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APPREHENDED TO BE BLESSED

In the message titled APPREHENDED FOR SERVICE (previously titled ‘Apprehended For What?’) we explored what it means for a man to be apprehended by God for His service, and we alluded to the fact that every believer would love to hear that God’s hand is upon him, because it means that God’s blessings are flowing upon him. [NOTE: It is highly recommended that you read APPREHENDED FOR SERVICE before reading this.] So in this follow-up message, we will explore the ways in which the Lord’s blessings flow upon the man whom He has apprehended.

 Someone said “everybody want go heaven, but nobody want dead” (sic). This is very similar to the attitude that believers have towards God and His blessings. We all want His blessings, but not many of us want to do what it takes to attract his blessings, and that’s where the problem lies because His blessings are reserved for those who serve Him. Like an employer who remunerates his workers, so does God rewards those who work to advance His kingdom here on earth. Simply put, God apprehends to use and bless! Here are some of the ways this works.

 SERVING AS AN AMBASSADOR OF HEAVEN

 An ambassador is a person that has been appointed – apprehended - by the head of a state to represent him in a foreign nation. When the ambassador enters a room, it is considered that the head of the state that he represents has entered the room. He speaks for, and carries the authority of the head of state. Everything that belongs to the ambassador – his residence, office, vehicle, hotel room, luggage, mail, etc. – are ‘sovereign property’ that are considered to be the property of the state that he represents. Thus, being inside an embassy of France in any country means being in the state of France. The laws of France apply inside that embassy, not the laws of the host country. The embassy and all the folks that work therein, from the ambassador down the guards at the gate, enjoy the full backing, protection, provisions and authority of France. 

 This is the kind of privilege a servant-believer enjoys for having been apprehended to be a servant of the kingdom of God. He is made a representative, an ambassador of the kingdom of heaven! Any believer who dedicates himself to serving the Lord in the specific ways the Lord leads him to serve, WILL see the hand of the Lord at work in his life! If human heads of state know how to support and care for the ambassadors they send out to represent them on foreign lands, how much more our great God!!! Wherever he sends a believer to serve Him, He is faithful to provide for every need that believer might have!

 It is crucial to understand something: The Lord knows what tools, equipment in order for us to effectively and efficiently render our services unto Him, and He is more than willing and ready to supply them. But the reality is that so many servants of His seem to be struggling to make ends meet, and to adequately equip their ministries or originations. The reason for this is always that we, the servants, fail to properly attract His blessings and provisions. How? 

  • By failing to be obedient. An ambassador NEVER does anything that he was not asked or ordered to do by the president who sent him. He does not set his own agenda, but is given an agenda by the one who sent him. And he must strictly follow any measures given him on how to execute the agenda. So must we believers learn to strictly obey our Lord’s commands and follow His directions very faithfully. If we do this, WE WILL see his rewards in our lives.
  • By failing to apply the principles provided in His word. An ambassador must know the rules, regulations, international laws and treaties, that regulate that way embassies must operate in foreign lands. If not, he would fail at utilizing to the fullest extent the rights afforded to him by the existing international laws and treaties, and would thus find himself in unpleasant situations that he could simply get out of by invoking the appropriate law or treaty. Likewise, the glory of the great God that we believers serve is not seeing in our lives the way it ought to because we fail to successfully apply the principles that He has set forth in His word. These principles govern the affairs of this world, therefore, knowing and following them faithfully is the key to having dominion over ALL sphere of life in this world!
  • By failing to ask for the right things. An ambassador will be provided with things that he needs, not things that he wants. The responsible state will supply even private aircraft to some of their ambassadors if they deem it necessary for their service to the state. Likewise, our God is known to provide aircraft for some of His servants, and I will submit to you that He is more than willing and ready to supply more of His servants with aircraft if only we would give Him reason to do so, and if we would properly call it forth!

 SERVING AS A COLT FOR THE LORD TO RIDE ON

 The story of the colt upon which the Lord Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, shows us a powerful thing about the way God’s servants get to enjoy His blessings. We read in Mar 11:7-10:“And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.>And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” (KJV)

 The Lord Jesus needed to enter Jerusalem in a triumphant way, as prophesied about Him long ago. In his day, the donkey was the ride of kings. So he ordered for one to be literally apprehended and brought for Him to ride on. Now as He rode on the donkey, the people wanted to honor Him by laying down their cloths and branches along the way. But who got to walk to walk on those clothes and branches? The donkey! In fact even before the Lord sat on the donkey, the disciples dressed the donkey with their garments, in order for it to look good enough for the Master to ride on.

 Likewise, it is as a believer, who has been apprehended by the Lord, serves the Lord, that the believer gets to enjoy some of the blessings that are actually directed at the Lord. Like the Jewish priests and their families enjoyed the gifts that the people brought unto the Lord, so do his servants today get to enjoy the various gifts that people bring unto the Lord. It is a common thing for people to sow financially into the lives of God’s servants. It is God whom they really wish to bless, but since they can’t throw the money up to heaven for God to receive, they have to bless him by blessing His servants. And these are some of the ways that He provides unto His servants.

 This is why the irony of those who criticize God’s servants for having aircraft is that they only see the aircraft, but don’t see the Jesus that the servants are carrying on their backs. They don’t understand that the people who are financing the aircraft’s operation are doing so because it’s the Lord Jesus’ work that they seek to finance. It’s just that it’s the servants who are carrying Jesus on their backs who will get into the planes and go where the Lord wants them to go and do His work.

 SERVING AS A CARETAKER OF GOD’S AFFAIRS

 The story of Obed-Edom and King David offer a powerful example of the way God rewards those who take care of His belongings. We read in 2samuel 6:6-12:“When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God. Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.[e] 9 David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household. 12 Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.” (NIV)

 This is a popular story of the time King David tried to bring back the ark of the covenant from captivity in the land of the Philistines, to Jerusalem. But he followed the wrong procedure for transporting the ark, and as a result, a tragedy ensued. In anger, David decided to abandon the ark in the field of a man name Obed-Edom.

 Who was Obed-Edom? From his name we can understand that he was a descendant of Edom, meaning, a descendant of Esau. And David of course, was a descendant of Jacob. This means that Obed-Edom carried the curse of Esau, which states that the descendants of Esau must serve the descendants of Jacob. Because of this curse, the descendants of Esau were treated as second-class folk in the land of Israel. This is why when David became afraid of the ark and decided not to bring it into the city, lest it kills more people, David decided to leave the ark in Obed-Edom’s compound. The point was that if the ark was going to kill anyone else, let it be the people in Obed-Edom’s household that would be killed. That’s how insignificant the lives of Obed and his family were to David, because they were Esau’s descendants.

 But instead, the opposite happened. The presence of the ark in the midst of Obed-Edom’s household caused his household to prosper! In fact, God prospered Obed-Edom in a way that his prosperity became a threat to David’s kingship! Which is why after David learned about it, he ran and took the ark away from Obed’s place. The Lord was set to prosper Obed in a way that would have surpassed King David’s prosperity and power in the land, and the only reason the Lord didn’t go that far was because of the covenant that He had made with David that his throne will be established forever! It was only the grace that God had on David because of this covenant that saved David’s throne!

 Why did the Lord bless Obed-Edom so much? Because Obed took care of God! The ark of God carried God’s presence. It wasn’t just a box. It was God Himself! The Lord told me that when David abandoned the ark in that field, it was He Himself that David had abandoned like that. David did not make even a single provision to care for the ark, meaning, to care for God. He just left God like that in the open field for the sun and the rain to beat on Him. But Obed-Edom took care of God, and that’s why God blessed him the way He did! We don’t know exactly what Obed-Edom might have done to care for the ark, but it’s easy to imagine that he probably pulled the ark into a barn, away from the sun and rain, and fed the oxen that pulled the cart upon which the ark rode. It was this act of caring for the Lord’s affairs that caused the Lord to bless everything Obed-Edom had!

 Now get this: The curse of Esau that was on Obed-Edom dictated that David shall be greater than Obed. And it was so. But because of the great service that Obed-Edom had rendered unto the Lord by tending to His affairs, the Lord broke that curse and turned it into blessing in a way that if not for the covenant that He had with David to establish his throne forever, He would have made Obed-Edom greater than David!

 Brethren, I urge you to take all matters concerning the Lord very seriously! Consider yourself apprehended by Him to care for His affairs. Who else do you think is going to do it? The unbelievers??? The church you belong to, whose responsibility is it to care for it? Who is going to make His voice heard around the world? The unbelievers? Who is going to represent and defend his name in the society? The unbelievers?

 I urge you to make it your personal responsibility to see that the work of God is done in this world! Love God with all your heart and love to tend to any matter that pertains to Him. He will bless you for it! The story of Obed-Edom teaches us that we cannot serve a big God, and remain cursed in life! You can’t be an ambassador of heaven and be small in life! You cannot carry the Lord on your back and let Him use you to accomplish His mighty deeds, and be small in life! God is no man that He would use a person and not reward the person. As He rewarded Peter with a great catch of fish after using Peter’s boat, He WILL be faithful to reward anyone whom He uses for His kingdom work. He apprehends to use and bless!

 Go and be great for God in His service, and watch Him bless and prosper you on every side!

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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UNDERSTANDING FAITH!

Understanding the thing called faith is one of the biggest hurdles that believers encounter early in their walk with God, and explaining it has been the subject of countless sermons, teachings and writings. Here’s my humble take on the matter.

FAITH AS ‘SUBSTANCE’ AND ‘EVIDENCE’

Simply put, a substance is something that exists. Though it may be visible or invisible, tangible – can be touched and felt – or intangible, taste able or tasteless, all that matters is that it is real. The air we breathe is both invisible and intangible; but it is very real. We can feel it sometimes, and it even has a chemical property.
That is what Apostle Paul likened faith to in Hebrews 11:1, where he declared:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (KJV)

Let’s look at what Paul is saying here:
- ‘Substance of things hoped for’: According to that statement, if you are hoping for something, there can actually be something within you that can fuel that hope. Something that you can’t see or touch, but that you can feel deep within your being, that gives you hope. So faith is that substance – that invisible YET very real thing – that you feel within your being; something you can’t explain, but you just know for a fact that it is there within your heart.
- ‘Evidence of things not seen’: Ever heard of an unreal evidence? One huge burden that prosecutors always carry is that of providing the evidence of the accused person’s guilt. They can’t simply claim that the evidence exists, without bringing it forth for all to see, and simply expect the court to take their word for it. If it’s a murder case, a very real murder weapon must be presented before the court. They can’t claim that it is just a strong feeling that they have which tells them that the accused is guilty. But according to Paul, faith is like an invisible evidence, which, even though it can’t be seen, is nevertheless very real! Why? Because faith is a very real substance. Even though it can’t be seen, it is nevertheless very evident, and can be felt by the person who is carrying it!

So faith is that thing that you feel or sense within yourself, which makes you believe that what you are hoping for WILL happen! You can’t see how it could possibly happen, but you have this unseen evidence deep within you, that it WILL happen! If someone asked you how you can be so sure that it will happen, all you can reply WITH ALL CONFIDENCE is that you just know!

The Lord Jesus made allusion to the fact that faith MUST exist in a believer as a real substance when He likened faith to a mustard seed, in this story recorded Matthew 17:14-20:
“And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (KJV)

Though the mustard seed is one of the smallest fruit seeds, it is nevertheless very real. And ironically, it grows into quite a big tree. So can – and must – faith be very real in a person, and must grow within the person!

THE ORIGIN OF FAITH

So where does this very real and evident substance known as faith come from?
To answer this question, we must first of all answer another one: where do we feel faith? In our spirits. Therefore, faith is a spiritual thing. And if it’s a spiritual thing, then, in the Christian context, faith comes from God’s Holy Spirit. Let’s see how.

1. Faith comes by spiritual hearing
According to Romans 10:17 “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God…” (KJV)
I’ve heard a lot of folks turn this statement around and say ‘… and by hearing the word of God’, instead of ‘… and hearing by the word of God.’ Why? Because they can’t make sense of the way the preposition ‘by’ is placed in the original text.

This is VERY UNFORTUNNATE because it has led many to believe that faith comes by hearing and hearing and hearing the word of God over and over and over… The point being that as one hears the word over and over and over, one will eventually develop faith in what one has been hearing. WRONG!

The truth of the matter is that ONE ONLY NEEDS TO HEAR THE LORD SPEAK ONCE in order for one to receive the faith in what one has heard the Lord say! Meaning that you can hear and hear and hear something over and over and over, but unless the kind of hearing that produces faith occurs within you, faith will never be produced!

Simply put, the statement should have been:

‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing [cometh] by the word of God.’

What happened was simply that the authors of the King James Bible chose to not repeat the word ‘cometh’.
So what we are being told basically is that while faith comes from hearing the word, the hearing – which produces the faith – comes from the word of God. Here’s how the NIV puts it:
“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

Meaning that faith comes from hearing the message, which itself is heard through the word.

As we know, Jesus is the Word of God. So what we have is: Faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Lord Jesus. Therefore, you can hear the word spoken to you by a human pastor over and over and over, but unless you hear the Lord Jesus himself speak to you somewhere along the line, you cannot hear the word in a way that will produce faith in you.

This ‘hearing’ that produces faith, is what is referred to as ‘spiritual hearing’. It is the hearing that occurs when the spirit of a man hears what is spoken to it in the realm of the spirit. Therefore this hearing will produce faith in a man when the man hears the Holy Spirit speak to him, or it will produce doubt and fear when the man hears the spirit of the devil speak to him.

Here’s an example to illustrate this phenomenon: One day, my wife was reading the Bible and as she came across the words ‘fear not’, she said it was as if those two words took on life and spoke to her in a way that she heard the Lord tell her that she should fear not! She said that suddenly she felt a surge of faith in the Lord that gave her total confidence that the Lord would take care of the issue that she was dealing with at the time.

From this example we can see how faith came to be in my wife’s heart from that moment forward concerning the issue that she was dealing with. She suddenly had this thing in her inner being that told her that she should fear not. She suddenly had this substance within her heart; this feeling that she couldn’t put her hand on, but which was nevertheless very real and evident!!! From that point onward, she could say that SHE KNOWS that all is well! Why? Because hearing had occurred within her. Because the Word – Jesus – had spoken the word in a way that the necessary kind of hearing had occurred within her spirit.

2. Spiritual vs physical hearing
Man is made up of a soul, a spirit, and flesh. The soul and the spirit are the parts of man that are made in God’s image. The flesh is simply a physical housing that enables the soul and spirit of man to dwell and operate in the physical nature of this world.

God is Spirit. He has no flesh. Therefore, He only speaks a spiritual language that ONLY man’s spirit can hear and interact with. This is what makes it so challenging for men to relate to God, because most of the time, we are living by our flesh – our physical senses – and cannot readily communicate with his Spirit. This is why acquiring the ability to communicate spirit to Spirit with God is a must for a believer! A believer must acquire the ability to hear, see, and discern spiritually, so he can communicate with God.

With his physical ears, a man can hear another man promise him a thing, and believe in the promise, because he actually heard the man make the promise. He was able to hear the man with his physical ears because the man spoke with his own physical mouth, and spoke physical words. Likewise, we can only begin to believe in God’s promises if and only if we actually hear God make the promises, and this can only be possible if our spirits are able to catch the spiritual words spoken to us by God’s own Holy Spirit. When we hear with our spiritual ears, that’s when ‘hearing’ has occurred, and this hearing then produces faith in us!

Every word of Scripture is spiritual, and only our spirits can hear, and understand and accept them. We can read and read and read them over and over, but never ‘hear’ and understand and accept what we are reading until and unless God Himself speaks to our spirits as we are reading those words. This is why we must always pray before we set out to spend some time reading the word of God. Pray and ask the Lord to speak to you as you read His word, and give you the ability to understand and believe in what you are reading.

A minister can preach the word of God all he wants, but unless the Lord speaks thru the words of the minister, the minister will be speaking in vain. Unless the people listening to the minister are also able to hear the Lord speak to them thru their spiritual ears, then the minister will have spoken in vain. The kind of hearing that matters will occur if they actually hear the Lord speak to their spirits even as the minister is speaking to their physical ears.

This is why no man can save another man. Only God can save a man, because only God can speak to a man’s soul and spirit, and convinces the man to believe in Him. The only thing God asks of us believers to do, is to open our mouths and share His words with others. As we do that, we give Him the chance to now speak thru us in the unseen real of the spirit. So we must always know and do our part only, which is to deliver the message God puts in our mouths, and leave God to do His own part of convincing and convicting the people we are speaking to.

3. Faith in God comes from God.
The last paragraph already said it all: It all begins with the Lord making contact with man within man’s spirit, and convincing man to believe in Him. This is why it is said of Abraham that “…he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (KJV) From this statement we see that righteousness can only come from two sources: From God, and thru faith in God.

If a man never promised to give you a car, should you somehow begin to believe that the man will give you a car? No. But if you hear a rich man promise to buy you a car, you would believe it to the point where, as far as you’re concerned, you already have a car because you have faith in the man who made the promise. Likewise faith in God comes from the fact that He actually spoke to you and you heard Him speak to you, and you believed what you heard him say.

Therefore faith in God can only come from God Himself. If He hasn’t spoken, and you begin to have faith in Him for something you never heard from Him, then what you’re feeling is not faith in Him, since He never gave you any reason to believe in Him for that which you are having faith in Him for.
On the other hand, once you do hear Him speak a thing to you, believe in what you heard Him say to you with your heart and with all your mind! Allow faith in what you heard to blossom within you and grow into a mighty substance that you know is very real within you!

No man alive has ever seen God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But we believe that they exist because we have faith that they do. And we have this faith because we heard them tell us in their Word that they are real, and we believe it!

Furthermore, faith comes from God because faith is produced by Christ. Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1). The reason the word can speak up in a manner that produces faith in a man is that the word is Jesus.
As we know, salvation is thru Christ only. He is the Bridge between us and God the Father. He comes and dwells in us and helps us believe in the Father. THEREFORE, Jesus is the source of the faith that we feel in our hearts and spirits! He is the Word that speaks to us and tells us to believe!

THE INDISPENSABILITY OF FAITH

As we know, another word for religion is faith. Whatever religion a man follows, he does so because he has faith in that religion. Therefore, faith in God is indispensable to His followers for the following reasons:

1. Without faith it is impossible to relate to God
Has any man alive today ever seen Jesus? No. Not even the great Apostle Paul had seen the Lord Jesus in person. But like Paul, many have literally given their lives up for the Lord Jesus! Because they believed in Him! They believed that He is whom He says that He is! That faith in Him is the only thing that made possible their relationship with Jesus. What’s the point in trying to have and build and relationship with an invisible God that you don’t even believe to be real? Or whose claims about Himself you don’t believe? Those who are willing to die for God obviously have such great faith in Him that they are willing to lay down their lives for Him!

Without faith in God, how can one grow in God? Satan fights a deadly battle against anyone who begins to believe in God, and the only thing that can help the new believer to keep on believing in God is the faith that he has in God. It is only this conviction –this faith – that he feels deep within himself that can help him withstand any assault from the devil, and stand strong in God!

When I hear God speaking to me spiritually, or when I see something with my spiritual eyes that I feel that He has just shown me, or when I sense the move of His Spirit in me, it is only by faith that I can believe that I have just heard or seen, or sensed that thing. Needless to say then, the greater one’s faith in God, the greater one’s ability to relate to God; therefore, the greater one’s relationship with God!

It is by this faith that I know – because I believe it – that I am His child! It is this faith that speaks up and tells me to be joyful at all times! Faith is that feeling that comforts me during times of tumult; that reminds me that greater is He who is in me than the jerk that is in the world! It is faith that tells me that God loves and cares for me, and produces peace and calm within me when I have so many reasons not to be at peace! Faith it is that gives me a steady dose of power, courage and confidence when I’m going thru a worrisome ordeal!

This is why relating to God is all about having ‘faith’ in Him. And this faith comes from nowhere but His words, therefore, from Jesus Himself! A believer will swear that he knows that God is real, and even allow himself to be killed rather than renounce this faith in God, because he feels this thing – this real substance called faith – deep within his being, that tells him that God is real!

So brethren, never cease to seek after a deeper relationship with God so you can keep improving in your ability to interact with Him spirit to Spirit. Never cease to ask the Lord for more faith in Him! Let the substance of the faith that dwells in you continue to grow, that you may be able to do great and mighty acts of faith for the world to see and believe in our great God!

2. Faith is the currency in God’s kingdom
When you need something, you go out to the place where they sell that thing, and you purchase it. This action requires that you exchange something – like money – with the owner of the thing you wish to purchase. Well, things from God do not come free either, and faith is the currency that He requires from us.

No matter what we set out to do that involves God, whether it is simply to ask God to do something for us, or if we’re trying to call down fire from heaven, our faith in God is what will make it happen for us! And as we know, the more money one has on earth, the more things – and more expensive things – one can afford. Needless then to say, the greater one’s faith in God, the greater things – greater miracles, favors, answers to prayer – one can obtain from heaven!

3. How much faith is enough?
Earlier we read the story of the time when the Lord rebuked His disciples for not having the faith to heal a sick boy. He told them that if their faith was even as small as a mustard seed, they could, by the power in that faith, command mountains to move, and the mountains would obey! This means that faith even as small as a mustard seed is all we need! What this means is that to God, faith is faith!

The story of the time when God told Elijah that He was going to send rain upon the drought-stricken land, offers a great illustration of how this works. 1Kings 18: says “And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.” (KJV)]

And 1Kings 18:42-46 says:
“And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, 43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. 44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down that the rain stop thee not. 45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. 46 And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.” (KJV)

As we all know, rain comes from clouds. For 3 long years, there had been no rain in the land of Israel. So it is safe to assume that for those 3 years, there hadn’t been any clouds in the sky over the land of Israel. Then one day, out of the blue, God told Elijah that He was going to send rain. When Elijah heard this from God, he believed God!

So later that day when the time came for the rain that God had promised to fall, Elijah set out to call forth the rain thru prayer. And while Elijah prayed for God to fulfill His promise and send the rain, he acted on his faith in God’s promise by having his servant look out for the clouds that were to bring the rain. So get this: Once the servant saw a patch of cloud in the sky that was as small as a human hand, Elijah stopped praying. Why? Because as far as he was concerned, the promised rain was coming!

Here’s the point: By faith, Elijah believed that the tiny cloud that had appeared was the first of many – and bigger – clouds that would eventually produce the promised rain! That tiny cloud was all he needed to see to know that the rain was coming. This illustrates the way faith is born in the human spirit. When you believe in God for something, it might start as something very tiny in your heart, which is why the Lord Jesus likened it to a tiny mustard seed; then as you keep on believing in God for the fulfilment of His promise, that tiny faith will steadily grow into something bigger, just as the tiny cloud grew into thick clouds that dropped a deluge upon the land.

So how much faith is enough? From all this, what we can understand is that faith is faith! All that God wants to see in us is faith. Even if it’s as small as a mustard seed, it is faith, and that’s enough for God to be pleased in us. If faith as tiny as a mustard seed is enough for us to move mountains, then that’s enough faith to please God. If that tiny faith can enable us to move mountains, it means that God is pleased enough with the tiny faith to grant us the power to move mountains. Therefore, whenever hearing occurs in you and the smallest glimmer of faith sprouts in you, hold on to that faith and keep believing, and acting on it. It will be enough to see you through because God will honor and work with it! That tiny faith is all He is asking for!

CONCLUSION

Just like Elijah saw that tiny cloud and was satisfied that rain was coming, so does God see the tiny faith in a man and is satisfied that the man has started to believe in Him. God then sets out to help the man grow that tiny faith into a giant faith! What does this mean?

The mustard tree teaches us a serious lesson on what is expected of us believers. The Lord Jesus spoke highly of the mustard tree when He said in Luke 13:19 “…it is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.” (KJV)

A quick search on Google revealed that there are many types of mustard trees, and some grow to be as high as 20 feet tall, with widespread branches adorned with pink fleshy fruits. Here’s an interesting description I ran into: “While many trees provide shade and food, the mustard tree also serves as a toothbrush, treats dental problems, soothes away body pain and functions as a medicine . Properly known as Salvadora persica, the blooming mustard tree is a multifunctional evergreen shrub.” (1)

A very productive, useful and beneficial tree indeed! And all it takes to produce such a tree is a tiny seed. So MUST the tiny faith that springs within our spirit-man cause our spirit-man to grow into a spiritual giant! Once we begin to believe in God, a tiny faith in Him springs within us, and that tiny faith must grow into a strong, mature, unshakable, immovable and undying faith in Him!

Because we believe in God, we MUST, by this faith, allow Him to work on us and make us into spiritual giants, the way He made Paul, the other Apostles, and the great men and women of the Old Testament! They all started to believe in God at some point in their lives, and they nurtured their tiny faiths into giant faiths! As they grew their faiths in God, they grew into people who were great blessings to those who came into contact with them!

That’s what the Lord Jesus is talking about in Luke 13:19. Just as the mustard tree offers shade, food, and a variety of benefits to people and animals who come into contact with it, so must a believer offer all kinds of blessings to everyone around him! As believers we must grow into people who represent our great God in every sphere of life. Like the tree that is productive and bears fruits, we must prosper in all areas of life, and share the prosperity with all men. Thru our faith in a miracle-working God, we must grow into great miracle workers as well! Like the tiny cloud that gave way to thick clouds that produced a deluge, our faith must grow and produce in us a giant well that pours out rivers of living water upon everyone around us!

Dear reader, the world awaits the manifestation of your faith in God! Seek to grow your faith into a giant one thru which you are able to do great and mighty acts, to the glory of our great God!

[REFERENCE:
(1) BLOOMING MUSTARD TREE by Christa Sheehan http://www.ehow.com/facts_7154132_blooming-mustard-tree.html#ixzz2yRN0siJJ%5D

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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ON THE ISSUE OF ALCOHOL COSUMPTION BY BELIEVERS…

Should a Christian drink any beverage with alcohol in it? What does the Bible actually say about this issue?

We believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word, in which He reveals a great deal of who He is, who men are to Him, and how He expects men to relate to Him. In the Bible, He makes some of His feelings and will about certain issues very clear, and on other issues, a bit of understanding that is born of spiritual revelation and guidance, is required to know what God actually expects from His followers.

The issue of whether Christians should consume alcoholic beverages is one that has been debated since the beginning of Christianity and will continue to be debated till our Lord comes back! Various stands have been vigorously and religiously (pun intended) taken on this issue which have, for the most part, left believers and non-believers more confused than enlightened on what is actually expected of believers in Christ concerning alcohol intake. The following is my humble take on the issue…

  1. MY CASE FOR ALCOHOL CONSUPTION BY BELIEVERS

Let’s be clear about one fact: There isn’t a single place where the Bible states that alcohol intake is forbidden to God’s followers. So based on this, Christianity does not forbid alcohol intake. Any church that teaches that Christianity forbids it, is playing religion, pure and simple! I know of one particular denomination that forbids beer drinking, but allows any other type of alcoholic beverage. How can anyone not be confused by such an inconsistent and hypocritical stance on the issue?

Here’s something the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 11:18-19, when comparing Himself to John-the-Baptist: ” For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon. 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” (NIV)

So let’s analyze this statement with a clear and unbiased mind: We know that John-the-Baptist maintained some very strict rules about his lifestyle, which no doubt included abstaining from alcoholic beverages.

On the other hand we know that tax collectors and sinners do not shy from alcoholic beverages. So what they drank in the Lord’s presence must have been alcoholic. And we also know that ‘drunkard’ means one thing: being drunk!

So in that statement, the Lord Jesus clearly said: John-the-Baptist didn’t drink, and you thought he was strange for that. I came and I hung out with people who drank alcoholic beverage, and you call me a drunk.

Many pastors try explain that what Jesus drank was ‘new wine’; the unfermented non-alcoholic kind of wine. But I beg to differ because if the Lord only drank non-alcoholic new wine, He would not have complained about people thinking of Him as a drunkard. He would have simply pointed out that what He drank wasn’t even alcoholic. (And if He didn’t even drink any kind of wine, but drank only water, He would have made that clear as well.) BUT HE CLEARLY DID NOT DEFEND THE CHARGE. He was only astonished at how inconsistent and hypocritical the people could be.

So whether the Lord Jesus consumed alcoholic beverages or not, He clearly never condemned it.

Neither does the apostle Paul. As a matter of fact, Paul advice to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 has been a ‘lifesaver’ to those in the Church who believe they ought to be allowed to indulge alcohol. They will religiously remind anyone that Paul told Timothy “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” (NIV) You’d be amazed how many believers out there claim to have stomach issues so they can stand on this advice to quench their thirst for alcohol. It shouldn’t have to be so.

Here are perhaps, the most compelling statements made by the Lord Jesus and Apostle Paul, which make alcohol consumption by a believer not sinful:

Jesus said in Mark 7:14-23 “…“Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” 17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? 19 For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) 20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (NIV)

And Paul said in Romans 14:20 “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.” (NIV)

The bible makes it clear in these 2 passages that all foods INCLUDING alcoholic beverages are ‘clean’ before God, meaning acceptable to Him for consumption. ANYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE IS GOING AGAINST THE EXPRESS WORD OF GOD!

What we do see a lot of in the Scripture, is God’s contempt for heavy drinking and drunkenness. The book of Proverbs, for instance is full of rebuke of the practice. Isaiah 5:22 says ” Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink” (KJV) We know that anything done in excess can be bad. God expects that anyone who consumes alcohol must do so wisely and with measure.

       2.  MY CASE AGAISNT ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION BY BELIEVERS 

The reason a believer ought to consider abstaining from alcohol consumption is that it can cause a lot of harm to the Body of Christ in so many different ways, namely: 

  • Offending people
  • Bringing shame and reproach to a believer
  • Hinder a believer’s walk with, and growth in, the Lord.

a. Offending people:

 Paul’s statement quoted above says it all: The very purpose for which he made that statement in the first place was to encourage the Christian brethren who consumed alcohol to abstain from alcohol consumption because doing so was causing problems for some other believers who felt that it was wrong. 

This brings up reason #1 for a believer to abstain from alcohol consumption: Stay away from it because your drinking might be a problem for those around you who believe it’s wrong for a believer to drink alcohol. And this refers to unbelievers as well!!! You will agree with me that unbelievers expect that believers should abstain from alcohol consumption! Many believers have left the church because they could not stand what they perceived to be ‘hypocrisy’ from their fellow believers. And many unbelievers have found it hard to accept the Lord because they feel that the church is one very hypocritical place.

So out of love for God, Jesus and your fellow men, you ought to do the right thing and give up alcohol consumption because you do not want to:

  • Offend anyone
  • Cause anyone to sin in their heart
  • Be a stumbling block to anyone

Consider it as part of your sacrifice unto God as a believer who loves Him and wishes to do only things that will benefit His church, and nothing that would cause harm to her.

b. Bring shame and reproach to a believer:

In advising both Timothy and Titus as church leaders, Paul taught them that:

  • “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach…” (1 Timothy 3:2, KJV)
  • “Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.” (1 Timothy 3:11, KJV)
  • ” For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate…” (Titus 1:7-8, KJV)
  • For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world…” (Titus 2:11-12, KJV) 

Even in the secular world, certain positions require that the holders thereof refrain from any kind of behavior that would bring reproach to them and consequently, to their position. There’s even an expression: ‘sober as a judge’! This is ever more true with the church! A drunken believer, or worse yet, a drunken leader in the church, can never be a good thing. They can only bring shame and reproach to the church. The passages quoted above cover ALL BELIEVERS: The bishops (referring to the leaders and anyone in a high position), their wives (referring to women), and  “ALL MEN” (see Titus 2:11), referring to EVERYONE who considers himself a believer, not just those in leading positions.

And as we can see in 1 Timothy 3:2, a bishop must be … “apt to teach”. How is a believer going to be teaching people the word of God while drunk? He would only incur shame and reproach.

c. Hinder a believer’s walk with, and growth in, the Lord:

Alcohol impairs. It impairs a lot of things in a man: his mind, his senses, his spirit, his speech, his vision, his motor skills… This can cause – and it does cause – a lot of problems for a believer who seeks to walk with God. And if a believer cannot walk with God, he cannot grow in God. 

Here are some other advices given by the spiritual giants from whom we learn how to walk with the Lord:

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:6: “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (KJV throughout)
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:8: “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”
  • 1 Peter 4:7: “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”
  • 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…” 

As someone who wakes up in the middle of the night to spend hours in prayer on a daily basis, I can tell you that prayer is indispensable for a successful walk with the Lord and for spiritual growth! I can also tell you, as someone who used to get seriously drunk, that you can’t spend time in prayer while drunk! 

Notice all the crucial advice given to us believers by  Apostles Paul and Peter:

  • Do not sleep, but watch
  • Put on the breastplate of faith and helmet of salvation
  • Watch and pray
  • Be vigilant; or be devoured by the devil!

These are all indispensable actions that a believer MUST CONSTANTLY take in order to succeed as a follower of Christ, and for every one of these actions to be successfully executed, they advise that we be sober!

Think about this:

  • You can’t go before God all drunk or at least intoxicated and expect to get into his holy presence.
  • With the alcohol numbing your sense, how do you expect to communicate with Him? 

So if you can’t spend time with the Lord in prayer because you’re drunk all the time, how do you expect to grow in Him? And if you’re argument is that you’re not always drunk, well here’s the problem: During those times when you are drunk or at least intoxication to a degree, you could fall into all kinds of troubles that can affect your standing as a Christian. 1Peter 5:8 addresses this: Your enemy the devil will be watching for those moments when you’re spiritually weak from drunkenness or even mild intoxication, to attack you in some way!

I could go on and on about reasons for a believer to abstain from alcohol as a matter of spiritual duty, but anyone reading this ought to have gotten the point by now.

It’s a matter of wisdom. Note that in none of the passages quoted above did the Apostles command anyone to not drink at all. They only advised – though strongly – to be sober! To me, personally, being sober means to not be even remotely intoxicated. Totally alcohol-free! To another, it may mean a glass a wine, no more. I don’t know what it means to you, dear reader. Even the Lord Jesus did consume alcohol in those times when He dined with drinkers, the fact remains that He did not go around drinking and getting drunk. So even if it was that He drank some, I know that He was wise and strong enough to know how little He ought to take. And that’s the problem with the rest of us. We seldom know our limits, and often end up getting very intoxicated, which then brings a world of shame to us and to the church. As we know, the Lord prayed EVERY NIGHT! So it’s clear that on those occasions when He dined with alcohol, He made sure that He took very little if any, so as to be sober and ready to spend time with the Father later in the night. And we know that He was ALWAYS ready to teach. So even if He drank at all, it would be in such an insignificant amount that it wouldn’t have any effect on Him at all.

In my case, the Lord advised me to completely stay away from alcohol! God knows me, and knows that I’m not the type of person to have one or two bottles of beer and call it the day or night. In fact, the words of Isaiah 5:22 quoted earlier, used to refer to me. I was known for a mixture called Black & Tan, which was a  mixture of dark ale and regular beer. Needless to say, it was a powerful mixture. For this reason the Lord didn’t just advise, but ordered me to entirely stay away from the substance. And He did a great miracle for me and enabled me to give up alcohol cold turkey!

Therefore, I’ll close with this:

  1. If you know in your spirit that the Lord is prompting you to abstain from alcohol, do so! Because even though alcohol consumption is not sinful in itself, anyone who’s been ordered – or feels led – to abstain from it would be committing the sin of disobedience if he still indulged in it.
  2. Even if you haven’t received any command from the Lord to totally abstain from alcohol, and you do drink regularly, there might be an occasion when He might want you to abstain, and order you to abstain. It might be for any reason, which He might reveal to you or not. He sees and knows things that we don’t. Examples: It may be because there’s someone around who might get offended by your drinking at that very moment. You don’t know this, but the Lord does. You might be getting pulled over by the police in a routine traffic stop later on after you’ve left the place where you are about to drink. The Lord knows this and is trying to keep you out of jail. He may be wanting you to share His word with someone some time later, or in that very place where you are, so He needs you to stay clean and sober for the task ahead. 

This is why my personal advice to anyone who seeks to honor God with his own life is to totally stay away from alcohol. The detrimental effects of alcohol consumption to a Christian far outweigh whatever benefits he may gain from it. 

May God grant us the grace to always do the right thing in our walk with Him here on earth, and our in race to be with Him in heaven FOR ETERNITY!

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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APPREHENDED FOR SERVICE

Every believer would love to hear the words ‘The Lord’s hand is upon you.’ Because that would mean that the Lord’s blessings, protection, favor and every good thing that He has to give, are flowing into the believer’s life thru His mighty hand.

But do we ever stop to consider the other side of that coin, which is that the Lord’s hand being upon a believer also means that He has ‘got His hand on’ the believer, or that He has ‘laid hold of’ the believer?

Now why would the Lord lay hold of a believer?

Knowing the answer to this question is the ultimate goal that Apostle Paul sought to attain as a follower of Jesus-Christ. He declared this in Philippians 3:12, where he said:

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” (KJV)

So Paul had come to understand that God had apprehended – laid hold of – him for a very specific purpose. Therefore, he made it his life goal to lay hold of that purpose! To discover that purpose and fulfill it!

Here’s a larger quote of Paul’s powerful and memorable declaration:

“That I may know Him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 3:10-14, KJV.

Our great God NEVER does anything without a clear and strong purpose. So if He decided to lay hold of someone, it’s ALWAYS for a very specific and worthy purpose. Paul understood this, especially considering the unusual way in which Christ literally apprehended him while he was on his way to Damascus. So he figured that the only life worth living for him would be that one life that God had planned for him to live from the moment He apprehended him onward. The only purpose for his life would be to serve the Lord in the ways that the Lord had intended for him to serve Him; to accomplish whatever tasks the Lord would want him to accomplish.

It is this understanding that drove Paul day in and day out, and helped him to live such a successful life as a servant of our Lord Jesus-Christ. Verse 12, quoted above, summarizes Paul’s reason for living as a believer. He had gotten the clear understanding and had accepted the idea that there was a specific reason for which Christ had saved him and brought Him into His kingdom and workforce. EVERY WORKER IN AN ORGANIZATION HAS A SPECIFIC TASK FOR WHICH HE WAS HIRED, AND MUST STRIVE TO DO ONLY ONE THING IN THAT ORGANIZATION, WHICH IS FULFILL THAT TASK.

The problem with Christianity these days is that most believers want the hand of the Lord to be upon them only for the purpose of bestowing His blessings upon them, and they would rather not think of the fact that it also means that they have been apprehended – laid hold of – by the Lord in order for Him to use them to perform some very specific tasks in his kingdom.

The parable of the talents teach us a very crucial lesson on this issue (see Matthew 25:14-30). Like each of those servants who were given at least one talent by which they were expected to be productive unto their master, so has our Lord given EVERY SINGLE believer at least one type of gift, or talent, by which we are to serve Him and help build His kingdom.

So here’s what getting saved basically means: It means being called to serve! Salvation is a call to service in the kingdom of God. It means that when a person gets saved, God basically gets ahold of him, and says to him ‘come and serve Me’, and He then assigns some specific task to him, AND EMPOWERS HIM – gives him the gifts, talents, grace, power – to fulfill that task.

And here’s one of the major reasons we go to church: To come into the Lord’s presence, where we get to receive more and more of His power, grace and gifts. What for??? TO SERVE HIM!!! So imagine not putting all the anointing that we receive to work!!! That’s akin to not using the talents that we receive from the Lord. God forbid!

Which is I why I URGE you, in the words of Paul in verse 15 quoted above: “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude!” Have this attitude that was in Paul, which is born out of a total conviction that your life will have been lived in vain if you fail to achieve ALL that God has purposed to use you to accomplish in this world. DO NOT LEAVE TO CHANCE THE SUCCESSFUL FULFILLMENT OF GOD’S PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE! Rather, like Paul and like every successful servant of God dead or alive, DETERMINE to achieve ALL that God has put in you to achieve in this world to His glory! LET THAT BE YOUR SOLE REASON TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD!

As the parable of the talents shows, some of us are endowed with more than one talent or gift. Therefore, seeking the reason for which you were apprehended by God means seeking to know in what ways (PLURAL) He has gifted you for His service. It means seeking to serve in as many areas of service as possible.

Therefore, brethren please be wise and:

-   See your service unto the Lord as an employment in His Kingdom. The way you see yourself as an employee at your workplace, which drives you to do well in your job, is the way you need to see yourself being employed in God’s vineyard. That way you can be more serious about the fact that you have a job to do in His kingdom, and take that job seriously. If you serve in any capacity at your local church, for instance, render that service as you would at your paying job. Show up on time; be determined to do your best. SERVE WITH FEAR! We are afraid to disappoint our earthly superiors at work because we know there would be consequences. We must fear the Lord even more, and serve Him with trembling, knowing that our services are being recorded in heaven, and that we will one day have to answer for it.

-   Be mindful of the fact that there’s a reward for your services from heaven, not from the senior pastor of the church, or the leader of the Christian ministry where you’re serving. See God as your employer would DOES reward your services.

– But most of all, LET US SERVE HIM WITH LOVE AND DEVOTION! Let us do it because He is God, and deserves our love and worship, and SERVING HIM IS A POWERFUL FORM OF WORSHIP! It is a powerful way of telling Him: You are my God, my Master and Owner!

Yes, we have to make money in order to meet our financial responsibilities in life. So we must work for a living, and this can make it very difficult to also devote ourselves to serving the Lord in some way. But Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and with God this is all the more true! If you hunger to serve the Lord, HE WILL help you find a way to serve Him despite your burdensome life. And if you serve Him under very hard circumstances, the greater will be His reward upon your life! So drop whatever excuses you have been making for not serving the Lord in some way. Determine that you will play a role in advancing His kingdom on earth! Look within you and figure out what you would like to be doing for Him! You’ll be amazed to find that He’s been waiting for you to simply start serving Him in that way!

May our great God richly bless your life as you endeavor to pursue and achieve that for which He apprehended you, to His glory! Amen!

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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WHAT DO YOU WANT, AND HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT IT?

Stray dogs have no home and must, therefore, fend for themselves by visiting dumpsters. Now imagine a stray dog that has decided that it will only eat from the best dumpsters, no matter how hard it may be for it to do so, and has found a rich man’s house whose dumpsters are full of exotic food leftovers, ie. $100/lb steaks imported from Japan, lobster flown in from Maine, caviar from Russia, desserts from Paris, etc… But rich neighborhoods don’t usually tolerate stray animals; so the dog takes a huge risk by venturing there. The rich man’s servants are sure to kick, spit on, and verbally abuse the dog when they see it hanging around the back of the house near the dumpsters. But the dog knows what it wants, and is willing to put up with it all!

So while most of this dog’s friends go to the easy dumpsters, it goes to the better, though more dangerous, ones, and ends up looking better than them because it eats better food! Because you see, the leftovers of a $100/lb steak still carry pieces of the $100/lb steak. The leftovers of lobster from Maine still carry pieces of that succulent lobster. And the leftover from the Parisian cake still carries all the heavenly goodness of the original cake. So by eating all this better food, the dog looks better than the rest!

ONE OF THE BIGGEST HINDRANCES TO THE SUCCESS OF CHRISTIANITY AS A FAITH IN THIS WORLD is that its followers have not learned to do what it takes to become who God has in mind for them to be! We all want the blessings promised in the Word of God, but we are far too unwilling to pay the price for those blessings.

During Jesus’ time, there was a woman who knew what she wanted for her daughter, and was willing to pay whatever price in order to get it. Here’s her story, as told in Matthew 15:21-28:

“Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” 27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”  (NIV)

The divine plan for the salvation of mankind was that Jesus would bring it to the Jews first, then make it available for all other peoples after His death and resurrection. Therefore, He concentrated His ministry on the Jews only. But here came a woman who was not of Jewish descent, and who needed healing for her daughter. And she came to the Lord to ask of Him divine healing, which, at that time, was exclusively reserved for the Jews. And in order to remind her of this, the Lord gave an analogy in which He basically likened the woman to a dog. But the woman reacted to the insult by agreeing with it, and made a plea for JUST A CRUMB of the thing she needed.

If every believer in this world learned how to attract even just a crumb of the Lord’s power in their lives, Christianity would be so much more effective than it has been, because the power of the God that Christians call upon would be so much more evident in their lives! And this evidence would validate Christianity as not just a religion, but as the place to find the one true God who is real, and who does great and mighty things in the lives of those who believe in Him!

The point of the story of the stray dog is that good things do not come easy! And since the things that come from God are the BEST OF THE BEST, they couldn’t possibly be expected to come easy! With this understanding, every believer ought to determined himself to do whatever it’ll take for him to obtain what he needs from the Lord. All over the Bible we see stories that teach us that there are prices to pay to get the results we need in life! The Canaanite woman in this story had to put up with being called a dog in order to receive the healing for her daughter! The stray dog had to put up with all manner of abuse and beating in order to eat the better food that it desired! Hannah, the mother of the great prophet Samuel, had to put up with being called a drunk by the high priest in order to receive Samuel! Blind Bartimeaus had to put up with insults from the crowd in order to get the Lord Jesus’ attention and get Him to heal his blindness.

Here’s a story I love to tell of a young woman who desired to change her life from one of poverty and lack, to one of prosperity and abundance. When she heard about the principle of sowing and reaping, she decided to sow her meager salary for the next 6 month. So the next time she got paid, she faithfully took her entire salary to church and sowed it. She did the same with her next 5 paychecks. Was this easy for her to do? NO!!! She got kicked out of her apartment for her inability to pay her rent, and had to move in with friends. Feeding herself and affording the basic things a person needs in life obviously became a serious issue for her as well. She had to endure abuse and insults from people who thought she was stupid and crazy to take her entire salary and give to the church – for 6 months!

Sometime after she did this, the chief of the community where she lived heard about what she did and decided to honor her actions by giving her a parcel of land. Then shortly after this, the representatives of a big multinational company came to that community to buy a piece of land on which to build a factory. The woman’s land happened to be exactly where they wanted, and they bought it for a very substantial sum. The woman invested the money into a business deal that made her a millionaire. This is how the young woman went from being a poor office worker to becoming a millionaire.

So I ask you, dear brethren, what do you want in this life, and how badly do you want it??? Badly enough to put up with the tough price that you might have to pay in order to get it? The Lord Jesus made this one thing clear to us in Luke 14:28, where He said “…for which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” (KJV)

Some of the major things that prevents people from doing what it takes to follow divine principles are: lack of knowledge, fear, indiscipline, carelessness, spiritual weakness, etc…
- Lack of knowledge of what to do. So many churches do not teach the divine principles that are hidden throughout the Scriptures. If that young lady had never heard of the principle of sowing and reaping, she would not have tried it. This is why the Lord lamented in Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (KJV)
- The fear of the hardship that comes with doing what it takes; the fear of what people might say…
- Indiscipline, which prevents those who do know of the principles, from properly following the principles, and seeing the results.
- Carelessness of those who don’t care about the way their lives reflect on God. They don’t understand that their lives must give glory to God, and so they don’t care to put to work the divine principles which would help to conform their lives to that which would give glory to God. and because they don’t care, they don’t hate their life situations enough to want to do what needs to be done to change it.
- Spiritual weakness, that prevents so many believers from tackling tough spiritual issues. Under this category come factors such as weakness in prayer, in fasting, in the study of the Word, etc… WITHOUT SPIRITUAL ENABLEMENT FROM GOD, a believer cannot live victoriously in this world!!!

So once again, I ask you, what do you want, and how badly do you want it? Badly enough to determine in your heart and mind that nothing, not the fear of hardship, of humiliation, of pain, of uncertainty, of having to wait on God’s time, of going on long fasts, of praying for long hours, will stop you from doing what you need to do in order to see a change in your life? I hope so! And I pray that our good Lord would pour His grace upon you to help you do what it takes to get what you need, to His glory!

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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YOU ARE GOD’S LOVE LETTER TO THE WORLD!

Over the years in ministry, the Apostle Paul had begotten many sons and daughters in Christ. Among them were Philemon and Onesimus. Onesimus was Philemon’s slave, but he ran away from Philemon, and in his flight he ran into Paul, became saved, and became useful to Paul and very dear to him as a spiritual son.
And as it happened, Philemon was Paul’s spiritual son as well.

Paul would have loved to keep Onesimus, but had to do the right thing and return him to Philemon. But knowing how angry Philemon must be with Onesimus, Paul decided to write a letter to Philemon about Onesimus.

POINT #1:
In his running, Onesimus ran into Christ, who transformed him into a better person.
His name means ‘useful’, but as a slave he had been useless to the point where he even ran away. But after finding Christ, he became a useful person! He now could fulfill his destiny as a ‘useful’ person.

=> LESSON: Like Onesimus when he ran away, we are all runaway slaves: Running from the devil and from all manner of issues that we need to rid ourselves of!
And like him we ran until we found Christ, who now gave us the power to go back and face our slave masters and become free from them!
Some of us are running right now! Running from sin, from your background, from bad associations, from what people think about you… You’re running because you don’t want to be a part of those associations anymore; you don’t want to be known by your background anymore; you don’t want to dwell in that sin any more…
CHRIST, who turned Onesimus’ destiny around and restored it into what it was supposed to be, will turn yours around for good as well!!!

POINT #2:
In the letter Paul basically put Philemon in a dilemma where Philemon couldn’t really do to Onesimus what he might have wanted to do him because in the letter Paul pointed out to Philemon that even though Onesimus was once his slave, he is now his brother (in Christ)!
So Paul put Philemon in a situation where his Christianity was tested!
He told him: Yes, I know he did you wrong; and he might have even done something that cost you money. WHATEVER it was, I’ll pay for it. Just forgive him and take him back AS YOUR BROTHER!

=> LESSON: Every now and then we find ourselves in situations where our Christianity is tested in so many areas. In this story we see 3 main areas:
1. FORGIVENESS: When we find ourselves confronted with the need to forgive someone who did us wrong in a big way. ESPECIALLY if that person is now a brother or sister in Christ! Either way, we must forgive them and move on!
THIS IS GOD WORKING ON YOU TO HELP YOU RID YOURSELF OF A BAGGAGE THAT YOU SIMPLY CANNOT CARRY AROUND AS A BELIEVER WHILE HERE ON EARTH, AND CANNOT CARRY INTO HEAVEN WHEN YOU DIE!
Also when you’re asking God for mercy and second chances, He’ll remind you, or put you in a situation where you need to forgive and give someone else a second chance, as a seed for you to sow into the request that you yourself are making of Him for a second chance.
2. BROTHERLY LOVE: Onesimus used to be Philemon’s slave. But now he was Philemon’s brother in Christ. Would Philemon still only see him as a slave, or would he accept him as a brother?
=> As Christians, do we still hold people captive to the way we used to know them? Do we still just see the former prostitute for who she used to be, or do we now see a sister in Christ, blood-washed like ourselves, and called into the same glorious light, freed by Christ to become a great person! Do we go around feeling holier than others, instead of humbly recognizing that we are all saved by grace?
3. FREEDOM IN CHRIST: Philemon ran the risk of jeopardizing his relationship with Paul AND WITH GOD, if he failed to forgive and accept Onesimus! So by forgiving and setting Onesimus free, he would have done the right thing by God and would have not only been setting Onesimus free, but he’d be setting himself free as well before God.
=>By forgiving someone, it is not just that person that you would be setting free. It is you yourself as well! Because as long as you refuse to set that person free in your heart, you are chaining your own self to the sin of unforgiveness and rebellion against the will of God.

POINT #3:
Why did Onesimus run from Philemon? Because he felt that he was better than being a slave! And you will agree with him that he was indeed destined to be greater in life than he could ever have been as a slave! HE COULD NOT have fulfilled his destiny if he had remained captive to Philemon!

=> LESSON: SOMETIMES YOU HAVE GOT TO RUN FROM WHAT’S HOLDING YOU CAPTIVE IN ORDER FOR YOU TO MAKE IT IN LIFE!
===> Paul himself acknowledged this to Philemon:
“15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.” (Philemon 15-16, NASB)

Note that I said ‘sometimes’. Because we don’t always have to run from every tough situation we find ourselves in. After Joseph was sold to Potiphar as a slave, he could have run away and run home to his father. But he did not need to run from Potiphar to fulfill his destiny. In fact he had to stay there in order to do so. BUT HE HAD TO RUN FROM THE CAPTIVITY THAT HIS JEALOUS BROTHERS WANTED TO KEEP HIM IN!

So we always have to be careful to know what’s ‘good’ captivity, and what’s bad captivity. Good captivity is when God Himself puts us in situations that we hate, and from which we might wish to be freed from. So be careful about wanting to escape from tough and unpleasant situations. If it’s God who’s keeping you there, STAY! Stay there and grow spiritually by patiently learning the lessons that He seeks to teach you by placing you in that situation. But if the captivity is of the devil, or of people who don’t want your progress in life, the first chance of escape that you find, RUN!!!

SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO RUN FROM WHERE YOU CAME FROM! Because the people there will forever want to hold you captive to how they know you.
YOU NEED TO RUN FROM BAD INFLUENCES; FROM BAD FRIENDS, from those people who want to forever hold you captive to the kind of friends you all used to be together, and keep on doing the foolish things you used to do together.
YOU NEED TO RUN FROM BAD BOSSES who have been limiting you, who do not see your potential, and have no plans to help you grow in your career!
This is why when you become a believer, it’s imperative that you change your entourage! That you change the friends you keep! Stay away from those who would tempt you to keep on sinning. From those who can hinder your spiritual growth. From those who can hinder you from fulfilling your God-assigned destiny in Christ!

SO RUN AWAY! FROM ANYTHING OR ANYBODY THAT SEEKS TO HOLD YOU CAPTIVE TO THE WAY YOU USED TO BE, THAT SEEKS TO KEEP ON LIMITTING YOU! There’s greatness in you that needs to come out, and you need to carry that greatness and run to where you can be free to develop that greatness and be great for God!!!

Remember what Paul told Philemon in verses 15 and 16. Onesimus needed to get away from Philemon, who was limiting him as a human being, in order for him to go and become somebody better, who could be far more useful not only to Philemon, but to God and the Church as well!
Likewise we all need to get away from the people who limit and hinder us, so that after we have gone and grown in the Lord, we can come back and help to make their own lives better as well!

POINT #4:
Apart from the fact that Paul wanted to do the right thing and return Onesimus to Philemon, Onesimus himself needed to do the right thing and return to his former master as well! There’s that thing called RESTITUTION! When a person becomes saved, sometimes he must make restitution for wrongs that he had done as an unbeliever. God could not have allowed Onesimus to go around preaching righteousness when he himself had a wrong that he had done to his master, and that he needed to make right. So Onesimus needed to go and ask for forgiveness and receive freedom and blessing from his former master in order for God to be willing to use him.

=> LESSON: GOD CANNOT USE YOU AS LONG AS YOU BELONG TO SOMEONE OR SOMETHING ELSE! If you have restitution to make, you’re not free. You’re still captive to the issue for which you need to make restitution, and this will stand in the way of your relationship with God and prevent Him from fully using you!

POINT #5:
THE POWER OF FAVOR! So Onesimus had to go back to Philemon. But in doing so he faced a serious risk: Philemon could have had him killed! That’s how it was in those days. A slave’s life belonged to the master to do as he willed, and runaway slaves were summarily killed, or at least severely punished, to make example and deter others from thinking about running.
HENCE Paul’s letter, by which he basically told Philemon: I am sending your former slave back to you, and I am asking that the favor that you have for me, show it to your former slave, whom surely has no favor before you.

=> LESSON: Sometimes God will touch the heart of somebody who has favor with Him, but with whom you have no favor, and set that person up to show you favor!

POINT #6:
SO THE ONE THING THAT SAVED ONESIMUS’ LIFE WAS THIS LETTER!
Because of this letter, HE WAS ABLE TO BE FREE TO FULFILL HIS DESTINY!
It is said that he went on to pastor Timothy’s old church. HE WHO WAS BORN A SLAVE ended up a great pastor! All because of a letter that freed him from captivity, and made it possible for him to become the great person that God had purposed for him to be!
Onesimus couldn’t be useful to Philemon while he was a slave because Philemon was only using him then; A PERSON CANNOT BE FULLY USEFUL AS A SLAVE, because as a slave he can only be used and abused. BUT AS A FREE PERSON, HE CAN SERVE WITH ALL HIS HEART AND MIGHT AND GIVE OUT HIS BEST!

POINT #7:
FROM PAUL’S ACTIONS IN WRITING THIS LETTER, we can see that love is:
1. A PEACEMAKER; A TRUCEBREAKER.
In this story we see that Paul had found himself caught between 2 of his sons who were at odds with each other, and he had to step in to broker peace between them. A bad father would want to keep the 2 sons at odds, so he can profit from their division. But that’s not the way of love! It’s not the way of God. Love unites; love makes peace.
2. A TRANSFORMER: Love will allow you to change for the better. A master who loves a servant will allow the servant to grow and flourish as a person, and not seek to limit the servant in order to be able to keep on exploiting him.
As slaves in Egypt, the Israelites were severely limited by the Egyptians in what they could and couldn’t do. They had to be prevented from growing in power so they could be easily exploited. When the Israelites left Egypt, they left as runaway slaves. When they got to the Red Sea, they did so as runaway slaves, with their masters in hot pursuit behind them. And when they got into the Red Sea, they did so as runaway slaves. But once they got to the other side of the sea, they were free!!!! The sea had swallowed their captors and closed up behind them. They knew that no one was coming after them anymore! Thru their crossing of the water, they were transformed from captives to free people!

=> LESSON: This is what happens at baptism! You go into the water as a condemned sinner, but come up from it a free person, with old things passed away! You go in as an estranged child of God, and come up from the water restored as a child of God!
=> That’s what Paul sought to accomplish in the lives of both Onesimus and Philemon. He sought to set them free from the animosity that kept them apart and hindered their ability to be free to grow into the sons of God they were supposed to be!

3. AN EMANCIPATOR: An emancipator works to set captives and slaves free! AND PART OF WHAT THEY DO IS THEY NEGOTIATE FOR THE FREEDOM OF SLAVES! There was no way Onesimus could have gone to Philemon on his own and ask to be set free. Paul’s letter served as the letter of emancipation! Through that letter, Paul negotiated the freedom of Onesimus by actually offering to pay for it.

POINT 8:
From all this we can see one powerful thing: Paul’s letter is a representation of Jesus-Christ! ALL MEN SINNED AND WERE CONDEMNED TO BE CAPTIVES OF THE DEVIL UNTIL JESUS CAME AND PAID THE PRICE FOR OUR FREEDOM! JESUS IS THAT LOVE LETTER!!!

For God so loved the world that He sent…Jesus His love letter to set men free!!!

You see, what we’re supposed to do is to simply take the LOVE LETTER that is the Word of God and present it to Satan and declare to him: Look! This Letter from God says that my sins have been paid for!!!! Satan you have no choice but to set me free!!!!

NOW GET THIS: As the words of a letter are carried inside an envelope, so did God’s letter of love unto men come wrapped up in the person of Jesus! So IF THE LORD HAD SHUT UP and not shared the word that He carried inside, you and I would still be lost today! But PRAISE GOD that the Lord opened Himself up as an envelope, and released ‘His contents’ in 2 major ways:
1. By spreading the word of love from God
2. By being transpierced on the cross, which released out of His body (out of His envelope) the blood which cleanses us of sin, and the water by which the Church was born.

Paul’s letter carried the words of the letter, and also a promise of payment. Likewise within the Lord’s envelope, he carried the word of God, and the payment for our debt – His blood, which, once He spilled it, declared that IT IS FINISHED!!!

==> LESSON: YOU AND I ARE NOW THE CARRIERS OF THIS WORD!!! We are the envelopes that carry God’s love letter to the world!!!
YOU AND I NOW CARRY THE LIVING WATER THAT GUSHED OUT OF THE LORD! That’s why He declared unto us in John 7:38 that “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (KJV) It is by that water that the Church was born, and we are to go about this world releasing that water upon people, thus multiplying the Church.

SO MY BELOVED BRETHREN, DON’T BE CLOSED ENVELOPES! RATHER SHARE GOD’S LETTER THAT HE HAS PLACED IN YOU TO SET THE CAPTIVES FREE!!
GO AND TELL PEOPLE THAT CHRIST HAS PAID THE PRICE FOR THEIR RELEASE!!! That He has paid for their salvation from sin; for their healing; for their prosperity; for their wholeness in every area of their lives!
SET PEOPLE FREE BY SPEAKING WORDS OF LOVE TO THEM! Tell people words that will encourage them in life; words that will build them up and help them grow in life; words that will help them see how important they are to God!

What would have become of Onesimus and Philemon if Paul had neglected to play this role in their lives? Their lives would have been hampered by the presence of the conflict that set them at odds with God’s plans for their lives.
So brethren think about this: How do you think the Lord will react when we show up before Him after going thru this life not opening ourselves up to pour out His words of love, of liberation, of transformation, of empowerment, of beautification, upon the people around us who badly need it?
It shouldn’t be hard to imagine that He would say “DEPART, YOU UNFAITHFUL SERVANT” to any such believer. Let that not be you!!!!

Now get this: No matter how battered and tattered an envelope may become, as long as the letter inside remains intact, that’s all that matters. Likewise you and I have no excuse for not sharing the word that we carry, because no matter how imperfect our envelopes (our bodies), what matters is that the word of God inside us “is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV)

No matter what physical limitations we might suffer from, let us endeavor to find ways to share the love of God with others! So long as we are willing to be used, God WILL find a way to use us! He will make ways for us to release his water that we carry within us! That’s why He put it there in the first place!

May God bless you richly as you open yourself up to be pour out unto others, to His glory! Amen!

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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WHAT ARE YOU HUNGRY FOR?

Both the first and second Adams were tested by God for the following  purposes:

  • To prove that they knew who they were
  • To prove that they could be trusted with power.
  • To prove what they were hungry for.
  • The first Adam was tempted by Satan thru his wife, and he failed the test by eating the forbidden fruit (see Genesis 3 for the story) [Please note this: Even though it was Eve that Satan spoke to, Adam was right there (see verse 6), and heard every word the serpent spoke, and did not intervene to prevent his wife from falling to the temptation. So we are going to treat this as Adam's temptation, not just Eve's].
    Later on, Satan came after the second Adam – Jesus – with the same food-based temptation at first, by telling Him to turn stones into bread and eat (See Matthew 4:1-11 for the story). When that failed, Satan realized that it wasn’t going to be as easy as the first time around, so he then tried two more different temptations, which failed as well.

  • To prove that they knew who they were:
  • In each temptation, Satan said to Jesus: “If You are the Son of God…”
    And in each case the Lord’s reply simply meant to say ‘I don’t need to do any of the things you’re asking me to do to know whether or not I am God’s Son. God has just declared to me a few days ago when I got baptized that I am His Son! If I was His Son in the water, then I am His Son in this wilderness!’
    In Adam’s case, had he known that he had already been made in God’s image, he wouldn’t have fallen for Satan telling him that eating the forbidden fruit ‘would make him like God’ (see Gen. 3:5). He should have rebuked the devil, like Jesus would later do, by reminding him that he and God are practically the same! That they were friends!
    Therefore, brethren, know who you are in God! No matter how bleak the situation you find yourself in, no matter what the enemy tries to tell you to get you to doubt that you are still God’s child and that He cares for you more than anything, remember those times when it was clear to you that God is with you, and know one thing: that God who was with me then, IS WITH ME NOW! I was His child then, and I am His child now! Though the circumstances surrounding me may not look like the God of miracle, of prosperity, of success is with me, I know that He is!!! In due time, when I’ve passed this test that He Himself is putting me thru, He will show His face to me again, and His angels will come and minister to me again, as they did to Jesus at the end of his trial! (See matt. 4:11)
    And when tempted with sin, as Adam was, remember who you are: a child of the Holy One of Israel! Unlike Adam, who failed to remember his friendship with God, remember your friendship with God, and rebuke the tempter!

  • To prove that they could be trusted with power:
  • Satan told Adam (thru Eve) that eating the fruit would ‘make him wise’ like God. Meaning that it would make him as powerful as God! Proverbs 3:19 says “By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place…” (NIV) So you see Adam and Eve had already understood that God created all things by the power of His wisdom, and they jumped on the idea of gaining the same source of that wisdom and power! Thus proving to God that they could not be trusted with power. Despite all the authority and power that God had already given them to rule the earth with, they craved and coveted more power!
    In the Lord’s case, Satan took Him to a high place from where he showed Him all the kingdoms of the earth, and tempted Him with the idea of handing over to Him all power and authority over the earth. Of course, the Lord rebuked him by reminding him that one should worship only God! Meaning that a servant of God MUST recognize that only God can have all power, and that everyone else MUST bow to that power, and not seek to be like God.
    Brethren, God WILL want to know whether you can be trusted with His power! If The Lord Jesus had to be sent to the wilderness to prove that He did not want power for Himself, but only to serve The Father with it, then so will you and I.
    So brethren, be humble with the power God entrusts into your hands. Don’t try to use it to make yourself big. Don’t get proud and arrogant about it, and don’t try to use it in a way that was not sanctioned by God. Above all, recognize that you are only a steward of it, and don’t ever seek more of it in a manner that challenges God’s authority over you.
    ANOTHER CRUCIAL LESSON HERE: Here again there’s the test to see if Jesus knew who He was in God, in the sense that He had to prove that He knew that as God’s Son, He ALREADY HAD ALL THE POWER NOT JUST IN THIS WORLD, BUT IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE!  If He hadn’t known this, then He would have been tempted to accept Satan’s offer, as Adam did. If only Adam had known what a special being he was! If only he had known that he had been made special, unlike the angels, to be like God Himself, and that he already carried all the power that he needed to rule over all of creation!
    So brethren, when tempted with an offer of power, be careful to remember that you already have been given power by God Himself, made in His glorious image! You are His ambassador here on earth, and that means that you have the full backing of heaven behind you! So be attentive to the Holy Spirit to know the source of, and purpose of whatever power that  is being offered to you by any entity in this world. Seek the Lord’s consent before accepting positions of power.

  • To prove what they were hungry for:
  • Satan had said to Jesus: “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew 4:4, NIV)
    Knowing that Jesus must have been starving, Satan told Him to turn stones into bread and eat.
    Again, as is rather obvious, the question here is whether The Lord knew who He was!
    The Lord Himself was the Bread of Life! He Himself was more than physical bread. He was the Bread that created breads!
    But in that moment of starvation, exhaustion, frustration and confusion in the wilderness, did He still know that He was the Bread of Life? Was He going to jump at the tempting suggestion and say “man, you’re right! I’m tired of being hungry. Let me use my power and make me some bread out of these stones.”
    Had He done that, that would have been the end of the test! God would have said “I thought you were my Son, but you’re not. I thought you knew that you are the Bread of life, but I guess you don’t. And if you don’t know that, then I can’t work with you. The job and the glory that I was reserving for you are not for you.”
    In that moment of temptation, Adam should have recognized who he was: The caretaker of the garden of Eden! He should have rebuked Satan and scolded his wife for ever suggesting that he disobey the simple command that His Master had given him, which was to eat of all the fruits in the garden, except this one.
    So brethren, the question is: When you find yourself in those dire and bleak situations where Satan comes to make suggestions for you to do things that are not of the will of God for you, do you know who you are at that critical point in time? Are you a committed child of a God or not? Are you a believer in God or not? Are you His servant or not? Did you give your life to Him and He owns it, or not?
    Because if your answer is yes to these questions, then you have only one option, which is to keep on waiting on His salvation! He put you in that wilderness like He did Jesus, to prove you. Therefore determine to pass the test in that wilderness with flying colors! Determine to come out of it shining like refined gold, worthy of the great assignments He has prepared for you! If He had to prove Jesus before sending Him out into the world to minister, how much more you and I!
    Now as with the other temptations, there’s a powerful underlying issue raised in this temptation: What was The Lord hungry for?
    Was He hungry for physical bread or was He hungry for what lay ahead of Him? Was He hungry for some physical food or for the great job that God had sent Him to earth to do? Was it for some instantly gratifying temporal food or for the glory that awaited Him at the end of His work on earth?
    The same question goes for Adam: What was he hungry for? Did he want that single fruit more than ALL the fruits that had been put at his disposal for food in that garden? Did he want that food badly enough to lose his friendship with God over it? Unfortunately we know the answer: He was hungry for more than what he had with God. He was hungry for equality with God.
    Brethren, when we’ve been in a wilderness for a while, we become subjected to all kinds of temptations; to all kinds of suggestions from people to do one thing or the other to help ourselves out of that wilderness situation. The question for us at such points in time is: what are you hungry for? What do you want? Do you want some quick self-gratification, or do you want the greater things that God has in store for you, which He WILL give you if you endure and pass this test by remaining faithful to Him to the end?
    You see, brethren, in life we are what we’re hungry for! We are what we pursue!
    Jesus was hungry for the great work that God had sent Him to do on earth! He was hungry to save the souls that had been held captive by sin and death. That’s why He left His throne in heaven and took on human flesh. He didn’t come to earth to eat and be merry! He proved this again sometime later when His disciples asked Him to come and have some food and He replied “My food… is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” (John 4:34, NIV)
    My brother and sister, what are you hungry for? What are you on earth for? Is it to pursue the riches of this world? To build a ‘good’ and satisfying life for yourself? Nay! As Apostle Paul said, ‘let this mind be in you, that was in Jesus’, that you may be hungry for the one food that truly matters: Service unto the God who put you in this world for a very specific work!
    I pray that God would reveal to you the specific work He sent you to do for Him here on earth, and that you will make that calling your food!

     
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    Posted by on January 11, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

     

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