Meditate on His word

Read with me, Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,  but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3

We often experience self deprecating thoughts in the face of challenges.  It is all too common for self doubt to enter our hearts when things get tough, we feel like we cannot do the hard things in life.  While having conversations with people, facing everyday life, having to show up, do you experience fear, anxiety, or insecurity?  Today, I want to help us have victory over the lies of the enemy. I want to give you a practical workable strategy to combat the thoughts that hold you captive. Our sword is the Word of God, which active and alive, dynamic in its efficacy at helping us through all things life throws at us The word functions as a reminder of who He is, and who He makes us. As we behold Him, we see the amazing potential we have to be like Him.  The more we look in this mirror, the more we will know who He made us, know and remember. This is what meditating on the word of God does, it serves a mirror that reminds you what you look like, just as you would look in a natural mirror and see your true form, so the word shows you the truth of who you are.  Reading, knowing and meditating on His word bolsters our faith, brings clarity to our thoughts, and edifies our souls, renews the heart, enabling us to fully live a victorious life. Reading and meditating on the word eradicates the false impressions we have. He died so that we can live. He didn’t pay half a price, degrees of which  we still need to redeem through suffering. He paid it all. We get to stand in victory; we get to know Him in victory. We are no longer slaves or orphans, but Sons of the Living God. And as Sons we have been left a legacy of powerful living, not victimhood, not insufficiency, not suffering, but purpose and overcoming.

Think of a Scripture, for instance, Psalm 139, “ For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Meditate on this for a few minutes.  See yourself in that scripture. See God love you, and think of you, having intentions for your life before you were even born. Feel and know that you are known and accepted. Understand that He is a good father. Understand that has made you with intricacies, with depth, with intent. Know that you are loved by Him. Allow your heart to think this way, even if your mind wants to remind you of hard times. Even when your mind is screaming at you that you are undeserving, rest in the knowledge of Him, not in what you know about you, but in what you know about Him. Allow His love to fill your heart. Allow your heart to accept it, to know it. Think of how this can help you today. See yourself overcome fear. Love overcomes fear, see yourself strong in His love for you. It is free.  See yourself reign over insecurity, taking action against the lie that would have you remain inactive. Refute the lies of the enemy by believing His truth about you.

 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

first and last

Read with me, “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

All throughout Scripture you see God being gracious in His provision, provident in His answers. Throughout the Old Testament we see God promising His children victory before calling them to arms. He is a God who initiates happening, seeing it through to completion. He starts things, and He finishes them. He is a God who always provides a way of escape, knowing what we need before we even ask. It is a marvelous concept to understand that He determined to love you, before you were even born. He knows the end from the beginning every time. Christ was crucified before the foundation of the world, God providing the answer before there ever was problem.

That thing haunting you, that problem hounding you, stealing your peace, the burden of regrets, the pain of loss, the challenge of faithfulness, all of these are included in the provision God has made for us, before we ever knew to even ask Him. He made provision for our suffering. Our answer is in knowing Jesus. The provision comes as a result of the nature of His love for you. Matthew 6:33 reminds that HE loved you first, before. Before you were you, before you could screw it up, before you could even understand it, HE loved you. His love came before you ever needed it. His love came before, an answer to your need.  In Jesus is the provision we seek.

Now, we get to acknowledge and know Him as He is – first. Know Him first. Before you do anything, know Him in the seeking. Before you move, know Him in the work. Before you answer, know Him in the word. Seek Him first. All things have been provided, as we seek Him first. There is victory on the other side of Jesus. On the other side of knowing Him is insight, on the other side of spending time with Him is rest, and after loving Him is when you truly live.

Under the law, the priest, a man, had to go into the temple and sacrifice to gain atonement for the people’s sins. A man would go before there could be any sanctification. In Jesus’ life we see a divine exchange of law, works, and effort, with regard to man having to usher in sanctification. John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way, to announce Him, to go before once more. The crucifixion rendered man’s sacrifices obsolete. After the cross, we now have access to the presence of God, forgiveness and sanctification through the blood. There is no more man crying out in the wilderness waiting for the Messiah, after the cross He now makes intersession for us. He went and did what no man can do. This made Him the first of many brethren.  This is the end from the beginning, His death the end of His life, His resurrection the start of ours. His blood testifies of a greater works. Under law a man had to go first. But then comes Jesus and  does everything perfectly, showing us how to walk like Him, to walk after Him.  He comes and finishes what He started first, allowing us to move in miracles and look like HIM! We get to be like Him.  We now never have to walk a road of sacrifice to gain forgiveness. We no longer profess the notoriety of man, we no longer prepare ways to usher in His presence. Now, after, we show up and be Him, allowing the finished work to put Him on display fully.  We just get to be with Him. He does the job completely, and offers us full sanctification. “For anyone who enters God’s rest, rests from his own works, just as God did.”  Hebrews 4:10

 God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? NUMBERS 23:19.  He is good. He was good before we could ever try to be. So be good because He is. He commands, be Holy as I am Holy. He was Holy first, setting an example of godliness, providing a means to be righteous, so because He is, BE.

He knows your end from the beginning!  He has already provided for your life according to His loving kindness. I want you to do this with me today, look at Him. Set your eyes on His face. See Jesus, lock eyes with Him. Know His face, know Him. Who is this man? He is the one who knew you first. He knows you most. He knows you. Know Him. Allow your heart to search out His. Understand that He loves you. Be defined by His gaze. Revel in His friendship.  Set your affections on Him today, and experience your worries dissipating.  Look at Him, know Him, and receive the peace that comes from knowing Him. It might be hard for some people to look on a man. You might associate this human Jesus with every other human, those that betray and fail and cheat. I want to urge you to know Him. Remind yourself He is a good father, brother, friend, man. He loved, first. He died for you. He chose you, because He already knew you. This is amazing, Romans 8 says, He foreknew you! He  then made you in the image of His son, who was the first of many brethren. (Romans 8:29) He was, so we can be.

(un)offended

Read with me, Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5

Offence, the internal resentment brought on by insult or disregard, seems to have become part of everyday discourse among most. How can we live unoffended in a culture that is rife with offending words and ideas? I would say to live unoffended, is to live aware of, but not for yourself.  Unoffended living finds its existence in honoring others. If you are aware of and attending to the plank in your own eye, you would lack the capacity to be preoccupied with your friend’s.  The Bible is clear on the fact that it is imperative for us to rid ourselves of offence. We are building a kingdom that is not divided against itself, but supports its own. The dangers of offence are that it lingers, and as it lingers it breeds contempt, infecting our hearts, and eventually informs decisions long after the offending moment has passed. It is a cancer that steals from you, seeping the life out of your destiny, clouding your God-given purpose. Offence has an uncanny way of muddling intentions, thwarting them to selfishness. Offence makes it about ‘me.’  This directs our actions to self gain and validation. An offended heart will constantly seek validation. It feeds off being acknowledged, being right at the expense of another.  Resentment is the subsequent  offspring of an offended heart. An offended heart lends itself to pity and narrow mindedness, because an offended heart seeks its own gain and validation, causing the person to see only what is wrong with the other. There is a miserable miscarry of love when we fail to see the value of others based on how they made us feel.

According to the dictionary, an offence is defined as ‘an annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles.’ This makes me cringe, because I know how serious most Christians are about their standards and principles. The problem arises when we want to impose those principles and ideas on others in the name of Salvation. Luke 17:1 says, “Then he said to his disciples, “It is impossible that no offense should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!”  Offence is going to make its way to you, surely. But what do you do with you when it comes?  How do we avoid giving intentional offence?  By not returning insult for insult. Somehow we have made it our Christian duty to correct and question everyone about everything they do and say.  I feel the need to remind us to live for Christ. Being devoted to Him does not intrinsically garner you with the authority to judge others. This give and take of offence in the name of correction is the way of a fool that does not know when to keep their peace. It is imperative we realize that a critical spirit is not the spirit of discernment. A critical spirit does harm and disarms someone else, it undermines authority, ours and theirs, and severs the chord of brotherhood we have. There is no no honor in judgment. Before you come at me with your “I need to correct your sins as a good God fearing Christian,” I want to draw your attention to Luke 17:3-4, which starts with CONSIDER YOURSELVES. If you go to somebody to point out their faults, you better have considered yourself first. If he sins again, you better be ready to forgive, not be offended that you were not heard. Taking someone up on what they do wrong is an immense responsibility, and should be treated with utmost care and accountability on our part. Most correctional encounters are breeding grounds for offence because of pride. If a brother offends you, and you feel the need to correct him, have you considered yourself? Have you considered your reaction will be of he offends again, repeatedly? Or is your gain only in his good behavior. 

I am sorry to break it to you, but you should not matter in the matters concerning others. Live unoffended, to such an extent that you are dead. Seriously, you have died, the life you now live is not your own. You cannot be going around being self seeking if self is no longer alive. Let love win. Let patience win, let kindness win, let deference win, let humility win, in every circumstance.  There is glory in overlooking offence according to Proverbs 19:11. It might be that the validation we crave in correcting others might just be the outflow of overlooking those very faults.  We all want glory, but often this desire goes hand in hand with wanting to be seen and heard. Seek Him first. Let others live. Love them, pray for them. But know Him in all YOU do, consider YOUR own life first, and rid your heart of offences. There is no crown for how well you managed your brethren. There is reward for knowing Him! Seek Him first. In others, and in yourself, know HIM. Seek to know Him. Stop looking at people to validate your Christianity. Stop looking to people behave in order to validate your calling. Be unoffended, be like Christ, that’s validation right there.

 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19

Rooted

Read with me, “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord. For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:7-11

You know those times when you are desperate for an outcome? God has spoken to you to do something, but it is tough, hard, and seems to take forever. I want to draw your attention to the famous passage in Jeremiah. Jeremiah 29:11 is well known and quoted. But today I want to do a glance through some of the context that preceded the famous verse that we all know, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Often times the fulfillment of the promise we seek is directly resultant to a preceding command. Here we see God telling the people to pray. Pray for the territory they find themselves in, so that it may go well with them. This is significant, because the territory they were in was that of the enemy. In other words, it was not the land they would associate with blessing, prosperity, or fulfilled promise. I have found myself in these places before; places I associated where I found myself with lack, burden, chaos and fruitlessness. I also, inadvertently believed it was due to a lack of movement or breakthrough from God. Funny that God comes to His people and tells them, pray for the place you find yourself in, because if they prosper, so will you. Here, their welfare was dependent on their ability to pray during hardship. Their welfare was tied into community. God comes and says, do not listen to the prophets of their land, and do not listen to the prophets and diviners belonging to this place which is not yours.

Previously they had received prophecy, but it was inaccurate. Hannaniah lied, promising imminent rescue to the Jews. But, God had other plans. Disappointed, they were searching for a new promise, a word, a prophecy. The answer is seldom what we expect. In their loneliness and feelings of being adrift, God brings relief in the form of family and communion. Their belonging was secured in loving those around them and building community together. There was no imminent relief, no sudden slaying of the enemy, and no rapid exodus to better promises. The promise of His goodness till stood, even when they were enemy territory.

This passage beautifully reiterates God’s desire for us to present a spotless bride and multiply children of God. If we take a close look at the context of this passage, we might recognize a theme that is common throughout Scripture; the unction to not be thrown about by every word we hear, but to be established and rooted in Him. So many times we listen to the words that sound good and promise imminent relief, at the cost of recognizing Him in those promises.

God says, listen not to the lies, and do not allow your heart to be swayed by words that sound good after I have spoken. Listen not to their prophets, for I know the plans I have. He knows the plans He has for you. He is trustworthy. We cannot use prophetic word as the lever that arm wrestles God into changing His mind about His purposes. Our answer is in leaning and yielding. Our strength is in quiet, but bold, trust.  He is a good father, He knows.  When God said “I know the plans I have for you,” He was reminding them that the words of other prophets don’t change His original design for them. I can just see God saying, “Settle down (literally in their case), and be”. Know Him. Know His plans, so that the words of others, when they come with their dainty morsels of fleeting hope, do not uproot the established words of God in your life. He knows His own heart. Let Him remind you that you are supposed to prosper! Even in territory that is not yours, even in the enemy’s camp, prosper! Have hope! Long life! He doesn’t always promise immediate relief, or an easy out. He sometimes promises personal sustainability in the middle of the threat. He offers an anchor for your soul. Wisdom would be to not  ask for another prophecy, but  a promise, because His words are sure- alive and active.  He is able to accomplish His word. It does not return void. Let it have its work in you! Establish your heart in the word of God, not man. Although prophecy is good, and integral to our Christian walk, it should facilitate community and build the body, not unhinge into facets, inciting factions.

What has He spoken to you? What are you trying to rush, that needs more prayer? There comes a time in every believer’s life where we become settled in Him, resting in His goodness and the knowledge of Him, where we are no longer sojourners, but settlers. We become established. In your heart, settle this today, that you know His plans is good. There is hope. Do not look for the promise of a quick fix. Listen not to the words of the enemy’s prophets. Listen not to the men of the land. Listen not to the lies that tell you to hustle for favor. Listen not to the voices of religion demanding action, NOW. Remember His words to you, and be settled. He has a plan, and it is good. You win.

Seeing Well

Read with me, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:16

Every member of the body serves a different function. Just as the physical eye cannot do the job of the heart, and the lungs cannot do the job of the eyes, so we each have our own work purposed for us individually. Each and every part serves a different purpose, magnificently designed to function perfectly and effectively. The varying parts of the body are designed to complement each other, not hinder each other. This holds true for the body of Christ; we were designed to work together, held together by the fibre of His perfect love for us.  *see 1 Corinthians 12

Discord is a cancer to the body of Christ. When there is enmity between brothers, the body suffers. When we look and others and judge them based on what we see, we cause disruption and decay. Today, I want to draw your attention to 1 Corinthians 5:16, Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.” Regard no one according to the flesh! Not according to their flesh, or yours. It is so detrimental to the body of Christ when we allow others to bleed because of our misguided judgments. We have a hurting bride, a body burdened by the chains of oppression; prison sentences brought on by failure to meet prerequisite standards stipulated by church culture. Look at your local church. Do you know who stacks the chairs on a Sunday? Do you know who unlocks before and locks up after every service? Do you know the person operating the media and sound equipment? I want to challenge the way we view people in general. I have a burning passion to challenge the worldly consumer dominated culture that has infiltrated the body. We need to see well. We need to see. We need to seek Him in those around us.  Seek out parts of the body you would not normally consider, get acquainted with His traits again, dismissing fame and notoriety. Regard every person you see at church (or the supermarket etc.), and see.

Regard them as alive in Christ.  Look at them as a part of yourself that need caring and nurturing  just as you  would give to your very own body. Referencing the function of a body, life comes from the inside; we live from the inside out. We do not allow circumstances to inform us of anything, we trust the word of God, written and spoken. According to the work of the Spirit in us, we work out our own Salvation with fear, not that of another. Powerless people are tossed about by ideas and opinion, allowing circumstances to dictate their view of their brethren. You cannot allow a person’s momentary lapses, or their materialistic standing to inform your opinion of them. Let the Spirit empower you to see them as He sees them.

God has given us a Spirit, not of fear, but of power, love and self-control. The sequential significance of this verse always speaks to my heart. Not fear, but POWER. God wants us to live powerfully. When dealing with the body, we do not induce fear, but power. We do not use fear as a tool to bring about repentance, or change. We do not introduce the very substance of death (fear), in order to create awareness of Life. We bring Christ, and we boast in each other (1Cor 5v12), because I am powerful in God whether you behave or not.  We operate in a Spirit of power, a Spirit of Love, and a Spirit of self-control. We are reminded that we received not other person control, but SELF control. Manipulation and control are tools for powerless people. They are the hallmarks of reactionary living, signifiers of the need to control outcomes of other people’s actions and beliefs in order to feel powerful. The opposite of living powerfully is living as a victim. But, we are not powerless.  In light of this gift of the Spirit I want to urge you to live according to the theme of freedom. Live unbothered by people’s failures, and be untethered by their opinions. Let love win.

The measure of true devotion in a relationship is not what you do with and to the other person, but what you do with you. How do you behave? How do you speak? What do you allow yourself to believe about them? This is a significantly integral part of ministry; elevating people. We carry on His work by bringing people awareness of Him, not promoting self; we do not encourage the realization of how insignificant they are, but how amazing He is. We preach the completed work of Christ, not the insufficient efforts of the flesh.  We bring to light the fact that He makes them powerful, and their power is not found in ability to abstain from sin. We minister life and hope found in Him alone. No man can do what He does on the inside of His own.

 Because we live from the inside out, we start with us. Life as if you are loved and forgiven. Live free. The work that God has started in your life, HE started in YOU. So live from the inside out, and let Him finish what He started.