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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Having The Character Of Christ

“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.”
Hebrews 12:1 ESV
There are many, many people out there that are really good at their jobs, but they are lacking in the area of character. They may be brilliant at what they do, but nobody can trust them. Maybe they tend to stretch the truth, or they “borrow money from the till” – the bottom line is that they lack in character and it will end up stunting their growth and their progress. Most people only care about the end result of their actions – the end justifies the means, they would say - but God isn’t only interested in you achieving your goals. He is interested in howyou get there. We’ve all got a course or path to follow; we’ve all got something to accomplish, and the writer of Hebrews encourages us to “run with patience.” Patience is a character issue and it’s a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The fruit of the Spirit is the character of Christ which every believer possesses when they become a believer. But we don’t express the character of Christ automatically – as we grow in our relationship with the Lord and discover who we are in Christ, we are able to begin living out what God has put inside of us.  

The Christian life is not about trying to become someone or something. It’s about discovery; discovering who you are in Christ and what He’s done for you. The more you discover about your new identity in Christ, the more you will transform and grow in your character. Your destiny and purpose in life has more to do with who you are than what you do. You are called to be before your doanything. When we start realizing that we have the character of Christ (the fruit of the Spirit) in us, we can start to mature and grow in living out the character of Christ, and we come to represent Him more effectively as we grow.

Jesus said:
“Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other."
John 13:35 GW
God is love (1 John 4:8). Love is who He is. You cannot take love out of God and be left with God. That also means that whenever we come into contact with God, we come into contact with love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). When we become Christians we become completely new people (2 Corinthians 5:17). That change has taken place in our spirits, and if we allow it to change our thinking it will transform our lives (Romans 12:1-2). When we become Christians, God comes to live inside of us – love comes to live inside of us (1 Corinthians 6:19). When we realize that we are now one (1 Corinthians 6:17) with Love (God), and as we experience this amazing unconditional love, it will transform our lives and people around us will begin to experience God’s love through us.

You need to choose to love others, but this choice is well worth it. Love is a powerful character trait that will help you in relationships with others and ultimately help you to walk in your destiny.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Humility Takes You Higher

“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
2 Timothy 2:1-2 KJV

“Who shall be able to teach other also” is an important characteristic to look for in potential leadership. “Shall be” reveals that they may not be able to teach right now, but they should have the humility to learn (being teachable). It’s wise to consider faithfulness and humility when appointing people to positions of influence and giving them more responsibility. Ability can be taught and learnt, but character takes time to develop and it’s not guaranteed. We should all be humble enough to recognize that we don’t know everything, and then we should be humble enough to learn from others.  

Here is the truth about gifts:
“Gifts can open many doors and help you meet important people.”
Proverbs 18:16 ERV

Your gifting will open doors for you and can set you up with important people. If you become excellent in your ability and become renowned for it, it will open doors of opportunity for you, but you need character to sustain you where gifting will take you. Your gift makes room for you, but your character keeps you there.

I’ve had many people come to me and either hint or simply ask for an opportunity to preach. Most of them were gifted teachers, passionate about the Word and knew their Bibles. But that is not enough. You don’t just want a good orator behind the pulpit – you want someone who lives it; someone who has character. At our church we tend to be very slow in putting anyone into leadership or a position of influence (like the pulpit). The Bible says to know those who labour among you (1 Thessalonians 5:12) and so it’s important that we come to know people (which takes time) before we allow them places of influence. In our church, potential leaders need to serve faithfully for a period of time – I always invite them to come help pack out chairs before church. If serving is beneath them, leadership is beyond them!

It’s not about being perfect – if that were the case, no one would make it! God isn’t looking to use silver vessels but surrendered vessels. One of the most important aspects of character is humility: not thinking more highly (or too lowly) of yourself than you should. Humility is about yielding to the Lord and His will, admitting that He knows best, and following His lead.

As we follow His lead and surrender to our wills to His, He will shape us to become men and women of character. All God needs is a humble heart. Pride prevents you from reaching your potential and walking in your destiny. Pride is being more focused on self than on God or others. It’s not being teachable and willing to learn because we think that we know it all (or have heard this before).

"…God opposes the proud but favours the humble."
James 4:6 NLT

When we lift ourselves up (promote ourselves) we don’t experience God’s lifting (or promotion); but when we humble ourselves, God lifts us up. Pride is a certain roadblock to growing in God-given influence and living out your destiny. But when we humble ourselves before God and have an attitude of “not my will but yours, Lord”, we experience the favour of God. Humility is something you have to choose for yourself; it’s an attitude of heart which releases the favour of God in your life. It brings promotion and success and causes you to walk in your destiny.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

How To Become Promotable

“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”
2 Timothy 2:20-21 NKJV

Many people want to get promoted - but you have to be promotable to be promoted. Many people want to be used by God to make a difference and impact people’s lives, but you have to be usable to be used by God. God loves us all the same, but He promotes us and works through us to the degree that we are usable and promotable – and that depends on us. It’s the same in the workplace; if you want to be promoted, you need to be promotable, and youdecide if you are promotable or not. As you embrace growing opportunities and mature in your character, you become more and more usable and you’ll set yourself up for promotion. The Bible is full of wisdom that will help you grow in character and help you become promotable.

Growing opportunities include moments when you are confronted with decisions and you get to choose between doing what you know is right/best or doing what is wrong. Maybe it’s choosing between the easier route (but the wrong route) and the more difficult (but correct) route. “If anyone cleanses himself…” shows that the responsibility is on us to become usable. Every time we choose to make the right decision (regardless of its difficulties) it helps to develop our character, and in turn it is setting us up for promotion and success.

“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
2 Timothy 2:1-2 KJV

Paul (a senior leader in the church) is writing to Timothy (the leader of the church in Ephesus) and instructs him on how to appoint leader (people who influence others). He doesn’t say to look for people who are gifted and can teach and communicate well. He says to look for character: people who are faithful (trustworthy). If you want to be promotable then you have to choose to be faithful. It won’t happen by accident, and neither will it happen overnight. Faithfulness is something you grow in.

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”
Luke 16:10 KJV

As you prove that you are faithful with the little that has already been entrusted to you, you’re proving that you can be trusted with more. This takes time. Faithfulness cannot be proven in a day; it’s proven when you show consistency towards your responsibilities in spite of circumstances which may be difficult or easy.

“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus…”
2 Timothy 2:1 KJV

Paul shows us the most successful way to become promotable and to grow in faithfulness: “Be strong in the grace”. This is step one to reaching your potential and walking in your destiny. Grace is God’s unmerited, undeserved and unearned favour. It focuses on what Jesus did for me, and not what I do for Him. When you are strong in grace (in realizing what you freely have in Christ) it leads to fruitfulness in character and in action. A strong inward flow (grace) leads to a strong outward flow (fruit). So, while faithfulness and character development are a choice and a responsibility on our part, it should not be something that we strive for. It should be an effortless result of us focusing on Jesus and His grace towards us.

As we are established in the truth of His amazing grace, our characters will mature. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) describes a mature believer’s character. Many Christians attempt to produce these characteristics (love, joy, self-control, etc.) in their lives by their own efforts, which only leads to frustration. Fruit becomes effortless when you have the right root. Simply focus on your root in Christ, be strong in grace (what Jesus has done for you) and you will begin to be fruitful.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

More Important Than Ability

“This is a true saying: If a man is eager to be a church leader, he desires an excellent work. A church leader must be…”
1 Timothy 3:1-2 GNB

Paul (the apostle of grace) is writing to Timothy (a young church leader) and is setting requirements for leadership. He is using the words “a church leader must be…”. I know that I’ve excluded the list of requirements there, but this is the first requirement: to be. As you grow in your relationship with God and as you embrace the maturing process, you will possess these qualities because they start with being and are not simply actions. If you try to do these actions without the root of being it will be short-lived and it will frustrate you. Effective and lasting doing flows from being. If you are established in your identity in Christ (being) it will lead to effortless right doing. The grace life isn’t us striving to live better lives – there is no striving in the Christian life. As we realize who we are in Christ, the fruit of that identity flows easier accidentally than it ever would on purpose! I believe that the requirements were not given as a standard to attain to, but rather they are indicators of maturity in a Christian’s life. These requirements are the fruit of maturity, and they aren’t just for leaders: they are describing a mature believer, and all of us should desire to mature in our faith.

These requirements (or indicators) in Scripture are primarily character issues. They aren’t simply telling us that “this is what you should do” but they tell us that at a person’s core this is who they should be. These character traits are a fruit of Christian maturity. As you grow in your relationship with God, you mature and bear fruit in character (Galatians 5:22), and all your actions flow from your core (who you are). Being used by God and walking in your destiny is not about your ability, but rather it is about your maturity (or character). You can train people to do things; you can even train animals to do things! Gifting (or ability) isn’t everything.

You may feel like you are not gifted enough to do something significant, but remember that God is more interested in character than gifting, and anyone can choose to be a person of character. God can equip people of character, but He can’t give people of gifting, character. Character is your decision and is developed over time as you positively respond to God’s Word.

If you want to fulfil your potential and walk in your destiny, then you need to focus on the root of things and not only the fruit. The right root will produce the right fruit. A person of character doesn’t struggle to do the right thing – doing right becomes a natural by-product of (or an overflow) of having the right foundation in you. As you embrace relationship with God and allow His Word to shape your thinking (Romans 12:1-2) you will see transformation in your heart and actions, and you will mature and grow in influence.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Key to Promotion

“Moreover it is required in stewards (a manager), that a man be found faithful.”
1 Corinthians 4:2 KJV Brackets mine

Faithfulness is the number one requirement for a steward (someone who represents someone else and looks after their affairs or assets). It’s something you need to do – being faithful is a choice and a continuous action - but it’s also a character issue. Living out the principle of faithfulness will help grow in your destiny and it will set you up for promotion. Being faithful means that you’re trustworthy, dependable, consistent and dedicated. Everyone wants employees (representatives) who are committed, trustworthy and consistent. Decide to be that employee – whatever your responsibilities are at work, church or home, be faithful to do them and do them with excellence. Choose to represent your boss, company or church well. Be the kind of steward you would want to have. This will help increase your influence.

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.”
Luke 16:10 KJV

The context here is talking about money, and being faithful in our use of money, but the principle stands in other areas too. If you are faithful with little (if you can be trusted with little) then you can be trusted with more. No one can go from no responsibility to much responsibility quickly and survive it. God wants to grow you there so that the influence you have is sustainable. He grows you there by growing you in your character. But remember that He cannot give you character: you need to co-labour with Him in the development of your character. When opportunities to develop your character arise, you need to embrace it and make the correct decisions; He will then empower you to walk in the decisions you make. As you prove that you are trustworthy, God will increase your influence and bring opportunities for promotion.

“20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”
2 Timothy 2:20-21 NKJV

To be used by God (and your boss) you need to be usable, and you are the one who decides if you are usable or not. “If anyone cleanses himself…” shows that the responsibility is on us to become usable. You might say: “But that’s legalism!”. But it’s not. Paul (the apostle of grace) wrote to Timothy (a leader in the church) and said “Here are the requirements for leadership”. In other words, if you want to be an influencer and a leader, then there are certain requirements you need to fulfil – and if you look at them (1 Timothy 3) you’ll see it is all to do with character. Character determines how you live, and so character is the primary issue for influence and promotion. Even if you don’t prove yourself faithful and God can’t entrust you with more influence and responsibility, He still loves you and wants to bless you. He won’t be mad at you. All that it means is that you will not enjoy life as you could have and you will not walk in the fullness of your destiny. But His love for you, and His acceptance of you, is without condition and will never change.

Being Before Doing

Your primary purpose in life is to enjoy being relationship with God - and everything else flows from that. We are called to be before we do anything. God created us as human beings not human doings. We are created for a purpose and God does have a specific work for us to do while we are on this earth, but who we are (character) is more important that what we do (gifting or ability).

Therefore, we are Christ's representatives, and through us God is calling you. We beg you on behalf of Christ to become reunited with God.”
2 Corinthians 5:20 GW

We are all called to be ambassadors (or representatives) of Jesus to the world. Like any ambassador, when people see, hear or encounter you they should see, hear and encounter the person you represent. An ambassador speaks for the one he represents, and thus only speaks what their boss would speak. I have never heard an ambassador to a nation share his own political opinion – he only shares what his boss would say. We’re called “Christians”, or “little Christs”, because when people experience us, they should experience Jesus. We should be telling them what Jesus would tell them, and they should be experiencing Him when they’re around us.

Think about this: What kind of person would you want to represent you? You’d want someone who is trustworthy, someone who you know will represent you the way you would want to be represented! I have had to send people to represent me at meetings before, and I am always very sure to select someone who knows me well enough to say what I would say. The more we grow in our friendship with Jesus and the more we come to know Him, the better we will represent Him.

The moment you receive Jesus and are born again, you represent Him; you’re His ambassador. Every Christian represents Jesus, but some do a poor job – mainly because they don’t really know Him. People who wrongly think that God is harsh, judgmental and condemning usually become like that with other people. When we know God’s true nature - when we see Him as a good, loving, heavenly Father who isn’t holding our sin against us (2 Corinthians 5:10) - we start to treat people with love and kindness.

“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”
1 Corinthians 4:2 KJV

A steward is a manager: someone who looks after something that belongs to someone else. As ambassadors of Christ (His representatives) we are stewards of His message and His mission. The number one requirement to be a good steward is faithfulness. Faithfulness is dependability, consistency, dedication, being trustworthy. It’s talking about character: who you are.

As a Christian, you have influence, but God will only increase your influence for Him as you mature and prove yourself through maturity (character). We all grow in character – it takes time. Character is developed in you by the Holy Spirit as you respond to God’s Word. It is not something that God does for you, independent of you. You need to choose the right things. You choose to be faithful – God won’t force it on you.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Your Primary Calling

“11 For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. 12 When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. 13 When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul.”
Jeremiah 29:11-13 NET

Your Father created you on purpose and for a purpose. In His Word He declares that He has good plans for you; plans of prosperity, peace and well-being; a future filled with hope. This portrays God in a way that many people (even Christians) don’t see Him. Religion focuses on man’s efforts to be accepted by God, whereas true Christianity focuses on Christ’s efforts - which made a way for man to be accepted by God through faith. Religion focuses on right doing, whereas true Christianity is about relationship with God, which brings about a heart change, which in turn leads to right doing. Religion has portrayed God as someone cold and distant; someone who has extremely high standards and is very judgemental; and if you want to interact with this God you would need to be a very good person. When people see God like this they misrepresent Him, and become harsh, cruel and judgemental towards others. I know - I used to be like that. But Jesus came to reveal the heart of the Father. That’s why Jesus said: “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father!” (John 14:9). He perfectly represented God: our loving heavenly Dad who only has good plans for us, plans of prosperity, peace and well-being; a future filled with hope.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 not only reveals that God has good plans for our lives, but it reveals that God primarily desires to have relationship with us. God starts off by saying, “I have great plans for you” and then He goes on to talk about how if you call to Him, He will answer you, and if you seek Him, you’ll find Him. It’s important to get this: our primary calling is to enjoy relationship with God and everything else (including what job you’re called to) flows from knowing Him and enjoying a friendship with Him. Your vocation isn’t eternal – but your relationship with God is.

The reality is that you might reach a certain level of worldly success apart from relationship with God, but you will never enjoy it as much as you could have if you had done it in relationship with God. God doesn’t just want to fellowship with you on a Sunday or for a few minutes before the day starts; He actually wants to go to work with you. There is much more to your calling than a job and making money, and you will never reach your potential and walk in your destiny unless you seek to live in a growing relationship with God, where you’re doing life with Him, you’re seeking His leading in every situation and where you have the attitude of “not my will but yours, Father.”

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life."
John 3:16 ASV

Religion has led us to believe that the only reason Jesus came was for our eternity – and if that was all that there was to salvation, it would be more than we deserve and it would be wonderful! But there is so much more to salvation that forgiveness of sins and going to heaven. We read John 3:16 and automatically think that Jesus came to give us our fire-insurance so that we can go to heaven, but “eternal life” doesn’t mean “living forever”, it means much more than that.

“This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.”
John 17:3 GW

Jesus states that His purpose for being sent to earth was to save us from perishing and give us eternal life (john 3:16), and in John 17:3, Jesus defines eternal life as knowing God (a relationship). Jesus’ main purpose for coming to earth wasn’t to point out your wrongs and help you become a better person (John 3:17). His aim also wasn’t to get you to commit to living according to the Ten Commandments. His whole purpose was to make a way for you to have a friendship with God.

If you haven’t received Jesus and become a Christian, then you’re missing out on your main purpose in life. If you would like to receive Jesus, then please click here and we’d love to lead you in prayer to become a Christian.

You may already be a Christian, but you’ve not really enjoyed friendship with God, or you’ve neglected it? God longs for you to know Him more! We’d love to help you grow in your friendship with God, and that’s why we have a website with many teaching resources. Please visit us online and browse through our selection of audio and video teaching, as well as a number of books.

Created On Purpose For A Purpose

Many people try and live their lives independent of God, making their own decisions and choosing their own destiny. Then, when the paw-paw hits the fan and they find themselves in a mess, they don’t take responsibility for their mess and sometimes they’ll even try and shift the blame onto God.

"Today I am giving you a choice of two ways. And I ask heaven and earth to be witnesses of your choice. You can choose life or death. The first choice will bring a blessing. The other choice will bring a curse. So choose life! Then you and your children will live.”
Deuteronomy 30:19 ERV
Living a good life doesn’t happen automatically or by accident. God wants you to have a good life, but you have to choose it (Jeremiah 29:11-13; John 10:10). You can live a life of blessing, or a life of curses – it’s your choice! “Curse” would include lack or poverty, sickness, pain and suffering, depression, fear and everything else that came as a result of the fall of man in the Garden. Many people believe that fate decides what happens to you – some people are lucky and others aren’t. Some people believe that it’s God who decides who is blessed and who is cursed. But God said in Deuteronomy that we have the choice: a blessed life or a cursed life.

“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
Trying to live life independent of God is like trying to fly from one city to another without a plane! It’s not in man to fly – we need assistance. Likewise, it is not in man to find his own way and choose his own direction. We were created on purpose by the Creator for a purpose. We cannot truly discover our purpose and live in our destiny apart from Him. We were not created to direct our own lives.

“O Lord, I know it is not within the power of man to map his life and plan his course.”
Jeremiah 10:23 TLB

“I know, God, that mere mortals can’t run their own lives, that men and women don’t have what it takes to take charge of life.”
Jeremiah 10:23 MSG
If your life is in a mess, it’s likely that you’ve been trying to live independent of God. You may be a Christian; you may love God, give and serve, but it may be that you’ve been trying to do your own things in your own way and simply asking God to bless it, instead of seeking God’s will and following His plan - which is already blessed.

Whenever you find yourself in a mess, you need to remember that God didn’t cause the mess, and He is not condemning you for it either. God will never, ever make your life a mess – only you have the authority to do that! God wants to help you out of the mess you find yourself in and help you to turn your life around. But you need to co-operate with Him and start going in the direction that He has for you.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The “Good Works” Prepared For You

“God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds (most translations say “good works”), which he has already prepared for us to do.”
Ephesians 2:10 Today’s English Version (brackets mine)

Many people interpret the “good works” as holiness or certain actions that we should do. This can foster a legalistic mentality where we’re focused more on fruit than on the root; more on doing than on being. The truth is that God hasgot good works for you to walk in, but He is more interested in being than on doing. God is more interested in you being right because right being will produce right doing. A healthy tree produces fruit.

God has good plans for you. Plans of prosperity, peace and well-being - a future filled with hope! Jesus came that you might have and enjoy the abundant life found in Him (John 10:10).  He has a plan for your life and that plan includes good works. I believe that there are two aspects to this. Firstly, He has good works for you to do. Hear me: He doesn’t love and accept you or reject you based on these good works. So, we don’t work for God’s acceptance or love; rather we work because we are accepted and loved by Him through Christ (Ephesians 1:6).

Before His baptism at age 30, there is no record of Jesus doing any miracles, or teaching anything to anyone. His ministry started after His baptism. In Matthew 3:16-17 it’s recorded that Jesus got baptised in water by John, and that as He came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit came on Him and God spoke from Heaven in an audible voice, saying,

"This is my Son, whom I love-my Son with whom I am pleased."
Matthew 3:17 GW

God expressed His love of and pleasure in Jesus before Jesus did any work of ministry.  After Jesus experienced the love and pleasure of His Father, He went on to change the world. Likewise, anything we do for God should be an overflow of us responding to His love and pleasure.   That will empower it to be far greater than it would be if we did it out of a place of trying to be loved by God or to be accepted by Him.

God has already prepared good works for you to do, but He isn’t going to love you more if you do them. He loves you no matter what. When my children were born they didn’t do much for me – my wife and I had to do everything for them! But they brought me much, much pleasure, and still do! Even more so with your heavenly Father. God, your Dad, has great pleasure in you because you are His child. Receive His love and experience His pleasure of you, and the fruit will be that you do great works for God and you will enjoy it more than ever!