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Following God

Following God

Christians sometimes make a habit of prioritising everything else in place of God. The theme of this
year, inspired by Joshua 24, is to make a conscious declaration to serve God. Pledging complete
loyalty to Him. This requires us to do away with every distraction that prevents God from taking
centre stage in our lives. Does the bible not say to worship God with all our heart, all our soul and all
our strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)? As a christian, you need to understand the value of God in your
life. You can spend a lot of time in the church, but not actually be in Christ.

When something is valuable to you, you often do not need prompting to do anything associated with it. Sadly, many christians do no value God. This is reflected in how so many only pray and seek Him when they are in need. But that is not true worship. That is merely using God to obtain what we want. There is a
difference being a true worshiper and a needy person. A worshiper understands the value of God
and seeks to live by His decrees, whereas a needy christian constantly asks from God but pays no
attention to living a life worthy of Christ. In essence they seek the gift, but not the giver.
Understanding this principle will help you regard God with the reverence awe, and honour deserving
of the all mighty Creator of Heaven and Earth. The owner of life and everything in it.
Knowing God’s place in your life, requires you to be able to be a follower. Therefore, to be able to
follow, you need to value that which is leading you. There should be a sense of humility from within
to permit yourself to be led without allowing pride to take over. Sometimes the positions we hold in
the body of Christ impacts our ability to be humble. Perhaps being in leadership, or as a child of a
church leader you may begin to feel like you are extremely prayerful, or have full knowledge of the
scriptures. You can then start to value your own opinion over God. Even a leader needs to be able to
follow God in order to lead a congregation. Failure to do so will inevitably result in teachings born of
human wisdom instead of inspired by the Holy Spirit Himself. That is why we see certain occurrences
within the church community that go against the morals of God.
It takes a heart of surrender to allow Christ to live within us. It is a conscious decision to humble
yourself before Him. Only then can you be empowered by the word of God as it directs you in the
way that God wants. God has to qualify you in order for you to take up certain positions. Exodus 19:5
teaches us that obedience qualifies us to be God’s chosen. Obedience requires sacrifice and
complete surrender. Abraham obeyed God’s instruction to move from his fathers house, and it was
only when he arrived at the place God had stipulated that he was blessed. If you do not walk
specifically according to the instruction, you will not truly be aligned to God’s plan. God is able and
wants to do so much more for you, but His ways are not a part time commitment; God needs to be
your priority.
You may ask yourself what steps do I need to align myself to God’s plan? Well, for the most part, you
just need think back to every word God has spoken into your life, reflect on every revelation you got
from His scripture and there you will find what He expects of you. Do not allow the difficulty of the
task at hand to bring about resistance in you. God is always with you, even when things seem hard.
Matthew 4:18-22- When Jesus came into the lives of those first disciples, they immediately left what
they were doing to follow Him. There is a difference between actually following and briefly taking a
look to see what is happening before returning to what you were doing before. You see, when those
first disciples chose to follow Jesus, they completely left what they were doing. They were fishermen
by trade, so in essence they left their entire livelihood for the gospel. The disciples decided that Jesus
was more important than what they were doing and in that instantaneous moment decided on a
lifetime commitment of discipleship. The value of Jesus was revealed to them in such a profound
way, they simply could not remain as they were.
When you decide to be a Christian there are two different things that can happen. One being that
you make that lifetime commitment, the other being that you merely follow Jesus as a convenience

only when you need Him. To surrender to Christ means that whatever you do somehow benefits the
work of God. If your plans are focused elsewhere, you cannot follow Jesus. For example, when
building a house, you undoubtably lose money first in buying the materials needed for the
construction. However, that is part of the process required to obtain a completed house. If you
decide to be a Christian, you need to understand that there is a cost involved. But when the value of
God is revealed to you in the same way as the first disciples, forgoing certain things become as
natural as breathing.
Matthew 28:19-20 outlines the Great Commission. It is an instruction for everyone. We are all pieces
in a greater jigsaw puzzle to fulfil this instruction. Everyone has a part to play. You cannot say that
you love Jesus if you are not concerned for His work. You need to willingly get involved in whatever
outreach activities within your ministry.
Luke 8:1-3 provides a great example of what supporting the work of God looks like. It shows how
some women who were actively supporting the work of God, accompanied Jesus and his disciples to
provide help when it was needed. They used whatever resources they had to accomplish this. A true
believer cannot just passively attend church without getting involved in all aspects of their ministry
be it financially or by giving your expertise or time. There is a practical aspect to worship that
christians of today often ignore. This is why there are so many needy and passive “church goers”
with shallow faith instead of “devoted warriors for Christ”, whose worship brings glory to God. Ask
yourself this, are you an asset to your ministry? What contribution are you giving to the
advancement of the work of God.
In conclusion, how you value God is rooted in your ability to believe in Him. True faith will prevent
you from seeing your activeness in church as a loss. This is because the reasoning behind your
actions will fuel your desire to please God. Hebrews 4:2 outlines that the power and effect of the
word of God within you is void without faith. So take a leap of faith today and surrender your life to
the work of God. Deny yourself and receive the fulness of Christ as He comes alive in you as
according to Mark 8:34. Then whatever you do, will be a building block in the Kingdom of God.

Surrendering to God part 2

We need to understand the meaning of life from God’s perspective. Jesus can only stand
and bear witness of us on judgement day only if we have lived a life worthy of His calling.
Many people are unable to see the goodness of God mainly because of their perception. If
you look at things from God’s perspective, you will be able to see that you are blessed.
Psalms 23 teaches that in Him we have ALL provision. Being christian does not nullify
hardships.

Contrary, imagine this, the Israelites wondered the dessert for 40 years. The
dessert is such a hostile environment, yet time and time again God provided. The Israelites
had no choice but to be completely dependant on God. Nowadays, Christianity is seen as a
sign of weakness, and is perceived as poverty or lack. But does the book of Ecclesiastes not
explain that amassing material wealth is meaningless without God. Obedient worship is
ultimately the true purpose of life. Each day is a blessing and an opportunity. Let is not take
your whole life to come to this understanding. Therefore, take time to reflect on your life and
all that God has done for you. Self-evaluation will help you gain better clarity on where you
are in your christian walk. If today was your last, would you be confident you fulfilled God’s
intended purpose for you? Reflect on those areas that need change and surrender them to
God.
There is a great degree of self preparation required to fulfil God’s purpose. Why? Because
we will encounter some form of battle and up hill struggle difficult to handle. Alone, we can
feel self doubt and the prospect of giving up and turning back becomes feasible. Embarking
on a christian walk of faith is the beginning of a journey where you must be prepared to fight.
However through the knowledge of Christ, remember Jesus will be with you through it all just
as God was with the Israelites in the dessert. God intentionally led them through a difficult
path to cultivate their reliance on Him and ensure going back wasn’t an option. When God is
about to elevate you to a higher level and it’s hard to bare, surrender to the assurance He
will never leave you, and His plan is perfect.
Surrendering is the foundation of unlocking blessing. To surrender means that you are letting
God take control. Only then will God’s intention begin to manifest. Coming to Christ doesn’t
automatically equal you relinquishing control to God. This is perhaps why no change is seen
from your former self. But when you are able to completely surrender, a new version of you
is evident. “The old life is gone; a new life has begun (2 Corinthians 5:17).
We are living in a time where there is a culture of “alternatives and options”. This culture is
spilling over into how we perceive our faith and cultivating a spirit of self reliance instead of
complete surrender to God. How do we know this? Just look at how nowadays there is an
overwhelming number of people that ONLY seek God in times of desperate need. True
surrender is still CHOOSING GOD, even when all is well, and an alternative is available. Let
God take precedence over our everyday activities and livelihood.
To love God with all your heart and all your soul, you need to intentionally put Him first. God
does not permit anything that rivals Him. Before you turn your attention to the demands of
life, or being up to date with social media and what is going on in the world, take the time to
start the day with God, asking Him to order your steps for that day. Not by coincidence but
intentionally and purposefully carving out time in your day to achieve this.
Romans 12:2 – Letting your mind be transformed to allow God’s perspective to be the main
way you view the world is key. Your perception now needs to be different than that of your
former self. Often people come to Christ, but they still try to live by world standards. Romans
8 teaches to surrender and let the Spirit of God take over your flesh. What is logical to our
way of thinking may often be contrary to what God is intending. For example when Abraham
left his fathers house as instructed by God, had he told other people about this plan, they
might ridiculed him, pointing out the fact that he was 75 years old. Why would anyone uproot

themselves and relocate at that age when they were perfectly cared for where they were?
We humans can see as peculiar or illogical is often logical and makes perfect sense to God.
Surrender is therefore being aligned to God and the ability to still trust Him even if it makes
no sense. This is fundamentally living to God’s standard not conforming to that of the world.
When God has chosen you to be His own, you are expected to live in a different way that
reflects that you are His. Most people live a double life. They want to love God, but cannot
let go of the world. Remember, your body is the Lords temple. (1 Corinthians 6:19) You

should be a reflection of that in behaviour and the choices you make.You still must be a law-
abiding citizen, and above that, lead a life focused on what God is asking of you. Even if it

differs to what the world deems as normal.
As we know, the Israelites were acknowledged by God as His favoured nation amongst all
other nations at that time (Deuteronomy 14:2). But in order to remain favoured, they had to
make an active choice to surrender themselves to God and faithfully keep His commends. A
life in Christ cannot resemble that of your past. Do not question what God asks of you, nor
complain about the difficulties it may entail because you are still His chosen, set apart for
His glory. Your life by default will always be different in comparison to that of those not
called. That is the Devine favour and grace not afforded to everyone. Be grateful for such an
opportunity. In 1 Kings 17: 8-24, the widow at Zarephath received such favour. She definitely
wasn’t the only struggling widow in town, yet God’s grace located her. An opportunity was
afforded her for God to change her life. She did not resist, but recognised the favour. The
story of the banquet in Luke 14:15-24 is a classic example of missed opportunity. Your
inability to surrender can be what blocks favour in your life. It can be the very reason
opportunity and favour locate others in place of you.
In conclusion, you need to deny yourself in order to follow Jesus. (Matthew 16:24) When we
surrender ourselves to Jesus, He will come and live in us. Matthew 6:33 teaches us that all
we hope for will be fulfilled after we surrender and make God our priority. Faith, hope and
trust in God will bring fulfilment into your life. Take the time to read the following scripture to
gain understanding on the concept of surrendering. (John 5:19, John 15:14, Galatians 2:20,
Luke 9:23 and Matthew 26:42)

Surrendering to God part 2
Surrendering to God

Surrendering to God

God has given us practical tools that we can use to be able to align ourselves with what He
teaches and expects of us. By hearing His word and putting it into practice we are building our
faith and understanding of Him. As a christian, preparation is an important process. As humans,
we have certain attributes that we must master in order to be compatible with God. For
example, God told Joshua to be strong and courageous. Joshua needed to work on these
aspects of his character by himself so that he could fulfil the purpose God had for him.

You see, God still speaks in our lives, our lack of understanding is what renders us unable to implement
His instruction. Let’s take a moment to look at John the Baptist. His purpose was to prepare the
people for the arrival of Jesus. It was so they would accept Jesus as the King of Kings and Lord
of Lords. The people had to undergo a mental shift in order to understand the message of John.
The Amplified bible in Mathew 3:2 says, “repent [change your inner self – your old way of
thinking…” Why? Because God was going to manifest in a way different to what they had
become accustomed to. Repentance would start in the church, not the outside. Sadly we see an
inability to accept Jesus resulting from an inability to accept the message of John all because of
ignorance. This highlights that preparation of the heart is key.
Preparation of the heart lies in our ability to surrender. To surrender means to give something up
to someone else, be it willingly or unwillingly. It is what builds our resolve and character. When
we surrender we have a deep-rooted understanding that no matter what, God is in control. We
become fine tuned to His perfect will and are able act upon it as the Spirit leads. The theme of
this year, Joshua 24:15, focuses on the fundamental principle of intentionally making a decision
to surrender to God through servanthood whilst forfeiting all else. The Israelites needed to
pledge their loyalty and remove the other gods they had amassed amongst their possessions as
previously commanded of them in Deuteronomy 6:4. Today, although we may not have physical
representations of “gods” amongst us as did the Israelites, we too have amassed other things
that are distracting our focus, replacing God, and in turn our loyalty to Him. God requires 100%
commitment. He is a jealous God. The life we live must resemble God’s instruction. Instead, our
lack of focus has cultivated certain behaviours and cultures that we are trying to mould to
resemble God, yet they are born of human agenda.
What are the things that can help us live a life of surrender? Understanding the power dynamic
that exists between ourselves and God is a good start. God is the supreme and we live under
His authority. What He says, goes! Preserving our bodies as His temple will invite the Holy Spirit
to dwell in us, leading and guiding us in the ways of the Father. Humility is the only way you can
recognise and accept God’s authority. Humbleness enables you to allow God to speak over your
life. Lack of, results in you dictating your own path. Remember, God departs from the proud.
Apostle Paul on numerous accounts, refers to himself as a slave to the gospel or a slave to
Christ (Romans 1:1). A servant is not greater than their master. Slaves do not dictate what must
be done but contrary, the master stipulates the course of action. Often a time, we surrender to
God as a last resort. We try to dictate to God our preferred option as opposed to allowing Him to
lead. For example, we see a job on offer and we say “God that is the one that I want” instead of
asking Him what job would be the best fit. Proverbs 19:1 says that “people may plan all kinds of
things, but the Lord’s will is going to be done”. At the end of the day, God wants us to surrender
to Him willingly even when there are other options available to us. This is true humility. We are
acknowledging other options available to us, yet consciously choosing to allow God to take
control. Essentially what we are saying is “as you direct me God, I will follow.”

Baptism is about dying to our flesh as we rise together with Christ. Galatians 2:20 goes further
to explain this principle. Complete surrender is essentially denouncing our existence for the
glory of God. You see, God knows all. Nothing is hidden from Him, even our future. So when
you accept Jesus as your personal saviour, it is important to turn away from worldly desires.
Do not become a person that practises lip service but your heart is far from Him (Isaiah 29:13,
Matthew 15:8). Living a life of surrender means living from the heart. Not seeking God only
when things are hard or only giving glory through your suffering. It is also about still worshiping
when everything is well with you.
In numbers 9, we see how God lead the Israelites, a cloud by day and fire by night.
When it was time to stop, camp was set up. Be it for 1 day, 6 months or even years.
When the cloud or the pillar of fire moved, they would break camp and move on as it moved.
God was in complete control and the people recognised God’s authority. Today, people fail to
see that to be alive is a miracle in itself. Learn to live your life by faith. Believe that God is your
shield and the one in control. Abraham left his father house by faith, believing in the promise
spoken to him. Remember, humility or surrendering to God is not a sign of weakness.
In conclusion, there is nothing more important than living a life that God has outlined. “The lord
is my shepherd; I have everything I need” Psalms 23:1 is an important reminder of that.
Knowing that God is there for you, means believing wholeheartedly that even when challenges
come, they encounter God first. Whatever God asks will always benefit you. God carries our
burdens and His yoke is easy. Material things do not make you happy. Jesus is the one that
gives peace and joy from within. Never stop seeking to learn because by stopping you imply
that you know everything. Romans 12:2 teaches us that there are new things to learn everyday.
It is up to you to change your mindset and surrender to be able to accept them.

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.

Humility
Serving God

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.

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.

Understanding who God is
Serve God with undivided attention

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.

Make God your priority

2020 is coming to an end. In your thankfulness, as you reflect on God’s continued protection and what He has done for you, ask yourself this. WHY has God kept you alive? Asking that question can help you to prioritise God.  The previous message (VOL 30 ; 20 Dec 20) focused on revelation and the importance of having it.  Revelation enables us to move to a deeper level of understanding. Without it, we are at risk of merely operating on a superficial level. This renders us unable to truly grasp spiritual concepts beyond this state. Take time to pray for God’s true revelation so that your life will be transformed to a deeper level. You see, Jesus was different because of the revelation within Him. If you just look at Jesus as a normal Jew, then you won’t see Him as the Saviour. If we do not understand Jesus as “the way,  the truth and life,” then we will not see heaven.

This year, we have been constantly reminded that we are not in control. We have had to rely on God’s all knowing nature and believe that ultimately He is in control. Nothing is hidden before the Lord. Nothing is a surprise to Him, as such, He is already aware of what 2021 has in store for us. Therefore, it is important that we go where ever God leads us. This will allow us to remain under His protection. We know that as Chrisitians, we still encounter challenging circumstances. However, we are reassured that by letting God take control, He will always direct us through all difficulties. You must understand the times we are in. Are you spending your time chasing the wind, or are you spending time doing the will of God? If God has taken you this far, do you have the insight to see that it is God who has protected you? Are we living our lives in reflection of this understanding? Think about what you are prioritising? What enables you to be alive should be your first priority. The giver of life deserves to be given your full attention.

Deuteronomy 29:2-6, 9, 18.

For the 40 years that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness upon leaving Egypt,  neither their clothes nor sandles wore out. In fact, God provided their every need. In the scriptures we see Mosses reminding the people of the things God had done for them.  Sometimes it is easier to focus on our lack. Here is an analogy. When a 3yr old child asks for something, they do not know that one has to go to work in order to attain the means required to purchase it. Therefore they cannot comprehend the value behind it. In the same way, sometimes we assume blessings and do not understand the magnitude of the blessing of life itself. In doing so, we withhold appreciation due to God for all His provisions. There have been times in the bible when God has lamented that His own people do not recognise when He has taken care of them (Isaiah 1:3). Remember, the colour of the glasses you put on determines the colour you see. The lense you use determines the angle. Do not let negative past experiences determine your perception of the present day. You must remove the tinted glasses that vale your vision in order for you to acknowledge GOD’S hand. Take the time to reflect on the miracle that is your life. The word of God can only make a difference, if you put it into perspective. This year alone,  many people have lost their lives,  others have gone without. DO NOT be ungrateful,  even if you only have a little.  Regardless, God has still taken you this far. Let us take this opportunity to live a life worthy of this. Be mindful of how you spend your time because it is not renewable. Once it has gone, it cannot be replaced. As such, it is important for us to be intentional with how we spend it. God must take presidence. At times, we become so focused on trying to complete certain tasks before the end of day, and neglect to give God His place. Why not try to ensure you are also allocating time to think about what you would like to accomplish for God. What good comes from chasing the things of this world if you end up losing your soul in the process? Therefore, as 2021 approaches, realign your priorities so that you can focus on seeking the Lord and doing His will. 

Isaiah 5:1-7 talks about fine vines that were planted and protected to prevent anything from devouring them. However, when the vines were ripe, they produced sour grapes. The vineyard represents believers and the vine dresser represents God. If we compare this to us, God has continued to cover us under His protection, yet we still produce bad fruits. Let us admit our wrong and repent from our ways.  We do not know what tomorrow has in store for us, but we do know that if we walk accordingly, then God is in control. If we take Isaac as an example, we are able to see that following God’s instructions can produce an outcome where it may have previously been deemed impossible. During a severe famine, Isaac was told by God to stay where he was and live as a foreigner in that land. By listening to that instruction, Isaac was able to prosper and harvest more crops than he had planted.  Isaac did not need rain, fertile soil or the protection of people. Rather, all he needed was sincere obedience. This facilitated God’s protection over his life. It is written that consequence would befall anyone that harmed him.(Genesis chapter 26). No matter what the season is, or what we are going through, God’s protection is upon us if we walk in His instruction.
Are you worshipping in the intended manner? Do not be mistaken that being given grace enables you to do whatever you want. Strive to do what is right, for your body is the temple of the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:19).Remember that not everyone who says Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21). God has preserved your life today so that you can serve Him. Look back as an individual. Start to prioritise things differently and earnestly value God. Remember that when the vineyard continued to produce sour grapes, there was no longer a need to protect it. Therefore, let this new year be a renewal of your mind and heart. Be mindful of the lenses you view the world and your pursuit of what’s in it. Truly believe that your very being is because of God and watch as your life is completely transformed.

Make God your priority
God’s Revelation

God’s Revelation

Abstract concepts are often difficult to perceive because they are not tangible or visible to the naked eye. A revelation from God is important because it opens your understanding, perception and acceptance of such concepts. God is constantly urging us to achieve higher levels, however such development is not possible if we are still operating within the same mindset.

Our life experiences shape the perception that we have of the world around us. They are like a shade or tint on a pair glasses that we see the world through.  They influence the view we have of it. For example, if the glasses have a dark shade, or coloured tint, the overall image being seen through them would be tinted by that colour. Therefore, when coming to Christ, there is a need to leave behind superficial belief systems. Rid yourself of perspectives of the past that come from a place of hurt, discomfort,  distrust and discouragement.  These “tints” can hinder you from operating in the way that God wants you to and viewing your environment in the light it really is. You may miss the blessing that is in the purpose of those God has intentionally placed in your life because you cannot see past their human nature or your disregard of them. For example, God can speak to you through your pastor, but because your perception of them is obscured by their past mistakes or weaknesses you inherently dismiss them. You see, the amount of years that you have been coming to church is not what is relevant. Instead, your experience depends on what you have given up to Christ. This is where the aspect of surrendering wholeheartedly to Him plays a part. The disciples of Christ ultimately gave up their former life and chose to embark on a new path with Him. As such, letting go of the control that we have on our lives and allowing God to take charge is an important element of being a Christian. Remember that your body is the temple of Christ and He will come to dwell in you, as long as you abide in him (1 Corinthians 3:16).

In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus asked the disciples who people thought the Son of Man was. Many believed him to be John the Baptist, some Elijah and others thought perhaps he was any one of the other prophets that had come before. Jesus also posed the question directly to His disciples who they thought He was. Bearing in mind that the disciples had been walking with Christ for a considerable amount of time, notably, for this question to have been brought up, suggests a lack of complete comprehension about who Jesus truly was. It was Peter who then responded by saying “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:17). Jesus acknowledged Peter’s response as a REVELATION directly from God. An example of the concept of revelation can be seen after Saul encountered Christ and changed from being a persecutor of believers, to spreading the gospel. (Acts 9:1-17). It is important to note that revelation is relative. It comes in different forms, and at different times for different people. Meaning, what has been revealed to one, another might fail to understand its significance. Take the time Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive oil.  The disciples did not understand the meaning behind her actions. Instead they could only see waste.  (Matthew 26:6-13). In context, there may be times when you are pushed to do something for God,  but other people may question your actions because they have yet to receive the same revelation as yourself. Therefore revelation, purpose and priorities amongst fellow church goers varies depending on what one values as an individual.

The encounter that Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7-26) is a prime example of the power of Revelation. Let us take a minute to evaluate the conversation that transpired between the two. Firstly, we know that at that time, Jews and Samaritans did not interact. The expectation would have been for the woman to immediately refuse Jesus’ request for a drink. Yet she chose to entertain this “Jewish stranger”. Their conversation starts with Jesus asking for water, and eventually gets to a point where the woman received great revelation. You see, at each point of the conversation, the woman’s intrigue and questions allowed her to move from one dimension of understanding to another. She moved from a belief system that prohibited fellowship between Jews and Samaritans to the realisation that this “Jewish stranger” had prophetic abilities when questioned about her husband. From that point, she was elevated yet again from that level of understanding to knowing that in Jesus was everlasting living water and that He was the Messiah long awaited for. She moved from the notion that she was in a position to enlighten Jesus about the ancestral history of the well, to knowing that it was her that needed to receive from Him. Her openness to receive the information that Jesus was telling her, enabled her to understand His message. Had she remained ridget in her thinking, she would not have received her revelation. How does this translate to our daily lives? Well, you cannot understand certain concepts unless you start to operate in an elevated belief system. As long as we do not have the real and full understanding of what God wants us to understand,  we still operate on a very superficial level. Our arguments are dependent on whatever level we are.  As long as we are superficial,  we only see what’s superficial. That becomes our ceiling of understanding. Faith has levels. Your thinking, reasoning and actions are governed by the belief system of any given level. No one can comprehend matters of any level yet to be attained.  If God says something, you cannot fulfill it if you are not walking in the realm of that particular level. This is why many see their spiritual leaders as meer mortals and fail to see the power of God at work within them. Jesus wants to take us to a higher level in our understanding. He never intended us to be stagnant.  However, for Him to do so, it requires our effort and movement to meet Him at that level.

In conclusion, know that it takes revelation to be elevated from one level to another. Today’s scripture shows us how Jesus took the time to reveal things to the Samaritan woman little by little, until He revealed Himself as the Messiah. (John 4:26). To have revelation, you must be willing, available and open to receive it just as the Samaritan woman was eager, open and honest in her encounter with Jesus.
Take this analogy on board. If perhaps a country is colonised by another, it cannot operate in any other system accept that of its rulers.  To have freedom of expression, it must gain independence. Likewise, if you are still colonised by the devil, you must become free from his oppression to walk in the realms of God. The shaded glasses you view the world must be removed. Be encouraged today . Pray that God removes all iniquity and distraction, that His revelation may be yours to attain. Pray for revelation so that you can make use of the time and opportunity you have been granted.

Direction

Intro : When we come across challenging situations in our walk as christians, sometimes we might have some doubt that it was God that led us in that particular direction. Usually this feeling arises when we experience hardships that we did not envision that we would encounter whilst following the direction that God gave us. However, it is important to understand that he has the overview of our lives, that we are not always privy to, and knows why he is leading you on a particular path. As such, continue to believe in God and you will be taken much further than you could possibly imagine.

Genesis 39:2-3 Illustrates the nature of Joseph’s life, one in which God was with him and thus he was able to prosper.  Although he was successful, his life was filled with difficult situations and circumstances that were instrumental to his journey to success. The jealousy his brothers felt for him, as the favoured one amongst them in their fathers eye, led them to throw him into a pit and later sell him off as a slave. This marked the beginning of the sequence of events that would lead Joseph to eventually become a governor of Egypt. 

If we are to look at Joseph’s negative experiences in the present day, it would be easy to assume God had rejected and abandoned him based on all the trials he faced. However, at a closer look, we understand that the situations that Joseph experienced were ones that God himself had set out for him as a form of preparation for his future role. God already knew the outcome of all his struggles.  The position that he ended up obtaining would not have happened had he stayed at his father’s house. Joseph had to go through those difficulties to prepare him for governership. You see, God takes us and transforms us until we reach the level He intends for us.

Sometimes we encounter situations, more difficult than we anticipated, that make us question if God still loves us, or is still with us. However, the life of Joseph is testament of how to navigate that difficult path, being prudent not to complain during those challenging situations.  You may encounter some bad days that are not easy to bare, but, always remember that you can always lean on God and trust in Him during that process.  God alone knows your future and what is certain for your tomorrow. All we need to do is walk as far as God takes us.  Follow what He tells us to do regardless of the associated challenges. If He is with us, leading us through it, He will always protect us no matter what may come our way. 

If God is taking us in a certain direction,  only He knows the reasoning behind it. He might not reveal the reason immediately. For example, Abraham was instructed to leave his father’s house and to go to the land God would show him. He had to take a leap of faith by trusting the plans that God had for him by making that initial physical step to follow the instruction. He had to rely solely on his communication with God to ascertain the right direction (Genesis 12).

Nowadays, the challenges may not be as visually evident as in days of old. The challenges church’s might face that hinder progression can lie in an underlying element of fear that manifests in different ways. It can manifest as a financial giant,  a demonic giant or even in self doubt within the body of Christ or false feeling of unworthiness to complete the work of God. However, do not let these giants overshadow the understanding in the greatness of the power of God. Be careful not be over spiritual. Realise certain battles require physical attributes to proceed. When God spoke to Joshua he told him to be courageous (Joshua 1). God did not say He would GIVE him courage, but there was a requirement for Joshua to work on aspects of his own character to enable God to work within him. As important as it is to work on our spiritual self, we cannot neglect sharpening elements of our characteristics that make us useful to God. He is waiting on us to use our own abilities to do certain things.

Is your character influenced by your environment, or is your environment influenced by your character? Does your character change based on your environment, or does the environment change based on your character? These are important questions to ask. Taking a closer look at the lives of Joseph and Daniel, we find that they did not change themselves, or their beliefs even in the face of adversity in a foreign land. Instead they made an impact despite being foreigners there their strength of character and unwavering trust in God.

The ability to put your faith into action also affects your perception on aspects of your christianity,  even as a church at large. One might focus on the difficulty of a particular moment and forget their knowledge of momentous scriptures like Psalms 23 that declare the Lord as our ultimate shepherd.  It is this very reason the bible in Hebrews 4:2, warns us that even though we have been given the word, it is ineffective because we have not mixed it with our faith. You see,  faith requires action. It is that initial leap of faith to kick start things and put the ball in motion in your life. Faith is also the knowledge that even if you encounter hardships you will eventually reach the destination that God intends.

In conclusion,  miracles start from the moment we believe in the word. As you go about your daily day to day, never forget to ponder on how the scriptures relate to you. Why, because the word is prophetic and spiritual. If this understanding is missed, you might fail to see the tools that God has placed in your hands. Or miss the opportunity to turn situations around so that they become a blessing instead of a challenge to you. Do not let the events that you read about in the bible remain as mere stories, but be encouraged by them. Learn from them. Let God transform your life through your understanding of them.

Direction
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