3 Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, “Why stay here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’-the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.” 2 Kings 7:3-4
It reaches a point in life when you are so succumbed by issues of life you tend to want to give up. When you have prayed and prayed and prayed and nothing seems to happen; you need to understand that this is not the time to give up or start complaining and murmuring to God and telling him that He is not answering you; instead, it is the time to press on!! Someone said, “You can only do more prayer when you have prayed”. This means that you have no time to waste but you need to continue praying. In Daniel 10:1-13, Daniel goes into prayer and fasting in order to hear God’s mind but the prince of Persia held the angel who was sent to give Daniel his answer. Yet Daniel hadn’t stopped praying, he continued and pressed on till he got his answer. I pray that this day you too hold on.
In life, you need also to press on. There are situations, habbits, diseases or eve circumstances that you always find yourself in and they keep re-occurring each and every time. It is the high time that you stood your ground and prayed them out of your life or way. You need to get mad with the devil and let him know that he has no portion in your life – not even an inch. You are a child of the most high and thus you need to walk with your head high and do not allow anyone or anything to torment you in any way. You have an inheritance with your father in heaven and you are destined for greatness, so why should small situations and circumstances bring you down and break you as though you have no power or no one to defend you; your father in heaven is a mighty warrior, a man of war and He has never lost any battle.
The four lepers were isolated from the rest of the larger community of the Israelites because they had leprosy and thus they were considered unclean. This was a common practice amongst the Israelites but there is something unique that I see in these four lepers. It’s true they knew they were lepers and they could not be allowed to mingle with the rest of the people and thus they lived out of the camp. At this point in time, Israel was besieged by the Arameans and thus they were in great famine till they started to eat their own children. These four lepers were not spared as well but here they challenge themselves and asked “Why stay here until we die? In other words, they got tired of being secluded and isolated and thus even though they knew they would eventually die, they chose not to die of hunger. Why should you also remain where you are for eternity?
You need to reach a point and you get restless and uncomfortable of being where you are. Some of the situations and things that have been happening in our lives have made us become contented and comfortable where we are. We have settled for less of what God has in store for us. The devil has made us become relaxed and contented till we cannot see beyond the circumstances that surround us. The lepers said… “Let us arise and go, if they kill us we die, if they spare us, we live”. You need to know that when you put yourself in a cage of contentment in your comfort zone, you are only curtailing yourself from what God can do through you. God used the steps of the lepers to resound like a vast army to the ears of the Arameans and thus they fled leaving their possessions which included the food that they had plundered from the Israelites and thus, the Israelites were able to get food to end the famine.
You need to tell the devil that enough is enough. You have been held captive in a habbit, sickness, joblessness, unfaithfulness; lying name it – whatever that you have struggled with. It is time you declared that ENOUGH is ENOUGH and started to walk towards your freedom and deliverance. The bible says in Hebrews 11:24-26 that “… Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” Moses realized who he was and the calling that God had given him. This could not have allowed him to continue basking in the glory of being called a son of the daughter of pharaoh but it meant that he had to denounce that identity and embrace another one.
When blind Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was passing by Jericho in Mark 10:46-52; he started shouting at the top of his voice calling unto Jesus to have mercy on him. We are told in verse 48 that “Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” You need to know that when you become restless of where you are and you are ready to move on, there are obstacles that will come your way. It is up to you to determine whether you will accept to be derailed or you will push on. Bartimaeus did push on and he got his miracle. He was able to see again. In Luke 8:43-48, we read about the lady who had continuous flow of blood for twelve years. The bible tells us that she had spent all that she had in search for cure but she couldn’t since no one could heal her. I believe in those twelve years, she had cried herself out until she got tired. I believe that when she heard that Jesus heals people, she thought to herself that her troubles were over.
The bible tells us that she only touched the hem of the garment of Jesus. I believe in her heart she was determined just to touch the garment and she had faith that she would get whole. It takes a step of faith to declare that ENOUGH is ENOUGH and get tired of the circumstances and situations that you are in and get into a whole new realm of freedom. If Moses continued to enjoy the glory and privilege of being part of the Pharaoh’s royal family, the children of Israel would have remained in slavery. If Bartimaeus chose to listen to the people who were telling him to keep quiet, he would have remained a blind man. If the 4 lepers remained isolated where they were outside the camp, they would have died of hunger and if the woman remained in her house wailing that she was an outcast and no cure for her, she couldn’t have received her healing.
Are you ready to take that step of faith today and declare to what has held you captive that ENOUGH is ENOUGH and walk in faith towards your freedom? Get mad with the enemy and wage war with him. Jesus said in Matthew 11:12, that “from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.” It is the high time that you reclaimed what is rightfully yours. Rise up and walk into your possession by force. If you are not violent and aggressive in claiming what is rightfully yours; be sure, the devil will always take you for granted. Caleb told Joshua, “Give me that mountain. I will fight the giants and inherit the mountain for I am well able and strong as I was 45 years ago” Joshua 14:6-12. We need to be aggressive and fearless as Caleb was and reclaim our inheritance and what is our portion in the land of living. Do not be comfortable where you are or settle for less… Go for what you are convinced is rightfully yours in the kingdom of God and even on earth!
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it…” Isaiah 43:18-19
Sometimes in life we go through issues and situations that we do not like to recall or even go through again. At times, the experience is so harsh or painful that we really wish that we were not there anymore to remember or even see someone go through the same again. When we are through with the experiences that we have been through, many a times we do make a prayer to God and ask him not to allow us go through such an experience again. We are human beings and we are prone to pain, struggles name them, but one thing is sure – God always has a purpose for what we go through.
What do you do when your memory drags the “there and then” (past) into the “here and now,” (present) immersing you in the same old pain? The Bible says “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Your past can infect your present and influence your future unless you decide to let it go. You need to realize that the power and the will of moving forward or lagging behind or even being stagnant rests only in you. You become what you decide to be. You need to let go what has passed and look forward with optimism that you have a bright future. Your future is not tagged to your past but it is tagged to the present decision that you make today. Paul tells the Philippians in Philippians 3:13-14 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul knew that the moment he continued to hold onto his past, he would be a slave to it and thus not be able to proceed at all.
It is so bad that most of us do not see what the Lord has done instead; we blame God for what has happened unto us. We do not see the deliverance of the Lord, his mercies, his love and concern upon our lives even to a point of bringing us this far and even giving us victory over what we were going through and come out successful no matter the pain. I believe that there is nothing that passes the attention of God. David says in Psalms 139:1-7 “O LORD, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me. You know my down sitting and my rising; you understand my thought afar off. You sift and search out my path and my lying down, and you are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue [still unuttered], but, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have beset me and shut me in–behind and before, and you have laid your hand upon me. Your [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high above me, I cannot reach it. Where could I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from your presence?” and whatever He allows us to go through, He knows that we can make it and overcome. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
It is at such moments that we need to raise up our voices no matter the pain that went through and bless the Lord. Habakkuk 3:17-18 says “Though the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation” I know it is so hard to lift your voice at such a time and bless the Lord, yet we need to encourage ourselves and refuse to listen to our emotions and raise up to the occasion and choose to bless the Lord no matter what is surrounding us or what we are going through.
For us to forget our past and look ahead into the future and embrace what God has in store for us, we need let go of what God has forgiven! If our sinful past is haunting us, we need to know that God’s only response to confessed sin is to forgive and forget it. If it comes up again, know that it is you, not Him (God) who brought it up. The Bible tells us that “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us… and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Two things make letting go difficult:
- Your feelings - “I just don’t feel forgiven!” you say. However, you are forgiven by God’s grace obtained through Christ’s sacrifice – regardless of what your emotions are telling you. Don’t wait to feel it before you accept it; accept it and then you will start to feel it! Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” You do not have to battle with your conscious which tells you, you are not forgiven. This is the tool that the devil uses to torment us when we fall into sin. Remember “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
- A wrong concept of God - You say, “My earthly dad says that he forgives me, but each time I fail he throws all of my old offenses in my face again.” God who is our Heavenly Father doesn’t operate that way. He says that “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” Isaiah 43:25.
God doesn’t bring them up because He doesn’t remember them. All your sins were judged and paid for at Calvary. Once confessed, you’ll never again be charged with them. So rejoice and let them go. The Court of Heaven has ruled you not guilty!
Why did you need to forget about your past? Because God is bringing you into in a new season! You’re not going to enjoy the new season if all you do is spend all your time thinking about the old season that you have finished. If you want to experience the joy of the NEW season, you have to forget the negative things that lie behind you in the OLD season; then just keep pressing forward to those better, higher, and greater things that God has in store for those who are diligent to obey Him. Paul encourages us in Philippians 4:8 to meditate on things that are virtuous, things that will add value to us. He says “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”
You need to realize that the biggest battle of life is fought in your mind and this is the place where your victory or defeat is. If you allow the devil to rule your mind, be sure then that you will live as a slave to your past because that’s what the devil capitalizes on reminding us. To overcome this, God reminds us just the same way he was reminding the children of Israel and says “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See; I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it…” Isaiah 43:18-19. When you have moved from season to another, do not dwell there, move ahead; be like Paul – forget what has passed and look ahead and press on to achieve what God has in store for you. See the new thing that the Lord is doing in your life. Do not look and see what you have gone through or what you have asked of God in the past and He hasn’t done it for you. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, Plans not to harm you but plans to give you a hope and future” Your Future is not dependent on your past. God has a plan for you and thus, He doesn’t have to refer to your past so as to determine your future – NO!! His word is true and He is a God who cannot lie. Trust in him, see yourself the way God sees you and look ahead and march into the future that God has prepared for you with confidence.
28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
It reaches a point in our lives that we feel overwhelmed and there are things that you need to shed off and lay off others. Especially if you consider the corporate world, it reaches a point where you feel that the tasks and responsibilities that you have in your place of work are too much for you and hence you need to lay off others or delegate the same to other people so that you can free yourself and be able to concentrate on others. This is the same principle that applies in the spiritual world as well. There are issues and burdens that we carry and thus we are so overwhelmed by life and many a times, what many of us result to is they get to feel like the walk of faith isn’t meaningful at all and it is at this point that we contemplate backsliding. The reason for us opting this is because; we tend to see that there are options that we can switch to in the other world but we cannot apply to our Christian faith and thus the feeling that Christianity is curtailing us at one point or another.
Jesus speaks to the disciples in Mark 8:34-35 and tells them “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.” It is so bad for us that we are so selfish and all that we want is for us to have what is entitled to us and we forget that when we have all, we are at a risk of losing it all at some point. Jesus continues and says in verse 36 “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” This is where as human beings we stand – we want all. The options that we see out there that can help us solve our problems are there so as they can they can entice us and you will come to realize in the long run, they only end up adding to our problems rather than helping us sort our problems. Take an example of someone who thinks that going to a witch will help him/her solve their issues. When they get there, they are asked to carry out some rituals that are not even making sense, they are asked for things or do some things that they cannot either afford to give or do – has the person been helped or he has added more issues to their lives?
May God forgive us for acting in ignorance to his word. Jesus says clearly that “I am the way the truth and the life. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well.” John 14:6. Jesus is the only way to the solutions of our problems. Jesus knew the problems that the Israelites had. They were overburdened by their sins as well as the oppression that they had from the Roman government. They were oppressed to a point that they really longed for the day that the Messiah would come and deliver them. Too bad that they didn’t realize that Jesus was the messiah that they anticipated for. One thing you need to realize is that Physical freedom is as a manifestation of the Spiritual freedom. If you are not spiritually free, do not then expect to have freedom even in the physical. The children of Israel did not require physical freedom; they needed spiritual freedom which would in turn advance them to physical freedom.
Any type of bondage may it be physical or Spiritual is equated to a yoke. That’s why Jesus said… “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:29-30. Jesus knowing the spiritual principles, He tells them to break off from the ‘yokes –the burdens’ that had bound them and take up his ‘yoke’ which is easy and the burden which is light. If you look at cows or donkeys that are used to plough, they have a yoke tied on their necks and that’s what makes them work efficiently. The person using them uses the yoke to control the animals to plough or pull a cart. This is the same principle that the devil uses when he inputs upon you a yoke. You will always be tethered to his plans and you will always be under his control.
What are some of the burdens that we carry along with us? Some of us have anger, others are professional liars, to some of us, the burden that we are carrying is unfaithfulness. It might not be in our marriages or relationships but even with whatever is entrusted unto our custody; fornication and immorality; backbiting name them. These are all burdens that we carry along with us. Others have family issues and sicknesses that are chronic. One thing that I am happy about is that Jesus didn’t specify which burdens that we should bring to him and which ones that we shouldn’t bring to him or who should bring burden and who shouldn’t. He said, “Come unto me ALL you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest”
You also need to realize that is your responsibility to realize that you need rest from the burdens that you carry. Jesus says ‘come’ note that He didn’t say that I will come looking for you – No! It is up to you to realize that you need rest and thus you go to him. In John 5:43-48, we see the story of a woman who had a continuous blood flow for twelve years. She had become the laughing stalk of her village and actually she was an outcast. She had used all she had to get cure but she wasn’t successful. But the minute she realized that it takes just a step of faith to go and touch the hem of the garment of Jesus, she got whole when she did that. She refused to continue being under the bondage of the flow of blood that she had.
Blind Bartimaeus did the same. In Mark 10:46-52, we see that he became tired of being a beggar in the streets and decided to call on the name of Jesus and he got healed. It takes your initiative to realize that you need your freedom. It is at that point that you call out to Jesus and you lay down your burdens at his feet and He gives you rest. It is only at one instance that we see Jesus asking someone if he wants to get whole. In John 5:6-9, Jesus asks the man at the pool whether he wanted to get well. I believe Jesus knew that the man had been there under the bondage of sickness for 38 years. The challenge today is, Jesus is calling unto you and me to go and lay all our cares and burdens unto him and go free but it will take my initiative and yours to realize that we need freedom and then go to him and lay down our burdens unto him.
24Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping; his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.” Matthew 13:24-26
Jesus takes his time to speak to his disciples and explain to them the meaning of the parable of the sower that He had spoken to the crowds earlier on. He goes ahead and speaks to them about the kingdom equated to a seed planted by the sower in a shamba. He goes ahead and tells his disciples that in the middle of the night, the enemy came and planted weeds amongst the good seed that the sower had planted. This could not be noted immediately till both the weeds and the good crops germinated and grew up. It is then that he noticed that there was something growing up that he had not planted. It is then that he decides that He won’t uproot any of them till they are completely grown, thus, he can be able to sort and separate them well without uprooting either.
Your life is a seed that God has planted. You need to realize that you are precious in the eyes of the Lord and He values you so much. By the virtue that you are here on earth, God had planted (placed) you here so that you can grow and reproduce. No farmer plants a seed without expecting growth and reproduction of the same. The whole essence of a seed is multiplication of what you have. God expects you to multiply here on earth and have more godly people like you who reverence and fear him. He told Adam when he created him “to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” Genesis 1:28. It is so sad that at some point, people have taken this multiplication aspect only in one dimension – Biological multiplication and at some point neglected the Spiritual bit of it. The bible says in Malachi 2:15c “The Lord brings a man and a woman together as one and a reason for this is so that they can bring forth godly offspring.” This withstanding, Jesus came and gave us the great commission in Matthew 28:19 and said “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations …” thus, God expects us to multiply in both aspects.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-16 that “we are the salt and the light of the world” This meant that He expects us to saturate the world with a flavor that is worth and as well fill the world with light so that darkness cannot prevail at any one given point. Are we the salt and the light today? If you evaluate your life, have you been any of them? Jesus giving the parable of the sower says that the seeds that the sower broadcasted fell in different places. There are seeds that fell on the road, on the rocks, in thorns and others in good soil. Of the ones that fell in thorns, he says “he one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22. As we live in this world, there are many things, circumstances, issues and worries of this life choke us until we are not able to become what we are supposed to be. We forget the most essential and core business that we have been called for here on earth is living for the one who called us and fulfill the great commission that Jesus gave us.
You need to realize that the word of God dwells in you as a seed and the seed in incorruptible. The seed in you will not multiply or be fruitful if at all it remains within you. Go out there and share/plant the seed in someone’s life and leave the rest to God. In the New Life and Discipleship class, I was taught that “successful witnessing is taking the initiative to share the gospel of Christ (that’s planting the seed) and leaving the results to God.” That’s our sole business here on this earth. It will take your initiative to share the gospel with someone even if they do not give their lives to Christ, you have planted a seed in their lives and that word will keep on growing in them and stirring them up and one day, they will have no excuse but to yield. When the seed germinates and it’s ready to shot up, the ground has to give way for the shoot to come up.
There is no word that comes out of the mouth of God and comes back void; it has to accomplish its purpose (Isaiah 55:11). You need to realize that you do not do this in your own power; the Holy Spirit helps you and me to do it. Jesus said “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever; … But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.” John 14:16; 26 The Holy Spirit is our teacher, our strength and comfort. When you go to share the word out there and you are harassed or not well received, the Holy Spirit is there to cheer you up to go on sharing.
1 Peter 1:23 reminds us that “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” No matter what you may pass through and make you feel as if you are choked and no life is left in you to go on, remember that you are born of an imperishable seed. You have all what it takes and you get it through the word of God. Today I challenge you to rise up from where you have been. From your comfort zone and stand out. Share out your faith and plant a godly seed in someone’s life today and you never know what impact you will make to their lives just by sharing the good news of the Gospel of Christ.
5Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. (Genesis 21:5)
1 Sometime later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!", "Here I am," he replied. 2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." Genesis 22:1-2
Sometimes things happen in our lives that defy explanation. No matter how hard we try we can’t make any sense out of the things God puts in our path. Yet if we remain faithful and patient, God often puts all the pieces together and reveals his purpose. He truly works in mysterious ways. There are many occurrences in this world wherein seemingly God does not make any sense, but throughout all these things, God remains sovereign and in control. Throughout all the hardships and difficulties in a believer’s life, God’s sustaining grace remains. The presence of death does not indicate that God is powerless or He does not care, but God’s power reaches beyond death’s door. The soul of a believer will remain unharmed whatever form of death he/she may encounter.
Can you think of a time in your life when you prayed and hoped for something to happen (or not happen), and God did not answer your prayers as you wished He would? What happened to your faith as a result? Did you separate yourself from him and say that He (God) doesn’t care at all? How were your expectations set up for disappointment? Does this mean that we should expect nothing from God? Why or why not? What is the difference between putting our trust in God and having firm expectations of what He will do? It is at this point that many of us find ourselves in the make or break point in our lives and the thought that comes to our minds is that God doesn’t love us at all.
You can agree with me or choose not to but it is true. You ask God many questions but He still remains quiet on you. Take a case scenario of a sick relative or family member. You really plead with God to heal him but instead, he/she dies. At that point, no one can prove to you that God cares at all. You tend to ask him where He was when all this was happening, why He couldn’t hold back their lives so that they could not have died – yet still, he is quiet to you. Take a look at what Paul asked the Romans in Romans 8:35-37 “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity or are persecuted or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? No despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us.” Paul reminds the Romans that despite what they were facing and going through or even what they were to face, God still remains God and nothing can change his character and his plans.
Sometimes God asks strange things of us or there are instances that come our way and God asks us to do some things that do not make sense to us and at times we wonder whether God is being realistic. Yet he always has a purpose and sometimes will let us know that purpose. Whether the purpose is revealed or not, we can always remember that in Isaiah 55:8-9, God says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Looking at the scripture reference today, God makes a promise to Abraham that He would give him a son in his old age and for sure He does. Then, God comes one day and asks Abraham to go and sacrifice his one and only son. The son that he got in his old age. It would sound so awkward to some of us that God would do that. You may wonder what kind of a friend that you have that gives you a gift and then later comes to demand of the same. Thank God for Abraham obeyed without questioning God.
If it were me, honestly, I would ask God several questions over why He is doing such a thing, yet, He was the one who made the promise. Consider the case of Joshua and the battle for Jericho (Joshua 5:2-5). I believe that if we were Joshua today and the Lord came and told us such a thing, we would remind God that there are established ways to storm a heavily fortified city. For example, build siege towers and breach the walls. So imagine Joshua’s surprise when God told him to send the priests, not the soldiers, to march around the city and blow horns but yet Joshua chose to obey. I can picture the taunts from the people of Jericho standing on the walls watching this absurd display. It just didn’t make sense until the seventh day, when the walls fell down.
Take a look at Joseph, a young man with a bright and a brilliant future yet God allows his brethren to hate him to appoint of even deliberating of killing him. When he is sold into Egypt, he becomes a slave and what he goes through could have made him question the dreams that he had or even give up on them, but instead, he held on and remained faithful wherever he was and in whatever that was placed under him to be accountable for. Some of us if were like Joseph, we would have given up. Imagine what you would do if you were falsely accused of sleeping with your bosses wife or husband (as it applies to you)? How would you react to the action that would be taken upon you as Joseph was thrown into jail? It calls for our patience to learn what God has in store for you and me but we are not patient at all. These are the little lessons that we miss to capture but God makes sure He repeats the same over and over again till we grasp what He wants us to.
Consider David, a man after God’s own heart. After years of running from the man who wanted him dead, he discovered Saul alone and vulnerable in a cave. David could have brought his private war to an end with a single blow from his sword. (1 Samuel 24:4-10) Yet God did not allow him to kill Saul that day. It didn’t make sense, but it taught David a valuable lesson. He learned to respect the will of God. God is full of surprises. He often asks us to do things that run counter to all common sense. If David was not in tune with the Spirit of God, he could have gone ahead and avenged for the trouble that Saul had caused him. So what would you do if God asked you to do something that didn’t make sense? What if it was something so foolish that all your friends advised against it?
Just keep in mind everything here on earth is just temporal, for a believer even death is just temporal. When God doesn’t make sense, there are two things I have learnt for certain. First, the problem is not with God but with me. It is the result of my limited ability to see the whole picture. It is the lack of this spiritual eyesight that makes us question God and through this, we end up in Disobedience. You will come to realize that in all the people that we have referred to in the word of God, they all obeyed and did whatever they were asked to without asking questing and at the end, the all realized God’s hidden plan and purpose. Secondly, those times when God doesn’t make sense are the times when his power shines. Doing what God asks, even when it doesn’t make sense, is an exercise in faith. Ultimately your faith is strengthened, life becomes an adventure and you have the opportunity to participate in a miracle. So when God does not make sense, remember Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.”
Always remember that when God doesn’t make sense to you, that’s when He is making more sense if only you could open up your spiritual eyes and see the big picture and look beyond the storm. Peter and the disciples have been fishing the whole night and they had literary caught nothing (John 21:1-11). Jesus appears and tells them to launch into the deep for a catch. Peter in his experience tells him that you can’t have a catch of fish during the day but when he obeyed, he had a catch of a lifetime. When God doesn’t make sense to you, be careful to obey what he says because your blessing in that circumstance and situation is tagged to your obedience or disobedience.
"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” Luke 16:10-15
Honesty: – Everyone loves this virtue and would love to see it evident in the lives of the people that he/she deals with. The question is; are you honest yourself? We are given the definition of honesty as: the quality or condition of being honest; integrity; Truthfulness in all sincerity. I know that we do struggle at some point or another with this virtue but I want you to realize this morning that it is by the grace of God and through the help of the Holy Spirit that we are able to cultivate and exercise this important virtue.
Jesus speaking to his disciples, he gives them the parable of the shrewd manager (Luke 1:1-9) and the way he acted when him master was not happy in the way he was handling his affairs and businesses that he was entrusted to oversee. When he realized that his master wasn’t happy with the way he was acting, he decided to go out there and work out his way and make sure that he got favour from the people out there so that in the case that he lost his job, he would be accepted out there. That’s why Jesus says “use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Luke 16:9. You will come to realize that many of us we act in same manner as this manger acted. We are so careful of our reputation out there and we forget even about what our master(s) will have to say about us. This has even gone to an extent that some of us do not even care about our spiritual lives. We are so engrossed in the day to day running and gains of this world and we take little of no care at all of our spiritual lives. Jesus asked simple question in Mark 8:35 and said “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
Take a look at the life of Joseph in Portiphar’s house. Genesis 39:2-6 says “The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.” Joseph was also put in-charge of his master’s property in a foreign land. It is so amazing the bible tells us that Potiphar entrusted Joseph (a slave from a foreign land) with all that he owned except his food. I believe it’s not that Joseph couldn’t cook for him but maybe it’s that he wanted him to concentrate on one line of responsibility.
We need to realize that God has entrusted us with so many things to be responsible and in-charge of in our lives. May it be you are the least in your place of work – know that there are things that you are responsible of and God expects you to be faithful thereof. You may look at yourself and wonder what do I have to be responsible of? To start with, God has given you life and you need to take care of yourself. Solomon said “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flows the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23, other versions say “… that’s where life begins” This clearly states that your life is the first place that you need to be faithful in. Honesty can’t thrive in a place where there is no faithfulness. You cannot be honest and yet you are not faithful or vice versa. They both go along together. Honesty and Integrity go hand-in-hand. In order to live a life based on honesty and integrity, you must know who you are and what you stand for, and you must also police yourself on a daily basis, ensuring that you aren’t doing anything that conflict’s with your own values or moral code. Before you can live your life with honesty and integrity, you first need to have a good sense of who you are, and what you stand for in life.
These are the aspects and virtues that kept Joseph in Egypt and made him climb up the ladder to be the prime minister of Egypt despite being a foreigner. You may challenge and say that God had a plan for him and it had to be fulfilled – I agree to that, but I will say, as much as God was also involved in all this, Joseph would not have made it if he had no character in himself. A gifting opens doors for someone before great men and leaves you there; but it is your character that will sustain and keep you there. Believe me or not; it is the absolute truth. Joseph maintained his character all through. From Portiphar’s house into the jail and even up to the throne, he was known as a man of integrity and one who was upright in his ways and dealings. Trust me that Pharaoh couldn’t have made him in-charge of all the food stock of Egypt when if he knew that he was not a virtuous person. I believe that Pharaoh placed him on some sort of probation to test him and he proved faithful thus he was promoted to be the prime minister of the land.
Jesus again gives a parable to his disciples about the same concept in Matthew 25:14-28. (Also read Luke 19:11-26) A master gives some talents to his servants and then goes onto a journey. The three servants who were given talents were expected to work on the same and give some profit to the master when he came back. In other words, he had entrusted them with something to do and wanted to measure their faithfulness, trustworthiness and diligence in some sort. When the master came back, each of them presented to the master what he had done with the talent that he was entrusted. The one given five brought five more, the one given two brought two more and the one given one came and told the master that he wants to reap where he had not sowed and on that note, he was cast out of the master’s presence. His talent was taken and given to the one who had more. Why? He could as well as given it to the one with two – the bible says “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” Matthew 25:29. Are you faithful in the little that God has entrusted you with?
Jesus said in Luke 16:11-12 “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth; who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” Some of us it’s not that we are cursed or we are not able to make wealth, we are in the state we are in simply because we are not faithful where we are now with what we have been entrusted. Jesus put it very clear that it is until you are faithful with the wealth of other people, that’s when you can be entrusted your own wealth. Do not ever expect to be a manager of your own if you are not able to manage what others have entrusted to you. The servant who had made more with the talents that he had been entrusted was given more to oversee in his master’s estate. Luke 19:17-19 says “when he returned, the first one came before him, and he said, Lord, your mina has made ten [additional] minas.’ ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’ "The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’ "His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities” Note clearly that every action that you take has got an accompanying consequences.
My prayer this morning is that God will quicken us and help us to remain faithful and honest in the various places that we have been placed accountable of and above all help us to be faithful in all that we do. If we remain faithful and trustworthy, God is faithful to his word and he will entrust us with our own wealth. Revelation 2:10 says “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” God has called us to a life of faithfulness and he has promised that if we remain faithful, He has a reward awaiting us. Do you want to receive that crown awaiting you? Be FAITHFUL!!!
“Make sure you don’t forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up – make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God…” Deuteronomy 8:11-14 (read the whole chapter)
How forgetful are you? How often do you look back and see the faithfulness of the Lord in your life and praise him for whom He has been to you? As human beings, we tend to be so forgetful and thus when we forget, we fall back into the temptation of complaining. When we complain and murmur, what happens is that we irritate God. This is what the children of Israel were fond of doing and as you see, God made sure that the generation that came out of Egypt died in the wilderness and never reached the promise land. Forgetfulness comes along with murmuring and murmuring then leads to disobedience and deviance and thus making God angry with us.
In Exodus 14:11-12 the bible says “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” They quickly forgot that they were so oppressed in Egypt and they were crying daily to the Lord so that He could deliver them from Egypt. Now that they are out of Egypt and they heard that pharaoh was after them, they forgot that they were yearning ad crying for freedom and deliverance and they started murmuring to Moses asking him why. It is so unfortunate that it is the same way that we behave. When we are in a situation that we need help, we will make all manner of prayers to God and even at some point make a vow to the Lord but after we are delivered and we have received whatever that we wanted, the ultimate thing is that we forget even the vow that we had made to God.
This is the same thing that Moses was warning the children of Israel from. He tells them “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you… when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God” Deuteronomy 8:10-14 I know you can agree with me that we are forgetful human beings when we are satisfied and everything is going on well as we would love to. Time and progress dull the memory so that we forget other men. We even forget God. That fact is recognized in this text. God’s people tend to forget God even as they live under the reality of His blessings. That is why God, through Moses, gives us the challenge of this text. We must remember so that we won’t forget and disobey. Moses goes on to describe what we are to remember, the struggle that we face in trying to remember, and the consequences of failing to remember. Throughout the text there is a connection between remembering and obeying. As you remember, you will obey. Obedience shows that you remember God.
As you read the chapter, you must note something very important. A chief characteristic of this chapter is the idea of relationship. The phrase “LORD your God” is mentioned 10 times. In v. 18, Moses mentions how God pledged Himself to their forefathers. It is in that context that the call to obedience is given. We must note and know that the relationship that God has with us precedes His call for obedience. Usually we think that it is the other way around – our obedience establishes a relationship with God; but note that here, God calls on His people to live in the relationship that they already possess. David says in Psalms 139:1-5 “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgives all thine iniquities; who heals all thy diseases; Who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies; Who satisfies thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” David knew that the secret of being in tune with God was to make sure that his heart didn’t forget the doings of the Lord in his life. David was a man after God’s own heart and God had rescued him from many snares of the enemy and taken good care of him in many ways. He is the same man who testifies of the Lord and says that “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalms 37:25) because he was a testimony of the same. God had provided for him while he was in the desert running away from Saul.
David continues in Psalms 77:11-12 and says “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” When we remember what the Lord has done in our lives, this should stir us up into worship of Him who is faithful unto us even when the world and the people around us remain unfaithful. You may stand out and challenge this and say that your life has been on the receiving end and you cannot really stand and see what the Lord has done. David says that he will remember the miracles of long ago. It doesn’t matter what you are going through right now, looking back since the day you were born into this world till this minute as you read this, surely the Lord has been faithful even if it means is just having the breath of life. Other aspects of life may not be falling onto the rightful place as you would want them to but God still remains God. Remember he says in Jeremiah 29:11 that “He has a good plan for your life; plan not to harm you but a plan to give you a hope and a future”. Isn’t that enough to lift up your hands in worship and appreciate the Lord?
In the text, Moses describes the many blessings that God showered on His people. These blessings are found in a variety of circumstances. There were blessings in deliverance. In vs. 2, Moses reminds them that the forty years of wandering were over, and they survived. In vs. 4, he draws their attention to the fact that their clothes did not wear out, no did their feet swell. In vs. 14, Moses tells them that God brought them out of Egypt and slavery. God worked a great deliverance. He did great things, and they benefited. They are to remember this forever. God also gives blessings in discomfort. In vs. 2-4 and 15-16, Moses reminds them of the hardships they endured. They suffered hunger, thirst, deadly snakes, and many fearful situations in the wilderness. Yet, in all of those things, God made provision. He gave them manna for food, water from the rock, and protection from the dangerous that were all around. As God provided, He acted in unexpected and miraculous ways. The manna was unknown to their forefathers, and no one can bring water from a rock. God’s purpose in all of these hardships was to turn the people from themselves to Him yet their hearts were so far away from God. Verses 1 and 16 make clear that even in the hard times; God was working for their benefit.
There were also blessings in comfort. In vs. 7-9 and 12-13, God through Moses points them to the Promised Land that lies in front of them. Whereas they once were empty as slaves and wanderers, now they were going to be full. God was not just going to provide for their sustenance; rather, they were going to enjoy incredible wealth. As Moses speaks to God’s people, he calls them to remember what God has done. Remember the good times and the bad. Remember what God has set before you. But what happens when we remember the great things God has done and will do? How does our life change? The answer appears in verses. 1, 2, 6, and 11. The repetition emphasizes the importance of obedience. Verse 6 says that we “walk in His ways,” which means that our entire lives are shaped by His words. Step by step, we walk the path that He has laid before us. As we walk that path, we revere God meaning that we keep Him first in our minds as we go through the day.
Often those who profess to know God put Him aside when life gets tough. They say, “A loving God would never allow me to experience this.” Revering Him means we embrace Him even more tightly as we weather the storms of life. Verse 10 reminds us that in good times, we should sing God’s praise. Verse 18 points to the fact that we acknowledge that all we have and enjoy comes from Him. Remembering God does change your life. You live every moment of the day before the face of God. The reality of our sin nature is that blessings dull our senses. Verses 14-16 describe how we forget the character and work of God. We no longer see God as our deliverer, our guide, and our provider. For some of us, we acknowledge that God may save us from hell, but He really doesn’t have authority over our daily lives. In reality, God and His word are moved to the margins of our lives, as other things become more important. The busyness of our days and the comforts that we enjoy distract us. We struggle to remember the things of God; even the most incredible blessings fade in our memory and are taken for granted. We no longer act out of the sure knowledge of what God has done for us.
I challenge you today to remember God’s faithfulness. Remember the work and merit of Christ and the price that He paid on the cross for your sake. As you remember, obey; thus you will enjoy the blessings of the LORD your God, who gave His Son that it might go well with you.
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Hebrews 12:5-6
I remember the days I was young and my parents used to scold me with passion and they made sure that before they did so, we had a talk and I knew the reason why I am being scolded. At such times, I would feel so bad and if you could ask me at such a time whether my parents loved me, I would automatically say NO! The reason being that, I expected them to pardon me as their child/son instead of scolding me, but mum usually told me, that is because of love that they are doing so, so that the day that I will find myself in such a point again, I will remember the scolding I received and not do the same sin/wrong that I had done. I honestly appreciate my parents for the discipline they put me through because if it were not for them, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
The same way, we think about God. We like to think of God as a God of love. We do not like to think much about God as a father who punishes – especially as it would apply to us. Sometimes we do not want to face the consequences of our actions and thus we twist the truth of Scripture to a one-sided view so that it can fit our situations. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Many use this verse as a credit card for sin. It is an antidote for failure, not a sin license. God is a God of love. God does forgive our sin in response to our confessing and forsaking sin. However, God does punish sin in the lives of Christians.
Sin brings complications – things we cannot know beforehand, one of which is the discipline of God. Paul reminds the Hebrews and says “… have you forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son” Hebrews 12:5-6. The Greek word translated discipline means “to train a child,” and includes both correction and punishment. God brings punishment through many forms. He may allow us to reap the natural consequences of our sin. He may allow loss of finances, loss of health, or loss of respect—to name a few. This is not to say that every time a brother or sister suffers such a fate it is God’s discipline. We live in a fallen world. Bad things happen to good people but yet, we are not the ones to judge, God is the judge and at such moments, we need to stand with them not criticize them as we often do.
Discipline, for the most part, is a private matter. It is between God and the son not for another to judge. God will make one aware of the offense and the fact that the discipline is from him. If this were not the case, what good would the discipline do? God does not take sin lightly. He does not want us to take it lightly either. Verse 6 makes it clear that every child of God receives his discipline. The degree and severity of the discipline depends upon several factors. One factor is our response to the discipline. Conviction is a first step in the discipline process. If one responds to conviction, there is no need to escalate the process. If one ignores conviction, God will get one’s attention at another level. The fact that God loves us does not mean he is willing to overlook our sin. In fact, the opposite is true. His care for our well-being means that instead of overlooking our sin, he disciplines us to change our behavior. Christ has borne the ultimate penalty for our sin. However, that does not mean God will not inflict a lesser penalty with the purpose of correcting our faults. Discipline comes our way when we have ignored biblical instruction and conviction of the Holy Spirit.
The second point made is that if you are not subject to God’s discipline, you are not a child of God. Verse 7 asks the rhetorical question: “For what son is not disciplined by his father?” Verse 8 makes the counterpoint. If one is without discipline that one is not a true child of God. Put simply, if a person goes to church, professes to know Christ while continually sinning with no divine discipline, he or she is not a true child of God. Quoting J.I. Packer, he says: “The Church is not a museum for saints, it is a hospital for sinners, where we all suffer from the same disease and all are subject to relapse at any time.” The church should be a place where we come and the Holy Spirit speaks to us and convicts us of our sins and we see the essence of repenting. We should provide a conducive environment for this to happen. The evidence of true faith is not in singular acts. The evidence is in the discipline. God will not let his child get away with repeated sin. The discipline proves that person truly is God’s child.
Hebrews 12:7 encourages us as Christians to “endure hardship as discipline.” The word “endure” means “to abide; undergo; or bear patiently.” When we find ourselves undergoing the Lord’s discipline, we are not to fight against it. We are to submit and learn the lesson. The third aspect of discipline is God’s discipline yields changed behavior. God’s purpose in disciplining us is that we will share in his holiness. We frequently hear a couple words as Christians. They are justification and sanctification. These words are used without consideration for their true meanings. “Justification is the judicial act of God whereby he declares the Christian righteous,” Justification takes place at salvation. At the instant the sinner repents of his or her sin and places faith in Christ, God declares that person righteous. This doesn’t mean that once we are forgiven and declared righteous that we are been delivered totally, NO! We still have many issues and flaws that need to be worked out. At that point, we are not righteous, we still sin, yet God has declared us righteous. That is justification.
Sanctification, on the other hand, is the process by which we actually become righteous. If you have been a Christian for some time, there ought to be some things you will not do today that you may have done a year ago. Sanctification is a progressive process. It starts the day you give your life to Christ. Sanctification is the process of becoming in actuality what God has already declared us to be. God’s discipline is an aid in the sanctification process. God brings discipline to prompt us onward in the sanctification process. Most of us know what it is to be disciplined by earthly parents. Why shouldn’t we expect discipline from our heavenly Father? He disciplines us that we might live. He brings chastisement so we will see the error of our ways and correct ungodly behavior. He wants us to be holy in all our conduct. As verse 11 makes clear, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful…,” it is not enjoyable to feel the sting of God’s whip. However, we are encouraged to endure God’s discipline. Why endure? The result is that “it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
We find three types of discipline described in the Scriptures.
1. Corrective discipline. – God uses discipline to correct us when we wander away into sin. David is a classic example of one who received corrective discipline. When he sinned with Bathsheba and killed her husband, God sent Prophet Nathan to warn and tell him of God’s discipline. C. S. Lewis writes, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, and speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains.” Look at Jacob. He cheated his brother, But God dealt with Jacob, causing Laban to cheat him and many other things that happened to him. He was given the wrong wife, his beloved wife died at childbirth; he lost his beloved son through treachery from his sons and others. What pain and agony Jacob experienced! But God was dealing with him. And finally, at the end of his life, he came forth as gold as he confessed (Genesis 49). This is corrective discipline. When we wander away from God’s straight and narrow way, he brings us back. David says “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
2. Preventive discipline. This type of discipline prevents us from doing something sinful. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul writes, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh.” Notice the importance of the flesh. Paul was given a thorn – it might have been a disease, trouble, pain in his body that was so intense that he did not like it and prayed three times for it to be removed. What was the purpose of this thorn? To prevent Paul from becoming arrogant, hard, and defiant of God and his word. So in verse 9 Paul writes, “But [the Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Preventive discipline is a wonderful thing. We should praise God for all the times he has prevented us from committing a terrible sin.
3. Educational discipline. - God uses this form of discipline to increase our knowledge of him. The classic example of educational discipline is Job. We are told in the opening verses that Job was blameless and upright, a man who feared God and shunned evil. But then all Job’s children died and he lost all his property. His own wife turned against him and he was afflicted with painful boils all over his body. He was left sitting naked on an ash heap, wanting to die. Job had no idea that God was permitting Satan to deal with him; thus, Job did not always respond to this discipline wisely. Then God spoke to him, and Job answered, “I am unworthy, how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer, twice, but I will say no more” (Job 40:3). Through his trials, Job grew in his understanding of this great, glorious, wise, almighty God. At the end, he says “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?” Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:2-6). You see, Job did not know all he needed to know, but through God’s educational discipline he had increased his knowledge.
How, then, should we endure discipline?
- Endure hardship inquiringly. When we experience discipline, we must inquire of the Lord. Remember, instruction in the word plus rod equals discipline. Discipline accomplishes two things in us. First, it drives out folly, which is foolishness, sin, and godlessness. Even as Christians, we all have sin within us. That is why we need discipline. In heaven there will not be any need for discipline, for we will all be perfect, without sin. Second, discipline instills wisdom in us, which is the fear of the Lord and an embracing of God’s will, so that we can live our lives for the glory of God. So when we experience hardship, it is good to ask, “Lord, what is going on?”
- Endure hardship prayerfully. Psalm 36:9 says, “In your light we see light.” When we are going through hardship we should pray, “O God, give me light. I am going through a tunnel. Give me light.” David was a godly man who examined his life. In Psalm 139:23-24 he says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” As we go through problems and discipline, we must pray for God’s leading.
- Endure hardship humbly. Humility should come to us automatically when problems come. 1 Peter 5:6 tells us, “Humble yourselves therefore, under God’s mighty hand.” The idea is that the mighty hand of God is resting on us so that we feel it. Yes, we experience pressure, problems, and pain, but these are God’s gracious dealings in our lives so that we can humble ourselves before God. And when we do, God will lift us up. Psalm 119:75 says, “I know, O Lord that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” That is humility. It is saying, “I agree, O God. You are right. I was arrogant, but you touched me and humbled me with your mighty hand.” Sometimes God’s touch is very comforting and gentle; at other times, it is heavy. But it always has a redemptive purpose, which is to humble us. God afflicts us to bring us back to him.
- Endure hardship patiently. When we are going through discipline, we want instant relief. We do not want to inquire about the reason for it; we simply want the discipline to end. But we must be patient and let the discipline do its work. James tells us, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). We must go through the discipline. Don’t despise it, don’t faint, and don’t ask for quick relief. Know that there is a purpose for the trial and let it do its work. Be exercised by it. Benefit through the discipline, knowing that it will bring maturity. Galatians 6:9 tells us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
- Endure hardship believingly. I don’t think any of us have experienced anything like what Job did. In Job 13 he was still in the midst of his troubles, with no end in sight. There was darkness, pressure, and pain. His own wife turned against him and counseled him to curse God and die. Yet here he makes a profound statement of trust in God: “Though he slays me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). In Psalm 91:15 God makes a promise to those who trust in him: “He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” As you are going through hardship, believe in God and his promises.
- Endure hardship hopefully. In Job 23:10 Job says, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” In other words, Job had hope in the midst of his great suffering. God was putting Job through the furnace like metal, increasing the heat until all the dross was removed. So Job says, “When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Jacob is another example of enduring hardship hopefully. He was a crook, but God took him and purified him in the furnace of affliction. And at the end of his life Jacob was pure gold, expressing his complete faith in the Messiah and prophesying about his coming. Paul also expressed such hopefulness in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
- Endure hardship thankfully. James tells us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). It is not easy to identify with this verse; it is difficult to do such a thing when in pain, but God helps us. Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Our response to God’s discipline is all-important. We must endure and willingly change our wayward behavior. We are in holiness training. Discipline is the exercise that equips us to share in his holiness. God’s purpose in bringing discipline to our lives is to make us righteous, to fit us to share in his holiness. C. S. Lewis said it well: “God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains…” This day, I pray that God will shout in your pains and you will hear his voice and instead of complaining, rejoice and see the purpose He has for your pains.
“He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Genesis 22:5
It is a new day and a new month as well. I thank God for this far that He has brought me in his new year. I have seen his faithfulness and I know there is more to come this year from him, thus, my heart is so expectant of him and what He has in store for me. This is a year with a difference and I trust that you will be attentive to hear God’s voice and get to know what He has in store for you. It will be so bad if we get to the end of this year and when you look back, you will realize that you have either achieved nothing or you have missed so much of what the Lord had for you. I pray that God will open up your spiritual ears and yours eyes of understanding so that you will see beyond what your physical eyes can see.
This year, I have had this feeling and God has repeatedly brought this message to me but I have kind of ignored it. But, again, God confirmed what He has been speaking to me through a friend of mine this weekend. God is calling us this year to set ourselves apart and leave out the many things that entangle us and make us not able to hear his voice or even have and experience with him. He is calling us to himself for a purpose and into a deeper and a personal relationship with him. In Genesis 12:1-3, God calls Abram and tells him “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” In other word, God was telling Abram that “I have a plan for you but I can’t execute it while you are mixed up with the others; I need you to separate yourself”. Abram obeyed and thus we know how the story goes and he became the father of nations.
In Acts 13:2 says “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Clearly, we can see that the Lord has a plan he has for us and thus He calls us and sets us apart. 1 Peter 2:9 reminds us that “you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him,” God has called us with a high calling to be his instruments to do his work and speak out for him and of him to the nations. That was the work Paul and Barnabas were called out for. Again, you must remember that God will always use vessels that are set apart and dedicated to him. Have you set yourself apart and dedicated yourself for the service of the master?
When Abraham is told to sacrifice his son Isaac, he set out with his servants on a journey to the mountain on which God was to show him where to offer the sacrifice. Abraham realized that, this was a sensitive matter and assignment that he had to so and thus there was no way that his servants could accompany him and Isaac to the mountain to offer the sacrifice; thus he tells them in verse 5 of Genesis 22 to remain behind while he and his son went ahead and worshiped the Lord then join them again. We need to reach a point where we realize that not everyone who is our friend or even our relative is worth to accompany us everywhere we go and help us to do what God has called us to. When we come to God’s presence, we come as individuals and God always speaks to us in a personal way and never as a group. The same applies to the plans that He has for us – They are individual and not collective and thus, we will be held accountable individually and collective where applicable.
For us to get to the place where God has called us to be and to enter into our destiny; there are some things or people that we will have to leave behind. Worship entails being alone in the presence of God. Many times we come into the presence of God when we are carrying so much baggage with us and thus the reason why many times we do not get a breakthrough. You need to enter God’s presence when you are free and ready to hear from Him. I believe, this is the main reason why we had the outer court in the tabernacle so that when you came before you got to the holy place, you will have dealt with your problems and issues at the outer court. Jesus repeated the same aspect in Matthew 5:23-24 and said “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” When Jesus used to go to pray, he didn’t go with all his disciples. He chose a few and when they got to the mountain, he would again leave them and go a further distance to pray alone then come and join them again. We see him doing this while they were in the garden of Gethsemane before he was crucifies (Matthew 26:36-40) and during the transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36).
There are things or people that you will tag along with you who will be there to blockade your blessings and breakthrough. When Abraham is called by God, he was to leave all his people and land but he came along with Lot. It is until Lot and Abraham separated, that’s when God unveiled the future that He had for him. Genesis 13:14-17 Says “The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go; walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.” If we carry some people along with us, they will deter us from doing us what God has commanded us to. I believe Abraham looked and thought that if he went up with the servants, they will plead with him not to sacrifice his son Isaac and thus end up disobeying God. Others are there to bring contention and strife between you and other people or even throw doubts to us and thus end up doubting God. Take the case of Lot and Abraham and Paul and Barnabas when they split because of John Mark in Acts 15:36-41.
The question that I ask you today is; who are the people or what things are you tagging behind you that are hindering you from getting to your promise land? What is that habbit that you are struggling to leave that you have not succeeded because it is bringing you down; you have a lot of guilt condemning you until you feel like you have been cut off from God’s presence? You can leave everything today and lay them down at the cross of Jesus and walk a free man into the presence of God. Search yourself today and know where you stand.