Month: January 2021

Humility

Humility

In the past few teachings we have explored the inherent need to connect with God. (Vol 1&2. 2021). God wants to dwell in us and we must ensure that our hearts are a conducive environment for Him. One of our focuses should be gaining a better understanding of how we can truly work for God so we are elevated to a deeper spiritual level. We have already established that in order to serve God, you need to understand His nature, acknowledge Him as the Almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth, and His supremacy. He is the Head that must be obeyed. He is omnipresent and there is nothing that surprises or surpasses Him. As such, we need to understand our position as inferior to Him. The book of Ecclesiastes demonstrates that although we can amass all the worldly possessions, it is all vanity without an understanding of our purpose to live a life of reverence to God. (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

In order to serve God effectively, we need to take practical actions to do so. Today’s teaching is about humility. Humbleness is a vital key to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and without it, it would be difficult to serve God. As we may be aware, there are many ways in which we might seek God, with the most default manner being in our time of need. However, it is important to remember that God has already outlined the way in which we are to seek Him, not only in times of need, but have total reliance on Him.

The word humility originates from the Latin word “humilis”,  meaning “to be nearer to the ground or next to the ground “. Therefore Humility is the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance, and as such does not have a strong opinion over others. If you have a strong opinion of yourself you struggle to accept different views from your own so much so, that even when God speaks to you, your own opinion overshadows God’s instruction. Therefore humility enables you to be obedient to God. A proud person offen has an air of grandiose.  Grandiosity is an exaggerated sense of one’s importance, power, knowledge, or identity, even if there is little evidence to support the beliefs.
But rest assured, humbleness does not translate to low confidence or self-esteem. One can still be confident but equally humble. Be weary of being strongly opinionated. This can prevent you from hearing other peoples input in your life or hinder you from obeying God’s instruction.

Genesis 12:1-5

Abraham was able to listen to God and to take the instructions given to him. Had Abraham been strongly opinionated and lacked humility when God first spoke to him, he might have been inclined to refuse to leave his fathers house, and justifiably so. In his fathers house, he had all provision. It was the all he knew and in a sense all he needed to know. At the age of 75, Abraham could have also used his age as an excuse. But instead of doing that, he understood that what God had said to him was much more important for his life. Had Abraham been a proud person and decided that it was not worth leaving what he had,  God would not have continued to meet him on numerous occasions through his journey. You cannot follow what God is saying if you have your own opinion of what needs to be done. You unconsciously act on what you think is right not what God actually says is right. With a heart of humility,  one can follow God’s instruction even if it does not make sense or is difficult to comprehend or achieve. Humility helps us to be able to listen, and understand the power relationship between ourselves and God.

James 4:10 reminds us to humble ourselves only then will God elevate us. Yet, some people do not feel the need to do so out of pride. Sometimes a person’s position in life might be a hinderance to their ability to be humble. Often, it can be found in churches that people can become proud and leave God’s ways. They modify the word of God to suit their personal agenda’s and end up diluting it. It is no longer final or pure but rather a distorted version clouded by human wisdom and opinion. Remember, even Jesus said let the will of the Father be done on earth as it should be, showing that even Jesus Himself was humble to the will of God. Jesus demonstrated that in his opinion the situation was hard for him to bear, but ultimately he still surrendered to the will of God. You see, humility, helps us to take whatever God says regardless of our opinion. We need to lower ourselves and let God take his place as ruler above all. Humility is the beginning where God starts to speak to us and move in us.

Take a moment to reflect on your life and ask yourself this.  Are you humble enough to do what God says, or do you do your own thing? Do you follow God’s opinion or your own? Do you put value in what God says, or does your perception distort your actions? The opposite of humility is pride. A prideful person cannot be in tune with God. Why? Because their nature is such that when God says follow, they feel compelled to lead. When God says stop, they are obliged to go further. Ultimately, such pride challenges the authority of God resulting in you walking in complete opposition to Him.

James 4:13-15 reminds us how we neither know or have any power over our tomorrow. It is God that holds our lives in His hands and we are utterly at His mercy. Often Christian’s say ”if God is willing”, this signifies an acknowledgment that God is in control.

Always strive to align your plans with God’s will. He alone should order your steps and direct your path. Challenge yourself to be meek in nature, but confidence and humble.

Serving God

A person that hears the word of God but does not put it into practise is like a foolish builder who builds his house on sandy ground. When the storms come that house is washed away. But those that put the word into action are like a wise builder who constructs their house on a solid rock. That foundation withstands the storm. (Matthew 7:27-27). The aim of today’s teachings is to empower and equip you with the knowledge that you need to better understand God. Putting it into practise will give you the foundation and knowledge of what is expected of you.

Previously ( 10.01.21 Vol 2) we looked at the importance of understanding God and His expectations of us. We explored how despite God demonstrating His might through His protection and provision towards the Israelites, they still disobeyed Him. We discovered how despite having clear instruction and guidance through the commandments these people still appeared to not understand their God. God still fulfilled His promises with the expectation that His people would be faithful and loyal to Him. The same expectations are still relevant even today. God still requires obedience. As such, there are certain things that we need to avoid doing as Christians that can lead us to violate His instruction. God is calling on us to have a reciprocal relationship with Him. Today we will explore what is required as an individual to serve God.

First and foremost, understand that God is not only relevant in times of need. Deuteronomy 5: 6 -7  urges us to pledge our loyalty to God alone.  We often relegate God to merely being a crisis resolver and neglect to pay attention, show interest or even spend time to learn more about Him. We negate the fact that God has been with us throughout our lives, even during those moments that we have not sought Him. We have transfered our trust from God to man. For example, we honour prophets as beings that hear from God, yet fail to understand they are mere vessels used by the Supreme God. The same God that must be reverred. It is God that has given us breath and life to live, so it is He that deserves our priority. That is the simplicity of worship. Joshua 24 sums up this fundamental principle. In order to truly serve God, you must make an intentional declaration to do so. When we understand these simple principles we can live a life of true loyalty.

Using the Israelites as an example, we know that they were disloyal to God even though He had done so much for them. Joshua had to tell them to do away with the idols that they had kept amongst themselves because it undermined their loyalty.  Loyalty means “genuinely having the best interest at heart ensuring that a relationship is reciprocal”. Meaning in context that you need to have an interest in God. You need to play your part for your worship to be reciprocal and lastly, you need to do away with any distractions and prioritise God. Deuteronomy 6:4 emphasises the need to love the Lord “with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind”. That is true loyalty to God. God is a jealous God and does not want rivalry. If we take romantic relationships as an example, lack of loyalty equals a failed relationship. A loyal believer requires not any continuous prompting to serve their God, but are intuitive to His will.

We are the temple of God. Jesus is the owner of your life and He wants to dwell in you. Remember, Jesus said in John 15:4 “remain united to me , and I will remain united in you” meaning our relationship with Jesus is a partnership.  Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:23 states that everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial for you. This piece of advice is useful when trying to understand how your body can act as temple of God. For example, an athlete is careful with what they eat because they know that particular foods will help in their preparation for their competition. As such, they will actively try to avoid certain food because they are aware that it will not help their performance but might in fact hinder them. This is similar to the way that you must see your body as a temple. Actively avoid all that alters your behaviour contrary to what is expected of you. Never assume that you can do whatever you please, then expect automatic forgiveness. We have been given the capacity to decide wrong from right and the ability to discern what is beneficial to our spirit.

Exodus 19:5 explains the condition required to be “God’s Chosen”. When we see the battles the Israelites encountered and how they defeated nations equally created by God, it shows that their victories were testament to the favour of being God’s prize possession.  You see, as long as we don’t know how to carry ourselves, or how we should behave, we cannot be God’s chosen. There is a specific reason He has created us. We are called to a life of worship not merely calling upon His name in times of emergencies.

In the parable of the sower, (Matthew 13 : 1- 23) we see how different people receive God’s word. The seed was the same but the ground that received it was the variable. It was the type of soil that was the issue, not the seed itself. The seed that fell on good ground spouted and produced an abundance of crops. Yet the other seeds did not grow for they did not fall on the good soil. This means that the seed has potential to grow, but the environment of where the seed falls determines whether it will be able to or not. We need to be good soil so that the word can succeed and produce  abundance within us. Just remember that the same word that blesses and protects some, can also be the same word that condemns others depending on how it is received. With your body you go where you shouldn’t. With the same body you engage in what is wrong. With your mouth you speak what you shouldn’t. How then can that body be the Lords temple? Ultimately, you should become someone that has an awareness of themselves and has the understanding that our personal conduct can cause God to either dwell within or reject you.

We may chose to chase the world, that’s fine,  however,  the conclusion of the matter is living in accordance to the will of God in true servantship. That is the whole duty of a man. Be intentional to invest in only what is beneficial to your worship.

Serving God
Understanding who God is

Understanding who God is

Time is a precious thing we do not have much of. In this day, we have slowly diminishing opportunity to do the will of God. As such, in order for us to continue to be obedient to God, it is crucial we position ourselves to understand Him. The book of Ecclesiastes explains that the whole duty of man is not only to worship God, but in a manner God has set out. If we don’t, we run the risk of merely acting as christians without an actual connection with God. Remember, the bible warns against calling on Christ with ones mouth, yet harbour a heart distant to Him (Isaiah 29:13). Do not be fooled, without a connection, God will not acknowledge us as His own.

As Christians we need to be biblical, which means that we should believe and understand that the bible relates to us on a personal level in a prophetic and spiritual way. The word of God is pure and final, yet we have a tendency of neutralising the word with our actions. We often mix the word of God with our own thoughts of what we think He wants.  In order to worship God as He desires, we are required to develop a level of understanding of Him first. If we gain an understanding of His expectations of us, it will enable us to do as He truly wishes.  Today, there are so many things that perhaps  have become a “god” in our lives. For some its money, for others it’s their jobs. But what we need to put as priority is God. We need to demonstrate our loyalty in such a way it’s clear that God takes precedence in our lives. It’s not enough to routinely attend church or merely pray daily but rather striving to know who God truly is on a personal basis. It’s about fully understanding the nature of God otherwise surely our worship will be rendered meaningless.

Isaiah 1:2-3, 18-20

In our scripture today, we see God’s anguish over His people. He compares His people with domesticated animal’s. That even such know their master, yet His chosen people, whom He has loved and demonstrated His power still do not recognise the care that He has given them. Do you recognise God in your life? Do you know and understand Him? It is a deliberate and personal decision one must take to grow closer in understanding God. It is an individual declaration to serve God as seen in Joshua 24:15. We know that despite the Israelites idolatry worship, God still fulfiled His promise and delivered the people to the Promised Land. But there comes a time where God confronts us with the same ultimatum to serve Him alone. You see, we might be here today by His grace, but it does not mean that we are deserving. God is urging us to rid ourself of everything that distracts from Him.

God needs you to move from where you are now, so that He can work with you at the place He wants you to be. Have the faith to take that initial step and respond to God’s instruction upon your life. Look at Abraham. This man received a message to move from where he was to a place God would show him. This was a spiritual instruction.  It is then fulfilled in the natural when Abraham was obedient. Most people today fail because they can’t comprehend what is being said in spirit and in turn do not obey in the natural. We have to believe and understand what is said in spirit for it to manifest in the physical. If Abraham had not moved, then his blessing would not have materialised.

“The Cattle know their owner, the donkies know where they are fed, but Gods people do not know their God.” As we start the year, examine yourself. Do we know where you can get spiritual strength and nourishment ? If we know God then we can comply with what He says. Today people have a tendency to minimise the value and importance of God. We want to worship in the way we want. Have you ever taken time to examine peoples attitudes towards their employment? Everyone tries to comply with all rules and regulations of the workplace so as not to lose their job. Yet, the same drive to comply with the workplace etiquette is not seen when it comes to matters concerning God. We adopt a casual approach to our worship and even feel comfortable coming to church late. All we value is the act of going to church but we do not follow what God says. We do not take heed of the sayings of the Holy spirit. Many are stumbling due to church cultures rather than striving to know God. The word of God is pure and final, yet we neutralise His word. What God has outlined as important is not viewed in the same light and likewise ignored as well. That’s why it has no power over us. People often think that they can just worship God any which way. But the bible clearly states that He is to be worshipped in the way He outlines. Let us look at the Israelites as an example. God fulfilled what had been promised onto them, even though they violated His nature and holiness by behaving contrary to His will. The Israelites had a history of idolatry which led to the ultimatum they received from Joshua as seen in Joshua 24. You see, by keeping idols amongst their possessions, it was as though they believed such idols would help them in some way. This ultimately undermined God’s power yet it was the very same God that had delivered them through the ages. It can be assumed that after they had spent so much time under God’s protection and following His instructions as they were led to the Promised Land, they would have developed a good understanding of the way God wanted to be worshipped. Yet we see time and time again that they were told they needed to repent. One example comes to mind.  We know Joshua to be prayerful man before God and no man could stand against him. Now when it came to the time the children of God defiled God, the same Joshua was defeated in battle. Was this not the same army that God had used to destroy nations. Yes, however, this shows how a powerful man can become powerless due to the sin of the people. It is important to understand God so we do not cause Him to turn away from us. Do we know that He has to be worshipped in a certain way?  Do you know that His holiness needs to be maintained? You need to understand that God is the creator of heaven and earth and He is the one that knows the plan for your life, as such, He is the owner of your life. You need to realise that you cannot achieve things in life if you do not have your health, nor the breath you breathe, which all come from God. Therefore, you need to be loyal to Him and make Him your top priority. In seeking him first, all else shall follow in your life (Matthew 6:33), for He alone is God. Even when you encounter a challenging situation, believe and understand that God is and will continue to be faithful to you. Because if He has taken you out of a challenging situation before, He can certainly do it again. Remember Psalms 23:4 and rid yourself of doubt. Trust God because strength and power can be found in Him. Some people become lost because they are unable to comprehend the supernatural aspect of what God is saying. As such, understand the nature of God as a supernatural God. He is supreme so what He says is possible. Therefore, you need to stay in step with the Spirit.  Part of God’s impact in your life is reliant on you being actively involved in the process. Worshipping God is not a passive act but it requires intentional actions on your part.

Though we have a multitude of shortcomings, we see in Isaiah 18 -20 God still extends an opportunity for us to return to Him. God speaks about us reconnecting with Him if we choose to obey His ways. He is always standing with open arms for us to turn back to him. Understanding God’s nature helps us to know what and what not to do. God was the God of Israel,  but he turned his back at some point. We can continuosly pray but what’s important is not that we pray, but whether that prayer is being received by God. The first miracle is to believe in the scriptures. And more can happen through our ability and understanding of it. God is not someone we can address anyhow, but must be revered and obeyed. Know where your life comes from. Know who feeds your spirit. As we start this year, let us build a solid foundation in Christ.

Serve God with undivided attention

As calendars change from 2020 to 2021, you need to ask yourself if your mindset and your heart has also moved into the New Year. There is only a  moment between 31 December 2020 and 01 January 2021. Our gadgets automatically change as the date changes but the question remains.  Have you changed anything in your heart? There needs to be a change that shows that you understand the new beginning. Otherwise the new year will merely be a continuation of the last and you will remain the same person.  Jesus once mentioned that people are so careful to clean the outside of the cup, yet the inside remains dirty (Matthew 24:25-26), meaning that your outward countenance may show some changes, but your inner self remains unchanging. The aspects of your character such as gossip, malice or anger need more than just an outward change, but a complete transformation of the heart. Some people mark a new year by making a list of things they desire to change,  then physically cross out points on the list to signify it. A change of calendar does is not equal a change of character unless you make intentional steps to do so. The renewal of your mind will allow you to identify missed opportunities so that you can truly be ready for this year.

Joshua 24:14-16, 19-24

In this scripture, Joshua starts by narrating everything that God had done for the Israelites. He then gave them an ultimatum to decide whether to continue to serve other “gods” or to serve the Lord? However in verse 19, Joshua tells the people that although they can verbally choose to serve God, they may not be able to do so in reality. Based on all that we know of God, it can be difficult to understand why Joshua would have implied this. But later we see how Joshua explains how God is a jealous God. You see the people still had the spirit of double mindedness. For them to serve God, they would have to rid themselves of all other thoughts, sins and “gods” and their past record did them no favours. Joshua had borne witness of their unfaithfulness towards God during their journey to the Promised Land. Without full understanding of their God, they often turned away from Him by worshipping other gods. It was necessary for them to serve God without things within themselves, as well as within their possession, that was contrary to what God had commanded. The Israelites had prior instruction to pledge loyalty to God in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, yet as can be seen in Joshua, they still battled with this.

In context, we learn the importance of declaring to serve God  ALONE. Nothing should rival Him. Nowadays, it is easy to start worshipping other gods without realising it. How? By allowing other things to have greater value and priority over God. The bible in Deuteronomy is very clear about idol worship. God requires loyalty and our undivided attention. As Christians we fail to see the benefits of worshipping God because we do so in a half-hearted manner.  We expect to receive more, yet we  only give God a fraction of our attention.  According to Luke 6:38, one can only expect to receive as they have given. So if you only give God a half measure in effort,  you can only expect to receive the same.

We might be able to give testimonies of ways that God is intervening in our lives, but leave His house in ruins. This shows our inability to translate our gratitude towards God. Is it not God that has given you the health and ability to work? Is He not the very creator of life? Surely He deserves our undivided attention. That declaration to serve God should not just be lip service. Many people say they are christian. Perhaps they present themselves at church occasionally, maybe once or twice a month. But do not show any devotion. Serving God must be an actual commitment put into action. Ultimately, God only expects us to serve and love Him “with all our heart, our soul and our mind” (Matthew 22:37). In the morning, firstly take the time to pray before you watch the news, or Facebook or check your Twitter. Before you rush to work don’t forget the one who has woken you up. Anything that takes precedence in your life becomes a “god” to you. So although your work, or news or daily activities are important, do not allow these to consume you.

Coming back to our scripture, we know Joshua to be the man that previously had stopped the sun and moon through prayer. Yet in this case,  he was prohibited by God to pray for the Israelites. Because they had turned from God, they were now destined for disaster. God is a Holy God, and His holiness requires living according to His will. Therefore take heed, God can turn against us as He did the Israelites. Isaiah 59:2 mentions that our sin can make God turn away from us. Sin prevents us from being conducive environments for God to dwell in. At times, we choose to focus on only God’s attributes that are favourable to us and neglect His decrees. Indeed, Jesus did come to save us, but He also taught to be vessels worthy of God to dwell in.(John 14:23). Our bodies are the Lord’s temples and we need to ensure that they are inviting of the Holy Spirit. Misuse of God’s temple is unacceptable. That is why in John 2:13-16, Jesus threw out merchants that were now trading in the temple instead of it’s intended purpose.

It is time to reflect on those barriers preventing you from fully devoting yourself to God. Gratitude goes a long way, and it is important that you do not forget to thank God for what he has allowed you to achieve. Rid yourself of the spirit of entitlement. If you feel entitled to live you negate the understanding that life is a gift and can therefore not appreciate it. Rid yourself of all negativity but live a life of love as Christ did. Without love it is difficult to achieve anything Godly. Remember, Joshua needed to work on his determination so that God could work in him. In the same way, work on your weaknesses and change your perception of what it truly means to serve God. Otherwise you may continue on the same vain that you have always done, with no positive change to your relationship with God or life.

Serve God with undivided attention
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