The Bible describes our lives as a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (James 4:14). What is your mission for your short time here on earth? Is it to obtain wealth, position or power? Many are guilty of falling into the temptation to use wealth, position, power and prestige to measure their success in life but Jesus Christ was a soul-winner. That is what He was born for, lived for, died for and rose in power for.
In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus stated His mission statement:
“’The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’”
Here we can see the ministry of Jesus was for the lost and broken-hearted. Thousands of years later, His mission of love is still changing the world. His mission should be your mission! The greatest way to use life is to spend it on something that will outlive it. For instance, love someone more dearly every day.
The dwelling place of God is in the heart. This means what goes on in our hearts determines the kind of relationship we enjoy with God. PSALM 66:18 says, “If I regard sin in my heart, the Lord would not have heard me’. To regard iniquity in the heart means there is some degree of sympathy with sin. A wrong attitude towards sin has caused this deadness of heart. That is why today, we can look upon pain, wrong and injustice unaffected. But as Christians, we should feel worried when we see injustice because when we are affected, our spirit will be stirred (Acts 17:16). Remember sin consists not only in doing what you should not but in failing to do what you should.
To get delivered – our spirit needs to be worried inside when we commit wrong by acknowledging them, admitting them and trusting in Christ’s sacrifice to make us clean and whole within.
Many Christians worry, cry, complain and murmur every day about their situation because their lives are centred on how they are doing, how they are feeling and how they are treated. Little do they consider that it is not about us; it’s all about Jesus – the One who walks beside us, daily encouraging us to see us through whatever life brings. Let us not forget the Saviour’s Words in John 16:33: “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”. In this world, you will have trials – cheer up. Whatever you are going through, it is very hard to call it a friend but in actual sense, it is a friend because it is a means to draw you closer to God. Troubles are to teach us to be consistent and persistent in prayer.
Life is all about choices and how we respond to every situation. The only way Christian character grows is by facing and dealing with problems and difficulties, not by running from the very things that will bring strength to our lives and promote us. So as a Christian, instead of quitting, stay put and get used to the situation in order to obtain spiritual maturity. Spiritual growth is a function of obedience to God just as physical growth is a function of time and intellectual growth is a function of learning. The trials and difficult circumstances we face are for our obedience.
A little boy once thought he could be a hero by helping a chick out of its egg. Holding the cracking egg in his hands, he pulled away at the shell to free the little one inside. His joy turned to tears as the chick fell still into his hands, unable to survive the sudden loss of its shell.
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).
As it is necessary for the chick to be in the egg for a period of time so also your situation is a test to mature you. As a child of God, when things do not go the way we expect – in cases of prolonged uncomfortable situations, e.g. sickness, poverty and the like, one seems to be tempted to doubt God’s ability or desire to help – “Will I ever come out of this situation?”
As Christians, what you are experiencing right now will soon be a memory; it will be part of your history. Your future is being fashioned at this time. Therefore, persevere – trust God as you keep His Words in your mind, your mouth and in every conversation because the Word of God is full of promises for every matter and His Word will never return empty (Isaiah 55:11).
Your perseverance will surely bear much fruit – that is the beauty of our journey. Give God time; the results are working themselves out slowly but surely, in Jesus’ name!
It is impossible to live without challenges. How do these challenges relate to our Christian life? That you have challenges doesn’t mean that you are not a Christian! Challenges determine where you are spiritually. They reveal the true condition or position of man’s heart. A true Christian is tested by his ability to face difficult circumstances. As a child of God, your situation is not to impair you but to make you stronger. Your response when you are tested, provoked and tried determines your future.
Hebrews 5:1-8 – Though Jesus was a Son of God, He learned obedience by the things He suffered. He went through agony, anguish and physical pain but He submitted to the revealing Word of God. This means, spiritual growth is a function of obedience to the will of God.
Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered. We learn obedience by the difficulties and challenges we face today. Challenges are tests to mature us so your response to the challenge of today determines what you will become tomorrow.
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13)
God never created failure. God never created pain. God never created fear.
Are you ready to be the person God created you to be? At times, our fear, our worries, our troubles seem to paralyse us but Jesus is more than able to release us from them all. Jesus is ready to pick you up and put you back on your feet. He is ready because He wants you to be the person He created you to be. Are you ready?
It is when we throw up our hands to the Lord that His hands have room to work. Ask yourself, “Do God’s hands have room to work in my life?” Remember, Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. How much time do you spend getting your heart in tune for prayer? How much time do you spend meditating on God’s Word? If you want your personality to be taken over by Jesus, if you want to be the person God created you to be, be conscious of Christ’s presence in everything you do because in Him we live, move and have our being.
In order to be God’s person, we must seek His attention in everything that we do. Don’t forget that there is darkness everywhere but as children of God, we are not here to get used to the dark but to shine as light. We cannot walk in darkness without a light to show the way – that is the position of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit lightens the Word (John 6:63). Without the Holy Spirit, the Word alone cannot bring Jesus to the scene, cannot transform your situation. The Word will remain inactive, meaningless and oftentimes destructive without the Holy Spirit. Do not let this happen to you. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with His light, to guide your way, words and your thoughts, in Jesus’ name.
God sometimes uses foolish things to confound the wise. For example, an unpleasant situation can serve to keep us for a new level in life. If Joseph had not been in the prison, he would not have met the link that saw him to the throne (Genesis 41:9-39). To the wise, imprisonment is a foolish thing but God used it to accomplish His purpose in the life of Joseph in particular, and the nation of Israel in general. If Hannah had had a baby earlier, she may not have had any reason to stay close to God. The Bible says, she was a woman of prayer (1 Samuel 1:1-17). If the circumstances surrounding the birth of Moses were normal, he may not have had a cause to go to Egypt where he finally became a blessing to his nation, Israel. He would have stayed and grown up with his biological parents and that would have changed the course of history (Exodus 2:1-10).
If Daniel had not been thrown into the lion’s den, he would not have had the opportunity to prove his God; his God would not have been known (Daniel 6:25-27). If Meshach, Shadrach and Abed-Nego had not encountered the great trial in the blazing furnace, their God would not have been a state God (Daniel 3:28-29). If Peter had had the desired catch of fish at the seaside, he may not have encountered Jesus – the Redeemer. His disappointment at the seaside served to move him to a higher level in life – ‘A fisher of men’ (Luke 5:1-11).
What the eye could not see in all these examples was the unseen hand, the divine driver of our fortunes. There is God’s appointed time for everything under the sun – a time to be happy, a time to be sad, a time to grow and a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Take note, there is an unseen hand, an unseen plan of God in the affairs of men. When something happens, whether positive or negative, it would be too soon to despair, complain or jubilate without finding out what God says about it because there is an unseen hand in everything that happens under the sun.
The problem of believing is made simple when we know that it is acting on what God has spoken. The wise man is the doer of the Word. The other hears but does not act upon it. He is a sense knowledge hearer; he is a mental assenter. He responds to reason instead of the Word. If he has faith in anything, it is in man, what man has done, science, works and organisation. We may know the Word. We may be familiar with the original Greek or Hebrew. We may know the history of the Word but that is all wasted energy if we do not live the Word and practise it. If we do not live the Word and practise it, we cannot bring Jesus on the scene.
Prayer is a reality. We are not talking into the air. Here, the name Jesus is always honoured. What a grave danger of deluding ourselves. What a danger if there is no corresponding action! If we say in the name of Jesus without corresponding action, it oftentimes leads to destruction. It is the doer of the Word, the man who practises it, lives it, walks in it, that builds it into his own life. It is the doer of the Word that receives things from God. Idle words may entertain men but they do not reach God.
Ephesians 3:20 – “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Note the word, “do” in this text. We are doers of the Word, but you say, “How can I do it?” It is going to be according to the ability of God that is at work within us. As we begin to do the Word, He begins to do in us and through us (1 John 4:4).
Faith is not a feeling. Feelings are influenced by what we see, hear, read and by what our circumstances look like. Thomas would not believe unless he could see; he would not believe unless he could touch where Jesus was nailed and cut by His side (John 20:25). He relied on what he could see and touch, not on what God had to say.
We have many Thomas-Christians today, that is, those who believe in only what they can feel, see, hear or touch. If we base our judgment on what we see only, it means we have not looked deep enough. If we base our judgment on what is seen only, we are bound to give wrong judgment. In the same way, when we are looking for a man of faith, or a genuine believer, we are tempted to look only at those outward qualities, such as: ➡️Speaking skills – ability to inspire people, ability to carry people along, ability to motivate an audience. ➡️Friendliness – the power to win people’s hearts.
No mention would be made of character or inner being because man’s judgment is limited. Such was the case of Thomas and those Christians in his camp today. But Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). This statement was made not to Christians by faith but to Christians by feelings.
We cannot understand God by feelings. We can only understand Him by what the Word says about Him. Thomas was so much overwhelmed by his feelings that he neglected what the Scripture had said about Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. God is everything the Word says He is so we need to get familiar with Him through the Word. Too many people try to get acquainted with God through their feelings. When they feel good, they think God has heard their prayers. When they don’t feel particularly good – I mean, when they feel God is unkind or unfair to them, they begin to rebel or murmur against God. They feel that God no longer answers their prayer; their faith is thus based on feelings.
Brethren, take note of this word of exhortation. Every Christian should realise that if you are in the place where God wants you, the devil would want to dislodge or displace you out of the relationship. He wants to uproot men and women from the place where God plants them. Therefore, the bottom line is we should not make it easy for the devil. Instead, in times of great conflict in your relationship, stay where you are; don’t budge. This will spoil the devil’s plan!
Any relationship that is of God is bound to attract trials, attack and temptation of all kinds because we are never out of touch. If you are in the place where God wants you, you are never out of touch. Where God guides, He provides. We make it easy for the devil by thinking and believing that our relationships with friends and neighbours are out of touch. We make it easy by believing that our marriages are out of touch. Temptation will come. Tribulations and trials of all kinds will emerge. But remember that they can only shake and tempt you. For example, never abandon your matrimonial relationship because as a Christian, the shake-ups are to strengthen your marriage!
Our situations are tests to mature us. As a Christian, what situations are you going through? Don’t let them wear you down! They are to mature you. Don’t allow any situation to control, mislead or overwhelm you. Stay and cope with hard and good moments. Remember, in times of merriment, prosperity and success, even the wicked man will seem kind and generous but immediately the heat of trials and tribulations come, his wicked behavior surfaces. Sin easily hides where there is no heat of trials and afflictions, just as impurities hide in gold, until it goes through the process of the furnace.
No matter how much we master the Scriptures, without true obedience to what we read, we still wear spiritual diapers. Christians grow in character through obeying the Word of God in the midst of circumstances, e.g. hardship, persecution, trials, tribulations and temptations. Therefore, Christians should see situations such as these as God’s way to strengthen their faith, character and resolve to serve Him.
Do not think that your crying and complaints can force Jesus to become sentimental and then give Himself out so cheaply. When you are emotionally controlled, you lose the sense of objectivity. Jesus’ objectivity is founded on commitment and genuineness of faith. Of all graces, faith honours Christ most; therefore of all graces, Christ honours faith most. The only way to honour, to reverence Christ is to have faith in Him. When you have faith in Him, you would only discuss the One who is fighting for you, instead of the battle. You would discuss the promise of victory instead of warfare. This was what Jesus meant when He said in John 16:33, ‘Take heart, I have overcome the world’. When you have faith in Jesus, each embarrassment, insult and persecution you receive would draw you closer to Him, knowing that the closer you get to Jesus, the more your breakthrough is being built up, slowly but surely (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Look at the case of the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15. Each embarrassment she received drew her closer to Jesus. The closer she got to Jesus, the more her breakthrough was being built up slowly but surely. This means, when answers to our prayers are held back, it is an opportunity for us to be fervent – to pray the more, fast the more. When the results of our effort are held back, it is an opportunity for us as Christians to pray the more, fast the more and be more devoted. Jesus loves those who are able to exercise great faith under great trials and temptation. The hindrances thrown in this woman’s way only tended to increase her faith. This means, trials are the soil in which faith flourishes. If we endure trials and hardship for what we believe, God deals with us as sons.
The situation some of us are facing today, we ought to have faced earlier in life. But because of impatience and inability to see beyond our immediate situation, we take shortcuts in an attempt to escape from reality. It does not take long to discover that most of the alternatives or shortcuts we take have their way of disappointing us. What situation are you in now? As a Christian, do a proper reflection and you would see that behind your situation lies God’s purpose for your life. This means, there is no real alternative other than faith in God. Remember, events that seem ordinary may have extraordinary effect in the spirit, much of which is hidden from the ordinary eye. This is why we need God. Without proper reflection, you would take actions that would change the purpose of God for your life.
Our God is awesome; He uses foolish things to confound the wise. For example, God can use disappointment to preserve us. Disappointment preserved Peter for redemption. As a Christian, sit and reflect and you would discover that nothing happens for nothing. That situation you are in does not come by chance. It is as it should be by divine will. There is an adage that says, “If you are in a hurry to get something, you would also be in a hurry to spend it”. Today, many have changed the history of their lives because of inability to see beyond their immediate situations. Those who see beyond their immediate situation do not despair in the face of seeming disappointment.
God chooses grace rather than works. We are what we are in Christ Jesus by His grace. Let no one boast. Whatever we are today is a product of His grace. Everybody cherishes breakthrough; that is why we work hard. Little do we know that the battle is not for the strong and the race is not for the swift. This means, after struggling, after our hard labor, God would still have to mark our work. When we have done everything, we must leave the issue with God. If we succeed, we must give God the praise; if we fail, we must submit to His will.
No man knows by the present signs what the future holds for him. Are you poor now? It is too early to grumble because God sometimes uses foolish things to reveal His purpose in our lives. Are you blessed now? It is too early to jubilate because you will still need God more in blessing. Time and opportunity act on us all. In other words, every man has the grace of time and space to act in only as allotted to him by providence (God). Every man cherishes breakthrough; that is why we all work hard. Little do we know, as the preacher puts it, in Ecclesiastes 9:11 that in the world, fast runners do not always win the race and the brave do not always win the battle. The wise do not always earn a living, intelligent people do not always rise to high positions. You can never tell when your time is coming. What the Bible is simply saying here, is that the battle is not for the strong, nor the race for the swift. This philosophy seems to work against ‘common sense’, but it is the reality.
Our knowledge of the Bible must be broad and holistic. Don’t make the Bible say what you want to hear. Don’t bring in what you think you need to hear. This is about what God has to say to you. Respond to Him in dialogue. That means it is as much about listening as it is about speaking. Open your eyes and your heart to hear His voice. You can read and think and pray all day but unless you live in God’s Word as well, you will miss the point. The Word helps man walk with God, receive from God and fulfil God’s will on the earth.
Those people who choose the Scriptures they want to live by are not eager about such other areas as holiness, consecration, evangelism, judgement and the love of God. However, these other areas and the love of God work in concert to develop man spiritually. But all that they want is merely to receive from God. They often pray – ‘God, give me, give me…’ It is true the Word of God talks about receiving from God. However, we cannot give out to others until we ourselves have received something from God.
We cannot rely on bits and pieces from the Bible to develop into strong, mature Christians. We need the whole counsel of God – all the bits strung, fastened and laced together in our lives – for us to develop into a strong spiritual man. Faith is important to our spiritual development because the Bible urges us to live by faith (Romans 1:17). However, we must also live a life of love because faith works by love.
If God’s children cannot commit their bodies to God when they are sick, who would believe that they have faith? Who would believe them as Christians? If God’s children cannot trust in God for problems arising in their families, can their faith be found? If God’s children cannot trust in God for their material riches, what use is their faith to them? Faith needs to be put into practice but where should it be put into practice? Surely, it should be put into practice in difficult and perilous circumstances. However, when we are not under any circumstance or situation, even during ordinary times, we should put faith into practice.
If we have faith in God, we should not just believe in Him when we encounter extraordinary events and face impossible tasks or absolute perils. Not only should we know God as our sovereign, supreme Lord but we should know Him like children know their fathers. We are constantly under His care and protection. The powers of the Heavens are behind us and backing us up so that in all things we can overcome through the Divine power.
We speak about faith and say man ought to have faith in God but how should one have faith? We have faith in God through the daily things around us. What is faith? Faith is a heart that believes in God through ordinary circumstances. If we examine our daily lives, we will find out how much faith we have. Empty profession of faith will not help us at all. Faith is manifested in the small things in our daily lives. The Bible is full of promises of all things in our daily life on every matter. As long as we have faith, God will work for us.
The main thing about Christianity is not the work we do but the relationship we maintain and the atmosphere produced by that relationship. There are supernatural gifts of the Spirit given to the believers to minister to one another. These are received from the college of God, as God’s will. These are separated from man’s natural talents, ability and education. These elements which are obtained from man’s earthly college are used by satan to win the souls of men, and this affects the church in modern times.
Man’s natural ability, talent and education cannot be exercised in the church of the Holy Spirit without being sanctified. Man’s natural ability, talent and education must be obedient to God’s will before it can receive God’s blessing. Today, many people do not know the difference between God’s supernatural gifts and man’s natural gifts. These are the challenges we face in the church today. People use natural gifts for God’s work.
For example, a person has the ability to teach, preach, pray, fast, organise a church – these are man’s natural gifts. The Holy Spirit speaks, teaches, prays, organises as He wills. These are supernatural gifts of God. A person has the power to decide. The Holy Spirit has the power of choice. These are the challenges we face today. Jesus did not ask Peter if he was a gifted speaker, a talented leader. Jesus did not ask about Peter’s seminary training or Bible knowledge. These things are important but they are not the issue. The issue is quite simple. The basic qualification for lasting ministry is found in Jesus’ question: “Do you love Me?” In other words, ‘Do you have a relationship with Me?’
“What we see as failure is not failure at all from eternity’s perspective. At first, the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross was seen by His disciples as failure but what looked like failure brought new life to all creation. Therefore, let us leave our troubles for the ONE who bore our troubles on the Cross!” – TB Joshua
God’s providence often contradicts His purpose; His divine wisdom tends to contradict the course of natural events. When God is executing His plan in our lives, He designs and arranges events which continue to unfold until His purpose is revealed. When we look at the way and manner God designs and arranges events in the life of His servants, you would discover this truth. Take Joseph as an example. Because Joseph was to be a blessing to his people, he had to taste poverty. Because Joseph was to be a source of freedom for his people, he had to taste imprisonment. What are you going through now? Remember Peter. Because Peter was to be a blessing to his people, he had to taste hardship, disappointment, setback, failure and want.
God often brings good out of evil and promotes the designs of His providence, even by the sin of men. For an example, the young Joseph had to go through a lot of tribulation and affliction for the purpose of God to be revealed in his life. His brothers’ intention was to starve him to death in the barren pit, whereas, God’s purpose for his life was to use him as an instrument for providing food for his brothers in times of great famine. God overruled his brothers’ evil designs in order to serve His purpose of making Joseph an instrument to save many people. Joseph said to his brothers, ‘As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good so that many people might be saved’. The persecution we suffer in the hands of our detractors causes us to be to be known. Therefore, no trouble, no matter how great the trouble is, should prevent you from praying.