“For we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God, and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances.” Philippians 3:3
Worship means to declare worth, to attribute worth to something or someone. Thus, us Christians, we declare worthiness and ascribe all this, giving God the recognition He deserves. Putting it in biblical terms, we praise God. We speak, or sing, about how good and powerful God is. This is a purpose for which we are called: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). We were called for the purpose of praising God, worshiping God. That is one of the job descriptions of a Christian. We should declare that God is worthy, worth more than everything else put together.
What do you do in worship? How do you worship? What motivates you to worship? And what are the results of worship? Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4:23, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit…” The word which Jesus used for spirit is the Greek word pneuma. Pneuma is defined as a current of air, breath or a breeze. It is used to describe man’s spirit, God’s spirit and even demon spirits. The fact that it is not capitalized in John 4:23 most likely indicates that the translators felt Jesus was referring to the human spirit. In most cases the translators used a capital “S” when speaking of the Holy Spirit. We know that Jesus was not referring to demon spirits. Worshipping God “in spirit” means that we worship God with reverence, attentiveness, and having the right purpose of honoring God, while understanding what we are doing. Hebrews 12:28-29 says, “Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” Our worship must glorify God. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
The place of worship is the spirit of man, but the means of worship is the Holy Spirit. As Paul wrote, “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:18) True worshipers worship the Father in spirit and by the Spirit. Physical locations are of no concern. It doesn’t matter about our status in the church or the community. It doesn’t matter how talented we are or our physical appearance for worship comes from the spirit of the worshiper. True worshipers don’t take notice of themselves for their eyes are on the Father and their ears are tuned to the Holy Spirit. We need to realize and know that the Spirit is the worship leader and knows the heart of the Father.
In order to worship God in the right spirit, we must take time before worship to make ready our hearts and emotions so we will be in the proper frame of mind. Psalms 89:7 says: “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him.” Our worship must show great reverence toward God. He is our creator and He holds our eternal destiny in His hands. We must strive to please Him. We should not have to rush or hurry to worship, arriving late but should always plan to be there early enough so we can be in a worshipful attitude and spirit. In other words, our mind must be ready, attentive, and alert.
To worship in spirit also means to allow the Holy Spirit to conform us into the image of Jesus; producing spiritual fruit and perfecting a life of holiness. Many times Christians grieve the Holy Spirit by allowing fleshly desires to choke out the work God desires to do in them and through them. Paul wrote to the Ephesians and said: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:30-31) Behaviors such as this limit the genuine flow of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. Paul warns in concerning the Lord’s Supper and says; 1 Corinthians 11:27, “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” Sharing the Lord’s Supper is also one form of worship. Our worship to God must be done in a worthy manner. It must be done in a manner that brings glory and honor to God and Christ. Continuing to read in verse 29, the bible says “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” We must control our thoughts during periods of worship and not let them wander to other things. We should never be wishing the worship service would hurry up and be over so we can get to the restaurant early and not have to stand in line. In fact we should be of the frame of mind that we are disappointed to see the worship service end.
In showing reverence and respect to God, we will not be indifferent, inattentive, and taking lightly that which should be considered serious. Worship to God is holy. Our character in worship must also be holy. In 1 Peter 1:15-16 we read, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in your conduct, because it is written, be holy for I am holy.” Laughing and giggling, sleeping, playing with babies, squirming, unnecessary talking, and passing notes all show disrespect in worshipping God. Worship which is insincere, that is not from the heart, is vain, useless, and unacceptable to God. Jesus says, “These people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6). Active participation will tend to get rid of our lack of interest and inattentiveness. Reverence is not having a long face, folded hands, or a put on look of pity. Worship should be a time of joy for us. It is a time of offering thanks, adoration, love, praying, singing praises to God, feeding on His word, and proclaiming Christ to the world in partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
A true worshiper will live a life of repentance which allows his spirit to be refreshed by the living waters of the Holy Spirit. Worship involves our entire relationship with God: our words, our attitudes, and our actions. Our words may be normal conversation, songs or prayers. In any style of speaking, we can declare God’s praises and express our faith reliance on him. God wants worship not only on our lips, but also in our hearts. He wants our worship to be sincere - He wants to be the most important thing in our lives and that we are truly submissive to him. He wants our worship to affect our behavior, that we make sacrifices, we put to death the deeds of selfishness, we seek justice, be merciful, humble and help others become what He wants us to be. He wants us not just to obey him, but to serve in ways that go beyond specific commands. We are to worship wherever we go, doing all things to God’s glory, praying always, giving thanks always, and always remembering that we are a temple of the Holy Spirit. Our worship involves how we carry out ourselves in our day to day lives.
There are also actions that are more specifically times of worship. We might call these private devotions, or spiritual disciplines. These are habits and actions of worship we do individually, as opposed to worship when we gather as a church. Worship is not restricted to a specific place and time. The best thing that has ever happened to you and me is that we have God in our lives. We have reason to celebrate all the time. We should live each day praising God in our hearts, speak to one another about the best thing that’s ever happened to us. Is your life dry and parched? Is there a need for true repentance? Ask the Father to allow the waters of the Holy Spirit to bring refreshing and forgiveness. Ask him to renew a right spirit in you.
“Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.” Psalms 120:2,
Last week on Friday, we spoke about “minding the words that we speak”. It has been a challenge to me personally and I asked God over the weekend to help me tame my tongue and that He may examine every word before it leaves my mouth. As David said in Psalms 141:3 “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” That has been my prayer. David knew the power that our words possess and had full knowledge that the devil can take the advantage of what we say and use it against us. God knows what we think about and what we will say even before it departs our mouths. David says in Psalms 139:4 that “For there is not a word in my tongue [still unuttered], but, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.” Knowing this, we should allow God to take total control of who and what we are and what we think about, what we see, read and thus what we say will be saturated with good and pleasant things; life and not death.
While we think about our speech and everything, let us examine ourselves in regards to lies. This is a thorn in the flesh for many of us. This is a common struggle for many of us including some the ‘men of God’. This is so common and has been facilitated especially with the use of “mobile phones”. It is so amazing that you will hear someone pull a stunt on the phone and give out a big notable lie and not even dare laugh about it or even feel remorseful for the same. I do really wonder where our society is headed to these days. LIES and liars have lived amongst us since creation. A lie can best be described as the crude opposite of truth. Seemingly, we all tell lies or have told lies. This vice is used for different reasons. Politicians lie to claim and clench power; some parents lie to save their faces before kids; kids lie to avoid being scolded; lovers lie to each other to protect a cherished liaison or to abort a souring one. Yet, everybody hates to be told lies. What we give we hate to be given – a clear indication that lie is a bad thing.
Lies have ruined nations’ economies; lies have provoked bloody wars; lies have broken harmonious marriages; lies have even dispersed church congregations. Lie is a force, an obsession, a spirit and even a breath. Since we all hate to be told lies, we ought not to tell also, and our societies shouldn’t be in need of lies. Solomon says this in Proverbs 6:16-19; “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brethren.” You see that, God hates lies. Proverbs 12:22 says “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.” It is an abomination to lie before the Lord. Take a look of all the people who lied in the bible, no one survived. Remember Ananias and his wife Saphirra? (Acts 5:1-11) Their lies before the presence of God led to their death.
Proverbs 12:19 says “The lips of a truthful man shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” Are you truthful? What words come out of your mouth? Solomon continues in Proverbs 18:20-21 and says “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” We saw last week that every word that you speak is a seed that will grow and you will reap the fruits. Your tongue has the power to create and kill. You will come to realize that no one tells lies when he or she has got a good intention. Remember, lying is concealing essential truth that is needed to execute something. Proverbs 12:20 says “There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil, but joy for those who promote peace.” When you tell lies, know that you are blocking blessings accorded to you.
A lie is a hindrance to prayer. Isaiah 59:2-3 says “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.” What else can you expect from God if you are in sin and you haven’t repented? Your prayers won’t be heard leave alone being heard. Lying makes us crawl back or draws us back to the old man that we shelved or left. Colossians 3:9 says “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Paul talking to the Colossians, he tells them that for them to live a holy life they need to get rid of several things and lies was one of them. As you can see, lying also hinders us from living a Holy life in the Spirit.
Jesus said that the devil is the father of all lies. John 8:44 “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” When you speak a lie, know that you are colluding with the devil. You are speaking his native language. The devil always works to entice people to lie. As much as you purpose not to, you need to do it prayerfully. The bible says in 1 Kings 22:22 “And the LORD said unto him, Where with? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said you shall persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.” Remember Ananias and Saphirra? Peter told him; “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost…” Acts 5:3
Lies lead to Hatred. Proverbs 26:28 says “A lying tongue hates those it hurts; and a flattering mouth works ruin.” Solomon the wise man continues and talks about the use of words. This is what he says: “reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18. A person who lies will always utter words in appropriately and end up hurting people. They never put into consideration of what they are saying and the consequences afterwards. Once they are covered, they are fine. Proverbs 13:3 says “he who guards his lips guards his life; but he who speaks rashly will come to ruins” There is not a single day a lying tongue will build. It will always bring ruins as it conceals some vital information. Proverbs 17:4 says “A wicked man listens to evil lips; a liar pays attention to a malicious tongue” A liar will never be sincere and thus, even when he talks of love, it will never be.
Lying cuts us from Heaven. Revelation 21:26 says “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The bible continues and says “But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” Revelation 22:15. Are you going to be cut out of heaven because of lies? The ultimate punishment for lying is death. Ananias and his wife Saphirra died in the presence of the Lord and the young men buried them.
We have other many examples of people who lied and you will note that their ending wasn’t a pleasing one. One thing that is so sure is that, no matter how hard you will try to hide in lies, one day, the truth will be revealed. Remember Proverbs 12:19 says “The lips of a truthful man shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” I pray that the Lord will help us to become truthful and change our lives. It will be of great disgrace to see you or I being cut off from the presence of God just because of a lie. There is need for a change. Adults should repent, children should be educated, and the society should be overhauled. The element of truth can bring about this change. May the Lord help us.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29
What was the first word that you uttered this morning when you woke up? I must admit that it is really a challenge to many of us when it comes to what we say. Many times we find ourselves having uttered some unworthy words and many are the times that we really regret over what we have said. We need to know that whatever comes out of our mouths is a clear reflection of the saturation of our hearts. In Luke 6:45, Jesus said “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Solomon said in Proverbs 27:19 “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man” There is no way you can cheat your heart. Jesus said it clearly that if you have stored good things in thine heart, so shall good and edifying thing come forth from your heart. It can’t be vice versa – a dirty vessel will never give clean water, it will always be dirty.
In Matthew 12, Jesus casts out demons from a possessed man and the Pharisees who were nearby said that he was using the powers of Beelzebub. Jesus goes ahead and rebukes them and said “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37 Jesus again repeats the same principle of the “fruits reflects the abundance.” Jesus brings one thing so clearly that it is our work to make sure we are careful of what we feed our minds and what we store up in our hearts because it will ultimately be reflected by what we say or do. David prayed a prayer in Psalms 141:3 and said “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”
Why watch what you say? When we watch we see what is coming and what is going. We use words to describe what we are thinking. What we are thinking, when spoken, is likened to a seed sown. Seeds look for ways to grow. A word of joy, seeks to grow joy. Its potential can only be joy. Words spoken in hate or spite will seek or manifest hate or spite. Spoken words carry out what our soul manifest. Our soul is our mind, will and emotion. Our mind is our thoughts, our will is our desire to deliver and our emotion is our level of intensity. Words, thoughts spoken and action or deed, will provide all the means for things to come to fruition as they are willed. Paul tells the Ephesians not to let any unworthy word proceed out of their mouths but instead, they should make sure that each word that they utter is geared to edify, heal, encourage, bring hope and challenge the hearer. But on the contrast, what do we speak to our fellow brethren?
Many of us, we are so good in discouraging others rather than encouraging them; we tear down rather than rebuilding; we kill rather than healing and bringing back to life what is on the verge of dying. Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” God had told the children of Israel while they were in the wilderness the same thing. Whatever you decree is what happens. You need to know that there is power in what you decree. You hear then you say. When you say you hear. When you hear faith comes. When faith comes you speak from the abundance of your heart. With God filled words we build faith into the lives of men.
James tells us as believers that we need to tame our tongues. “It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.” James 3:5-6 I know, at one point or another, we have all been victims of issues related to words that were inappropriately spoken, and thus, we found ourselves in trouble. This is exactly what James was warning the brethren against – malicious speech. We need to know that the way you understand and take some issues, is not the same way someone else will. Thus, we need to be careful what we share, how and to whom we speak to.
Once we get to heaven, Jesus said “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37. What comes out of your mouth? A blessing or a curse? James 3:10-12 says “Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so. Does a fountain send forth [simultaneously] from the same opening fresh water and bitter? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring furnish fresh water.” We need to keep one line of speech. Let us not be lukewarm – today you are blessing and then tomorrow you are cursing. James says this should not be. Remember, there is a record of all that you say in heaven and you will be judged as per that.
In simple words, what am I saying this day? James 1:19 says “therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…” Many times, we are so fast to speak before we get the wind of the talk and thus, we get angry and hurt ourselves or others. In response, we kill, destroy, hurt and discourage rather than healing, encouraging and restoring. The bible says “Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you].” Colossians 4:6. Remember Jesus said that you and I are the Light and salt of the world. We need to reflect this in our speech as well, not just actions. Titus 2:1 urges us to “speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” Remember, as we said earlier, the words that you speak are like a seed and once you plant that seed, it will grow – mind and watch what you say.
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” - Psalms 19:14
27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 but I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye – even your good eye – causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Matthew 5:27-29
We are living in a world that is polluted. What do I mean by polluted? Every day, television, movies, billboards, newspapers and magazines bombard us with lustful images. What we see around us is what saturates our minds and thus, we find ourselves thinking about what we saw. And when lustful thoughts become part of our lifestyle, we feel like prisoners to those controlling desires. One thing that we need to realize as human beings, our minds capture so much of what we hear and see. Your mind will process what you see and the information that you hear and act on it. It is up to us to control what we need our minds to emphasize on in our lives. Jesus said “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23 thus, we have to guard what we look at and see.
God does not want us to suffer in the prison of lust. He offers hope and freedom when we turn to Him for help to understand the truth behind the lies of lust. What is Lust? Lust is defined as a strong wish for something; an earnest wish to own or enjoy; “to have an intense desire or need: crave; specifically to have a sexual urge”. Lust has been with mankind throughout history. God took care of Adam and Eve’s but He withheld one thing from them - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Due to lust, they failed God’s test. Satan tempted Eve by telling her that God was holding back something good. She and Adam, through lust (desire to know and have), they ate the forbidden fruit. Once we begin to fulfill our own lusts, a vicious cycle begins. Lust leads to sin, then Sin breaks our relationship with God (Romans 1:24-32) and thus we become numb to lust’s impact, so we think we can lust even more. Paul says in Galatians 5:16 “But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).” The nature of lust is an unquenchable thirst to have more and more… More money, fame, power, revenge, food, clothing, love. Unless our desires are turned over to the Lord, we will never be satisfied.
It is unless we live by the spirit as Paul says, then, we will spend all the days of our lives searching in vain for fulfillment through the things of this world with no success. But once we live in the spirit and walk in the spirit, we will discover the answer to the greatest desire in our lives. We will get what we need to fill up the vacuum and the emptiness that we feel and find in our lives. The Bible says that our greatest need is to worship God. This is why we created. Colossians 1:16 says “For it was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him.” But sin has separated us from God (Romans 3:23) and only through Jesus can we be forgiven of our sins and restored to God.
Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life… Without me, no one can go to the Father” (John 14:6). If you have never made Jesus the Lord of your deepest desires - then do so now. It is only him who can help us tame and help us control the desires of our hearts. This is the place we reach and we really need the help of the Holy Spirit in us. Due to our fallen nature, we will have to deal with lust until we die. The temptation to lust will come in many forms. There are external lusts, including ungodly sexual appetites and overindulgence in food and drink; and there are internal lusts, such as the lust of power, fame or position. Therefore, we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit inside us to overcome lust every day. “Let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near to you as the clothes you wear. Then you won’t try to satisfy your selfish desires” (Romans 13:14) No matter the form of lust we face, we can be assured that we have an Advocate who “understands every weakness of ours” and “was tempted in every way that we are. But He did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus is not a distant God who is looking to judge you, He is your friend, and he has walked the road you are walking right now.
God does not want you to be a prisoner of lust. The Bible says, “Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1). We have assurance from God that he will help us to battle lust. Nevertheless, we need to recognize this and start to free ourselves as well. We need to get to the root of the problem and handle it from there. It reached a point till Job had to make a covenant with his eyes. Job 31:1 says “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” One thing is sure – If we remove the coals/firewood/fuel, the fire will die. We need to get to know what leads us to what we lust for and deal with it, thus, we will be safe. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23 I know that with the help of God, you can overcome the spirit of Lust. If only you are willing to. We need to:
a) Ask God for help. - Sometimes we are too ashamed to take this first step. Don’t try to fight the battle of lust on your own. Go to God and ask Him for help. This is what humility is all about. We all know whether or not we struggle with this or not. God’s desire and Joy is to see us walk in freedom but the devil wants us to stay bound in the bondage. But we can break free from it.
b) Stop feeding your lust/start renewing your mind - Lust is gratified as you feed on things pertaining to lust. Prayerfully begin to resist those desires. Replace those desires with a desire after the word of God. Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Spend more time reading, listening and meditating on the word of God. The word of God is no ordinary thing; it is full of the Almighty power of God, which is able to save your soul from bondage to habits and vices. As you spend time in the word, your heart will be strengthened by the truth and when another day of temptation comes you will be able to fight for your soul. Romans 12:1-2 says “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”. Renewing your mind is a process, you won’t get there overnight; you need is to be willing to walk with God to victory. Put away everything that appeals to the flesh and focus on God. (Ephesians 4:22-24; 2 Corinthians 10:5)
c) Die to lust. – Paul tells the Romans in Romans 6:1 that “since we died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” He continues to say that, once we have died to sin, we are free from sin and sin doesn’t have power over us. (Romans 6:7). So to overcome lust, we must recognize that “the persons we used to be were nailed to the cross with Jesus” (Romans 6:5) and our old way of life died with Jesus. When we understand what it means to be dead to sin, we will then find freedom from lust.
d) Walk in the Spirit. - The next step is to submit your life to the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16 “But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).” Remember, you can’t fight lust on your own, so ask the Holy Spirit to help you. Paul continues to tell us that we need to surrender our lives to Christ and thus we will live in freedom. Galatians 5:24-25 says “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
e) Resist and flee. There is not a time sin will give you time to think twice whether to indulge or not. It is always enticing us. The best advice is simply this: Run! Just like Joseph did. Don’t allow lust to linger in your mind. Get far away from situations and influences that threaten to trap you. Proverbs 5:8 says “Let your way in life be far from her, and come not near the door of her house [avoid the very scenes of temptation].”
f) Forgive Yourself - Guilt is a joy stealer, it will want to rob you of the wonderful future God has ahead of you. In Romans 8:1, the bible says “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Plead the blood of Jesus over every remembrance of your past that seeks to haunt you and stand upon the promises of God to defeat guilt. You have no cause to regret as long as you are learning how to yield to the leading of the Spirit of God inside of you and you are practicing a life of obedience to God daily.
g) Set new boundaries – This simply means that there are some things that you have been doing that you need to stop. You will also have to shun or cut fellowship with some of the company of friends that you had. You know what defiles you so stay away from them. It might be helpful to make a list of things you would need to stay away from and prayerfully plan to keep away from them. Invite the Spirit of the fear of the Lord into your heart, begin to practice reverencing God and allow the fear of God to guide you in every step you take. Be obedient to the word of God and the voice of God in your heart. Joy will flood your life and God will restore all you have lost as you faithfully seek Him. Proverbs 3:7-8 paraphrased says “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.”
“Don’t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father. Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything see. None of this comes from the Father. The world and the desires it causes are disappearing. But if we obey God, we will live forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”. Hebrews 4:16
Last night, I hardly slept. After listening to a discussion in one of our FM stations regarding praise and worship, I had a quest and thirst to get to know more about praise and worship both in a personal way as well as a worship leader. I started thinking and meditating on what was discussed and personal evaluation on the same. I was in awe of what I realized and I thanked God for everything and went to sleep. It was then that I lost my sleep and I had a desire to dig more about the tabernacle and what was done in each section. Little did I know that I was a trance and God was revealing so much. I had an awesome time to meditate and soak in God’s presence which was so awesome.
Moses was shown the heavenly pattern for the temple and recreated it as best as humanly possible. By looking at the Tabernacle in the wilderness we can come to a better understanding of the way God intends for us to enter the God’s presence. The first area of the tabernacle was the outer court which contained the altar of sacrifices and the lavar. This is the entrance to the tabernacle. This is where people used to come and offer their sacrifices of atonement and other sacrifices. David says in Psalms 100:4 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” The Israelites would come and offer their sacrifices of praise on the outer court. Here, it characterized more of repentance, praise and worship and celebration. The altar represented the cross. You cannot enter into God’s presence without passing through the cross. At the cross, you leave all your burdens. Our past sins are forgiven and put away (Romans 3:25; 2 Cor. 5:21); our old nature is crucified (Romans 6:6); and we devote ourselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). We need to know that when we come into the house of God, we are coming to meet a Holy God and thus we have to be holy as well. It is at the outer court that we are able to deal with all this and cleanse ourselves.
In our modern worship setting, before we offer our sacrifice of praise and worship to God, we need to set apart some time to go before the Lord and cleanse ourselves. Especially the worship leaders and the ministers as well as you personally. You need to familiarize yourself with God’s presence till you know how it feels. Not just to hear people saying how they felt God’s presence and you, you didn’t even recognize. Do not be a stranger in God’s presence. We need to realize that as we lead the people into God’s presence, we can’t take or lead them to a place that you haven’t been or you do not know. Thus we need to go ahead of the people that follow us. We need to come to the altar and deal with all the works of the flesh before advancing into God’s presence. The lavar signifies God’s Word in three aspects a) as mirror (James 1:23-34), b) A judge (John 12:47-48; 1 Cor. 11:31; 1 Peter 1:17), and c) as cleansing water (Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 John 5:6). As Christians, we must cleanse ourselves of worldly contamination by reading and applying the word of God in our day to day life. Jesus said that we can only be cleansed our sins by water and the blood of the lamb. And thus, after offering our sacrifices and cleansing ourselves, we are ready to enter into the Holy place and commune with God.
When you get into the Holy place, this where you commune with God. The presence of God starts to be real. It is unfortunate in our moments with God, we come from the outer court and when we reach the Holy place, we get contented and we leave without advancing into the Holy of holies. It is at the Holy place that God listens to us as we adore him, enthrone him and lift him up on our praises. He comes down to dine with us. It is in the Holy place that frankincense was offered. The incense here signifies our worship to God. Here again the priest would offer the showbread. The bread represents our will. It was ground meaning totally yielded; molded (conformed to God and delight to do His will); baked (tried by fire); then was placed in two rows of six loaves (ordered according to God’s direction – discipline) and covered by frankincense (worship). This sacrifice was offered daily before the Lord. This means that each and every day, we should bring a sacrifice of worship unto God which is not the same as it was yesterday. We should be renewed and refreshed every time we are in God’s presence. We shouldn’t go out the same way as we came in.
It is at the holy place that God deals with our flesh and transforms our lives. Once our will has been transformed into that of God, we are ready and in tune to hear from God. The golden lamp stand in the Holy place represents our intellect. The lamp stand was fashioned from beaten gold. Through the renewing of our minds, by studying the Word of God, we allow the Holy Spirit to fashion our intellect to be pleasing to God (2 Corinthians 10:5; Romans 8:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:8). The illumination of the intellect depends upon the yielding of the will (James 3:13-18). Sometimes we come into God’s presence with our preset minds and we are not ready to change and conform to God’s will. But we need to allow God to work on us and change us into what He wants us to be.
Hebrews 10:19-22 states, “Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the Holy of Holies by the power and virtue in the blood of Jesus, by this fresh and living way which He initiated and dedicated and opened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh, and since we have such a great and wonderful and noble Priest Who rules over the house of God, let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith, having our hearts sprinkled and purified from a guilty conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water.” Through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, we got the liberty to enter in to the Holy of Holies. The curtain that separated the temple got torn into two and thus we got access to the Holy of Holies. Thus, Paul encourages us in Hebrews 4:16 to approach the throne of God with confidence.
The veil in the temple was a constant reminder that sin rendered us unfit for the presence of God. The fact that the sin offering was offered annually and countless other sacrifices repeated daily showed that sin could not truly be atoned for or erased by mere animal sacrifices. Jesus Christ, through His death, has removed the barriers between God and man, and now we may approach Him with confidence and boldness (Hebrews 4:14-16). Only through praise, worship and adoration can we enter in to God’s presence – into the Holy of Holies. This is the place whereby we cease to be ourselves and we are consumed by God’s presence. We no longer speak but we listen to him speak unto us. This is because; the splendor of his presence covers us and most of the time we are in awe. It is unfortunate that many of us never go past the Holy place. We are in so much of a hurry to praise the Lord, and rejoice in his presence, tell him of our need but we have no time to enter the Holy of holies and get to hear him speak to us.
Are you looking for a place to rest? Longing for peace in the midst of a hectic life? You can find both in the same place – the Holy of Holies. This is where we go and God ministers to us. The priest used to go there and whenever he came out, he had a message for the people from God. Today, you and I, we are priests and we have the freedom to enter into the Holy of holies and meet with God in a personal way. You do not have to wait for someone to go there for you. Make it a habbit in your day to day life to enter into God’s presence – the Holy of Holies. Wash yourself with the water of the Word of God. Allow God to examine your will and desire to please Him. Spend time in praise and worship, learning to delight in the Lord. Enter into His presence. Find peace, refreshment, renewal and all that you need from him.
“3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. 11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:3-14
The day you gave your life to Christ, your identity changed. It doesn’t mean that you were only transformed from a sinful nature to a new life in Christ but you got a new identity in Christ and you became a son in the family of God. Jesus said in John 1:12 that “to all who believed in him, He gave them the right to become sons of God”. Jesus came that He could restore back the fellowship that was cut off in the garden of Aden when man sinned. It was so unfortunate that many didn’t believe in him and thus, they perished. This is serious. The Jews were waiting for a messiah to come down from heaven (maybe in broad daylight) and also come with might to fight off the Roman Empire and save them from their oppression but God chose to do it in a simple and a meek way.
Jesus came and died on the cross to redeem us and free us from the bondage of Satan and restore our fellowship with our heavenly father. And while on the cross, He declared that all was finished; meaning that He had paid the price that you and I were to pay so that we could be re-united with God our father. One of the most exciting things that took place at the cross and then in Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven; was the fact that we became joint-heirs with Christ. Through us believing in Christ and receiving the forgiveness our sins, we became adopted into the family of God. (Ephesians 1:5b) This was the greatest victory to ever take place in the universe and we have been made partakers of all that it represents. Romans 8:15-17 says “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Galatians 3:29 also says “and if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Looking at the scripture above, Paul reminds the Ephesians that God has chosen them and adopted them into his family and thus they became his sons and thus they have inheritance in his kingdom. Our adoption into the kingdom of God comes along with other blessings and promises as well. Through that relationship that we have in Christ, we received the forgiveness of sins; we have been chosen and adopted to share in the inheritance of the Kingdom and we have received redemption from sins, sickness and curses of the law. Galatians 3:13-14 says “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” What an inspiration there that we have in Christ Jesus?
It is very important for us as believers to understand our spiritual inheritance. Our spiritual inheritance in God is very important to us as believers, because it defines our position in God and who we are in God. Paul continues to say in Ephesians 1:18-20 “I pray also that the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places…” The first aspect of our inheritance is the eternal scope and the second is the here and now. God wants the eyes of our understanding to be opened to both of these aspects.
Speaking of our Eternal Inheritance, Titus 3:7 says “…that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Joint Heirs with Christ” it is very important for us to catch a glimpse of what our eternal inheritance is going to consist of, because it will help us to endure all that comes our way in this life when we see the greater glory that is awaiting us. In 2 Corinthians 4:17 Paul encourages the Corinthians saying “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…” Paul encourages us as believers to bear and endure all the afflictions and pains that we go through each and every day in this earth as when we are finally home, “God will wipe away every tear from our eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Revelation 21:4. David again speaks of the same in Psalms 31:19 saying “Oh, how great is your goodness, which you have laid up for those who fear you, which you have prepared for those who trust in you In the presence of the sons of men” at times, I get anxious and I know you also do. Just as the disciples of Jesus did in John 14, I wonder how heaven will be for me. But my confidence lies in the words of Jesus in John 14:1-4. Jesus said "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. "In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
1 Corinthians 2:9 "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." Do you know that you being an heir in the kingdom of God means that you actually begin to partake of His blessings right now? There are so many promises that He has given us in his word for our taking. They include:
a) All things that pertain unto life and godliness – 2 Peter 1:3.
b) Partakers of the divine nature of Christ – 2 Peter 1:4.
c) Power and anointing in the Holy Spirit – Acts 1:8, 1 John 2:27.
d) Forgiveness of sins and freedom from guilt – 1 John 1:9 & Romans 8:1.
e) Divine health and healing – Matthew 8:17.
f) Freedom from poverty – assurance that our needs will be met – Matthew 6:36
g) The prosperity in all things including our soul – 3 John 1:2.
h) Love, joy, peace and righteousness in the Holy Spirit – Romans 14:17.
i) Victory and freedom from the bondage of sin – Romans 8:11.
j) More than conquerors in all things – Romans 8:37.
k) An abundance of grace for every good work – 2 Corinthians 9: 8.
l) An understanding of the mystery of God’s will – Ephesians 1:9.
m) Divine guidance – Romans 8:14.
n) Happiness – Matthew 5, Beatitudes.
o) Security – Psalm 91.
With all the blessings and promises above, what do we need to do so that we can be able to partake of the same? Here are a few things that we can do to partake or receive the said blessings and promises.
(a) Believe that it belongs to you. – There are many things that have been given to you to enjoy in this life that will help you to be productive and successful in fulfilling God’s purpose and destiny for your lives. But you have to meditate on these things so that you get God’s word firmly established in your heart believing that they actually do belong to you. We have to be like Abraham and not waver at the promises God has for us. Romans 4:20-21 says “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”
(b) Cultivate a lifestyle of faith & obedience. – In Isaiah 1:19 says “if you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land” A big part of gaining our inheritance has to do with cultivating an obedient lifestyle before the Lord. Solomon said in Proverbs that a faithful man or woman will abound with blessings. As we are faithful to cultivate a heart of faithfulness in obedience and faith, we will abound in the inheritance God has for us. Hebrews 11:8 “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” 1 John 3:22 “and we receive from him anything we ask from him, because we obey his commands and do what is pleasing in his sight” When we are consumed with the carnality of our mind and worldly pleasures, we are forsaking our spiritual inheritance for something that is temporal.
(c) Walk in strength & courage. – Joshua 1:6 "Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” One of the things that God delights in is seeing that we face each challenge that we come across with boldness and courage. At times, it may seem like we do not have the capacity to handle what faces us but when we have our courage based and anchored in God, we are assured of victory. It is through such an approach that we are able to gain and get hold of our inheritance that God has ordained for us to walk in.
(d) Give your life for it. – Matthew 13:44 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Whatever we give our lives to, whether it is some carnal pursuit or spiritual pursuit, we will reap what we sow. Therefore if we give our lives for the kingdom and the inheritance that comes with it, we will reap the blessings that come with it. Galatians 6:7-9 says “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
(e) Whatever you do, do it heartily. - Colossians 3:23-24 “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”
Remember, all this is your inheritance. It belongs to you. Use it for the glory of God and draw from the wells of salvation and you will be filled with the abundance of God’s blessings He has given to you.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
Relationships are built on TRUST! Where would a marriages or relationships be without trust? Both the husband and the wife must be faithful to each other. Trust and faithfulness gives relationships stability. It helps the love between the parties to grow. Relationships are built on TRUST not RULES! Without trust there can be no reconciliation between individuals. God knows no corporation boundaries. He knows His people by their having His spirit. Jesus Christ is our saviour and the head of the Church. We must have faith in Jesus and trust Him that He is guiding the Church, are the people with God’s Holy Spirit. We have to put our TRUST in God and in Jesus Christ.
The Bible says this “He who trusts in himself is a fool. . .” (Proverbs 28:26). Still, most of us have difficulty trusting God at least at one point or another in our walk with Him. There are probably many reasons why trusting is difficult. At times, God’s ways don’t always make sense to us. God told Noah to build an ark. It may have never rained up to this point and the nearest body of water was probably so far away. It could not have made much sense to Noah at all (Genesis 6-8). We want life to make sense as well as we always want to set our own terms and timetables. God works on a different timetable than our minds comprehend. God promised Abraham a son from his own body through his wife Sarah. It took 24 years before this promise was fulfilled in the manner in which God had promised. In the meantime, Abraham and Sarah had difficulty trusting God and tried their own methods to fulfill the promise and in their quest to help God fulfill his promise, Ishmael was born. We want what we want and we want it . . . now! It is difficult to trust in a plan that requires us to surrender all control of the time for completion.
Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They would not bow down to the image that Nebuchadnezzar made even if punished with death in the fiery furnace. They had to make a stand and obey God even to the death. They had no guarantee that God would deliver them from the fiery furnace nut Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego put their trust in God. Daniel 3:28 says: “Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!” We must put our trust and confidence in God. He is our fortress, banner and our high tower. We must put God first in our lives.
A synonym for trust is faith and the Bible says in: Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:6 says: “Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Trust is a two way street. We must trust God and God must be able to trust us. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. God is faithful and will not change. Hebrews 11 is the faith chapter and lists many who placed their trust and faith in God. We can trust God, but can God trust us?
In order to trust in God, you must totally surrender your will, your ideas, your desires, and your future in to God’s hands. Many of us are “control freaks.” We don’t want to give the control of any part of our lives over to another person. If you don’t believe that God loves you fully and really does have your best interests at heart and desires the very best for you, trusting Him is going to be extremely difficult. It takes a very special relationship to allow that measure of surrender. Most of us have a tendency to claim trust in God. However, at the first sign of any difficulty or trial, we think that God does not love us because He is allowing these difficulties to happen or come our way. The trials may be what God is using to test the level of trust that we have in Him. In spite of the trials, we always have God’s promise that the trials and tests that we go through are for our good (Romans 8:28, Hebrews 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:17, James 1:2). We learn that it is through trust that our relationship with God strengthens and our love for Him grows.
We can trust in many things. None, however, offer the protection plan, the long term security, or the benefits that trusting in God offers. All of the other things in which we place our trust can fail. God never fails! David says, “… Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you…” (1 Chronicles 28:20). David had a testimony of who God was and he had seen His faithfulness. David had trusted God in so many occasions and God had not failed him even a single day and that’s why he was advising and encouraging his son Solomon to be courageous and trust in the Lord just as he did. David continues to say: “Trust in him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” Psalm 62:8.
In 2 Corinthians 9:8; we’re told, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Reading this carefully, we learn that God is able to make all things right. No matter how hopeless or futile a situation may be. If we understand this scripture, we get that God is able to take even the worst details of the worst situation and turn it into abounding grace. Why are we struggling with our pitiful attempts that continue to fail us when God is so fully capable of handling it so that we can “abound in every good work?” The answer to that is because we are not ready and again we are cherry picking our trust in God.
Philippians 4:6, we read “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” While we lie awake, unable to sleep because of our worry and distress, God is waiting for our request. He is waiting for our prayer and petition so that He can be God and we can get some sleep. Logically, we are trying to solve issues that we simply do not have the skills nor the wisdom to solve. Enter, God. He knows what we want, what we need and the difference between the two. In Isaiah 41:13, He says, “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Note that He offers His help. That help can come in many forms. How often have you gone through trials only to look back some time later and realize that you would never have believed things would work out that way? Maybe one of the reasons we have a hard time giving it up to God is because we will have to live in His answer instead of just having an answer given to us. That does take great trust. But God is worthy of great trust.
When we go to God initially, we are prepared to act when He makes a way for us. We are prepared to make changes when He leads us in the right direction. In Psalm 32:7, we read “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” When we give our worries to God, we are protected, we are soothed with deliverance, and we have given Him back the power that we rob Him of when we stubbornly hang on to problems we will never be able to control on our own. At times, we can be afraid to let go. When we let go, we are giving up control. Most people don’t like feeling a loss of control. But the truth is; we are not really in control at all; otherwise, we would not be struggling and worrying without progress. Isn’t it wonderful to know that God is waiting for us to let Him bring us peace? As God said in Jeremiah 32:27 “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” Let’s learn to entrust unto him all that bugs us. Let go and let God and you will see the difference. He says in Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart.” Seeking him with all our hearts means that we have released everything that might hinder us. May God help us to trust Him this year.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14:
In order to have a good relationship with someone, we will want to spend premium time with them. We may invite them in for dinner and have some stimulating conversation. This way we can get to know them better. Sometimes we may give them gifts or send them a card to let them know that we really appreciate them. How can we draw closer to God? One way is to fast. God, in both the Old and New Testaments, commanded His people to fast. I believe the power of fasting as it relates to prayer is the spiritual atomic bomb that our Lord has given us to destroy the strongholds of evil and usher in a great revival and spiritual harvest around the world.
It has been well said that prayer is not preparation for the battle – prayer is the battle. And of all the things we can do to enhance the power and focus of prayer, fasting is doubtless the most potent. This is where the power is at, because fasting puts us in harmony with an All Powerful God who demands humility from those who wish to be close to Him. Fasting humbles the flesh and when it is done for that purpose, it pleases the Spirit of God. You can go a certain distance in God, and experience many things, without fasting much, but the highest, richest and most powerful blessings always go to those who couple this together with other disciplines where fasting is inclusive. The most significant biblical characters, with the possible exception of Abraham, were all men of fasting and prayer. Jesus, the Son of God, was a man of fasting and prayer (Matthew 4:2). So was the apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 11:27). Moses fasted 80 days. Elijah fasted 40 days. The early church fasted before starting any major work. The greatest spiritual leaders of the 20th century who are making an impact are all men of fasting of prayer to my knowledge.
Fasting is not magic, nor does it twist the arm of God. God wants to do many amazing things, but He looks for those willing to urgently make the corrections needed to come into line with him. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). Successful fasting is also the fastest way to learn patience. It takes patience and endurance to fast for more than a day. Many of God’s tests come quicker to us when we fast and we have a better opportunity to pass them. If we want to go far with God we would have to face these tests anyway, but much later, and in a more time consuming and difficult way. We need to humble ourselves and embrace the correction God wants to apply to our souls. Fasting gives you God’s focus for your life. It is a major key to hearing God’s voice. We need focus from God more than anything. The world we live in is working overtime to distract us, to entice us, to win our hearts and minds, our focus, and to determine our vision. Fasting cuts out the world so we can tune into God. If we are obedient to God fasting will make us catalysts for revival and awakening.
You can fast from some foods, and not others. You can fast from watching television, having sex, and buying pleasure items, even from buying ordinary stuff. You can fast from hobbies you crave, places you are unhealthily drawn to, music, books, news, and movies. You might even find it necessary to be fasting from use of the Internet — though please don’t start until you’re done using this site. :-) Matthew 6:16-18 says: "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” God wants us to learn spiritual lessons from fasting. When we fast we become physically weak. This reminds us that we are human and frail. Without food and water we would die. Spiritually we need to remember that without God we will die spiritually. We are very dependent on God’s creation, the earth, with its soil and rain, to sustain our physical lives with food and water. If we will draw closer to God through fasting, He will help us to overcome and sustain our spiritual lives. Fasting is one of the greatest tools God gives to help us think like Him and to act like Him.
The Bible describes four major types of fasting:
- A Regular Fast - Traditionally, a regular fast means refraining from eating all food. Most people still drink water or juice during a regular fast. When Jesus fasted in the desert, the Bible says, "After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry." (Matthew 4:2) This verse does not mention Jesus being thirsty. This fast was conducted on the Day of Atonement. This fast was from sunset of one day to sunset of the next (Leviticus 16:29; 23:32).
- A Partial Fast - This type of fast generally refers to omitting a specific meal from your diet or refraining from certain types of foods. Daniel 10:2-3 says, "At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over." In Daniel 1:12, they restricted their diet to vegetables and water: "Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink."
- A Full/Radical Fast - These fasts are complete – no food and no drink. Acts 9:9 describes when Paul went on a full fast for three days following his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus: "For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything." Esther also called for this type of fast in Esther 4:15-16: "Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." Others who had similar fasts were: Ezra (Ezra 10:6-9); David fasted for seven days pleading with God to save the life of his child (2 Samuel 12:15-20); Moses (Deuteronomy 9:9-18 and Exodus 34:28); Elijah (1 Kings 19:8); Cornelius (Acts 10). It is recommended that this type of fast be done with extreme caution and not for extended periods of time.
- A Sexual Fast - 1 Corinthians 7:3-6 says, "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
So why fast? When God calls us to prayer and fasting, He always does so for our benefit. The scriptures point out at least seven benefits to prayer and fasting.
- Our attitudes, feelings, and thoughts get sifted, pruned and purified so that God might entrust us with a greater ministry. By fasting and praying, we become more disciplined toward the things of the Father. We give Him opportunity to cut away from us those things that will slow us down, do us in, or keep us from His plans and purposes.
- We are able to discern more clearly the will of God for our lives. Fasting clears our spiritual eyes and ears so we can accurately discern what God desires to reveal to us.
- We are confronted with our sins and shortcomings so we might confess them to God, receive forgiveness for them, and walk in greater righteousness. Many times we break stubborn, sinful habits when we fast and pray. Fasting and prayer cleanse us and purify us from the errors that have kept us entangled in sin and folly.
- We experience a release of supernatural power. Genuine fasting and prayer result in spiritual growth, including a renewed outpouring of supernatural power. Certain problems and situations cannot be resolved apart from fasting and prayer.
- We can influence national issues and concerns through our prayers. As we fast and pray for our nation, God will move. He will pour out His Spirit, in His ways and in His timing. We can count on it. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
- We can help build up God’s people. Prayer is the generator of the church. It gives power to its ministers. It propels outreach to the lost. It creates a climate in which evangelistic efforts succeed.
- Our minds are sharpened. When we fast and pray, we begin to understand the Scriptures as never before. We become sensitive to God’s timing and direction, with an increased awareness and ability to discern. We become keenly aware of what God desires to do and accomplish not only in our lives, but also in the lives of those around us.
- To humble yourself and draw closer to God.
Fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice everything, (even) ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God. The first purpose of fasting is to chastise the flesh, that it be not wanton, but tamed and brought in subjection to the spirit. I encourage you to consider fasting as a part of your sacred time with the Lord, but to be sure that when you do, it is for a special occasion and a desired result from the Lord.
Building our relationship with God!
Meditate on Spiritual things that will build you:
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalms 1:2
How many times have we heard a good sermon and one hour later we don’t remember anything about it? It seems that people today are afraid to be alone with their thoughts. Usually as soon as we enter our house the TV gets turned on. It is easier to turn on the TV, Computer or radio than turn on our minds. We live in the age of the paid entertainer and the hired specialist who can provide the services we are unable to perform for ourselves, but this is also the age in which we can even become accustomed to letting others do our thinking for us. Most of the young people grew up in a time when most of them have house helps at their homes and thus, almost everything was done for them and when it comes to handling small issues, they are unable to simply because they were not given the chance to.
This is the same thing that happens to a believer who doesn’t feed on the word of God. You have no chance to meditate and feed on the word of God personally. All you do is waiting for the Sunday service sermon as well as other sermons that you get in between the maybe during the mid-week service. When will you have your own time to listen from God and have Him speak to if you don’t not have time to meditate on his word? David says “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night that I may meditate on your promises.” Psalms 119:148. Perhaps one of the most neglected disciplines in the Christian life these days is that of Meditation. I believe it is important for Christians to pay close attention to what they think about. As a consequence, we don’t spend the time or effort we should in active thought and meditation about God, His law’s, His word, and how they all relate to our lives.
We all need to learn the Art of Meditation. How long can you meditate and stay focused on a subject without your mind wondering? For most of us, it is probably just a few seconds. When we meditate, we need to roll it over in our mind. Meditation is simply taking a certain theme, problem or scripture and dwelling on it asking why, how, when, where and what is the end result; then determining whether or not that is the result you want. It is a matter of looking at things from God’s point of view. We need to ask, would God be pleased with our conclusion?
We need to meditate on the things of God. The next time you are lying in bed and can’t go to sleep, begin meditating on God. Think about how great God is; his love, care, faithfulness, and the blessings He has given you and before long, you will find yourself filled with gratitude and appreciation of who He is.
We are to meditate on God’s law. In Joshua 1:8 God commands Joshua not to let the book of the law depart from him. He tells him; “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” We are to meditate day and night. Why should we meditate? Meditation is used to convict ourselves of the need for personal change and internalizes God’s way of life within us. David reflects this very well in Psalms 1:1-2. For you to be a blessed man, you need to have internalized God’s word in your heart. Meditation helps to build a strong relationship with God.
Did you know that you are what you are right now – not what you would like to be, nor what you ought to be, nor are you what you used to be. You are what you are today. Today, the ‘real you’ is shown by what you do and by what you think about in your heart – what you meditate on. Further, the things that you allow your heart to dwell/meditate on today are building what you will be for tomorrow and the future? Let’s look at some verses which illustrate that you act out of and can be judged by the state of your heart. Jesus said; “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) Whatever is stored in your heart is as a result of what you allow or feed your heart n mind with. Remember “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man `unclean’.” (Matthew 15:18). In that regards, “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” (Proverbs 27:19) What we see in you each and every day is a reflection of how your heart is. Remember “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
Your ‘inner life’ is an accurate representation of the real you. No matter what service you perform/offer for God, or what you appear to be to others, the important thing is the purity of your inner self. Consider the words of Jesus as he spoke to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which looks beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness”. (Matthew 23:25-28) You see, God is not impressed with what we appear to be. No, God is most interested in what we are like on the inside. He wishes to change us from the inside out. His goal is to make us clean on the inside so that we would naturally be clean on the outside. If you are clean in your heart, then you will automatically be clean on the outside.
Meditation is a function of the mind and the heart. It is what we think about in our hearts and it is something we each do every day. Whether we realize it or not, we all spend a large portion of our time in some form of meditation. The thing is what we meditate on may or may not be worthwhile. In fact, what we habitually think about is frequently unhealthy for our growth as Christians. Often it is simply sinful. These are just but a few scriptures in the Bible that speak about meditation:
- “Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.” (2 Timothy 2:7)
- “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalms 19:14);
- “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8);
- “within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.” (Psalms 48:9);
- “I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” (Psalms 77:12);
- “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” (Psalms 119:15);
- “Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees.” (Psalms 119:23)
- “Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders.” (Psalms 119:27)
- I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees. (Psalms 119:48)
- “May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts.” (Psalms 119:78)
- Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. (Psalms 119:97)
- “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.” (Psalms 119:99)
- “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night that I may meditate on your promises.” (Psalms 119:148)
- “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” (Psalms 143:5)
- “They will speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works.” (Psalms 145:5)
- “May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.” (Psalms 104:34)
- “Finally, brothers, 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)
- “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1)
- “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:1-3)
Allow God to speak with/to you:
Communication is two way traffic. You speak and when you are through, you await for a response from the other party that you are communicating with. Take an example of the telephone; we talk and the other person listens. Then they talk and we listen. Our relationship with God is similar. We talk to God through prayer and we listen to God speak through bible study, sermons and sermon tapes and other means because God is never limited in ways that He can use to speak to us. Today there is no reason not to be able to study and learn from God’s word. We have Bibles with elaborate concordances, and other Bible helps that are moderately priced like; everyday with Jesus, Daily Bread; you can as well get bible software for your computer and do all kinds of word searches and compare scriptures of different translations. There are websites on the internet that has Bible software that you can use that is free of charge; devotional websites that you can as well subscribe to get devotions and all kinds of Bible articles and literature that you can print out and read.
The Church of God in the era that we live in has advanced and we have sermon audio tapes, DVDs and CDs. There are so many audio tapes around that we could probably listen to a different tape for 24 hours a day for several years without repeating any. We have Christian channels, radio stations and podcasts allover and we have no reason to say that we have no source of materials to listen to and get to hear God speak to us. All am saying is that we are advantaged to live in such an era that not only do we have the freedom of worship, but we also have so much more to read and listen to so as to stir up the growth of our faith in God.
Even with all of the tapes and religious literature around we still need to know and read the bible in a personal way. We need to know what is in the Bible. We need to know that we know! If anyone questions us, then we can say: I have read it for myself and I know what it says! We must be ready to give an answer to every man that asks us a reason of the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). We must be like the Bereans in Paul’s day, who searched the Scriptures daily “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11). I am not saying that we should doubt what the Lord has spoken to us; all I mean is that we should make it an habbit to study the word of God, not only when we hear it, but also when we haven’t so that when it is spoken, we can have a reference that “I read this word and God spoke to me this way. And when the same word is spoken, you are sure to get a new illumination all together. 2 Timothy 2:15 says “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.” (Amplified bible) We must study the Bible to show ourselves approved unto God We need to prove all things and stand fast to that which is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
How can we know or hear when God is speaking to us? How can we distinguish God’s voice and other voices? How do I hear God speaking to me? There are several aspects that we need to cultivate and have them in place before we hear God speak to us.
1. Cleanse yourself first - Ask for forgiveness. Don’t be actively engaged in sin and expect God to speak to you.
2. Have an attitude of submission - God is God and we are not. He knows what He’s doing even when it doesn’t seem like it to you. He can be absolutely trusted.
3. Have faith that God will speak to you - Decide that once you determine His Voice, you will follow it. James warns us of being double minded when we come before God’s presence or when we ask anything from him in prayer. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” James 1:5-8
So how DO you hear God anyway? There are quite a few ways, but the most important way is first:
a) The Bible - There’s a reason why it’s called “God’s word. The Bible does not contain the Word of God; the Bible IS the Word of God. Test what it says – especially when what it says is different from what the world says. Jesus said this, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” John 7:17. The Bible is not just a collection of writings. It is alive. What happens when you read it is that; you’ll be going along and there will be a verse that just jumps off the page at you. It is like it was written exactly for you alone, for this exact moment in your life. It is amazing, and it happens over & over again. The Bible will be different every time you read it. God will speak to you through His Word. You will know it because your heart will burn within you. You will be utterly convicted. It is the Holy Spirit who teaches you and reminds you of God’s Word. Before you read the Bible, ask the Lord to open your eyes and your heart to His Word. He will speak to you through it. The Holy Spirit will convict you that they are the very words of God.
b) Other People - Preachers, Speakers & Friends. God clearly uses His people to help and speak to His people. Here’s the key, though. You must use a filter. BIBLE is the filter. 1 John 4:1 says “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” It does not matter how religious the person looks or talks. It does not matter how good they make you feel. It doesn’t matter if they have thousands of people lapping up their every word. It doesn’t even matter if you feel “convicted” by their words. God NEVER contradicts His Holy Word. Everything you experience and learn in this life should be filtered with the Bible.
c) Circumstances - Interpret what is happening to you. If something you are doing isn’t being blessed, God MAY be directing you elsewhere. Note that every problem that comes your way MAY NOT be about God trying to teach you something, or that you’ve done something wrong. Sometimes, while we’re on this planet, God allows you to go through difficulties to see your level of faith and to see how you handle it. Sometimes, too, God allows you to go through difficulties and it has NOTHING to do with you. It has to do with a huge spiritual battle that’s going on behind the scenes that INVOLVES you, but is not ABOUT you. (That’s what was really what was happening to Job in the Bible.) The important thing is that you live life with an eye toward interpreting what is happening to you. When trying to interpret circumstances, ask God to show you what He’s trying to say. He will make it plain and He has promised to guide and direct you.
d) Inner urges to act – “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose”. Philippians 2:13 You get urges from 3 sources: God (The Holy Spirit), your own sinful nature & Satan. So how do you tell which is which?
1) The urge will NEVER be at odds with the Bible. Example: If you feel an urge to leave your wife for another lady that you met in the bus and she is pretty, no!! That’s not from God.
2) If from God, the urge will have an obvious good benefit for someone. For example, “you feel that you need to go talk to that guy over there, he sure looks awfully down.” Do it. The Holy Spirit is prompting you.
3) Most urges are from yourself – neither good nor bad, but are NOT God specifically directing you to do something.
4) Some strange urges MAY be from God. For example, “I once had this overwhelming urge that I needed to go to and visit a pal of mine over the weekend that I had not seen or talked to a couple of months. I went ahead and visited him and as we shared, he opened up and told me that he had lost his mother-in-law. When you feel such an urge, go ahead and do it if the urge is really strong. You often can’t judge until after the fact that it was God telling you to do that.
e) Dreams, Visions, Miracles and Audible Voices - God usually reserves these methods for if He can’t get your attention any other way. It easy to be mislead by dreams, because they, too, can come from different sources. You must filter and move cautiously on them. Usually, people want a miraculous sign so that God will prove himself. God has made it clear that He’s given us all we need to believe in Him. Now, it’s a matter of whether or not you want to follow God. He is most pleased by our faith in him. Take small steps of faith and you’ll receive all the “proof” you’ll need. “The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth; no sign will be given to it.” Mark 8:10-12
f) Nature - God doesn’t really speak through nature. Instead, He uses it to reveal His creative ability as an inspiration to us. Nature is a testimony as to how awesome God is. There have been innumerable times when I’ve looked up at some incredible twilight sky and have just been overwhelmed with appreciation for God’s talent. Many times I’ve exclaimed, “God, You sure can paint!”
g) Inner voices and your conscience, an amazing secret - You can hear inner voices from 3 sources: God, Satan, Yourself. When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives within you and He can and will carry on a regular dialogue with you. He will speak to your conscience, but your conscience is NOT God. MUCH inner conversation is YOU talking with yourself. God has given us a tool to HELP discern who’s talking to you.
It is an incredible privilege to be able to speak directly to God – the creator of the universe and have Him speak back to you as His child! The Lord is ready, willing and able to speak to you, but you must know how to listen and, most importantly, you must know how to be sure it’s Him. “For God does speak—now one way, now another – though man may not perceive it.” Job 33:14
Are you taking the time daily to let God talk to you?