Category Archives: Inspiration

WHEN THE LORD BLESSSES YOU

In Deuteronomy 7:1-14; 8, the nation of Israel was on the verge of entering the promised land after many years of wandering. God, through Moses, gave them some instructions as they planned to settle in the land. But before giving these admonitions, the Lord reminded them about their past journey. God had severally rescued them from their enemies, delivered them miraculously, taught them, nurtured them through their challenges, and miraculously provided for their needs. As a result, they were now a people destined for an inheritance. God’s past dealings with them gave them some obligations as people. This is a timeless truth.

Therefore, when the Lord blesses you, remember to:

  1. Maintain your Identity in Him (7:2-8)- The people of ancient Israel were to set themselves apart as a special people to God. They had to jealously safeguard their (special) covenant relationship with God. Here, to be set apart means to be holy and blameless.

They were reminded that they were the chosen ones of God on the face of the earth. What a privileged position and favor! They were God’s treasured possession, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, called to declare God’s praises among the nations.

Also, they were reminded that God’s choice over them was not meritorious. Rather, it was a gracious act. There was nothing special to them that could attract God to them. In fact, they were not numerous than other people (people power), also, they were the fewest of all the people (insignificant). But God only exercised his love toward them because he was fulfilling the promise made with their patriarch, Abraham.

However, setting themselves apart was not going to come easy; they were to take radical steps against sin to remain holy to their God. For their safety, they were not to intermarry with those with opposing belief system (not to be yoke with unbelievers/friendship with the world is enmity with God), they were also required to break down their altars. Simply, they were not to adopt a lifestyle that was alien to their cultural, ethical, and spiritual foundations.

Holiness does not come easy; it involves constant, deliberate, and decisive moves against apostasy, sin, and wickedness.

Today, has the Lord God done so much to/for you (or blessed you) that you wonder how to thank Him? maintain your identity by living a godly life. Offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- as your spiritual act of worship (Rom 12:1-2). Thank Him by living a godly life. It is what pleases him. When you live a holy life in thankfulness for what God has done, you glorify Him (Matt. 5:16). In other words, you cannot thank God if you are deliberately living in sin

  1. Seek to Know the Lord- (7:9-10)
  • Increase in the knowledge of God– Seek to know what he cherishes, his will, what pleases him, and what makes him angry. Seek him, his kingdom, and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). We often want to increase in knowledge of our professions, that is good, but we need to extend the same spirit in seeking God’s knowledge.

In this knowledge, realize that the Lord is your God is faithful (hesed), keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Seek him as your greatest treasure (Matt. 13:43-45); make him your all in all; and, involve him in your life.

  • Do not forget the Lord (8:2)- It is interesting that we remember what we want to forget and forget what we should remember. The people of ancient Israel were instructed to remember the Lord and what he done in the past.

How can one FORGET the Lord and what the Lord has done in the past? Well, this is a common temptation to all of us. When the Lord blesses us, it is very easy to end up focusing on the blessings than the source/One blessing us.

Moses noted that the people will unsurprisingly forget the past miracles through the vast dreadful desert, thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions, military victories, the water out of the rock, and the manna in the desert. Sadly, this is one of the problems of the human heart: forgetting God.

When we forget the Lord and his workings in our lives, we give room for our hearts to be occupied by pride (8:14). We soon allow other gods and idols to take a center stage of our lives.

Pride (the spirit of independence) is something that crawls in silently and grows gradually without our realization; Moses warned that if they do not guard their hearts, they might end up saying, “’My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…” (8:16-18). Therefore, for us today, it is paramount to stay humble and understand that everything we have has been received, because of God’s graciousness.

  • Love Him, serve Him, and fear Him– (6:5,13) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

It is not enough that we are consecrated to the Lord and that we know him, we need to love him and serve him wholeheartedly with all that we are and have.

In Exodus 10:26, Moses adamantly told Pharaoh that the people will have to leave Egypt with their possessions because they will need it in their worship of God; “Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshipping the Lord our God…” We need to present not just ourselves to the Lord but also our possessions. God needs our possessions. We should serve the Lord with our wealth, don’t waste it on worthless things.

Giving is one of the ways we can serve the Lord and promote his kingdom; giving generously is one way of declaring that everything we have has been received and we are only stewards of God’s resources. A grateful heart gives; and by giving you make what you have received a tool for service rather than an idol of worship.

III. Follow the word of God (7:11-26)- God had revealed his word to Israel; and this was to be the basis for their belief and living. Torah contained God’s expectation, and God’s past dealings with them in regard to salvation. They were to read it, interpret it, and apply it. It contained guidance for their living, food for their nourishment, warnings for their good and promises for their success.

Obedience to God’s word ensured their continued blessings. Also, obedience to the word of God demonstrates our commitment to God; Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (Jn. 14:23).

This is what happens when you observe the word of God and revere him: God will keep his commandment of love with you, he will love you, he will bless you and increase you, he will bless your families, bless your jobs/crops of your field and herds of your flock. He will lift you up above others, he will keep you free from diseases, he will ensure that no one will stand against you, he will give you victory, and accomplish the impossible for you (7:17-24).

Walking in God’s ways radicality in regard to sin. Walking in obedience to God and his word means taking deliberate actions against falling into the snare of idolatry, destroying any form of idolatry, not to coveting the treasures of the wicked (7:16).

It is foolish and evil when some people use God or his name (as a bridge) for their ends; and quickly abandon him when they have secured their desired end.

IV. Praise/Bless him (8:10-)– When the Lord blesses you and have eaten and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, when your property increases, and when your money multiplies, remember to praise the Lord.

Praising/blessing the Lord involves declaring him as the source of the power of your success.

In Psalm 116:12, the psalmist communes with his own heart on how to respond to God’s grace and providence. He writes, “How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?

First, the Psalmist says that he will call upon the name of the Lord. He will declare God’s name and deeds among his people. Having tasted of the goodness of the Lord the Psalmist will invite others to come to the living waters where they can eat and drink without money and without cost (Isa. 55:1-2). He will make the world know that the source of his help, joy, peace and salvation. He will let the world know that in Jesus there is a healer, provider, sanctifier, deliverer, redeemer, savior, hope and eternal life. He will lift up the name of the Lord, he will decrease as he increases (Jn. 3:30).

Second, the psalmist will fulfill his vows to God. Perhaps in his dark moments, he had made a vow to the Lord; and since the Lord had acted in his goodness, he will fulfill his vows.

As a person, you may have made a vow when you were sick, desperate, unemployed, in distress, or needed a sort of deliverance, breakthrough or promotion. Then the unbelievable happened through God’s intervention. You got healed, you got a job/promotion, or your business started picking up; or simply put, you became delivered from your ‘enemies’ and fears. The best thing to do is to remember to fulfill the verbal commitments you made to the Lord. The Lord commands, “When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said” (Num. 30:2).

Concluding Thoughts: When the Lord blesses us, let us: Set ourselves apart for the Lord and his purposes; Seek to know the Lord; Follow the word of God; Praise Him.

Possessing Your Possession

i

In Joshua 6:1-10, after crossing the river Jordan, the nation of Israel was in for a colossal challenge. Their first assignment after crossing the River Jordan was to possess their inheritance; the first on the list was the city of Jericho. A great ancient city fortified with gates of iron and bars of brass. However, this was not going to be normal military warfare. They had to pick some instructions before attacking the city.

The Lord ordered them to march around the city with all the armed men for six days. The priests were to carry the trumpet of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. Upon hearing the sound of a long blast on the trumpets, all the people were expected to give a loud shout. Then the wall of the city would collapse, and the people will go up and possess their possession.

The land of Canaan was Israel’s rightful possession. On one hand, God was judging Jericho for its sins, but on the other hand God was handing over to Israel what was due them.

Today, God has promised us so much him; we have an inheritance in God (Eph. 1:14); Col. 1:12; Heb. 9:15; 1 Pet. 1:4), but many end up not possessing what has been promised to them. Not all people end up inheriting the glorious inheritance that God qualified them for. why? because of some necessary conditions.

Biblical conditions required for possessing what God has promised us:

  1. Possessing God’s Promise(s) (v2, 5), remembering God’s promises and acting on it. The Lord told Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” God has already won the battle. ‘It is your possession.’ The wall of the city shall fall (Josh 6:5). It was only a matter of time and the promise will be fulfilled!

God’s promises never fail (21:45; 23:14).

In his word, the Lord had promised to send fear before them; and to cause confusion among all the people to whom they will come across (Ex. 23:27).

The two spies sent by Joshua confirmed that the people inside the city of Jericho were in a panic and were sure that God was handing over their city to Israel (Josh. 2:9-11; See Deut. 2:25; 7:23; 11:25; 23:27).

The promise of God must have given Joshua courage. That the task ahead of him has been counted as done. The victory is already won! The Lord is a mighty warrior.

It was great and powerful cities like Jericho that had convinced the ten spies sent by Moses that they could never conquer the land (Num. 13:28; Deut. 1:28). From their eyes, it was mission impossible. But the two spies remembered God’s promise.

A promise always comes with a challenge. God promised Israelites the land flowing with milk and honey, but an enemy city stood in between.

Are we aware of God’s promises about our lives and situations around us today?

As God’s people, we must know God’s promises and claims it for ourselves. We must know what God has promised in his word: Ps. 23; Jer. 29:11; Matt. 28:20; Jn 14; 16:33; Rom 10:17; Heb. 13:5.

Consider this:

-God never promised us the absence of strange and confusing times but promised his enduring presence; I am with you always, to the very end of age, Matt 28:20

-God has not called us citizens of this world but called us aliens and His ambassadors; we are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us 2 Cor. 5:20

-God never said that he is making the world a better place but promised that he’s gone to prepare us a place; And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am Jn 14:3

-God never promised that things around us will not grow from bad to worse but promises to make all things new; I am making everything new! Rev 21:5

-He never guaranteed a world devoid of trouble but spoke comfort saying, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33

-God never promised a Christendom in this world but promised a kingdom of people called unto himself, the church; But 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 Pet 2:9

-God did not promise the comfort of religious freedom but warned of hate, persecutions even death. If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own Jn 15:18

  1. Obedience (to the Lord’s leading)- We need to accept the Lord’s strategy (vv. 3-5)- The command to march around the city for six days, blowing trumpets, and shouting might have looked absurd. But it was the Lord’s strategy. The directions might have sounded illogical to people who solely rely on logic. It might have looked foolish and ridiculous to many military minded people. But it was the strategy had God approved for his people to inherit their possession.

Note that before the battle, God already pronounced a victory, he gives the strategy; not vice versa. I have given you this, but this is the strategy. …. job, addiction, degree.

Key to possessing our inheritance is obedience and heeding of God’s voice.

The Bible instructs, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5).

Joshua did not rely on human tactics; though he could have relied on his military strength.

The Bible records many people who were commanded to do what we might call strange/ridiculous. Abraham being called to go to an unknown land. Gideon was called to downsize his arm to 300 against an army of 135,000 (Judg. 7,8). Prophet Elisha told Naaman, the military commander of Aram, to go to the river Jordan and wash himself seven times in the Jordan (2 Kings 5:10). Jesus asked Philip where they can buy bread for 5,000 people, (Jn. 6:5-6); Philip wonders, but Andrew fronts an idea of a boy with two fishes and five loaves of bread. At the wedding in Cana Mary told the people around to do whatever Jesus tells them (Jn. 2:5).

God’s plan may look foolish; but in it is divine wisdom that the world does not comprehend (Isa. 55:8-9; 1 Cor. 1:26-29). God may choose the unexpected to educate you through university and close the expected doors! In such a case, will you force your way or heed God’s voice/leading. He is a God of surprises!

We need to develop in our obedience to God and trust his plan for our lives.

We should obey and follow because we know the identity of the one calling us.

  1. Faith in God- (v. 6) Israelites had to trust the God who commanded them.

In this, they were required to walk by faith and not by sight. The author of Hebrews (Heb. 11:30) retrospectively looked at this victory as a triumph of faith. Faith against all evidence.

The people had to take a faith step, to their possession.

As they laid the city to a siege, they needed to walk by faith and not by sight because they had never attacked any city in this manner- singing and blowing of trumpets.

You will note that fear had caused the inhabitants of Jericho to close their gates; instead of trusting in God, they trusted in the strength of their walls. They were not willing to surrender because their hearts were hardened. They lived inside walls of unbelief/doubt. They found security and refuge not in God but in their walled city.

Through faith, there is no situation is that is too great for the Lord to handle, and no problem is too much for him to solve.

Faith makes us be still and know that God in control and will fight for us (Ps. 46:10)- the Lord is a chain breaker, miracle worker, way-maker. The battle belongs to the Lord.

We need to trust God for the impossible things in our lives. Have a look at the following verses.

  • Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” (Gen. 18:14)
  • I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2)
  • Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”(Jeremiah 32:17)
  • For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37).
  • With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt.19:26).
  • I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

In Jericho, the Israelites stared at walls of impossibility. Conquering this city needed God’s enabling power. It was going to be brought down not by powerful arsenal, or by military strategy or by strong men; but by faith in God.

Those impossibilities in various areas of life are opportunities for God to display his power.

Concluding Thoughts

God has given us numerous promises in his word. But we need courage to believe in what has been promised; that the one who has promised is faithful. We need to know God’s promises concerning our spirituality, finances, relationships, and families.

We need to believe that the battle shall be won, the iron gates shall be opened, that the mighty walls shall come down tumbling because the Lord has said it. Because the Lord has said, then we shall inherit the land occupied by giants.

Many times, life can present to us some ‘walls’ that seem unconquerable. In such cases, we need faith to conquer what is impossible. Faith laughs at impossibilities. Hudson Taylor: three stages in God’s work: Impossible…Difficult…Done

Faith in God compels us to focus on God who is bigger than any mountain/challenge we face in life.

THE POWER OF THE TONGUE

In any conversation, engagement, and communication, the use of words is inevitable. We use words to express our ideas, emotions, and feelings. We use words to cause an action or reaction. We tell a story using words. Words have meaning, influence, and impact. More importantly, we communicate the gospel message using words.

Depending on how we use them, words can build up or tear down, incite, encourage or discourage. The tongue is small but has great power. Therefore, it is important to learn from God’s word how we can handle the power of the tongue.

Text: James 3:1-12

Warning and the Danger of Words (v.1-2):

  • James warns that not many should presume to be teachers. Why teachers? It is because teachers use words as tools just as a carpenter uses a hammer…
  • But is this a danger exclusive to teachers? In verse 2, the danger is to ALL; “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” All of us, in one way or another, use words, and so the danger is real.

The Power of the Tongue (v. 4-12). The Tongue has:

I. Power to Direct (v.3-4)– James gives us two examples of a bit and rudder.

  • When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, it makes it possible to turn the whole animal.
  • Although large and driven by strong winds, a ship is steered by a rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
  • The bit and rudder are small but provide direction to the horse and ship. They offer direction and control.
  • We can direct people’s lives on the right path with seasoned words.
  •  
  • II. Power to Destroy (v.5-8) – Two examples are given here- fire and animal (v. 5-8).
  • The tongue is like the small spark that sets a great forest on fire- It should not be underestimated, just like a small crack in a ship.

Words have the capacity to destroy families, fellowships, and communities, and bring splits and divisions. A small slander can cause big harm to a fellowship.

The tongue is a fire. You know that fire is good when it is under control; it can warm people, give light, and cook food. But when it is out of control, it can create massive destruction. It can burn, consume and destroy what we value.

Like a drug, it is something good that within it has the capacity to be poisonous. It can corrupt the whole person and set the whole course of his life on fire…

Our words can start fires and destroy what took ages to build and can also quench fires.

So how can you control/put into check this fire?

  • Like all kinds of animals and birds, the tongue needs to be tamed. And it is good to know that it can be tamed. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

III. Power to Bring Life or Death (v.9-12)

The tongue has the power to pronounce curses or blessings. Out of the same mouth can come blessing or curse. The tongue is powerful, right?

A positive or negative word said to a person may have a life-long impact.

Solomon said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21).

The Challenge Today: In churches, fellowship groups, families, communities, and nations, many people have not learned to control their tongues. They do not even understand the impact/power of their words.

So how can we control our tongues and rightly channel the tongue’s power?I. Determine Who is in Control

  • Who is at the steering wheel of your life? Is Jesus enthroned in your heart? If he is not enthroned in your heart, then he is not enthroned in your speech.
  • Since it is difficult to perfectly tame the tongue, we need help from God.
  • When Jesus Christ is the Master of the heart, He is the Lord of the lips too.
  • Always guard your heart (Prov. 4:23), knowing that Satan can also use our tongues.
  • David prayed, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let me not be drawn to what is evil…” (Ps. 141:3-4a).
  •  
  • II. Choose How to Use your Tongue
  • Will you use your tongue to bless or curse? The choice is yours.
  • We can choose to use our tongues to slander, swear falsely, gossip, curse, blaspheme, boast, destroy, tear down, or discourage.
  • But at the same time, we can choose to use our tongues to praise God, exalt Jesus, encourage, and build up.
  • Guard what enters into your heart- the “garbage in, garbage out” principle is also biblical. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).
  • In the final analysis, you cannot be both a fresh and salty spring. You only can become one. You cannot be a fig tree and bear olives, or be a grapevine and produce figs. We recognize spring by its water and tree by its fruit.
  • A double-tongued person is a poisoned tongue (praising God at one time and hurling unprintables to the brother/sister. Choose to bless with your tongue.

III. Resolve to Control Your Tongue

  • It is possible that you make a resolve to speak about what is truthful-in love is and in a way that builds up.
  • Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6).
  • Resolve to reason before you talk. Learn to control what you say.
  • Revolving to speak words of life. Fill your heart and mind with the word of God.
  • (Realize that I’m not saying you zip up your mouth or speak less).
  1. Develop Your Fellowship with God
  • When we have fellowship with God, we will definitely talk about what is true.
  • Continually Learn to practice what we preach, say, sing.
  • As you submit and surrender to God, He will fill your mouth with eternal words.
  • Spiritual maturity requires a tamed tongue.

tongue

Gaining by Losing

gain

In the first part of Philippians chapter 3 (3:1-11), Paul’s recounts his former and present life. Before his encounter with Christ, Paul based his confidence in the “flesh.” But after his experience with the risen Lord, his life totally changed! He put his confidence in God. In this church, false teachers from the Jewish background had spread false ideas with potential to cause conflicts and divisions. They boasted on external aspects of identity rather than looking at their newfound identity and calling in Christ. Today, believers in Christ should be changed by this transformative message of the gospel. We should be ready to lose in order to gain.

  1. Paul’s Former Basis for Confidence in the Flesh
  • Circumcised on the Eight day– The false teachers (referred to as ‘dogs’) emphasized on the need of the Jewish rite of circumcision beside believing in Christ. Circumcision practice was usually celebrated among the Jewish people as a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen 17:14). To the Jewish people, it was a mark of identity and belonging. Paul claims he can validly boast because he was circumcised in exact compliance with the law (Gen 17:12; Lev. 12:3; Lk 1:59). Gentiles were “uncircumcised”
  • Of the people of Israel– Paul descended from the patriarch Jacob; and as an average Jew, he could trace his family lineage all the way to Abraham. He was a true member of God’s covenant people. He was not a Samaritan, proselyte, God-fearer or pagan…
  • From the tribe of Benjamin– We know that Benjamin was the most favorite son of Jacob. Significantly, it was one of the remnant tribes that remained with Judah (also godly) and when the other ten tribes seceded (1 Kings 12:21).
  • Hebrew of Hebrews– An expression expressing the superlative degree. Although born in a pagan country, Tarsus, his parents were Hebrews and so he was a true Jew with no ‘mixed blood’.
  • Pharisee, regarding the law– the Pharisees were the strictest sect within Judaism, with legalistic interpretation of the law of Moses (Acts 23:6-9; 26:5). Paul was a well-trained Pharisee.
  • Zealous Jew– Due to his devotion and zeal to safeguard the law and Judaism, Paul persecuted the church of Jesus Christ.
  • In the eyes of the law– Legally, faultless and righteous. Paul’s former righteousness was obtained by observation of the law. He could pride over other the legal standing because in the eyes of the law he was by far better than any other Jews and Gentiles.

From what we have looked at, Paul had a strong basis to boast or to glory in his Jewish-related privileges. He could boast of his cultural identity (ethnicity), what he has done (merits) and what he has not done (to break the law). These are the things (confidence in the flesh) that the false teachers, Judaizers, promoted and boasted about. They boasted about

This may look distant to us, but the point is real. In most cases, are tempted to take rely/pride in our tribes (as regrouping points), connections, wealth, jobs, experience, politicians, families, birth/inherited privileges, education, etc. These are good things but can become ‘idols’ when we use them as yardsticks of everything. Going by these distinctions will not help the body of Christ; these looks at the outside and not the inside. It focuses on standards set by men and not by God.

  1. But Something Radical Happened…

Saul encountered Christ Jesus. In his Damascus road experience, he realized that he had all along been blind without knowing. He realized he had been attaching value on wrong things. He realized that he had been basing his life on a wrong foundation- “flesh.” He realized that his zeal was devoid of knowledge. He realized that he was so lost that he direly needed a bearing for a true salvation. he realized that he was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

When his eyes were opened, he realized that truth and life are not abstract concepts but a person.

And so, he had to scale down from the ladder that leaned on the “flesh” in order to climb up the right ladder that leans on “God.”

Entirely, his encounter with Jesus Christ transformed his mind, world view, and heart. The life of the new Paul was never the same again.

Have you had this encounter with Jesus?

 III. What Did this Transformative Encounter Lead to?

Paul now considered what was formerly profit a LOSS. He literally began a journey of losing. Christianity is a journey of losing and gaining. He started detaching value from what is worthless and putting value on what is praiseworthy and eternal. He now wanted to glory/boast in Christ.

What was formerly an advantage was now a loss, for the sake of Christ (v.7, 8). He realized that the very things that led him by the nose like a bull were the very things that hindered him from coming to the true faith in Christ. Now they are a loss. He now considers them all a “rubbish” (refuse, what is thrown away as worthless, chaff, refuse of a table, or of slaughtered animals, and then filthy of any kind), he no longer depends on them. He no longer esteems rites (circumcision), ethnicity, or birth privileges. Instead, he now has an identity defined by his relationship with Christ.

In Philippi, the slave girl lost her demonic gift, reputation, and power to predict the future and to earn money out of it. The disciples gave up everything- houses, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, fields for Christ’s sake (Matt.19:29). For our behalf, Jesus gave up- his riches (2 Cor. 8:9), glory, joys of heaven to be a ‘man of sorrows’, immunity from temptation so as to be tempted, etc. (Phil 2:6-11). Many have lost friends, names, property, social exclusion, and abandonment.

Are there some things that you have lost as a result of your union with Christ?  Can you be able to say:

I no longer live the life I used to live; sing the songs I used to sing; eat the food I used to eat; drinks what I used to drink. I am able to truly say: I no longer talk the way I used to talk; go to places I used to go; think the way I used to think; or do what I used to do…. Have we suffered loss/renounced/given up some behaviors, attitudes, shameful ways (2 Cor. 4:2), patterns of the past (2 Cor. 5:17)?

We always sing, ‘count your blessings’; perhaps it is also good to think of ‘counting our loses’

Paul lost all things, but he gained much more than he lost.

What is it that has happened since Christ come into your heart? Are there loses? Have you lost attachment to the ways of the world or people of the world? The problem we have today is that we have many Christians who are unwilling to lose attachment to the (things of the) world. What is it that was formerly dear that you’ve now considered to be rubbish, FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST.

IV. Things That Paul Wanted to gain (V. 8-11):

By losing “all” Paul did not want to remain empty. Rather, he wanted to be filled by God with worthy, valuable and eternal things. He wanted to receive what is true bread (Isa 55:1-2). He wanted his thirsty to be quenched once and for all (Jn 4:14).

So, what did he seek in exchange? Paul sought:

  • To gain Christ– Christ was the treasure that apostle Paul sought. Christ is the all in all. Secondly, Paul wanted to be found in him-united with Christ.
  • The righteousness of Christ (v.9; cf. Rom 3:21, 23,25) – Paul did not want self-righteousness but a form of righteousness that comes through faith in Christ.
  • The knowledge of Christ (v8)- Paul confesses “I want to know Christ.” Although he had walked with Chrsit for about three decades, Paul still desired a continual intimate/personal relationship with God. To know God is to: know Jesus Christ, walk as Jesus did, and to obey his commands. He wanted to know of his love that surpasses all understanding (Eph 3:19).
  • The power of his resurrection– Paul wanted to continue to know the power that raised Christ from the dead-the power that is now at work in us, the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; Rom. 1:16; Col. 3:1). This is the same power that quickened us when we were death in our transgressions and sins; the power that brought us to salvation, sustaining us, the power that will present us before God.
  • The fellowship of Christ-(v.10-11)- The fellowship of sharing in his suffering. Similar experience to the baptism experience. Paul desired to suffer like and with Christ so that hw will be overjoyed when is glory is revealed (1 Pet 4:13; Col 1:24). He had a proper perspective of the present pain versus the future gain.
  • Becoming like him in his death- United with Christ in his death- 3:21. Baptism figure. Crucified with Christ… (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:29-30).
  • Attain the resurrection from the deathPaul believed that the death would be raised (Acts 24:15; 26:6-8; Phil. 3:21) that he will attain this resurrection. He hopes for that glorious resurrection of those who died in the Lord.

knowing christ

Concluding Thoughts:

Jesus as the single greatest treasure that is worth everything (Matt. 13:44-45)

If you have not lost anything then you have not gained anything.

Paul gained far more than he lost.

If you have not detached yourself from the world then you have not learned the secret of attachment to Christ.

“He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot

gain by losing

Making a Difference in an Ungodly Generation

 ungodly

As we live in the world we are reminded that this is not our home. We are children of light in a dark world (Eph. 5:8).

What does the Bible teach us concerning the world?

  • It is fallen and with fallen people; far from God; and full of evil.
  • It has values/ways of this world are opposed to the kingdom values.
  • We are in this world but not of this world (Jn. 17:14-16).
  • Satan is the prince of this the rule of this world (Jn. 12:31; Eph. 2:2)
  • Its structures are against godly values
  • The world is passing away
  • It not the ideal place…
  • The truth is, we can influence the world or still it can influence us….

In this world, people have become:

  • Disobedient; drifting from truth
  • Lovers of themselves and pleasure, and not lovers of God
  • Immoral- degeneration of morality; empty
  • Biblically illiterate
  • Materialistic- pursuing money as the ultimate goal
  • Selfish and do not think of others or God

As a matter of fact, it is very easy to live, talk, and think according to the patterns of the world or according to the ways of the people who are of the world are; especially if we often interact with them more than God’s Word.

So how can we live in such a world as and remain Christ followers? In other words, how can we shine our light in a dark world? How can we live godly lives in the present evil age?

Paul in his letter to Ephesians 5:15—20 and Titus 2:1–14, helps us to practically address this question:

  • Be Careful How You Live (v.15)

By being wise, watchful, discerning/cautious to avoid danger.

Watchful of our belief and conduct. Christians should be wise people.

Being cautious that the waters we are swimming have crocodiles, the path we are walking have mines and thorns.

Be careful not to lean of your own understanding- Prov. 3:5

Be careful if we think we are firmly standing, 1 Cor. 10:12.

Once again, be careful not to fall into the deception of the enemy…

Living not as unwise but as wise– Bible exhorts us to be wise. Wisdom can be attained through asking (Jas. 1:5); through read and applying God’s word (2 Tim 3:14,15).

The word of God is able to guide you, build you up, make you wise, make you grow, cleanse you and shape your character and attitudes. At its base, wisdom is the fear of God (Prov. 9:10).

Be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil (Rom 16:19).

Be watchful and wise about the company you keep (2 Cor 6:17).

  • Making the Most of Every Opportunity (V.16)

Time and chance happens to all (Eccl 9:11)

Opportunities are seized. Grab every opportunity to grow, know Christ.

Make use of time and opportunities to be a blessing, to touch lives, to participate in big things, to serve God, to improve your present situation….

Why? Life is short (Ps. 90:12); and the days are evil (present times are full of temptations, evil people).

Be like the men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do (1 Chron. 12:32).

  • Understand the Lord’s Will (V.17)

God created us for a special purpose; but we need to discover/seek to understand and APPLY that purpose for our OWN lives.

The will of God is revealed in His Word. It is the will of God that you should be sober, holy, and steadfast.

It is the will of God that you submit to the Lordship of Christ. It is the will of God that you should be committed in the church. We seek to know and accomplish what pleases Him.

It has never been easy thing to be a true Christian in any generation…

What does God want you to be if you live to be 80?

  • Be Filled With the Holy Spirit (V.18)– Have the God-influence over your life, by allowing God’s Spirit to indwell, control, and transform you. “Drunk” with the Spirit.

The Spirit of God enables us to receive strength, overcome evil forces of the enemy (Ep 6:10-18;) overcome sin (Rom 8:13). Overcome flesh (Gal. 5:16, overcome the word (1 Jn. 5:4).

When you are filled with the Holy Spirit the fruit of the spirit will be manifest.

  • Be Joyful and be Thankful (V.19-20)

One of the characteristic of people of the world is that they are both ungrateful and have no true joy.

Encourage one another; speaking to each other, enjoying the fellowship of one another and praising God.

Be thankful to God for all things or all persons- including your family, situations… Acknowledge God, the one who has graciously gifted you with unmerited favors. A grateful and joyful heart makes a lot of difference.

 

Justification by Faith and its Blessings -Romans 4-5

 

justification-by-faith-cross-s

The example of the life and ministry of apostle Paul challenges us greatly on becoming zealous for the Lord. Before his encounter with Christ, he was a fierce persecutor of the church; a zealot who was determined to destroy any perceived aggression against Judaism, the faith of his ancestors. But the Damascus road experience radically changed his life and purpose once and for all. Significantly, his conversion made him realize that he was blind, ignorant, and wrong. He came into terms with the fact that his zeal was devoid of knowledge and truth.

As was the case, he had been fighting truth all along; but in the words of St. Augustine, he realized that truth is not an abstract concept but a Person. In the past Paul was zealous to bring death to those who threatened the integrity of the Judaism. But God delivered him from that kind of a zeal and gave him a new zeal of bringing life to those who are living in sin. Upon conversion, Paul became even exceedingly zealous for the Lord and for the gospel truth. He endeavored to preach the gospel where it has not been preached. He became passionate about the things that God is passionate about, like bringing salvation to all men. He became passionate about knowing the truth and letting others know and experience freedom in Jesus.

In chapter 1-3 of Romans Paul highlights the depraved human condition and God’s initiative in bringing about salvation. The pagan Gentiles, moralists, self-confident Jewish people and all humanity is guilty and stands condemned before God, the righteous Judge. He admits, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Rom. 3:10). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

BUT NOW, he says “a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known… this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Rom. 3:21-22).

In chapter 4 and 5, Paul explains justification by faith as the form of righteousness that God has revealed apart from the law. Justification is a forensic term that means to be “declared righteous.” Were people saved in the OT based on keeping the law or through sacrifices they offered? Paul, in chapter 4, establishes the fact that that justification has all along been purely by faith. God has not changed the way he saves! He uses Abraham and David to correct/illustrate justification by faith in the past.

I. Justification by faith –How Abraham was saved?

A. Abraham was not justified by works (4:1-8)- Otherwise justification by works would have made him boast; but “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” A quote from Genesis 15: 6. David commends this righteousness that is apart from the law.

B. Abraham was not justified by rites or rituals (4:9-12)– His justification occurred about 13yrs before circumcision. So, the circumcision was only a seal of Abraham being declared righteous because of his faith.

C. Abraham was not justified by law (4:13-17)- His justification preceded the law by about four centuries.

D. Abraham was justified by Faith (18-22)– “Against all hope” Abraham believed. He exercised faith on God’s promises even when situation looked unpromising. He was a pagan/Gentile who believed in God (others: Rahab, Ruth, …) and was justified by faith. By implication, Jews and Gentiles are all spiritual children of Abraham. There is one salvation for all humanity- Jews and Gentiles.

Those who come to Christ by faith, even today, are declared righteous. Justification is not earned but is a gift from God. Believing in God today can also change your life… The Lord never turn away a repentant sinner.

Chapter 5 highlights the benefits/blessings of our status as justified persons in the sight of God. Being declared righteous is an incredible blessing that we enjoy here and now.

II. Blessings of Justification (5:1-11) –Since we have been justified,we have:

  1. Peace (v1-2a)- “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” A Greek variant reading of some credible manuscripts have the subjunctive form of the indicative verb ἔχομεν; which can be rendered “let us have peace” (subjunctive). But the context supports ‘we have peace’.

 Formerly, believers were enemies with God because of sin and rebellion (Rom. 5:10, 8:7). Perhaps being an enemy with men can be treated as a nonissue; but being an enemy of God, the might Warrior, is a big problem. Previously, hostility and alienation characterized this relationship.

But now, because of the reconciling work of Christ on the cross, believers have peace with God. We have peace with God because our sins have been forgiven and our guilt removed. We’re no longer objects of God’s wrath that is to be revealed upon the ungodly. We are sons of God, restored and redeemed.

The Greek word for peace eirene is shallow in meaning (it expresses absence/cessation of war) but the Hebrew concept of shalom is more profound in meaning, “well-being including social harmony, communal well-doing. God’s peace brings to our hearts some inner sense of security and serenity (Isa. 32:17-8).

Do you have this peace? If not what has robbed your precious peace with God? Remember, Jesus is our peace (Eph. 2:14, 15, 17), and He gives peace to his loved ones (Num. 6:26) … ask him….

Peace is God’s gift even amidst cares and sorrows, the “peace of God” (Phil. 4:7). People who search for peace never find it until they find fulfillment in God.  For those who posses it, it is our duty to keep having peace with God.

Importantly, having peace with God also brings with it the access into grace (v.2a)- Through Jesus we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. We have received favor and acceptance. Believers experience the richness of his grace; the abounding grace, that is new every morning.

2. Joy (v.2b)- We rejoice (or boast) in the hope of glory of God (v.2b.). A Greek variant also has “let us rejoice” (indicative and subjunctive). He is the “hope of glory.”

The glory of God is the end for which he created mankind. We rejoice that our sins have been forgiven. We rejoice even when the circumstances around us does not allow. Our God-given inner joy does not depend on happenings. This joy delights in the fact that God is at work in and through us. Outwardly, things may not look good, but we should rejoice in Christ always. Because we know that something good will eventually come out. Let not concerns of our lives rob us the God-given joy.

3. Hope (3a-5a)– We rejoice in our suffering because suffering produces perseverance-character-hope (a hope that does not disappoint/put one to shame). Paul knows that suffering is something we must deal with in life. Suffering is inevitable because we are in an evil world, with evil people, Satan, and with evil nature. This is enough to cause us trouble.

Jesus warned, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). The apostles knew, “we must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

In suffering, we are supposed to be joyful, hopeful, and determined. Suffering refines or strengthens our faith; it shapes our character to produce hope. God uses suffering to build our lives, he can turn evil intended against us for our own good. Suffering is not our destination but a temporary valley we go through.  So, the testing of your faith should not destroy your zeal for the Lord rather strengthen it.

Working or studying in AIU may be an opportunity to serve/make a living or further intellectual pursuits respectively. But remember that it is also an opportunity for God to refine your faith and test its genuineness. How do we respond to these moments? God is achieving in us something of greater worth…our character is developed, and our hope grounded more.

Is hope alive in you today? In a hopeless world it is easy to maintain hope. There is hope even when hope is lost because God promises to give us hope (Jer. 29:11).

4. Love (5b-11)– God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

God showed his love to us “at just the right time”- at the fullness of time. This love was lavished upon us when we were weak/powerless, ungodly, and enemies. This love was demonstrated in the death of Christ for sinners; and in adopting us to be sons in his family. (see also Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 3:1-2; 1 Jn. 4:16). This is a love that embraces unconditionally (1 Cor. 13).

He loved us so that we can proclaim this love to others.

Finally, God’s salvation has always been purely through justification by faith. This is the same salvation message to all humanity. The new status of believers as justified not only brings with it some blessings but also some implication of living a godly life in anticipation of God’s final verdict and deliverance from the wrath of God on the day of judgment. #Baraka

justified 2

The Lord will Fight for You…

sword

In several instances the Bible presents Yahweh as Warrior; a mighty Warrior who’s strong in battle. He wages his own wars and wins.

In life we are faced with many battles. As a matter of fact, spiritual warfare is one of the inevitable battles we must face and win because our union with Christ gives us power, strength, and victory.

Few weeks into the wilderness, during the exodus from Egypt, the nation of Israel found themselves trapped between an enemy behind them and a mass of water (Red Sea) before them.

Related, read One more night with the frogs

They had heeded the call of God through Moses to journey to the Promised Land. In a great way, God had demonstrated his power against the powers of Pharaoh and his gods.

But now God’s chosen people were in for a new colossal challenge. With their enemies advancing quickly in pursuit of them, their options to escape and life were dwindling by seconds! It was a real defining moment!

The only available option was to either to surrender to Pharaoh’s might and be slaves forever or fight a losing fight and die.

But Moses provided the third option. He brought in the God-perspective; a perspective that the people were blind to.

Moses knew something about God’s power and presence. He knew God is a miracle worker, a way-maker and performs the impossible. He knew that God presence means victory. He knew that God is a sure and near help to everyone who calls on Him.

These thoughts (though written years later) must have been going through the mind of Moses:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea– (Ps. 46:1-2).

And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me–               (Ps. 50:15).

A horse is prepared for battle but victory belongs to the Lord (Prov. 21:31).

He therefore courageously told the complaining and terrified crowd, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on” (Ex. 14:13-15).

This situation also speaks to our situations today…

Four Principles to help/assure us in times of need:

  1. Fear Not (vv. 13)

For sure, fear had crippled the Israelites when the saw the Egyptian army pursuing them. Behind them was an enemy, in front of them was a great sea. The only option, which Moses refocused them to see, was to look up.

Fear is something dangerous in your life. It paralyzes your potential and kills your faith. Fear leads to doubt, complaining, self-pity, and faithlessness. In your situation replace fear with faith and confidence in God. Make a deliberate decision to look up to God in faith. Rise above your fears and believe that you will make it by faith. Remember, God did not give you the spirit of fear but of courage, sound mind and love. Fear not.

Why should we not fear? It should be because God is on our side. We have seen God’s hand and faithfulness the far we have come. Choosing to response in fear does not solve the situation at hand; it only makes you more and more vulnerable to the enemy.

  1. Stand firm and be still (vv.14)

God wants us in our very time of need to be unmoved and to be still. To be unmoved by the number of the enemies, to be unmoved by the weapons they have, and to be unmoved by the powers ‘they’ claim to possess. On our side is a mighty Warrior.

Stand firm because you have a strong Deliverer. On your side is the One who is mighty in battle; the One who shields you in the day of battle.

  1. Be still (vv.14)

Be still because God is in control. Be calm and have a serenity of heart because the battle belongs to the Lord. He will fight for you (be sure to be engaged in battles that God is involved in). He will ensure your bones are not broken. Be still. Be still because by your own efforts you cannot win.

Be still and trust in the Lord, “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5,6).

  1. The Lord will fight for you (vv. 14)-

This is a wonderful promise. The Lord shall fight for you.

You have the One who is an enemy to your enemies on your side. Worry not; for victory is your portion. Engage Him in your battles and he will fight for you.

  1. Therefore move/go forward (vv. 15)-

The next order from God to Moses was “God forward!” God wanted his people to take steps of faith; not by walking round the challenge but by going through it. Lack of faith can make us stagnate in one level and be comfortable with the status quo. As they edged to the coastlines of the sea Moses raised his rod and lo and behold the waters parted!

The people walked right in the middle of the sea with the mass of water against them. Move forward, don’t get stuck in the past with its entanglements like unforgiveness, but move forward with hope, optimism, and confidence in God.  In whichever circumstance, sober up and move on…

-The Lord will fight for you; because the battle belongs to the Lord!-

A Disciple Submits to the Lordship of Christ

submission

In a context where many people easily identify themselves as Christians; it is essential to recapture what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus.

FYI, the Bible uses the word “disciple” 282 times, “believers” 26 times, and “Christians” only 3 times. The numerous repetitions of the word should cause us to dig deeper into its meaning.

Read here on the disciple of Jesus as a learner. 

It is worth noting here that in the first century, it was common phenomenon for spiritual leaders to have disciples. John the Baptist had disciples (Matt. 9:14); and also Pharisees had disciples (Matt. 22:16). Jesus himself had many disciples other than the renown twelve (Matt. 10:1; (Lk. 22:11). To be a true disciple of Jesus is to submit to his authority and lordship.

A Disciples of Jesus Submits to his Lordship –

In the first century Roman world, the emperor was regarded as kurios (lord). Kingdoms, new lands, and peoples were conquered and subjugated to the lordship of the Roman emperor. As a matter of fact sacrifices were offered in honor of the emperor, the embodiment of the Graeco-Roman gods.

But Jesus taught his disciples concerning a new kingdom, the kingdom of God. In that kingdom he is the Kurios (the Lord over all things). Following him involves acknowledging his lordship over the lordship of Emperor Caesar. Unconfusedly, this was not supposed to bring a threat to the state. Their submission to the authority of Christ was a superior allegiance because it was a loyalty to the Lord of Lords, the Lord and Creator of the universe.

Briefly, what does submission mean?

  1. Submission to Christ means hearing and responding to the call of God– It involves answering the call and invitation to salvation that is by grace through faith. It means acceptance of God’s gift of salvation in order to receive eternal life in Christ Jesus.
  2. Submission means constantly yielding to the authority of Christ– Coming to Christ in repentance and faith is a step to a Christian life. But that is not all; we need to have a daily walk with God whereby we yield to his leading. This process involves putting to death the old self and putting on a new self. It involves a process of total transformation of our minds, emotions, affections, and hearts.
  3. Submission means subjecting our will to his will– It involves praying “your kingdom come and your will be done.” It means subjecting our will to his will; and realigning our plans/vision/mission to God’s agenda. Jesus modeled submission by doing the will of God the Father who had sent him.
  4. Submission means obeying the words of Christ– Jesus instructed, “if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:31-32).
  5. Submission means letting the word of God transform us-The man who says “I know him” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him (1Jn. 2:4-5).

Disciples of Jesus always live a life of submission to the lordship of Christ.

Read here on Attitude of rebellion Vs Attitude of Submission. 

obey

A Disciple is a Learner

FYI, the Bible uses the word “disciple” 282 times, “believers” 26 times and “Christians” only 3 times. The numerous repetitions of the word should cause us to dig deeper into its meaning.

It is worth noting that in the first century, it was common phenomenon for a spiritual leader to have disciples. John the Baptist had disciples (Matt. 9:14); and Pharisees had disciples (Matt. 22:16). Jesus himself had many disciples other than the renown twelve (Matt. 10:1; (Lk. 22:11).

In the Great commission (Matt. 28:19-20), Jesus charges his followers to go into all the world and make disciples.

So what does it mean to be a disciple?

A disciple is a learner-

The word “disciple” is from the Greek word “mathetes” meaning a “learner,” or “student.”

Jesus called his disciples to a new and different life. The new life called for a paradigm shift in their thinking, affections, actions, reactions, worldview and perspectives.

Disciples were taught life principles that were upside down from the conventional wisdom of the day. They were taught humility in a world that esteemed pride; in order to be first they were taught to be last. To be filled they must first empty themselves of human sufficiency; to live they must first die to self; to find they must be willing to lose; and in order to gain they must first let it go. Certainly, this needed quite some LEARNING.

The disciples of Jesus were fishermen by profession, but they were called to be fishers of men. Their calling was more than a transfer of fishing skills; it needed learning.

Therefore a true disciple of Jesus needs to embrace learning as a lifelong activity.

Disciples of Jesus never arrive; instead they are in constant process of learning and becoming.

Disciples of Jesus learn to love unconditionally, they learn to forgive without taking inventory, they learn to discern the will of God; they are students of the word of God. They learn how to live out their newfound life in Christ. They learn how they can please their Master.

Disciples also learn from valley of life and mountaintop experiences of life. They learn from successes and failures. They will say, ‘when I went through that circumstance…. God taught me this and that…” Also, they learn from both young and old.

Learners have a teachable spirit, they have inquisitive minds and have a receptive heart for God’s word. It is because of learning attitude that the disciples implored on their Master, “Lord, teach us to pray” Lk 11:1. Learners are always growing and transforming.

Jesus extends an invitation to every person to come and learn from him, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. 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, Matt 11:28-30.

The problem with the know-it-all believers is that they have no room for learning or a teachable heart. Such people do not listen, even when warned of an impending danger. They can’t stand to be corrected. The book of proverbs calls them fools.

Therefore disciples of Jesus are in a constant process of learning and growing. If you are not growing in learning then you are not a true disciple of Jesus. Learn from his word, from life experiences he takes you through, and from young and old.

Remember, if you have stopped learning you have stopped marveling God’s greatness.

“if you have stopped learning you have stopped marveling God’s greatness.”

When we go Through Hard Times   

hard

…When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”  

(Isa. 43:1-3).

We live in a world full of evil, evil persons, demons and Satan. That’s enough to bring us trouble/hard times. And so the question is not “if” we will go through hard times but “when”; for hard times will certainly come. The dark moment could be financial, loss of a job, relationship, health, family, political instability, e.t.c.

Sometimes dark moments in our lives can cause us to question God’s power, goodness/love, understanding, and presence. But we need the right responses/attitudes to be able to discern purpose of God’s working through our pain or challenges. Therefore,

How should we respond when we go through hard times?

  1. Remember God is with us even in our hard times– During hard times we often ask, “where is God? Does he know what I am going through? and if so, Does he care?” The Bible assures us of God’s enduring presence even in times of difficulty. He does not abandon us. He does not allow Satan have a field day on us. He is Jehovah Shammah-the Lord who is present; He is Emmanuel- God with us.

He has promised, “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb 13:5). Therefore trust in his power to deliver you. Prayers are not platforms to give God ‘breaking news’ or updates concerning our sorrowful condition but an opportunity to show our utter dependence on Him no matter what.

Read here the things God cannot do

2. Learn to see God at work

God is at work every time, everywhere and in different ways. The problem is that sometimes we are like Elijah, expecting God to work in preconceived pattern. Indeed, God is a God of surprises; he surprised Elijah by revealing his presence in ways Elijah did not expect. A great and powerful wind passed but the Lord was not in it, it was followed by earthquake, and fire-but the Lord was not in them all. Instead he revealed his presence in a gentle whisper (1Kings 19:11-12).

Open your eyes wide to behold God’s wondrous working. In your dark time, He may in his providence sent people, friends, or community of believers to make your journey bearable; or to give you encouragement and motivation needed to take you through your dark moment. He may also perform a miracle that can turn around your dark moment; and praise the Lord when that happens. In other times God, in his providence can say “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9); and gives you sufficient grace to go through a hard time.

In either way, God is actively at work in your dark moments. You should be able to discern God’s working and be encouraged and thank him that He is not in a lalaland (slumber land) but actively at work in your situation.

  1. Be able to trust the Word of God– :

We must cling to God’s word when we go through hard times. The nature of your situation, or the length, and intensity of your dark moments cannot eclipse God’s promise. The Word of God is powerful, alive, and active. Instead of thinking of your problems over and over again, seek to meditate upon God’s Word over and over.

Remember the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness (2 Pet. 3:9), there is a reason and purpose why God, a good Shepherd would allow you to go through a dark valley. He will keep his promise to protect, sustain, provide, rescue, restore, heal, bless, uplift, and open doors. In your hard moments, learn to treasure God’s word and cling unto it (Refer Ps. 119).

3. Expect God to turn your situation for your own good-

God has promised in his word to turn evil intended against us for our own good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his promise” (Rom. 8:28). It says that in ALL things God works for good. He is able to bring beauty out of ash. He is able to deliver you. Keep your hope alive each day because your morning is dawning. Do not look up to people to save you or rely on your knowledge, experience or connections. Instead, surrender it all to God who is all-powerful.

As a matter of fact he turned the evil that was intended against Joseph for his good and for the salvation of many. The brothers of Joseph sold him because of their hatred and envy but God used this evil as raw materials for Joseph’s success and salvation of many people. Retrospectively, Joseph confessed to his brothers,  “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” Gen 50:20).

Never underestimate God’s power to change your situation in a turn-around manner. He is the same God who creates out of nothing. He is the One who calls into being what is not. God used the cross- in what people saw as defeat, weakness and shame- to bring about victory and salvation to many (Acts 3:12-26). God is achieving something powerful through your current situation. Keep the focus; for God can work out his purposes irrespective of men’s machinations.

But this requires patience and perseverance to wait upon the Lord. And waiting is not easy; only courageous people wait.

5. Every experience you go through matters to your destiny

Hard times sometimes presents us breaking or making moments. Some situations you face can be key defining moment for your life. It can be God’s credibility test for your promotion. He never takes you through a valley devoid of purpose. Therefore approach your dark moment with an attitude of seeking to understand what God is teaching you.

You pain is valid, never waste it.

The former experience of Moses in Pharaoh’s household and in the wilderness was formative for his destiny as a leader of the Israel nation. The wanderings of David in the desert and hideouts from King Saul shaped his character in preparation for his kingship. The multiple predicaments of Joseph helped him develop and understand the Egyptian culture before becoming their prime minister. He learned to take commands before he was elevated to a position of issuing edicts/commands. Every dark moment you go through counts for your destiny. Your experiences is building you up into something God is preparing your for/to be. Be patient and cooperate with God.

  1. Every dark moment of your life has an expiry date

The hard times we go through in this life aren’t permanent. It isn’t going to last for life. They are momentary. Joy comes in the morning. David asserted, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I will fear no evil for you are with me” (Ps. 23:4). Mark the word through. The ‘valley of the shadow of death’ is not your destination; you only pass through it. Victory is awaiting you on the other side. Keeping on hoping to see light at the end of the tunnel; God’s help is near. God is at work. God isn’t going to allow evil to prevail for long. In meantime, like the experience of Jesus at the cross, it may seem that evil prevails, but God’s decisive action and vindication ensues. God’s appointed time is coming. When he comes; he will vindicate you and wipe all your tears away.

  1. Your response during dark moment matters-

A dark moment is a time of decision. It is a time to choose between submitting to God’s authority or your own ways to maneuver the situation. Some people choose to respond with doubt, anger, others with fear, blame, and others with trust. You need to have the right attitude; the right framework of mind and heart to be able to benefit and learn from what God is teaching you. Choose to trust in him.

Read here on the attitude of faith

Read here on the attitude of submission

Read here on attitude of gratitude

hard-times