Month: May 2021

Following

Following

When we explore the word of God in earnest, we are empowered by it. This enables us to live a life worthy of our call to worship. We build a reliance on God instead on being dependent on other peoples opinion. Even if we learn to follow and respect those called by God to shepherd His people, we are still able to have a sense of maturity and independence with regards to our understanding of His word. We should not merely wait until Sunday to hear what the word says, but rather seek God’s counsel daily through prayer.

In this series, we have been exploring the concept of completely surrendering to God and pledging our loyalty only to Him based on Joshua 24. In this scripture, we see how the Israelites were warned against idol worship. Despite being lead by Joshua, we have come to know how their actions separated them from God. You see, because God has instructed us to worship Him in a very specific way, anything contrary renders us void of His presence. Therefore, one can still routinely attend church every Sunday, but be completely removed from the presence of God. The devil knows what we value in our lives. By stealing the fear of God from within us, he ensures that we are still able to act in our service to God, but without substance, conviction or any personal connection to God himself. Therefore, put in context, when the fear of God departs our hearts, we can still come to church, and perform all our churchly duties, but not under the cover of God. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).

As people we have individual thought processes and opinions. These make it difficult for most to grasp the concept of being a follower. Often people find themselves desiring to act in their own way instead of that of the one whose leading. As Christians we need to follow principles that govern our faith in order to stay within God’s presence otherwise we might unconsciously fall outside God’s ways. Matthew 7:21-23 outlines two separate key elements. Calling God “Lord” does not qualify us to inherit the Kingdom, neither does performing acts of worship like prophesying. There is more to our worship that we must identify and carefully follow in order for it to be acceptable before God. Matthew 4:18-22 – Jesus came to earth with a specific mission to accomplish. He sought after individuals who were able to leave their professions and livelihoods to become “fishers of men.” These disciples remained loyal and continued with the mission even after the death of Christ because they had complete reliance on Jesus as their guide. Essentially they followed His lead and not their own.

There were times when they would say or act in a way that they thought would be in the best interest for the mission, but it was in fact not the desired solution to the problem. An example of this can be found in John 18:1-12. Peter sliced the ear of a soldier sent to capture Jesus, only to be told to put away his sword. This shows us that as a follower, instinctively your own problem solving methods are bound to surface, however it takes humility to allow yourself to be lead. God is the one that knows where we are supposed to be going. Often we start to question God’s plan and authority when situations become risky and make us feel uncomfortable. We resort to making our own assumptions and deciding the best way out of the situation as opposed to waiting on God. When we do this, we run the risk of ceasing to follow the path that God entails and going on our way without us even being aware of it. Another example, the bible outlines that the man is the head of the household, but if we look at some christian families, we find that in some disguised way, the woman is in fact the one that is leading from behind. However, even if the man is slow to provide a solution, the bible still says that he is the head of house.

So the woman taking matters into her own hands in order to quicken the process, means that she ends up being the head by default. Yet this is not the principle of God. If you have to slow your pace in order to be in line with that of your leader or head, then so be it. Remember that having the ability to follow is important. Even if you find yourself in an uncomfortable position, always stick to the principles that God has laid out for you. Do not try to resolve a situation without the principles of God because you run the risk of losing your place as a follower. What you want to avoid might be something that God wants you to go through. Even though you follow God, your problems will not automatically be eliminated and sometimes it can create even more problems. As such, do not try to avoid problems because God might be wanting to lead you through it.

Always trust and have faith that God will always have the solution. We often fall into the trap of picking and choosing what we want to follow. Does God not require us to follow him with all of our being? When you completely pledge loyalty to God, no external factors will influence the solid relationship you have with Him. If we take Job as an example, had he listened to the external comments people made about his life, and their advice to curse God, he would not have been able to enjoy the blessings that were waiting for him once he had endured his struggle. As such, we must resist seasonal worship. Choosing to be loyal only during hard times and then forgetting God when things are good is not true worship. The ability to follow God regardless of circumstance is vital. Whether you experience times of joy, sorrow or times of uncertainty. God knew that the children of Israel would be living under captivity for a long time. But it took one moment for Him to commission someone to fulfil the promise to rescue His people.

There are numerous individuals in the bible that encountered trials and it appeared as though God had forsaken them, but in reality, He never left them. The lesson of the prodigal son is something that we can learn from (Luke 15:11-32). Upon return, the father gave him a ring, a cloak and even killed a calf in his honour. Yet the older son did not understand why a similar celebration had not been given to him. His father then explained that since he had stayed by his side, whatever belonged to the father already belonged to him. As long as we do not realise that we are the children of God, we will fail to understand that we have access to a lot more than we realise. God the father is concerned for our wellbeing, and will always provide for us. In conclusion, never allow any situation to install doubt in your mind about who God is and what He can do for you.

Follow God with your heart always. If your heart loves him, it will stay steadfast. Many people want to lead but they do not want to follow, and many want to teach, but do not want to be taught. You must become a good learner to be a good teacher. Is your conduct a reflection of how the first disciples of Jesus were and continued to be even after His died? You need to be able to contribute to creating an environment that enables other christians to flourish so that they too can experience the goodness of God that you have already borne witness to. Everyone will be judged by what they do whether it is good or bad. At the end of the day, the word of God is the truth and it will come to fruition. Therefore, remember to follow what God has said in His word and in your life.

Fear of God

Worshipping God requires self-discipline. Since no-one is there to monitor the quality and quantity of our prayers, we need to develop a relationship with God that will refine that self-disciple to live as God intends. There are many reasons we come to God. Mostly, “push” factors are the things that drive us to church like hardships we are running away from or needs we desire fulfilled. Whilst “pull” factors draw us to God because a deeper understanding of who He is, and our need to worship Him. Ultimately, coming to God should not be dependant on external factors, but rather a desire to love God with all our heart, soul and strength. (Deuteronomy 4:5).

This series of teachings is based on Joshua’s warning to the Israelites to do away with their idol worship and pledge their loyalty to the Almighty God. It is centred on making a conscious decision to willingly make the necessary changes that allows focus and attention on God alone and His intended plan. Joshua served to enlighten the Israelites that though they walked in the company of the presence of God, they could not live in reverent fear of Him if the continued to harbour idols in their possession. (Joshua 24) The reverent fear of God is a vital and integral part of christianity. When this departs from an individual, the devil knows that he has taken away a core aspect of their worship. Losing that fear can occur in a very obvious manner or worse yet, in a subtle way unaware to you. You then run the risk of normalising habits you have already been warned against. Understanding the authority of God and how an element of fear plays a part is crucial because it gives you spiritual maturity and independence.

A mature christian needs not constant reminding of their core values. Let’s take going to work for example, an employee with an awareness of their responsibility and repercussions for their failure to comply will always adjust their working practises to ensure compliance without supervision. We need to be continuously aware of the authority and power of the word of God over us otherwise we start to depend on our own rational. We begin to reason and initiate our own methods to accomplish things. By making God redundant in our lives, we go against the very nature of our relationship with Him that requires our complete reliance and surrender to Him. Genesis 3:1-13 – in today’s scripture, we see that Adam and Eve knew exactly what was expected of them, because God had already made it clear. Their fear of God, as the one who created the heaven and earth, was great when they were in the garden. However, that fear departed from them in a subtle way when the serpent approached the woman and questioned her understanding of God’s instruction in relation to the tree of life.

In so doing, it triggered Eve’s mind to start doubting what God had said. How does that interaction between the snake and Eve relate to us? There are times when God speaks into our lives but we find that doubt starts to seep into our minds and we end up questioning what He had said. We might even be tempted to find out what the consequences are if we went against what was said in the first place. This could result in us paving a way to allow bad habits to become part of our everyday life. This is why our fear of God helps us to navigate through thoughts of doubts, because if we start to think something that is contrary to God’s instruction, that fear will act as a reminder to us. If Eve had said to the snake that no matter what it said, she would stick to what the Lord had said, the outcome of that encounter would have been very different. Yet, she entertained the question posed by the serpent, allowing the doubt to cloud her judgement and eventually her actions. If she had understood that by eating that fruit it would result in her dying as God had explained to her before, the fear of going against the instruction of God, and the warning that came with it, should have prevented her from acting against it. This is an example of how the devil works in our lives. He enters with a narrative that we might be familiar with and we will not be able to immediately pinpoint it as coming from him.

We then start to entertain that narrative that differs to what God has outlined, before we know it, we have moved away from God. Reverent fear prevents us from entertaining those narratives from the devil. God banished Adam and Eve from the intended life of comfort in the Garden of Eden. When they were forced to leave, it meant they now needed to start living an alternative life to the one that God had created for them. In retrospect, we can continue living life, going about our business, but if we lose that fear of God, we live a life void of Him. Furthermore, the word from God will become foreign to you as communication between yourself and God breaks down. You will no longer be able to understand God, nor His voice anymore. Your focus and goals will now differ from that of God’s. Sometimes situations appear to be difficult to achieve because we do not seem to have the means to overcome them. This is because these obstacles may require you to move to a deeper spiritual level to see them through. God operates in the spirit. The bible reminds us in John 1:12-13 that those that receive God are given the chance to be called His children. Since they are born of God, they have the opportunity to be able to connect with God on a spiritual level as well. When we look back at the Israelites during the time they were departing from Egypt, they had the Egyptian army pursing them from behind with the Red Sea ahead.

Based on what they could see, in essence they were trapped. The only rational thought would be to assume that they were going to die as there was no way out for them. However, all they needed to do was to be still and to wait on God to provide them with a way out. As such, we also have to remember to be still and allow God to take over the battle for you in a supernatural way, instead of seeking your own solutions. When we believe in God and fear Him, things begin to happen in our lives. You see, walking with God does not mean that we will be exempt from encountering difficult situations. Abraham, Isaac and many other people in the bible went through challenging circumstances during their times, but it was during those situations that God’s power and might was revealed. What is needed from us is to hold on to the faith, and the reverent fear, that we have in God throughout the situation. For example, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had to experience being placed into the furnace of fire for the Son of God to be seen with them (Daniel 3:8-30). Their attitude was that no matter the outcome, whether they were going to be saved or not, they would remain faithful to God.

Their fear and faith in God was greater than what they encountered. In conclusion, do not allow the fear of God to depart from you. Inevitably, this will give way to you entertaining bad habits that should not be apart of our lives. Do not allow the perception of others to influence how you understand God’s words and be vigilant against the devil’s tactics as he might try to persuade you using tactics that are more subtle than you might be expecting. An important thing for you to remember as a christian is that the fear of God should remain in you as it will guide how you handle difficult and challenging situations that you might encounter in life. Through it all, God will always be by your side, no matter that you encounter, just remember to love Him with all that you have.

Fear of God
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