Thursday, August 31, 2017

How to please God.

“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations…”
Colossians 2:20 NKJV

As Christians, we are free from the law (Romans 6:14) and are no longer under the bondage of having to live under rules and regulations regarding our relationship with God. We are dead to the influences of rules and regulations (see Galatians 5:1-5).

“…why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?”
Colossians 2:20c-22 NKJV

Paul is asking why we as Christians, who are free from rules and regulations, would subject ourselves to the bondages that we are now dead to? We should be enjoying the freedom of the abundant Christ-life instead! Man and religion, are consumed with actions and appearances, whereas God is always more concerned with the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). The law can only regulate actions – it cannot change the heart. We have been set free from the weak and worthless principles (Galatians 4:9) of external regulation – true holiness could not (and cannot) be produced through adherence to it!

Too many Christians are far too intimate with the law which is weak and powerless to produce a life that pleases God; this intimacy will not produce anything that is life-giving and it will not please God.

“But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
Galatians 3:11-14 NKJV

“…without faith it is impossible to please Him…”
Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

It’s plain and simple: the law is not of faith and the just (the justified, aka Christian) lives by faith. Therefore, the Christian should not have a relationship with the law. Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ – the Gospel (Romans 10:17) – and faith is built-up as we focus on Jesus who is the origin and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), therefore, we should not be focused on the law nor should we have a relationship with the law. Holiness and the abundant life can only be produced by focusing on Jesus and having faith in what He has done for us.

“I know that these regulations look wise with their self-inspired efforts at worship, their policy of self-humbling, and their studied neglect of the body. But in actual practice they do honour, not to God, but to man’s own pride.”
Colossians 2:23 PHILLIPS

Rules and regulations appeal to our carnality because it gives us a sense of achievement which reinforces a performance-based mentality, all of which is focused on self and fills us with pride. We think we’re worshipping God through strict adherence to the law but we’re actually worshipping (or honouring) ourselves. What honours God is faith, and faith is a heart issue. We worship God when we let go of trying to be right with Him and trying to please Him, and when we look to Jesus and trust in (faith) what He has done for us. The Christian life is not about what we do for God – it’s about what He has done for us!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Did Jesus destroy the law?

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law, till all be fulfilled.”
Matthew 5:17-18 KJV (Italics from NIV)

It is important to realize that Jesus didn’t come to destroy or abolish the Law or the Prophets (speaking of the Old Testament), rather He came to fulfil them. The word “fulfil” means to make full, to perfect, complete or finish. Jesus is saying that He came to complete the law, or to bring it to an end. He came to perfect it. We’ll all agree that Jesus did what He came to do, and therefore the law is now complete or brought to an end. Matthew 5:18 shows us that the law stood until all was fulfilled. In John 19:30, Jesus was hanging on the cross and He declared in His final breath that “it is finished”. Jesus had come to fulfil the law and through His sacrifice, He did it. He completed it and brought it to an end, so that we could relate to God under a new and better covenant.

“Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions (sin; violation)…

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”
Galatians 3:19; 24-26 ESV (Brackets mine)

The word “added” shows us that law was not a part of God’s original plan. The law (the covenant which came through Moses) was “added” to the Covenant of Promise that God had already made with Abraham. The purpose of this was to expose sin and show that self-salvation could never be attained. The law prepared us for the covenant of grace (through Jesus) in which we need to let go of our effort for acceptance and blessing, and trust in our Saviour.

“So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came”
Galatians 3:24 ESV

The word “until” shows us that the law was a temporary situation “until Christ came”. Jesus came to fulfil the law; complete it and bring it to an end.

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
Romans 10:4 KJV

It is not possible to obtain right standing (righteousness) before God based on our effort and obedience to the law. It’s only by faith (believing) in what Christ has done for us.

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
Galatians 2:21 KJV

If you could be right with God by obeying and living by the law (the Old Covenant), then it would frustrate (void, stop the flow or reject) the grace of God (the free gift of undeserved favour) and it would mean that Christ’s death had no purpose.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Are you a disciple of Moses, or Jesus?

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
John 1:17 KJV
The scripture is speaking of two different covenants (or ways of relating to God) revealed in this verse: Moses (the Old Covenant) and Jesus (the New Covenant). The word “but” divides this verse in two, showing us that “the law was given by Moses” and “grace and truth coming by Jesus Christ” are not the same thing. The Old Covenant was based on the law, which came through Moses to the Jews. The New Covenant is based on grace and truth, which came for all people through Jesus. Sadly, many Christians are ignorant of this truth and try to live their new covenant Christianity under old covenant principles. A good question to ask ourselves is: are we disciples of Moses or disciples of Jesus?

“He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will bespilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.”
Luke 5:36-38 ESV
In Jesus’ day, if you were to sew a new piece of cloth onto an old garment to patch up a tear or a section which was worn out, it would shrink the first time it was washed and it would tear away from the old garment that had already shrunk. This would further damage the garment. This shows us that Jesus did not come to patch up the Old Covenant with the New, but instead, He came to replace it.

“For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.”
Hebrews 7:18-19 ESV
You don’t put new wine (unfermented wine) into old wineskins. You’d need to use new wineskins because as the fermentation process occurs only new wineskins can accommodate the expansion of the gas. New wine in old wineskins would cause the old wineskins (which are already stretched) to burst and the wine would be lost. The Old Covenant law could never stretch enough to accommodate the New Covenant truths of mercy and grace.
You cannot mix law and grace and have a successful Christian life.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Knowing that God is Good.

“…the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”
Daniel 11:32b (NKJV)
True strength and confidence comes from knowing who God really is. As we said yesterday: when you know that God is not the author of tragedies, suffering and pain, it will enable you to trust Him. Knowing that God is not the author or origin of our troubles will deepen our relationship with Him. We can trust Him because He is good.

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”
Psalm 34:8 NKJV
God doesn’t just do good – He is good. You cannot take good out of God and be left with God. The essence of who God is, is good. In other words, whatever God does is only ever good. Knowing this brings us a confidence and makes us strong! Tasting and seeing are both tangible experiences. It’s not enough to know about a great buffet restaurant: I want to know it for myself, and that means seeing it and tasting the food for myself! God’s goodness isn’t some mystical concept that we can only know intellectually, it is a tangible reality that we can experience.

The Lord is good means that the Lord is equal to good – when you experience God, you will experience good. Every time you encounter God or engage with Him, you will experience good. You can never encounter God and not encounter good. But sadly, because many people see God has harsh, judgmental and angry, they do not have a healthy relationship with him. Their wrong view of God prevents them from experiencing who He really is: good!

Moses asked God if he could see His glory (Exodus 33:18). God responded by saying that He would make all of His goodness pass before Moses and He would proclaim His Name (who He is).

“And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”
Exodus 33:19 ESV
Moses asked God if he could see His glory and God responded by saying that He would show him His goodness - part of God’s glory is His goodness.  God proclaimed that when you see or experience Him, you see and experience good. Then God proclaimed who He is: gracious and merciful.

If we know God’s true nature, that He is good and only good, then it will give us a deep sense of security because we know what to expect: good. This makes us strong and will enable us to be confident in our relationship with Him and cause us to both expect good things from Him and do great things with Him. When you have the root of knowing and being confident in His goodness, you will have the fruit of strength, great expectations (faith)  and doing great things with Him.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

God is not causing your suffering.

“…the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”
Daniel 11:32b (NKJV)
Doing great exploits comes from being strong, confident and secure, and this is the fruit (or result) of knowing God’s true nature. Many people know about God, and they think that they know Him - but they don’t know Him for who He really is. You can know about someone without knowing their heart. Sadly, many Christians know about God and think that they know God’s heart, but they are misinformed about God’s true nature.

For example, many Christians get angry with God when things don’t turn out the way they hoped or expected them to. If we find that we’re angry with God, it reveals that we don’t know God’s true nature or how He does things. Jesus, who is our example, was never angry with God. We are never justified in being angry with God. Now, God won’t fall off of His throne if you’re angry with Him, and He will only ever deal with you in love and grace, but your anger towards God will negatively affect you and cause negative fruit in your life.

Often people get angry with God because they don’t understand why He didn’t do something they expected Him to do – if God is so good, why does He allow bad things to happen? This is why it is so important that we know who God really is and how He operates. If you believe that God is causing pain and suffering in our lives for some greater purpose, then you can’t be secure is God or expectant of anything specific because you’ll never know what God is going to do because you cannot put God in a box! The truth is that we can put God in a box – we can expect Him to be a certain way and do certain things. The Bible reveals that He is good (Psalm 100:5; 136:1) and that He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). God will never do something out of character. When we know His true character, we can know what to expect.

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”
-Jesus (John 10:10 AMP)
This is good, simple theology: if it’s good it’s God, if it’s bad it’s the devil. God isn’t the one causing destruction and suffering in your life. (And if you’re wondering about Job or Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”, please request my teachings on those issues – there are answers!)

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”
Acts 10:38 KJV
Sickness and oppression is never (ever) from God. It is a work of the devil. God anointed (empowered) Jesus to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Jesus never refused to heal anyone and He never put sickness on anyone, because that is not what God does. God heals people, He doesn’t make them sick. Jesus said that He only does what He sees His Father do (John 5:19).
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
James 4:7 KJV
We are to submit to God and we are to resist the devil. If sickness and suffering is sometimes from God and sometimes from the devil, or sometimes from God through the devil, then when do you submit and when do you resist? How do you know when to submit and when to resist? If Jesus is always the same, then you can expect Him never to give you sickness or suffering. The devil and his works are to be resisted (actively fought against). If we submit to the devil and his works, we empower them in our lives.

It’s not God’s fault when things go wrong. The devil is the one seeking to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). God has given us authority over all the power of the devil (Luke 10:19) so that we can resist him and see him flee (run in terror). If we do not resist, he will not flee. If you believe that your pain and suffering is from God, then you are submitting to the problem (the devil) and allowing your problem to stay or get worse. God is not in control of the problem and whether it stays or goes – you have the authority to accept it or resist it.

When we know God and His will, we can be confident in what to expect. When we realize that God is good and is not the author of our suffering, it causes us to be bold in our fight against the devil, and we can be confident in expecting good things from God.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Supernatural Faith

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)
Many people feel that they cannot come to God boldly and that they cannot expect to receive good things from Him. This is because they are relating to God based on their performance - and they know that their performance isn’t good enough. You will never have boldness to come to God while you are basing His acceptance and His blessing of you on your performance – you’ll never be good enough. If your boldness in approaching God isn’t based on His grace, then your boldness is actually arrogance. If you think that you deserve God’s acceptance and blessing for any reason, think again. You don’t. The only reason we can be bold in our relationship with God and expect to receive good things from Him is because of His grace (undeserved favour) through Jesus and what He did for us.

When we know God for who He really is, we will be bold and confident in our walk with Him. Our relationship with God will only ever be as good as our understanding of His grace. Many people see God as sitting on a throne of judgement (where you receive what you deserve), but He’s actually sitting on a throne of grace (where you get what you don’t deserve). You can enjoy a free-flowing relationship with God knowing that He’s always dealing with you in grace.

Relating to God based on His grace and not our performance releases supernatural faith in our lives. As we focus on Jesus and what He’s done for us, faith rises in us (Hebrews 12:2). It’s difficult to believe God and His Word when you’re focused on your performance, your failings and your efforts. You will always be trying to evaluate yourself and wondering if you are doing well enough. But when you realize that it’s all about His goodness towards you - independent of your performance - it becomes easy to receive from Him.  We cannot receive mercy or grace to help us unless we are relying on His grace and not our performance.
“…the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”
Daniel 11:32b (NKJV)

When we know God, it helps us to be strong and secure. We start to see faith working in our lives, and that enables us to do great things with God.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Key To Endurance And Success

If you want to hit something, you have to aim for it - and to aim at it, you have to focus on it. Seldom will you hit something without having been intentional. Focus is a key ingredient for success. If you’re focused in too many directions, your strength will be defused and you will not be as successful as you could be. This is how it is with the Christian life, too.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV) - Emphasis mine
The first thing which I want to mention from this verse is that we run with patience the race that is set before us. You don’t get to choose your race – the direction you’re going in. God created you on purpose and for a purpose, and that purpose is what will bring you most satisfaction and joy.  You’ll never be complete without knowing and walking in that purpose. (Watch my Discover your Destiny series on YouTube! It’s a six-part series – here is part 1)

The next thing which we need to realize is that this race is a marathon, and not a sprint! We’re encouraged to run with patience (some translations say endurance), which means that you won’t finish your race overnight. In our microwave-culture we expect things to happen yesterday. We even get impatient when reheating something in the microwave – a few seconds isn’t quick enough for a lot of us. Time is a true test of faith because it checks to see if you still believe what you said you believe even though you haven’t seen it yet. I like this definition of patience: faith over a prolonged period of time.

I’m thankful that we aren’t just told to run a race but we’re told how to run, too. You run your race looking unto Jesus. Jesus is the origin of your faith (it is born out of relationship with Him) and it is perfected and strengthened in Him. You will never be strong in faith without focusing on Jesus, and you will never fulfil your destiny and calling without strong faith. God set it up so that it would be effortless. You do not need to manufacture the energy and power (faith) necessary to fulfil your purpose – rather it is a natural by-product of relationship with Jesus. It really is that simple. The problem is that many people aren’t focused on who Jesus really is.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14 (KJV)
Jesus is the Word that was made flesh and dwelt among us. He is the glory of God full of grace and truth. Jesus is full of grace (undeserved, unmerited, unearned favour) and truth. Many people seem to think that truth is the Ten Commandments (the law), but that isn’t true. This is clear in the next few verses:

“And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
John 1:16-17 (KJV)
The fullness of Jesus is grace, and from Jesus we receive grace, and more grace. We never receive the burden of the law and the guilt, shame and condemnation that it brings with it.  The law was given by Moses, not Jesus. Grace and truth came by Jesus. This shows us that truth and grace are on the same side, but law is an opposite. This is powerful! You can never know God properly through the law and you will never have the faith you need to run your race as long as you are trying to relate to God according to the law, your efforts and performance.

Focusing on Jesus is about focusing on who He is and what He has done for us; it’s about His unconditional love and grace, and the finished work for us. When we are not focused on Jesus and who He really is, we will not have the strength and wisdom to run correctly and will not finish our course. When we are focused on Jesus, it strengthens us in faith (and brings a confidence in us) and empowers us (makes us strong) to run with patience. The only way to run your race successfully is from relationship with God – a relationship in which you are relating to Him based on what He has done (grace) and not what you do (performance).

Friday, January 20, 2017

Be Confidently Expectant Of Good!

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16 (KJV)
You will never be able to approach God boldly unless you know that He wants you to. This verse says to come boldly, expecting to receive mercy and grace. Expect to get what you don’t deserve (grace) and expect not get any punishment, criticism or judgement you do deserve (mercy). In other words: expect good things from God, even though you don’t deserve them. Many people don’t have a boldness to even come to God, never mind come to Him and expect good things. Our view of God determines how we relate to Him. If you believe that He is angry with you, disappointed in you, or judging you, you probably won’t come to Him boldly. The truth is that He isn’t angry with you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or what you haven’t done. You can come boldly!

“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn That the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, So have I sworn That I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.”
Isaiah 54:9 (NKJV)
Religion has painted a picture of an angry, critical God that points out your faults and tells you to do better. Most of us don’t enjoy being around people who are angry and always pointing out our faults; we don’t come boldly to them expecting good things. When we see God for who He really is, we will be confident in our relationship with Him.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s… The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy… He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Psalm 103:2-5, 8, 10-12 (NKJV)
A lot of people think God has a short temper and is ready to punish us as soon as we step out of line. And yet Scripture says that He is slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He doesn’t deal with or punish us according to our sins – He has forgiven us!

“I mean that God was in Christ, making peace between the world and himself. In Christ, God did not hold people guilty for their sins. And he gave us this message of peace to tell people.”
2 Corinthians 5:19 (ESV)
God isn’t holding your sin, your failures or your mistakes against you, so why do you approach Him as if He does? God is at peace with mankind – and you - because of Jesus.

 “…the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”
Daniel 11:32b (NKJV)

“Yes, be bold and strong! Banish fear and doubt! For remember, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 (TLB)
You will only ever be secure as an individual (be bold and strong) and do great things with God when you know His true nature – that He is love (1 John 4:8) and He is for you, not against you (Romans 8:31). You will only ever be truly strong and confident when you know God as the loving, gracious and merciful God He truly is.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How to be strong & do great things

“…the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”
Daniel 11:32b NKJV

This verse is saying that knowing God (having the right knowledge of Him and having a relationship with Him) results in being strong and doing great things. Being a strong person and doing great things in your life is the result of a relationship with God. Relationship with God is the root: being strong and doing great things is the fruit! You cannot have a good relationship with God (or anyone for that matter) without knowing them well. Your view (knowledge) of God determines what kind of relationship you’ll have with Him, and your view of God determines how you see yourself, and how you live your life. If your view of God is distorted, the way you see yourself and the way you live your life will also be distorted.  We need to see God for who He really is.
“The Son shows the glory of God. He is a perfect copy of God’s nature, and he holds everything together by his powerful command. The Son made people clean from their sins. Then he sat down at the right side of God, the Great One in heaven.”
Hebrews 1:3 ERV (Emphasis mine)

Jesus is a perfect copy of God’s nature! So, you can know what God is like by looking at how Jesus was on earth. Jesus confirmed this by saying that if we have seen Him, we have seen the Father (John 14:9).  Jesus never did anything that God the Father would not have done (John 5:19).
“how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”
Acts 10:38 (NKJV)

God empowered Jesus to do what He did, and He was with Jesus in all that He did. Jesus and the Father are one. Some people wrongly see a courtroom drama going on in heaven where God wants to punish mankind but Jesus is an attorney who is constantly reminding God of His sacrifice. This is not true. God is not angry and He isn’t out to punish you.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
John 3:16-17 (NKJV)

Jesus came because God loved the world, not because He was angry. Jesus came to save us from perishing, not to condemn us for our sin. Through Jesus, God is not holding anyone’s sins against them (2 Corinthians 5:19). Many people wrongly believe that God has a long list of everything you’ve done wrong and thought wrong and that He’s going to punish you for it someday. If you see God like this, then it is the foundation of your relationship with God and your relationship with God will not be healthy - because it is not based on truth. As a result, you will not be confident and you will not be able to do great things with God.
“And then he adds, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.””
Hebrews 10:17 (TLB)

When you know that God is not holding anything against you, you won’t feel like you have to work hard for His acceptance and love. You will realize that He accepts you and you have permission to come to Him with boldness and confidence, knowing that you can receive from Him whatever you need, because He is good. And He loves you.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

You aren't running alone

God always provides. In fact, He has already lavishly provided everything we could ever need in order to accomplish whatever it is that we need to accomplish (Ephesians 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3). There is always provision for God’s vision! God’s vision includes you being able to look after your family well. God is not glorified when you experience lack and suffer. Poverty and lack are enemies of God, and Jesus came to deal with them (2 Corinthians 8:9). When we can’t see the provision for the vision (whether it’s wisdom or whether it’s finances) it’s not because it doesn’t exist – it does! You have a heavenly account which is crammed full of God’s undeserved favour and blessing – all you need to do is make a withdrawal (faith).

God doesn’t always provide in the same way and He isn’t limited to provide for you only through your pay cheque (for finances) or through your degree (for wisdom and knowledge). One of the reasons why we sometimes don’t see the answer for our situation is that we aren’t humbling ourselves to receive from others. Pride prevents us from receiving from others. We should never have a “lone ranger” mentality and try to do it ourselves. God has not called anyone to accomplish anything by themselves and on their own. Your destiny is tied up in and deeply connected to the destiny of others.
Romans 12:5 (NKJV), “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

As Christians, we are part of one another.
1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (NKJV), “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into[c] one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.”

God has set is up so that no one person is a one-man show! It may appear like someone has it altogether and is successful all by themselves - but they aren’t. Throughout Scripture, we see that God gives a vision to one person and calls them to lead, but the vision is always fulfilled through a team. We all add value in a unique way which builds up the team to fulfil the vision.

God has placed you in the body of Christ (the church). One of the amazing things about the church is that you’re not only part of it on Sundays. You are part of Christ’s body - as Christians we are a part of each other every day of every week of every year . There is no “off button”. There are many local expressions of the church (like GraceLife, for example), and when you choose not to participate in and be a part of a local church, you are shooting yourself in the foot. God has gifted everyone with unique abilities, perspectives and wisdom. When you exclude yourself from participating in the church, you’re preventing yourself from benefitting from the gifts that God has placed inside of them – your answer might be inside someone else! The flip-side is true, too: God has given you unique gifts, and these gifts are not for you. They are to help you fulfil your purpose within the body of Christ - which means your gifts enable you to bless others and help them fulfil their purpose. We are all part of one another. You will never fulfil your purpose and calling outside of the body of Christ.

Whenever you face a challenge and need wisdom or help, don’t be too proud to ask your brothers and sisters in Christ. Obviously, be wise in whom you ask and what you ask - but ask. I sometimes have had businessmen ask me for input on things like decision-making, dealing with staff etc. I may not have business experience, but as I functioned in my specific role and calling I have been able to help them. Even if all you do is ask someone in your LifeGroup/ home group to pray for you for wisdom – that is putting a draw on the wealth of resources that God has placed in us, together, as the family of God.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Three Hindrances To Fulfilling Your Goals - part 3

Today we’re looking at the last hindrance to fulfilling your goals that the Lord showed me on New Year’s Day. The third thing that God showed me which holds us back from reaching our potential and fulfilling His vision for our lives is:

3. Insufficient ability or resources
This is probably the most common hindrance to fulfilling any goal: we don’t feel adequate, equipped enough or supplied with the resources that we feel we need.  We know what we need to accomplish, but it seems out of reach or even impossible because we don’t have the skill, knowledge or resources to do it. When we start seeing things from God’s perspective, then we will start breaking through these kind of barriers.

Ephesians 1:3 (NKJV), “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”

We are blessed because we are in Christ. If God has already given us every spiritual blessing, how much more blessing do we need? We have (past tense) already been (past tense) blessed (past tense) with every (not just some) spiritual blessing. We don’t need more blessing than we already have. We need to realize what we already have in Christ and learn how to access it.

You might say, “but that’s spiritual blessing, not a physical one. And why can I see lack in my life?”. Yes, we are blessed with every blessing in our spirits, but we can withdraw that blessing and experience it in the physical, too! God is a spirit (John 4:24) and He spoke the world and everything in it, into being (Psalm 33:9; Hebrews 11:3). The spiritual precedes the physical realm. With creation, the physical came from the spiritual, and it came through words. That’s why the words we speak are so important! Our words contain the power to create life and cause death (Proverbs 18:21). Jesus showed us that speaking in faith releases faith and power to heal the sick, cast out demons and move mountains (Mark 11:20-24). He also said that we’d have whatever we said. Most often we are not experiencing the blessing that already belongs to us in Christ because we aren’t using faith-filled words to release the provision that already exists in the spiritual into the physical.
2 Peter 1:3 (NKJV), “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.”

God, by His divine power, has given (past tense) to us all thing (not just some) that we need for life (the practical felt needs) and godliness (the spiritual). We experience this provision through the knowledge of Him – in other word, it flows in proportion to our knowing Him and our relationship with Him. We don’t lack anything for what we need to do – God has already blessed us to do what He has called us to do!
Acts 1:8 (NKJV), “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

God will never give you a vision to accomplish in your own power, strength and ability. Through the Holy Spirit, we have supernatural power to accomplish supernatural things. The Holy Spirit divinely enables us to do great things for God. He teaches us all things (John 14:26) and leads us in truth (John 16:13).

We have everything we need to do what we are called to do!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Three Hindrances To Fulfilling Your Goals - part 2

Today we’re looking at the second hindrance to fulfilling your goals that the Lord showed me on New Year’s Day. If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here. The second thing that God showed me which holds us back from reaching our potential and fulfilling His vision for our lives is:
2. Inactive or weak faith – neglecting our faith.
Romans 1:17 (KJV), “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

Galatians 3:11(KJV) “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.”

Hebrews 10:38 (KJV) “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”

As believers we live by faith. We shouldn’t just visit there from time to time. If we live by it, it should be as fundamental to every moment of our life as breathing is. If you want to live the life that God has for you and fulfil the calling He has on your life, then you have to be strong in faith. Sadly, too many of us are not.
Matthew 17:20 (NKJV)“… if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Faith is what enables us to remove obstacles (mountains) from our path (Matthew 17:20). It’s not about how much faith you have because Jesus showed us that if you have even the smallest amount of faith (like a mustard seed) you can move mountains – nothing will be impossible for you!
Ephesians 6:16 (NKJV), “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”

Faith is what helps us deal with and get victory over every attack of the devil. The devil is not stronger than us – we have the greater One living in us (1 John 4:4) and can therefore live in victory. We just need to believe it and be confident in it.
1 John 5:4 (NKJV), “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

With faith, we are fully equipped to overcome anything negative and live in victory! We also need faith to do what God has called us to do, to fulfil the God-given purpose and vision for our lives. But the wonderful truth is that faith isn’t something we strive for: we already have all the faith we need.
Romans 12:3 (KJV), “…according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

God has given to each of us, as His children, THE measure of faith. This means that the same measure was given to us all.
Galatians 2:20 (KJV), “…the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God…”

As believers, we live by the faith of Jesus. It’s His faith in us. It was a gift we received when we received Jesus and got born again. The problem is that many of us are not confident in who we are in Christ and who He is in us. Many of us don’t believe we have the faith that it takes to do what we need to do, and yet Jesus said:
John 14:12 (NKJV), ““Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”

Believing is as simple as agreeing with God.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

THREE Hindrances to fulfilling your goals - part 1

On the first day of this year I was praying together with our church leaders in DurrĂ«s, Albania. As we were talking and listening to God, He directed me to ask them to list every hindrance that they believed was blocking their growth as a church.  The list was long and included things like culture, language and finances, to name a few. While they were writing their list, I wrote a much shorter list: three things that God showed me were the only hindrances to seeing the church grow and reach more people. These three hindrances are the same things that are holding you back from reaching your goals.

The only three things holding you back from fulfilling your goals are:
  1. A lack of Vision
  2. Inactive or Weak Faith
  3. Insufficient Ability

We will look at all three of these in a little more detail over the next few days. For today, let’s talk about the first one:

  1. A Lack of Vision
“Where there is no vision, the people perish…”
Proverbs 29:18 KJV

Vision is a key ingredient to success – you have to know where you’re going if you want to get anywhere. Success doesn’t happen by accident. No one ever accomplished anything significant without being purposeful and without having a picture inside of them of what they wanted to accomplish. Vision is having a picture on the inside of your heart and mind of what should be. Without vision we will perish: we will waste time, resources and energy on things that are insignificant. Many people are frustrated because they don’t know the direction in which they should be going.

The truth is that life is not just about having some goals or a dream of what you’d like to accomplish. It’s about having God’s vision for your life – His dream of what you should accomplish. Many people are frustrated in life because they are trying to accomplish something that they were not created to accomplish. They are square pegs trying to fit into round holes. God’s vision for your life will fit like a glove! It will bring satisfaction and fulfilment like nothing else can.

How do we get God’s vision for our lives?
“Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
Psalm 37:4 KJV

This doesn’t mean that if you desire something (like a Ferrari) you’ll get it. The word delight in this verse means pliable or mouldable. This verse is saying that when our hearts are open to be influenced by God (mouldable), then He will give us desires to desire – He will cause us to desire what we should desire.

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

If you want to know what His good, and acceptable, and perfect will (His vision) for your life is, then start with being a living sacrifice (having an attitude of ‘not my will, but Your will, God’) and then renewing your mind (starting to think like God thinks – starting to be Word minded). When we start thinking like God thinks, we will start to see what God sees.

Fulfilling God’s vision for your life will be much easier than fulfilling your own vision, because God’s blessing and empowering is upon His vision and plans.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Way Jesus Ran. By Marna Holesgrove

For the last few days, we have been looking at how to find and run the race that God has set before us. Let’s go back to Hebrews 12 (AMP) for a moment:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]. Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Many people start out strong in their year, and as the months fall away, they seem to falter and lose their steam or their way. Paul is giving is giving us a very clear direction on how to run our course: look at Jesus and how He ran His.

Firstly, we need to keep the eyes of our hearts on Christ. So many people find their vision with God –and it might even be the right one! But they decide that they need to run their course in their own wisdom and their own strength, and as a result, they falter or lose their sense of direction and end up somewhere else. In this race of life and faith, the goal is not achieving something specific. The goal is Jesus and running it with Him. As you enjoy friendship with Him - as all of your life centres on and flows from Him – certain things will happen. His dreams for you will start growing in your heart (Psalm 37:4). You will learn to recognise His voice and His leading (John 10:4 and 14). And then, because you know His love for you and because you know Him intimately, you will trust Him – and you will have the faith you need to step out and do the amazing and impossible things He has created you to do.

Secondly, we need to consider and meditate on the way He ran His race. Jesus had the most difficult race of all to run, and He ran it to clear the way for us so that we would be able to run the race of life with Him. The things He had to do and endure were worse and more insurmountable than anything you or I will ever face. How did He do it? How did He achieve the impossible? Paul says that it was for the joy that was set before Him that Jesus endured the cross and everything else that He had to battle through. The joy of fulfilling His calling and of being united with all of us gave Him the strength and power to disregard every difficulty and keep going until He had finished His course and sat down at the right hand of the Father.

As you start off this year like an athlete from the starting blocks, let the same joy of Christ be the strength that powers you (Nehemiah 8:10 and Psalm 28:7).

It’s not about what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens to you. It doesn’t matter if you had terrible things happen to you in 2016 because your perspective, attitude and faith in God can turn tragedies and devastation into testimonies of God’s greatness.
By Marna Holesgrove

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Moving Forward - P4

If you missed the first and second parts of How to move forward, then click here to read them. God’s idea of success is much better than any picture of success we could ever imagine. God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Your idea of success for your life will never compare to what God desires for you. I would define God’s kind of success as walking in relationship with Him and doing what He’s called you to do the way He’s called you to do it – and all of this is only ever the result of walking in relationship with Him. You’ll only ever be as successful as your relationship with God is.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead.”
Philippians 3:13 NET
4.  Reaching out for the things that are ahead.
You can’t reach out for what lies in front of you if you’re holding onto what lies behind you. You will never be successful unless you let go of what lies behind, but you also need to reach out to what lies ahead. This reveals that you cannot be passive if you want to move forward in the purposes of God. While we do not, and cannot, earn the favour and blessing of God through our performance, we need to be active in receiving what God has freely given to us in Christ. Faith (belief) without corresponding actions of faith is dead (James 2:17). For example, if you believe that you’re in danger, you’ll do something to get out of the situation or protect yourself in the situation. You act on what you truly believe.
If you want to reach out for the things that are ahead, you need to have a vision of what lies ahead. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wander aimlessly, wasting your time, resources and energy on things that don’t really matter. Most people have some kind of vision (or picture) of what they want to accomplish or of where they want to go, but it’s not enough to have a vision - you need to have God’s vision. Too many people invest all their energy into chasing after the wrong vision. As someone once said: You don’t want to climb the ladder of success, get to the top and realize that you were leaning against the wrong wall. Stephen R. Covey said, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” God created you on purpose and for a purpose. His purpose for your life will bring you true satisfaction and fulfilment. It will give meaning to your life and will cause your life to greatly, greatly impact the lives of others. True success is walking in God’s vision for your life, with Him.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”
Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV
Running the race that is set before you starts with knowing where you’re running (having God’s vision for your life) and then moving in that direction.  If you want to finish your course with joy, then you need to have the right focus: Jesus.  As believers, we live by faith and so we’re only ever as successful as our trust in God. You are not the one that manufactures faith in your heart: Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. As we look to Him and what He has done for us, as we focus on His love and grace for us, our faith grows in us. The only way to run your race with endurance and finish strong is through faith. It takes faith to fulfil the vision that God has given you. Trust Him!

Monday, January 9, 2017

How To Move Forward - P3

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead.”
Philippians 3:13 NET
If you missed the first and second parts of How to move forward, then click here to read them. Today we continue looking at forgetting the things that are behind.

3. Forgetting the things that are behind. (Continued from yesterday)
    #4 Keep moving forward – don’t camp!
    Many people have a tendency to resist change - which leads to ‘camping’. You may enjoy camping, but most of the fun in camping is that when it’s time to move camp, you move. There’s a temptation for us to camp where it’s comfortable, even if it’s hazardous. It may be because we are fearful of the unknown future and so we would rather hold onto the negative (and suffer) because we’re so familiar with it. Change isn’t always easy, but if it’s a God kind of change, it is for the best.

    If you define yourself by your past failures and negative experiences, you’re limiting your potential and are preventing yourself from walking in your destiny. Regarding your sin, struggles, failures and mistakes: God has forgotten them (Psalm 103: 12; Hebrews 10:17) and so should you. What you did may have been stupid - but you are forgiven. Don’t allow the past to dictate your future. Regarding the negative circumstances that happened to you: your ability to choose how you respond to circumstances is greater than all of hell unleashed against you. It’s not about what happens to you, but how you choose to respond to it. Paul was beaten with rods and whips multiple times, stoned and left for dead, imprisoned many times, shipwrecked, and suffered hunger, cold, and nakedness all for the sake of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:23-30). Paul even referred to all his sufferings as light affliction (2 Corinthians 4:17). None of that is pleasant, but it never stopped him from making a significant impact in history for Jesus. Many people in our society are depressed because of problems which are insignificant in comparison to what Paul experienced, and yet Paul never suffered with depression. He wasn’t depressed. In fact he wrote one of the happiest books in the Bible (Philippians) while he was in prison for his faith, and he was encouraging the believers outside of prison to “rejoice in the Lord, always!”. Paul wasn’t a victim of the bad things which happened to him, and you don’t have to be either.

“…I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind…”
    Paul didn’t specify that he was forgetting only the negative things that were in his past – I believe that he also had to let go of the good too. I don’t think it was that he had to forget them completely, because the Bible says that it’s a godly thing to remember the good things in our lives. I believe that Paul chose not to hold on to his past successes and accomplishments, nor to allow them to define him. When we accomplish or experience something great, we should celebrate and enjoy it, but we need to build on those experiences and accomplishments and keep moving forward. It’s like the group of older people in a church which experienced “revival” a few years back and haven’t stopped talking about it since: they still live in the joy of what happened decades ago, when God wants to do something new today. A similar thing happened with Jesus’ disciples: Jesus took Peter, James and John with him up a mountain where He had a supernatural meeting with Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17). This resulted in Jesus and His clothes shining with God’s glory. Peter wanted to camp there, and most of us would have wanted to as well. Peter even wanted to build three tabernacles in honour of this encounter, and to help prolong it, I am sure. The amazing thing is that Jesus didn’t allow them to camp there (nor did He allow them to tell anyone until after the resurrection) and He led them down the mountain (Matthew 17:9). They had a mission to continue and Jesus wasn’t going to allow them to be in limbo just because of a great experience.

    If you define yourself by your past successes and positive experiences, you’re limiting your potential and you are preventing yourself from moving forward into more of your destiny. Regardless of how good it was, there is always more. Don’t allow the past (no matter how good it was) to dictate your future. Build on the good in your past and keep moving forward.