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Direction

Direction

Recap: 1John 5:12 encourages us to strive to live in Christ. It is important to not solely aspire to accumulate worldly riches, but to live a life worthy of God. Think about your relationship with God. Is God pleased with your actions? Everyday you are alive is an opportunity to live a life pleasing to Him,  fulfilling His will. We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that our body is the Lord’s temple. This begs the question, are you accommodating Christ in your life? If we live in Him, He will live in us. (John 14:23)


Hence the importance to walk in the right way. John 14:6 tells us that Jesus is our direction. If we want direction, we have to understand WHO Jesus is and WHAT He did on earth. He came to be the living example of the kind of life acceptable to God.  Unfortunately, some people did not accept Jesus when He came on earth. Why? Simply because, they did not understand the word that was said from the beginning. Even though John the baptist went before Jesus and proclaimed that “one greater than he,” would come. It needed people to understand the times.  Indeed people already worshiped God, but they also needed to understand that the one prophesied about, had come and was amongst them. They crucified Jesus quickly to observe the sabbath, yet Jesus was the King of the sabbath. To them, Jesus was a threat not a saviour. It was the flawed perception people had of Jesus that became their downfall. To them He became an enemy rather than the Son of God sent to bring them the Kingdom. They didn’t accept the good news He brought nor understood His purpose. So understand that Christ is indeed the only  way, the truth and the life. Understand what Jesus represents so you are in line with God’s instruction.  For only those who are obedient will inherit eternal life (Matthew 7:21.) Jesus came to teach what the Father wants. Anyone that follows His teachings is following the decrees of the Father. Jesus came to fulfil the scriptures and ensure that whatever was taught from the beginning would be upheld. His ministry started in the synagogue and He urged people to repent. Meaning that God’s laws were already established but people had left God’s ways. Therefore Jesus stood to show the way

Numbers 13:25- 33, 14:1-4

What influences people to take a certain direction? Why do we follow a particular one? What considerions do we take when we chose a certain direction? Do we trust, do we believe? Direction is important for all of us. If one takes a wrong direction, the outcome is never favourable. It affects many people and many congregants. Offen we see many opposite directions being taken within one church. This leads to the formation of factions and divisions simply because some people have failed to follow a fundamental principle.

In today’s scripture we see that God had a particular direction He wanted the  community of Israel to follow.  12 Spies were sent in advance and brought back a report of an assessment of the land. 10 gave a damning report of giants and hardships ahead so instead intended to find another leader to take them back to Egypt. On the other hand, Caleb and Joshua gave a positive report and willed the people to advance as instructed by God in faith He would give them victory. So the people were presented with conflicting reports. If we trace the history of the Israelites,  we know that God had promised Abraham that his descendants would live under captivity but would be rescued and led to a promised land. So ultimately, God had a promise and specific direction to fulfil it. Exodus 13:17 reveals God’s intent to lead them via a meandering route so they wouldn’t return if faced with the prospect of battle. You see,  sometimes God leads people through uncomfortable circumstance. However,   that’s the direction of salvation, the direction to get us to our destiny.

Going back to our scripture, when the spies were giving a report, they were giving a report of what they had seen. Yes they had seen giants, but the issue is, even if God had given them direction, they did not believe in His ability to take them to the promised land. They did not trust God to take them through the difficult situation. This fact was reflected by the report they gave. Seemingly suggesting God had made a bad decison. The report caused the Israelites to see impossibility. They feared for their wives, children and livelihoods and forgot how mighty and powerful God was. God had already demonstrated His ability and performed miracles in their aid yet they overlooked His capabilities. Naturally people tend to follow the testimonial of someone that may have experienced something. So inevitably the compelling report the spies gave resulted in complaint and rebellion. The people saw giants, but failed to appreciate how it was God who created heaven and earth, and made a way where there was non. Rather than leaving the battle to God and trusting him, they opted to rebel and go back. They even spent the whole night in distress thinking they were doomed, but God wanted them to take courage.

Putting this into context, what influences our direction is what we allow ourselves to hear. It can also be the fear embedded in us, or inherited by association. Our course of action is influenced by our perception of our future. Sometimes we have a negative thought because we may have heard a negative report. Even if we have not encountered it for ourselves, we then retract or remain where we are. You cannot experience the promises intended for you if you lack insight on what God is capable of.

Today, people don’t advance in life because of the fear of the unknown yet  everyday, we testify of the goodness of God.  When He gives instruction, because we are filled with fear and distrust, we always opt to remain where we are, or simply not get involved. As a result the church of God does not advance. It is full of people that do not trust God. They only trust that God has brought them thus far, but no further. If God has promised something, trust that God will fulfil it. You need to be strong and take courage. Joshua was instructed to be courageous. It was his responsibility as an individual and God would then do the rest. Even though some victories will not be handed to us on a silver platter, sometimes God wants to see our courage.  See us moving forward, trying something new or taking a risk whilst trusting Him. What influences your decisions to follow or not? Many people follow a friend who they are affiliated to. If the friend isn’t following, they also follow suit. That’s the power of influence. Perhaps you are so close to someone, you don’t want to disappoint them so you yield to their influence. You need to have independent thinking and independently trust in God as taught by Jushua 24:15. Regardless of other peoples perceptions, remain steadfast. You have to make that personal decision because the life is yours.

Jesus’ ministry was to unify people not divide. He prayed for his disciples to be one. If you are someone who divides others then you have to examine yourself. Blessed are the peacekeepers.(Matthew 5:9). Do not let your perceptions hinder others. When fear is instilled in you, you get paralysed and opt for what you know. The Israelites saw captivity and loss of life instead of the power of God. You have to dump fear and embrace faith.

Sometimes the direction we take is influenced by the faith of the person narrating the instruction to us and our trust in that person. Even though Moses had sent the spies, the people did not trust Moses. They did not  believe what God had instructed him. In contrast, Caleb and Joshua trusted God. They believed Moses to be a servant of God and whatever God said to him, would surely happen. Their trust of God and their belief through affiliating with Moses as a man sent by God, earned them the ability to enter the promised land. The relevance is if we fail to trust in God we miss the promises of God. The people who complained against God despite all the wonders He performed did not enter the promised land. Instead a judgement of a year in the wilderness for every day the spies spent in Canan meant they wondered for 40 years. We have to be mindful of what we allow ourselves to hear and from whom. Sometimes what we say with our own mouth angers God. When the Israelites complained against God, they were abandoning Gods direction and opting for their own path. Caleb and Joshua tore their clothes in distress. They truly understood the repercussions and consequences of such actions. Even though the people were later forgiven for their actions, God had already made His decision against them. Therefore, understand this, even if a messenger of God in your church intercede on your behalf, if God has made a decision against you, you will still miss out on your promise. God is God. Whatever He says will come to fluision. Have Jesus in your life so that whatever you experience does not cause you to complain or question God.

I am reminded of the story of the Israelites when they crossed the River Jordan in flood (Joshua 1:1-9). The direction was to move when the covenant box moved. The covenant box represents the presence of God. How does this tie in with today’s scripture? Well, if we stop seeing the presence of God, we start to make our own decisions. If we don’t see the presence of God in our leadership,  we start to deviate from it. Following their rebellion and receiving judgement for it, the Israelites remained outside God’s instruction. They insisting on going into battle against the direction of Moses and without the presence of God (Numbers 14 : 36 – 44). As a result, they were defeated and killed.

The main takeaway is God’s presence will bring victory.  When we move in the direction God has not instructed, He will move away. Why? Because through our actions we imply we do not trust God. 

In conclusion, God wants you to move in the direction He ordains. What influences your direction is whether you trust God, and those sent by Him. Trust in His teachings for they are truth. Do not follow a direction that has not been instituted by God. The point is, believe in God and what He says even if its difficult. That is where your salvation is. Salvation is not in what we think or believe or in the false reports we receive, but it is when we believe in what God says. It is when we independently think and trust in God. God does not make a mistake. When we trust in God, we earn ourselves the right to inherit the Kingdom of God.

Direction

Seeking the counsel of God in our daily lives is such an important aspect of our worship. It is achieved through daily prayer and imploring His word. Matthew 4:4 reminds us of this fact and our need to attain guidance from every word the proceeds out of the mouth of God. Hence the emphasis to not only listen, but obey what God instructs. The life of a christian is a meandering journey. Therefore it is a necessity to allow God to order our steps in a direction according to His will.

When we look at the whole concept of the bible, we see that having the ability to learn is of great importance. Why? Because it teaches us, and exemplifies not only the benefits but also the consequences of learning and adhering to God’s direction. People struggle in many ways because they fail to uphold instruction, be it spiritually or in everyday life situations. There are two major concepts applicable as a christian. “Leadership” and “followship.” Concentrating on the latter for the purpose of today’s teaching, as a “follower” you need to understand the principle of direction. Biblically, throughout Jesus’ ministry, only those who FOLLOWED DIRECTION benefited. Likewise today, when we listen to and apply God’s direction we live a life of gain. However the foundation of all this is hinged on having a solid relationship with God. Without a relationship, one lacks the desire, conviction and conscience to abide by God’s edict.

John 10:14, John 14:5 – 14,

In this scripture Jesus identifies himself as the “way”, the “truth” and the “life”. As the way, Jesus is in fact the mandate that gives us the direction we need. Following Him is the direction to go to the father. There is a misconception that coming to Christ equals a fresh start at a problem free life. True to form, it is a new beginning, however the directive path to the Father is not automatically smooth sailing. Sometimes when God is leading us from a certain situation, He will navigate through particularly difficult experiences. That is where our salvation is. In the story of Job, permission was given by God to the devil to test him. But what is comforting in this instance is God had full trust in His servant Job and blessed him beyond measure later on. Even Jesus faced unimaginable persecution of every kind. He overcame temptations and even death on the cross. The testimony of His life is like our handbook. We need the lessons of His experiences as our guide. They teach us perseverance and through all things we see how despite the challenges, He continued to show the way to the father even as he was crucified. Even at that crucial time he declared that not His will be done, but that of His Father.

Sometimes God does not give you what you want at a particular time. Perhaps what we seek will become a hinderance to us. Perhaps it is a test, for example Abraham longed for a child, and when he was granted his request, (bearing in mind he had endured years of waiting for this promise), he was then asked to sacrifice him! Simply put, God leading us through hardship becomes a deterrent for us to go back to our past and a platform for our blessing. Exodus 13:17, confirms that God knew and understood the Israelites thought processes and their preference for an easier journey. God intentionally led them via a meandering route, so that in the face of adversity they would not know the way back. Even though the Israelites never did return, in their minds and hearts they were still captives of Egypt and constantly complained to God whenever they faced a battle. Such is the same with many people today. When faced with the prospect of a battle, most are inclined to backslide. They automatically revert back to their past because that is their default setting.
Jesus being the way certainly does not mean the way becomes easy. As long as we can embrace Jesus completely, we will overcome. There is no reason to turn back. Even if God’s direction means we have to dress up for a fight and encounter challenges, then so be it. God remains the way. Through all battles we face today, Jesus was and still is the “way”, the “truth” and the “life.”

Let’s take a moment to look at the ministry of John the baptist. He was sent as the fore runner for Christ in order to prepare the way for Him. John knew that if Jesus came without a shift in how worship was perceived by the people of that time, they would not have the spiritual capacity to receive Him. Their lack of understanding is exemplified by the fact that they crucified Christ quickly so as to observe the sabbath, yet He was the King of the sabbath. We see the same uncertainty in the disciples of Jesus (John 14:5-14). Jesus asked His disciples why they still did not know Him even having spent so much time with Him. He then proceeds to reassure them that He knew where they were going. He consolidates the fact that because they have seen Him, they have seen the Father. As Christians, we too must open our eyes and understand the times we are living in. We may be living a life of testimony where God is doing wonders everyday but fail to see it. To be alive in this moment is a testament of the presence of God in your life. But if you do not understand and are expecting a certain kind of miracle you miss out on that blessing. Jesus may be around you beckoning to direct you but you may be oblivious to it.

The two men traveling to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35) walked with Jesus for a considerable time on their journey. Jesus spoke with them, while they expressed their grief over what they believed was a recent tragedy. But they did not recognise Him. Only later were their eyes opened. The point is, salvation was already with them. Deliverance had come through the completion of Jesus’s mission. Now how does this apply to us today? Well, if we can not understand the time we are living, if we can not understand the direction God is leading, we may find ourselves wondering where the spirit of God is. Whether He is still there with you, and be completely blind to His presence. He has never ceased to be there, so ultimetly it’s about understanding the time and the direction God is taking us. Even though the coming of Jesus was prophesied, at the time He came, people still did no recognise Him. That is why the Apostle Paul prayed that people see Jesus in him, so that the people would know the presence of God. You cannot understand what you do not believe in. You cannot believe in Christ if you cannot believe what is written about Him. How can you believe what is written about Him, if you do not believe the servant Moses was sent by God. Therefore, if we cannot accept that the Father is in Christ then we cannot have salvation and direction.

1 John 5 :12. Breaks down the principle of direction. JESUS = LIFE. Whoever has Jesus as their Lord and saviour has life. The “life” the world portrays to us is somewhat distorted and not the life God wants us to live. Be weary not to become another statistical number in church. You can be present in church, but not in the direction of God. Do not follow church culture but follow Jesus. Church culture breeds division. Even in the bible, arguments arose because believers affiliated with particular leaders (1 Corinthians 1:12). But Jesus prayed that there be unity for there is no division in Him.(John 17:21-26). Jesus teaches about love. If we have love we are walking in the way God taught us. Jesus is the “truth” to the Father. He did not die so that people would be divided, but rather be the direction to the Father.

John 16:8, gives us incite of how having the spirit of God will give us direction by reminding and convicting us. You see, when, we follow Jesus , there is evidence of this within us. This evidence is seen in Galasians 5:22, the fruit of the spirit. If these attributes are not in you ask yourself this. If you are not producing the fruits, then what are you producing? Jesus has time and time again been the perfect example of these attributes.

In summary, if God leads you through a challenging situation, go through it!
Maybe God has led you through a winding road, persevere! All you need to have is Jesus. Let Him lead you in the direction he has chosen for you. Remember He is the way, the truth and life. It may be uncomfortable and difficult, but as long as God is leading, it’s perfectly fine. God instructed Joshua, (Joshua 1:9) to be courageous. He wasn’t going to inject courage in him, but Joshua had to be strong and master up the courage by himself. If God leads you into a situation where you have to take up arms and fight, then do so knowing that the devil does not enter any battle to joke but to destroy. The key is to do it God’s way for our ways are not God’s ways. We are limited to perceiving only the present but the future is unknown accept to God. So if he commands you to walk a certain path, do it because he has foresight. Pray for God to order your steps and give you direction. If the direction is loving your enemies, then so be it. If the direction is to preach, then so be it. At the end of the day, understand nothing is hidden from God. He is the all knowing God. Currently we are living through a pandemic, though the events of this year have been a surprise to us, they have not been to God. God knows all things, He is the way. Many people lose opportunities because we are looking for ideal situations. But learn to see the beauty and goodness of God in all things. Appreciate the life He has afforded you. Be positive and grateful for all you have because someone else has not had that opportunity. So even if you walk in the deepest darkness (Psalm 23), God is still there. Rely and trust in Him. Never be under the false impression that where you came from is better than your current or future because God is the one that has led you to where you are now. Do not assume that the difficulty you face God has deserted you. As long as Christ is in you, you have all you need. You have the way, the truth and the life!

Direction
Doubt and faith

Doubt and faith

Intro: He who is trustworthy with small things is trustworthy with the big things. God gives more to those who receive Him with an uncomplaining heart. Lack of insight, purpose and belief in what we do, makes it difficult for us to please God and walk in His ways. Majority of the time we want to do our own will and not the will of God. True confidence in God allows you to adopt His ways and leave your own. No one can enter the kingdom unless born again. When a person enlists in the army, they are drilled to clear their frame of mind, learn new habits and adopt the teachings of the military in obedience. In the same way, when we adopt Christ’s ways and are baptised we die to sin and come alive in Him. We do away with the old and arise in the new. When you surrender your life you must have 100% belief in Him and His commands.

Genesis 3:1

This scripture is a classic example of how human nature is contrary to that of God. The snake was the most cunning animal the Lord had made however what is striking here, is Eve knew the original instruction, and believed it as truth. She even quoted it. Significantly, when the snake questioned her, it placed doubt in her mind and caused her to deviate from that truth. Let us put this into context. Today, in our minds most of us know and understand the truth. But sometimes we allow certain things to plant doubt in our minds. In Galatians 1:6, Apostle Paul comments on how easy it was for the church to be swayed from the truth. In the same way, many people now let go of principles they once regarded as highly esteemed, simply because their belief has been challenged. Eve knew the truth. She knew what was permissible as well as forbidden. She knew of the consequences and was aware of her conduct. But somehow her belief started to fade when the serpent started to place a seed of doubt in her heart.

What has God said to you? What promise has he made to you? What instruction has He given to you? Ask yourself this, what is it that is coming into your life that is now starting to make you question the truth? Can you recall of a time in your life, when if God spoke, you were quick to be obedient but now this has faded? There are so many teachings that we truly accepted at the beginning of our christian walk. But that conviction and belief is starting to fade. What is diluting your faith? Surely there is something that you have now started to believe contrary to the original truth spoken to you by God. Eve entertained what later resulted in her undoing. We see that in the beginning Adam and Eve used to be able to stand in unashamed confidence and commune with God. Yet, in the end they became aware of their nakedness and shortcomings and hid from God. So indeed something in their lives died as according to the original instruction given to them. Life is moving and times are changing. You must use it wisely and effectively. Do not let any time pass by without doing what God says.

Let us completely believe God in a way that nothing will stand inbetween us and our faith. Even if things are difficult, believe in God because he knows everything. He knows our beginning, our being and our end. He knows when we are stepping into a difficult situation. He wants us to believe in him no matter what. The story of Eve is a classical example of where disobedience is the result a seed of deviation being planted in someone’s heart. Where she allowed someone to speak words in her life that made her question the truth.

My dear brethren, your life is so dear. As it is so dear, make a habit of believing God no matter what comes your way. Believe in God because He is God. Have the conviction in His instruction. Daniel and his companions knew that they could not defile God even when in exile. (Daniel 3). They could have given an excuse and succumbed because they genuinely were in a foreign land, but they chose to stand on the truth. Be a Daniel in your own right. Even if you go through the deepest darkness, do not be afraid. You don’t have to SEE God, but you have to BELIEVE that he is still there with you all the way. You are the one that makes a difference in your own life. Even if charismatic preachers speak to you, it is you that prepares your heart to receive. What makes the difference is you. The word remains constant. It is the state of your heart that determines the outcome. It’s your perception and what you see. No matter how small the instruction, believe in it and obey it. Trust starts with the small things.

Be warned. Sometimes the devil will just put a different perspective on a situation and cause you to see how “beautiful” it is.(Genesis 3:6). Take heed, in the beginning Eve never even noticed the fruit yet after succumbing to the serpent, did she see its beauty. The serpent caused Eve to believe God to be untruthful which led her to sin against Him. Learn to believe in the original instruction. Reject anything that is contrary. Hold on to your belief.

In conclusion, the word of God has authority and must be followed. There is no way we can please God if we fail to acknowledge the authority in His word. If Eve had believed in the authority of the word, she would never have deviated from it. The word of God is final and cannot be disputed. This cannot be changed. God is our shepherd and we have everything we need in Him. He is the one who directs your path. If we become His children, He becomes our God. Be in Christ so that Christ can be in you. God reigns forever. His word is truth and pure. Be aware of underlying beliefs. These influence how we perceive and receive God. If you have an pre existing underlying belief, you may not be able to accept what God says. Therefore surrender everything wholely and fully unto God. Come to Him with an empty heart and Christ will start to live in you.

Belief in God

INTRO: It is easy to go to church routinely, hear the word of God and still come back without absorbing anything. Increasingly, there are certain church cultures immerging that do not have anything to do with the word of God. Not getting absorbed in these cultures is key. Matthew 7:22-23 suggests how many people will be rejected by Jesus, even if they seemingly appeared to live Christian lives. This is because, it is now not uncommon to spend time praying but not actually connecting with God. Therefore, aim to seek God and understand Him for who He truly is. Remember, if we do not do the will of God, we inevitably do the will of the devil.

John 5:37- 46

The serpent was one of the most cunning animals God had made. In Genesis 3, we see how Eve succumbed to its deception and failed to hold steadfast on God’s instruction. Although Eve understood what God had said, she allowed the serpent to dilute her faith. Her belief in God was replaced by doubt in His integrity. You see, in the same way, when we first come to christ we have great zeal and fervour. As time goes on, we start to lose our faith as we allow distractions to manifest in our hearts. We begin to entertain alternative teachings contrary to the truth we first believed. Jesus himself has shown us how we can hold onto our faith. Despite being tested was after 40 days of fasting, He overcame through His unchanging confidence in the word of God. (Matthew 4:1-11). Although the devil used the opportune moment of physical weakness and tried to cause Jesus to sin, Jesus understood the scriptures and applied them in context to His predicament. This emphasises the need to build a solid relationship with God and understanding His word. God remains God, despite any challenges we may face in our lives. Remaining steadfast in our confidence in Him is paramount. Even when we are at our most vulnerable and walking in the deepest darkness (Psalm 23:4), let us not doubt or question God. Look at Job, his faith was so unwavering, God found him to be trustworthy and permitted the devil to tempt him. With that in mind, ask yourself this, what makes you believe in God? Do you believe in the Word of God? When you are able to answer this earnestly, your future actions will be determined.

Through the ages, God has never changed (Hebrew 13:8), so why does our loyalty and faith in Him fade? Here is the conundrum, for us to believe in Jesus and His word, we first must believe in the God who made all this happen. In other words, we cannot believe in the scriptures if we cannot believe the source.

The first barrier we have in maintaining our belief in Christ is the failure to understand the God that has created heaven and earth. How are you going to believe in Jesus, if you do not believe in what is written about him? How are you going to believe the scriptures if you do not believe in the God who created all these. Understanding the origin of our faith allows you to understand Jesus Christ. Therefore, the starting point is the beginning. When God spoke to the children of Israel, he did not start by saying worship me. Instead, he introduced himself as the God of their forefathers and went on to demonstrate His almighty power as they journeyed from Egypt. Again, note that the commandments were not given in Egypt. God intentionally demonstrated His authority first, so that they had confidence in Him before He then gave them His instructions. In your own life, there are things that God has done for you to demonstrate His ability. Outcomes that simply could not have been achieved by meer human hands. This has been done for you to believe that God is God. For us to believe in Jesus and
His mandates, we therefore must believe in God’s authority. Our faith will not be strong unless we believe in Him. If you are unable to attribute the small miracles of life, like waking up in the morning, to God, and acknowledge His doing, we cannot believe in Him. In other words when we believe that God is there, that He is real, then we can start to believe the scripture. John the Baptist’s message was about changing one’s mindset, in order to be able to accept Jesus.

You can be in the church a long time, but fail to believe in Jesus and dwell in His instruction. Is your belief based on what you want or what the bible intends you to believe? A deep understanding of God is what will keep you loyal to Him. What is your belief based on? Is it based on what people say, or is it based on God and scripture. If your trust is in man, then your faith will come to fade in time. If that church brother, sister, or confidante that you rely on, wavered in their faith, would you still remain standing? Take some time to read, meditate and understand the scriptures. If you have the wrong interpretation of scriptures you will not grow. Pray that God reveals himself to you. Let Him inspire you, where others are not. Base your faith not on just going to church, but rather knowing God and what He expects of you.

Read the scripture with the intent to know more about God. Read in faith and let that be mixed with the word so that you can benefit from it. (Hebrew 4:2). As child is eager to learn, easy to accept correction and be directed, so should any christian.

In conclusion, there is a saying, “Do not play, not to lose. But play to win.” A team which plays to not lose, plays in defense and the best outcome is a draw. But a team that plays to win has the victory. Do not be satisfied to just be a passive believer, but be an active Christian. Be careful not to pick and choose scripture, but make full use of the entire word of God.

Belief in God
Discipleship and barriers

Discipleship and barriers

Intro: Ecclesiastes 12:13 states why we were created by God. We are often distracted by the world and forget our calling. We get ourselves entangled in matters that do not concern us. The bible speaks of an analogy of a soldier. A soldier is not permitted to get entangled in civilian matters (2 Timothy 2:4). Likewise let us not get entangled in the matters of this world. Instead let us reveal the Glory of God. We have been tasked to make disciples of all nations. We can only achieve this if we ourselves are true disciples. Discipleship is the command given by God. As it is said, “actions speak louder than words”, so must our conduct precede us. Today’s teaching will be divided into two parts. We will evaluate discipleship through the great commission in part one, then in part two, explore the greatest barrier that prohibits us from accomplishing the task.

PART ONE
Matthew 28:16 – 20 & Mark 16:15 – 20

If a security guard constantly anticipates an intrusion, they remain vigilant and alert. In the same way, as christians, we are urged to always be watchful and refrain from all distraction. Through deliberate focus, nothing can hinder our purpose. God has entrusted each of us with the task of making disciples of all nations and like in any instruction given, there is an expectation of accountability and feedback on our part. As Jesus ascended to heaven, so shall He return. And upon His return a report on what we have done in His name will be expected. Our job is simply to preach the word of God. However, the church of today is sometimes flawed. “Perfect people” are sought after by the church and disregard is given to the imperfect that God wants to make whole again. It is the wretched that need salvation and offen when these people visit congregations they are received with skepticism and judgement. Instead, through our own actions, let’s teach them to understand. Let’s teach them to know God through how we preach the greatness and goodness of God. Remenber, no one can change unless through the power of God. Jesus wants the imperfect in order to give them understanding. If we read the multiple times Jesus healed the sick, He never questioned who they were or what they did. He just healed them and many proceeded to follow Him after receiving their healing. Therefore, let us be mindful of how we conduct ourselves. Many people in most churches become so attached to their denomination in a way that is detrimental to its development. However, remember, the most important thing is to preach Jesus. Give more emphasis on the task of discipleship through your actions. If as a child of God you have come to know the power of God, it is then up to you to teach of that goodness in the hope that someone else may be saved.

Let us not be a barrier or a distraction that hinders the great commission. Pray and desire to be used by God to be instrumental in achieving the task left for us. We are all part of the same body. Jesus promised that He is with us until the end of age. What does this mean to us? It means we have the authority. We have the protection. We have the ability to fulfil the task at hand. In conclusion, as we grow to understand this task, we must in turn demonstrate it. Do not be afraid, for this work is for God and He is with us.

PART TWO.
Matthew 28:16 – 20 & Mark 16:15 – 20
Acts 9 :1 – 19

As established in Part one of today’s teaching, we have all been tasked with the great commission. However there are barriers that hinder us from accomplishing it. This is why the bible urges us to be watchful. If you evaluate the parable of the 10 virgins, (Matthew 25) it is clear to understand that the lesson to be learnt was that of vigilance and preparation. It is of the utmost importance to align yourself with God through prayer and supplication, making full use of every opportunity presented to spend time in God’s presence. Do not be deceived. You can go to church for 20 years but not grow in your spirit. It is no coincidence that the bible states that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52). Therefore make every effort to develop spiritually. Have your mind constantly renewed so that your growth does not become stagnant. The key to growth is a desire to learn. If you find yourself not seeing the need to learn, then be assured you will not develop any further. There is often a phrase used by many christians, “new level, new devil.” This suggests that at every level of spiritual development, there are challenges to be overcome. It is therefore important to never become complacent but always strive to learn, overcome and grow. Genesis 12 narates how Abraham (at the time he was still known as Abram) was instructed to leave his fathers house. You see, that in itself was an opportunity for an elevation in the spirit. It is what facilitated Abraham’s encounter with God. Remember, his father did not worship God. Meaning that God needed to separate him in order to elevate him. Abraham could not fully experience God while he was still in his fathers household. Therefore the move was instrumental in his blessing because it aligned him with God.

Acts 9 :1 – 19. In this chapter we see that the followers of Jesus were living under persecution. Not from the world but from religious sects. Saul believed in God and knew about Jesus, yet the people he sort to persecute were believers. However, it only took one fateful day to completely transform him. If we have not had a certain revelation, we cannot accomplish the great commission. The biggest barrier to christian’s of today that hinders their ability to be effective disciples of the gospel, is the lack of an encounter with God. This makes us vulnerable to the distractions of this world. Saul had an encounter with God and was changed forever. GOD REVEALED HIMSELF TO HIM. Someone can teach you about God, but if you have not had an encounter or revelation from God, then you will never be effective in his work. You need a specific revelation, personal to you, where God speaks to you in some way. Reading the story about Saul, we see that the revelation was specifically for Saul, even though he was not travelling alone. The people with him heard something but saw nothing. The encounter and revelation was for Saul alone. And when Ananias laid his hands on Saul what appeared to be scales fell from his eyes. In the same way, Saul’s sight was never the same again. His focus was solely on God and the purpose to which he was called. From then on Saul never needed any encouragement, or coercion to do the work of God but he himself became the encouragement and sourse of hope to the believers.

Take time to urnestly pray for an encounter with God. As Abraham aligned himself through obedience to God, find yourself seeking to align yourself with God. Let God reveal Himself to you. Revelation is so personal. Even if a charismatic preacher speaks to you, without God revealing Himself to you, you will not understand your calling. Seek to fully encounter God. It is what deepens your relationship with Him, and understanding of Him. It is only when we start to understand God that His word becomes a miracle to us.

The importance of maturity

Intro: It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone…” (Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3). The importance of understanding the word of God cannot be expressed enough. We need the word of God in order to live a life worthy of the blood shed on the cross for us. We can only understand what God has “said” (through scripture), when we listen to what is “saying”(through maturity). In the Parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23). The word or seed sown remained the same, but the people who received the word were different. The way we hear, interpret and apply the word is different based on our level of maturity. This is the fundamental reason why many people cannot change spiritually. It is because they are not able to comprehend and put the word of God into their hearts.

When one faces battles, it takes a certain level of maturity for them to overcome. When you are mature you start to know and understand certain things. If you look at the great exodus from Egypt, the Israelites were being led by a cloud by day and flames of fire by night. These guided them. If they moved, the people moved. If they stopped, then so did the people. Walking under the cover of God essentially was walking in accordance with what God intended at the time. In essence, creating a good relationship with God and walking within His instruction, is what gives us victory over whatever battle we are facing. Maturity comes into play when you begin to understand that coming to Christ and being born again is not the end of troubles but the contrary. You see, as a christian you inevitably engage in spiritual warfare against forces that want to hinder you from reaching heaven. Psalm 23 encompasses the principles at play when one is considered mature.

Let us break this scripture down.

• Psalms 23:1 – 3.”The lord is my shepherd…..”, what if you are broke. What if you have no money in your pocket. How then does this scriptures apply in your life. Our view on life is never what God sees. Even if nothing is going the way you plan it, with maturity you understand that what you need is not the end product, but the manufacturer of that’s product. The giver not the gift. Its understanding that no matter what situation, even if deliverance is yet, you still know and hold on to the truth that God can do all things. Do you truly believe that in Him you have no lack? It is vital to know that in Him you have full provision physically, spiritually and mentally. This is the peace and assurance we have as His own.
• Psalm 23:3 – 4. Even in the deepest darkness you must understand that God is still there. Isaac, (Genesis 26 : 1-25) was instructed to remain in the Land and sow seed in the midst of a famine. It is written he reaped one hundred fold. It was not rain he needed , but God. When Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, a lamb was provided in his place because God saw that he did not withhold even his most precious possession. What was required was the obedience. When you get to this level of maturity, you then don’t have a need to question where God is in any trial because you are confident He is always with you. Remember going through a challenge doesn’t mean God isn’t there.
• Psalm 23:5 -6. God is God and He will equip you with all you need. Many of us think that God addressing a situation means he takes the grievance away. But contrary, he lays a table in the midst of your enemies. It is key to understand that sustenance is yours for the keeping until such a time God will take you out of the situation. Often we fall in pursuit of goodness and love, but the scripture clearly states that these WILL FOLLOW US through every situation and every moment in our lives. Sometimes you have to lose “something” to gain “EVERYTHING!” When you go into the shops with a certain amount of money, you exchange that money for the items you require. Abraham was instructed to leave his fathers house. He gave up the comfort and provision that came with being a part of his fathers household. However, had he remained he would not have been blessed to the great lengths he did. In his maturity and obedience, he attained riches for eternity. God fills your cup to the brim, He is a provider. GOD IS YOUR EVERYTHING. He is the answer to all. Look at Paul, he wrote letters of encouragement to the believers yet he himself was imprisoned in a cell. Even though he was bound physically, his spirit was free. That is a level of maturity we too require.

In conclusion, remember, when a tree stops growing, it starts dying. Likewise when you stop growing in Christ you start deteriorating spiritually. Hence the importance of maturity.
If you cannot implement the word of God in your life, it is like you are building your house on sand (Matthew 7: 24- 27). Your faith cannot be sustained. Let us have our minds renewed everyday. Seek God and grow in maturity.

The importance of maturity

Understanding

Matthew 28:19. A christian needs to be a good learner and a good teacher. For you to teach you need to learn. It is important to understand what Jesus wants you to do so that you can be an inspiration to other people. Jesus learnt from God what was expected of Him and He was able to impart that knowledge to His disciples and in turn to us. Let us take a moment to look at John the Baptist. John was preparation for what was to come. He wanted the people to have a mental shift and refocus how they worshiped God. If religious teachers and pharisees of that day had taken heed of the message preached by John, they would have had the capacity and UNDERSTANDING to accept Jesus. Their lack of spiritual understanding resulted in them going as far as hurriedly crucifying Jesus so that they could observe the sabbath. Yet Jesus is the King of the Sabbath. Therefore a lack of understanding leads us to make the catastrophic mistakes.

As people we always work on priority. We do what we value first and most. How we value something is dependant on our understanding of it. There are certain things as people, that God expects us to do but we lack the understanding to accomplish them. It is lack of understanding that causes people to walk in ways they assume are right, but have no assurance that they actually are. Assuming something is right and walking in it is like delving blindly into the unknown. Therefore knowledge and understanding are vital in our christian walk.

Colossians 1:9. Paul acknowledges the faith and love the Colossians demonstrated. But he went on to pray that they could have the knowledge and understanding so that they could live according to the will of God and ultimately bear fruit. Understanding can be subjective and has varying levels. For example, there are people who think there is no need to worry about what God wants or believe that the principles in the bible do not refer to them. But they believe that when in trouble they can easily call unto God to deliver them. Clearly this person understands that God is there and has power to deliver, but it’s a low level understanding because they do not care how they live their lives. Others believe that as long as they physically set foot in church then they are believers and have no care about anything else. It is indeed another level of understanding but it’s not good enough. Others are regular church goers and believe they follow God’s principles and yet they harbour hate in their hearts. This is yet another level of understanding, but again this level is not good enough. This is why Paul was praying for the people of Colossians. Paul knew that love and faith alone was not good enough hence he prayed that they understood the mandates of God.

We need to aim for a higher level of understanding if we want to enter the Kingdom of God. As a Christian, what level are you? You cannot bear fruit without the knowledge and understanding the Holy Spirit gives. Lack of understanding is what caused the children of God to wonder the dessert for 40 years before entering the promised land. Had they understood God, it wouldn’t have taken that long. They were overcome by their enemies not because God was weak, but because they didn’t understand God’s principles.

Joshua 7 is an example of destruction resulting from disobedience and again lack of understanding. Many people died unnecessarily due to disobedience. After it was established what Achan had done, and Joshua corrected the mistake made, the Israelites regained the upper hand.

Therefore there are consequences for lack of understanding. So take the time to challenge yourself today. If you are someone who just goes to church and are not concerned about the day to day mandates expected of you, change your ways. Explore the Word of God and gain the knowledge and understanding you need. Jesus defeated the devil in the wilderness by quoting the mandates of God. He knew and understood what was written and made reference to it. That is how He overcame. If you lack knowledge, you cannot reference what is written. You become susceptible to following the wisdom of man that is presented as truth but in actual fact isn’t. Take time to evaluate whether your level of understanding allows you to live the way God wants? If not, pray for the Spirit of understanding and surrender yourself to the mandates of God. There is something you must leave and sacrifice in order to find the Kingdom of God.
Let’s look at this analogy. A recruiter for any job position wants to see what knowledge a candidate has and ultimately how they would apply that knowledge and understanding. Same as in Christ. As long as you don’t have the understanding of how God wants you to live, you cannot apply those principles in how you live your life. God does not dwell anywhere. You are the temple of God. His temple must be upheld in a specific way. The more you live in sin, the more you repel the Spirit of God. Just being a good person, isn’t good enough. Being born into a church and remaining in it, is not good enough. Seeking God in times of trouble only, is not good enough. Therefore pray for the spirit of understanding so that you can know exactly how God wants you to live. Just because a building is called a church doesn’t mean that God dwells there. The presence of God only dwells where his mandates are followed. So aim to live a life worthy of Christ.

Atonement
Leviticus 16:19. We all fall short of the Glory of God, and our transgressions must be made right before God. Today is the day of Atonement. A decree that must be followed yearly for all time to come. Some may argue that this law is no longer valid, but Jesus came to fulfil the law not abolish it (Matthew 5:17) Be prudent not to deviate from the truth of God. Just because Christ died for us, does not mean we are not without sin now. So today is the day where we can be made right with God again.

Having a relationship with God – Series 21

Man shall not live on bread alone. As such, we also need to nourish and strengthen our spirit. Physically we have to eat so that we can live, likewise, spiritually we need the word of God to continue to grow. Growth allows us to be able to face challenges and grow in our understanding of God. This means we can walk and live in the way that is pleasing to God.

The current Covid-19 pandemic has left us alone in isolation, unable to attend regular church services and in need to strengthen our personal relationship with God. Individual growth is needed now more than ever to achieve spiritual success

1 Corinthians 6:19. An understanding of any principle in life, affords us the ability to practise that principle correctly. The bible reminds us that our bodies are the temple of God. The scriptures go further to elaborate and says that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. It urges us to use our bodies for the fulfillment of God. There are often a lot of things that we engage in, without even realising the effect they have on our spiritual being. Upright living facilitates the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. The reverse of this is true. Inappropriate conduct dispels the Holy Spirit. Understanding this scripture means that you don’t require anyone to prefect you to maintain purity, but rather you automatically live accordingly. It is good that we meet and fellowship together in church, but as proven in this current situation, personal discipline is paramount. If you are to host the Holy Spirit, then you need to be clean and prepared at all times. If we defile ourselves, God cannot dwell in us.

Eccl 12:13. & vs 1. The sole reason man was created was to worship. Now bearing this in mind, you need to remember that you are the temple of God created to worship. Ask yourself this. Are you using your body for God’s glory? Is the manner in which you carry yourself accommodating to God and sensitive to His Spirit? The time to rely on people to prefect you is gone! What role do you play in the body of Christ. Realise and recognise why God created you. Find joy in God even in these difficult times. Become a trusted vessel and God will start to manifest within you. When you are the host of Christ, you know regardless of circumstance, spiritual warfare or physical challenges God remains God and you are able to uphold your integrity. Trust what God has said. It goes without saying that the fundamental truth is, in order to enjoy the blessing of obedience, you must have a personal and close relationship with God.

God is knocking at your door so he can dwell in His temple. Let us reflect on the early life of Paul. Initially he purposefully sort to persecute the believers. When he met God and had a true revelation of who Christ was he made a complete change and started to function as a devote child of God. When God is in you, people start to see God from within. You begin to have an impact in your community. Do not fall prey to making church a habitual procedure. This will only result in you becoming de-sensitised to the expectation and teachings of God. Remember when a demon has been cast out, it leaves and goes into the wilderness, and roams arid ground. Eventually it returns to check. Therefore when your heart is unclean, the devil comes back in greater numbers and authority than before.

In conclusion, be mindful of your conduct. Is your reaction to circumstances appropriate to the provocation presented? Is it not better to light up the room with your presence, as Christ reflects His light in you? The time we are living in is a time which is preventing us from congregating in church. But you must remain strong as an individual. Host God in your own home. Host God when you are in a community or alone. Host God wherever you are and truly function as a temple set apart for His pleasure.

Having a relationship with God – Series 19

Intro: It has and will always be God’s intention for the human race to worship Him. That is the sole duty of a man. Looking at the story of the great exodus from Egypt. When God sent Moses, he instructed him to tell pharaoh to let His people go so that they could worship Him. Meaning that worshiping God was the basis of their freedom. An understanding of the word of God, teaches us that this intent to worship goes further. God not only wants us to worship Him, but to worship Him in the manner He desires.

Romans 10:1-3. In the scripture, Paul commends the romans for their zeal for God and their dedication. But his prayer was that their zeal be based on knowledge and that they submit to God’s righteousness. True knowledge is about understanding what God wants in your life and walking in His command. Are you devoted in your christian walk but do not understand who God is and your relationship with Him? Do you only seek God and pray to Him when in need by seeking the gift and not the giver? Do you live a life based on your own agenda and not the will of God?

Exodus 19:5. The whole earth and all in it belongs to the Lord. But to those who follow His ways, they are given access to being heirs to the Kingdom. Obedience to God’s will is what differentiates God’s chosen people. When your worship is solely based on God, then you understand who God is in your life. You have power to stand and overcome any obstacles that may come your way. Even if you go through challenges, you do not fear or worry for you truly understand that God is right there with you in the midst of it all. The bible is full of people that overcame adversity because they understood God. Nehemiah, Daniel, Shadrech, Misheck and Abednigo only to name a few.

Challenge yourself today. Strive not only to be devoted to the things of God, but be devoted with knowledge and purpose. With knowledge and understanding you are able to decipher any situation you may well find yourself in. The Israelites spent 40 years wondering the desert because they failed to know who God was to them and their purpose. Therefore it is paramount that you revise the way you worship, not according to your own understanding, but rather the will of God. Often people refer to God’s grace. Grace is an extension from God, an opportunity to return to Him and repent. It is not reason to continually live in sin. Seek God while He is still near. Remember a life in sin results in God denying us as His children. So live in the full knowledge of God as you develop a relationship with Him.

Having a relationship with God – Series 20

The Old vs New testament.

There has been a life long debate and opinion about the law of God from the old into the new testament with many arguing whether the birth of Jesus Christ meant laws were abolished or not.

Matthew 5:17. When John the Baptist was sent, his message was about repentance and a complete change in thought processes. By the time Jesus started His ministry people were already religious. Synagogues were established and people presumably worshiped God.

This shows that a religious foundation of worship was already in existence. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus’ coming was a fulfilment of the scriptures. Going back a bit, it is important to note that John the Baptist was preparation for what was to come. He wanted the people to have a mental shift and refocus how they worshiped God. The verse clearly states that the law was not changed but through Jesus Christ, it was fulfilled. If religious teachers and pharisees of that day had taken heed of the message preached by John the Baptist, they would have had the capacity and understanding to accept Jesus. Their lack of spiritual intelligence resulted in them going as far as hurriedly crucifying Jesus so that they could observe the sabbath. Yet He is the King of the Sabbath. Now, understand this, if you fail to change your mindset, you inevitably miss out on opportunities to grow in Christ. Another example of such detrimental lack of understanding is demonstrated in the story of the of the two men travelling to Emmaus(Luke 24:13-32). In their spiritual immaturity, they had put their hope’s in Jesus under the misconception that He would physically rule over the people of God. They did not perceive that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice to give us right of passage, not on this earth but a heavenly kingdom to come.

It is important to understand and discern the time and season. The law has not changed and how its principles are put into practise is key. The scripture here is authoritative and clear. You must be more faithful than the teachers of the law and pharisees of old. You must understand who God is.

Romans 10: 1-5. Do not be devoted to a church because it’s where your family has worshiped, but be devoted to the principles of God through your understanding. In the book of Romans people became legalistic. True they followed the laws, but did not do so with the understanding and righteousness required to inherit the kingdom. The teaching of Jesus is about matters of the heart. When Jesus came, things became deeper in a way that was spiritual. God wants us to build a trust in Him so much so that though we can’t see Him physically, we perceive Him in all assurance that He never leaves us. Jesus said He is the way the truth and the life, if you are deeply rooted in Christ then fulfilling the laws is natural.

Exodus 20 :1-17. This chapter defines the Laws of Moses. Let us take a look at some of the commandments included.
1. The Sabbath :The law about the sabbath is clear and undeniable. Through the coming of Jesus we see that the essence of this command is not the day in itself. Rather it bears the question, “do you have one particular day completely dedicated to worshiping God? It is neither about the day of the week, but more importantly the act of consciously setting apart a day solely for worship.
2. Do not commit murder. In the new testament there are several verses that encourage love to the extent as to pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). Consider this, when murder is committed it starts with a grievance in the heart that then manifests into an act. Therefore by loving ones enemies this law in the old testament is fulfilled because you cannot kill those you pray for and love. You cannot steal from them or envy them or harm them. Neither can you commit adultery.
Jesus addresses the law from a deeper perspective, a spiritual engagement of the heart that fulfils the law. When you address issues from the heart you have addressed the actions that precede them. Jesus addresses things not from the outside in, but inside out. Jesus was not saying the law wasn’t important, but He was addressing matters of the heart that govern the basis of the law. Commandments were never to benefit God, but to facilitate peaceful and religious living within in a community.

In conclusion therefore, the teaching to say Jesus abolished the law is false. This scripture today nullified that argument. Contrary, even when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He quoted the law. Just because situations have shifted in accordance with the changing times does not mean that the law has changed. Let us therefore work on our hearts so that we can address and fulfil the laws of God as heirs to His throne.

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