if you’re always focused on what you don’t have – that will only stir up dissatisfaction in you. You’ll never be satisfied. Yes, you may not have everything you need or want right now, but you have got more than most people. Paul was content and happy in prison, and yet today many Christians are depressed while living in luxury. For many people it’s because we’re constantly focused on what we don’t have. We say that we’ll be happy if we get a spouse, a house, a car or a job we like. Then we get it and when the novelty wears off, we become familiar with it and we start becoming dissatisfied. Then we start thinking that if we had a newer, better spouse, house, car or job, then we’d be happy. But it doesn’t work. Happiness doesn’t come from stuff and circumstances; it flows from within you because of your relationship with Jesus.

Dissatisfaction is often a tool that the devil uses to lead us into unhappiness and even sin. If you want to be happy and enjoy your life, you need to learn to be content. It won’t happen by accident; it’s a choice which you will have to make. Contentment is the result of choosing to focus on what you have and being thankful for it. Discontentment is the result of focusing on what you don’t have and wishing you had it. Now there is a healthy place for discontentment in that you should want to experience more of what God has for you, and you should be pressing on to take hold of all that He has for you, but you can be happy while doing that. You just need to choose to focus on what you do have, enjoy it and be thankful for it.
“Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never, never fail you nor forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5 TLB

It’s not wrong to have money. If you think it is wrong to have money then you’re welcome to give me all your money! It’s wrong to love money so much that you seek after money and make decisions based on money. Jesus said that we can’t serve God and money (Matthew 6:24). If we seek after money we won’t get God, but if we seek after God, money (and all that we need) will be provided for us (Matthew 6:33). As long as you’re focused on what you don’t have, and as long as you’re stirring up the desire for something you don’t have, you’re going to be a lover of money (whether you have money or not). You need to be satisfied with what you have. Even if you think that you don’t really have anything, you can focus on the fact that you have God. He promised to never leave you nor forsake you. If you have God, you have everything. Hebrews 13:6 goes on to say that because God is with us we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper!” You can be content knowing that God is with you and He is your helper. That should be enough to make you the happiest person around! It doesn’t matter what comes your way: God is with you and He is your helper!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The reason to guard your heart

“3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Philippians 2:3-4 ESV
You’ll never be truly happy by seeking happiness. It comes as a natural by-product of seeking relationship with Jesus and allowing ourselves to become more like Him in our thinking and actions. Being like Jesus means that we adopt the same outlook as He had (Philippians 2:5) in seeking to be a blessing to others. We so easily make Christianity into a self-centered thing. Instead of focusing on what we can give and how we can be a blessing to others, we tend to focus on what we can get and how we can be more blessed – we become more concerned about our well-being than the well-being of those around us. God wants you to experience His blessing, but it is never solely for the purpose of you being blessed. It’s also so that you can be a blessing to others and show others the love and goodness of God. The purpose of God’s blessing in our lives is so that we can be a blessing! (Genesis 12:2)

“Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.”
Proverbs 4:23 GOD’S WORD
We often take a self-centered approach when we read the Scripture, and this verse is a great case in point. This verse is usually interpreted by Christians in terms of relationships. We tell ourselves and each other that “you need to guard your heart” - and what we mean by that is that we need to protect ourselves from others. People say things like, “The reason I got hurt in that relationship was because I didn’t guard my heart”. Yes, it is important that you don’t allow others to use and abuse you and you don’t just allow others to walk all over you. You shouldn’t enable abusers to abuse you. But this verse was not intended to give you a reason to build walls to protect yourself from other people. Did Jesus “guard His heart” from other people? No. He gave everything of Himself. He knew that Judas would betray Him and yet He didn’t distance Himself from Judas; He loved Him, served Him and died for Him.
This verse is actually saying the opposite of what most Christians intend it to mean. It’s not saying that you should protect yourself from other people by building walls to guard your heart – that’s self-centered. This verse is saying that you should protect those around you (because you love them and are seeking to be a blessing to them) by guarding over what you allow into your heart and what you keep out of your heart. Your heart is the garden of your life. What you focus on and think about are seeds that you allow into your heart which result in how you live your life. It’s what determines how you react and respond to people and how you treat them. If you keep guard over what you allow into your heart you are protecting the people around you from experiencing you negatively. For example, if you are always thinking badly about someone, then when you interact with them they will not have a positive experience with you. But if you choose to think the best of others and give them the benefit of the doubt, then when they encounter you their experience will be positive and uplifting.
If your thinking is toxic it will affect you negatively, and so guarding your heart is protecting yourself too. And so, if you’re sowing positive, godly seeds into your heart, then it will result in positive, healthy, godly fruit which you will benefit from, and which will be a blessing to those around you. But if you’re focused on ungodly, negative things then you’re sowing bad seeds into your heart which will produce a toxic harvest. If will affect you negatively and it will not bless those around you. It may even cause those around you to avoid you, which means you’ll lose your influence with people - and God has called you to be an influencer. (Matthew 5:13-16; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20)

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
Romans 8:6  KJV
Carnal-mindedness is really just thinking according to the values of the world. It’s not always necessarily sin, but it includes sin. Carnal-mindedness doesn’t just tend towards death - it equals death (which includes sickness, depression, anger, poverty, and anything else that is a result of the fall of man). To be spiritually-minded means you’re thinking like God thinks (Word of God minded). This doesn’t just tend toward life and peace - it results in life and peace!
Thinking ungodly thoughts will sow seeds of destruction in your heart which will affect you and those around you badly. Thinking the way God thinks sows good seed into your heart, which results in good fruit, which will bless you and those around you.

Monday, September 12, 2016

How to change your life

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”
Pro 23:7 KJV 

The way you think determines and directs the way you live. Most people don’t think about what they think about, instead they just let their thoughts run wild and as a result their emotions are out of control, and they struggle with self-control. If you want to control your actions and emotions you need to start with your thinking.

The thoughts you think are seeds you plant in your heart which will take root and become beliefs. These beliefs are what dominate your heart (sub-conscious) and determine your default actions and emotions. If they are negative and ungodly thoughts (seeds) they will produce negative and ungodly fruit in your life. If they are positive and godly thoughts (seeds) they will produce positive and godly fruit in your life. So, what are you mostly thinking about?
“Don't become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think…”
Rom 12:2 GOD’S WORD

Your thinking shapes your life and makes you who you are. Transformation (change) is the result of mind renewal (changing your way of thinking). If you want to change your life in any area then you need to change your heart. You can’t change your heart without changing your thinking. You change your thinking by changing your focus. As you focus on Jesus’ unconditional love for you, and God’s Word, and you allow it to dominate your thoughts, it will start to change your default in your heart (sub-conscious) and it will result in a transformed life.

If you want to get the results the Word talks about then you need to start sowing the seed of the Word into your heart (Mark 4:14). You reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7)! If you think like the world thinks you’ll get the fruit that the world gets (the good, the bad and the ugly), but if you start to think like the Word, you will start to experience the fruit of the Word. If you aren’t purposefully changing your way of thinking and aligning it with God’s Word, then you will naturally conform to the pattern of the world – you’ll just end up looking like the average unbeliever and your life experience will look just like theirs, too. You need to be purposeful about what you think about and focus on. You are the gatekeeper and custodian of your heart.

Guard your heart and protect it because your heart determines how you live. Change your thinking and you change your heart. Change your heart and you change your life. Change your life and you can change the world.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Heart belief

How is your heart doing? I’m not asking about who you are in Christ and what you have in the Spirit. How are your emotions doing? Your feelings are largely the result of your thinking, and so let me ask: how is your thinking? What are you focused on? Most of us tend to be very lenient with ourselves when we evaluate things like this. If you want to know the real answer to “how is my heart doing?” then you should probably look at the fruit you’re experiencing in your life. Are you mostly full of joy and peace? Or are you mostly worried, anxious, fearful or angry?

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Luke 6:45 ESV
What’s in your heart comes out of your mouth. You may be able to keep a reign on it most of the time, but when you’re tired or in moments of (especially sudden) pressure, what is inside will get squeezed out. You may not even realize what’s really going on inside your heart because you are so disconnected from it. I’ve been there! You say that you believe “x, y and z” but you don’t realize that deep in your heart, you don’t. For example, it’s good to consciously declare healing scriptures or God’s favour over yourself (and you should). But what are you thinking about when you’re not purposefully thinking? Are you drifting towards, “This won’t really work” or “I wonder if this is going to work”? Then it doesn’t matter how much you say it consciously, in your heart (sub-consciously) you do not believe it. If your heart doesn’t believe it, you will not see it.

“For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”
Mark 11:23 KJV
Your heart and words need to be in alignment for you to see what you’re trusting for. The real answer to this question, “How is your heart?” could be the reason that you aren’t experiencing healing or whatever you’re trusting for. This could be the reason that things aren’t really working out for you. You could be saying and doing all the right things but if you don’t believe it in your heart you won’t see it because you don’t truly believe it. So, what thoughts are sub-consciously dominating your heart? They reveal what you really believe.
The good news is that you are the gatekeeper of your heart; you control what you allow into your heart and what you keep out of it. By being vigilant in keeping guard over your thought-life, you are able to change your heart.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
Romans 12:2 KJV
Transformation is the result of mind renewal (changing your way of thinking). If you want to change your heart, change your thinking and focus. It will transform your life! What should you focus on? Focus on Jesus and what He has done for you. Focus on the promises of God and His love for you. As you do this, faith will rise up in your heart. You do not need to try and manufacture faith. Simply focus on Jesus. Choose to focus on Jesus more than on the world. As you start thinking more like God and less like the world, your heart beliefs will change, too. Protect your heart from the wrong influences, and open it up to the right One.