Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Are you building godly strongholds?

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Every thought that one receives, owns, relies on, defends and acts upon is a stronghold. The Greek word that we translate as stronghold (ochuroma) describes a castle, fortress, fastness; anything which one relies on; arguments and reasonings by which a disputant endeavours to fortify his opinion and defend it against his opponent.

Negative and positive strongholds

A stronghold is either negative or positive, a lie or truth. Whatever thought a person chooses to accept or receive, own or possess, rely or depend on, protect or defend and act upon is a stronghold in that person's life whether it is a lie or the truth.

Source of strongholds

Our thinking is formed by various sources of information. These include,
  • Information from others (parents, friends, colleagues, media, literature, teachers, psychologists, etc.)
  • Information derived from experience.
  • Information derived from circumstances.
  • Information from God.
  • Information from Satan.

Whatever information we trust as the truth, we will accept, receive, own, rely on, defend and act on.

Deceptive assumptions

For example if a friend walks in the room and is unresponsive to you, you begin to think all sorts of things and have to choose what you think is true. If you choose to believe that the friend is upset with you, you accept that as the truth, you receive it, own it, depend on it and eventually defend it. Consequently this belief or assumption is the truth for you until disproved. However, every subsequent information or observed behaviour will be used to justify the belief and thus strengthen the stronghold. If the stronghold is further strengthened by faulty assumptions, you can become so convinced that you are right that even when the friend genuinely tries to convince you that he is not upset with you but had a headache, you still won't believe him. You have built a stronghold that you are now even defending! The initial information you received has been turned into a negative stronghold that is based on a lie - a false perception and subsequent false assumption strengthened to become a stronghold.

A battle of the mind

A battle is going on for our minds. Satan wants us to build ungodly strongholds whereas God wants us to build godly strongholds. Much of our thinking needs to be changed so that we live godly lives. That is why the apostle Paul urges believers to have their minds renewed in order to be Christ-like (Rom. 12:2).

Ungodly strongholds

Strongholds that are built on lies are ungodly fortresses that need to be torn down and replaced with the truth of God. Ungodly strongholds are exposed when we accept and receive the word of God as the truth. The writer to the Hebrews describes the word of God as "living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (Heb. 4:12,13). In other words, the word of God exposes whether our thinking is in accordance with the truth or not.

Exposing lies

Ungodly thinking must be replaced by godly thinking before it becomes a stronghold that governs one's life. Paul says we must "take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ." The believer must keep his thinking in check and always identify negative thinking in the light of God's word. Failure to do so allows ungodly thinking to poison one's mind and establish itself as a fortress is one's life! That is why Peter says, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith" (1  Peter 5:8,9). The lies of the enemy are presented to us as truth. Words that have been said to us by our parents, teachers, psychologists and the like are not always the truth! We must recognise that not all information presented to us is the truth! If we accept every bit of information offered to us, we are certain to build strongholds based on lies as well as on the truth. The only way to identify what is true and false is to trust the word of God as absolute truth, accept it, receive it, own it, depend on it and defend it. Only then can one expose ungodly information that is contrary to God's word.

Truth or counterfeit?

A friend of mine works for a bank and has the job of identifiying counterfeit money and training people to differentiate between true and false bank notes. He explained that in order to identify the counterfeit notes, one must study the authentic notes and know everything possible about them. Only then can one expose the counterfeit notes. Similarly the believer can only expose the lies of the enemy that are presented as truth by knowing the real truth - the word of God.

Building godly strongholds

In order to build godly strongholds so as to be Christ-like, I believe the following principles are necessary for every believer:

A desire to be Christ-like.

Unless you believe that God's will for your life is to be like Jesus, you won't work on changing the way you think. The word of God is clear that it is indeed God's will for every believer to live as Jesus did on earth and that every believer has been joined to Christ to be like Him and to do the work He did whilst on earth (see Rom. 8:29; John 14:9-12; 1 John 2:6; 1 Cor. 11:1). Christ-likeness is commanded for "it is written: 'be holy, because I am holy.'" (1 Peter 1:16).

A recognition that there is the possibility of having ungodly strongholds in one's life!

It is a humbling thing to admit that not everything one has built one's life on is necessarily the truth! Opening oneself to God's correction is choosing to submit to Him and His word. God's thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8) and so God doesn't seek to improve the way we think but replace our thinking with His thoughts. We are transformed by the renewing of our thinking and not the improvement of our thinking!

A trust in God's word as absolute truth.

Unless you trust God's word as absolute truth you will struggle to submit to it and allow it to renew your thinking. God's word is not one among equals. It is absolute truth. It is an offense to the post-modern worldview that accepts everything as truth. You will be labelled as narrow-minded and as a fundamentalist. Belief in, and submission to God's word sets you apart from the world as you become the revelation of truth in the flesh (see John 17:17,18). The believer can only be holy as he or she lives God's Holy Word in the power of the Holy Spirit.

A renewing of the mind

A renewing of the mind will only come about as the believer accepts God's word as the truth, receives it, owns it, depends on it and defends it. The believer that truly allows God to renew his mind and build godly strongholds in his life will act accordingly. Living according to the truth is what sets us free from ungodly thinking and behaviour. Just hearing God's word will not renew our thinking. The believer must accept it, receive it, own it, rely on it, defend it and act on it before it becomes a transforming belief. Jesus says, "If you hold to my teaching...you will know the truth and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31,32). Belief without action is simply opinion or as James puts it, "Faith without deeds is dead" (James 2:26).

How to build godly strongholds

Once the believer accepts the above principles s/he will be ready to receive the truth in order to break down ungodly strongholds and replace them with godly strongholds. I believe every disciple of Christ should be a student of the Word of God on a daily basis - not just to aquire knowledge about the Bible but to encounter God's transforming presence and power as s/he allows God to renew his/her thinking. God desires to reveal Himself to His children to renew them from glory to glory (see 2 Cor. 3:18; 4:16)! Christ is formed in us as we build godly strongholds. Here are some steps that have helped me live in Christ-likeness:

  • Ask God to give you spiritual revelation, understanding, knowledge and wisdom before reading His word. The Holy Spirit reveals the deep things of God and will use God's word to expose and demolish ungodly strongholds (See 1 Cor. 2; John 16:14).
  • Honour the word of God as absolute truth and read it with humility, allowing God to correct your thinking and build godly thinking (See 1 Thess. 2:13). Your attitude toward the word of God will determine how you receive it (see Matthew 13:1-23)!
  • Read the word of God slowly and with understanding. The word of God is "living and active" and works in those who believe (Heb. 4:12; 1 Thess. 2:13). Read to gain understanding but also to receive revelation of God. Expect God to speak to you through His word.
  • Pay attention to anything the Holy Spirit highlights as you read. As you read the Bible the Holy Spirit may show you something new or exciting or simply profound. When you notice something in particluar, write it down and meditate on it. God wants to impress His word on you. Let it dwell in you as you think about it, pray it and keep it in your heart.
  • Take thoughts captive. When you read God's word and you realise that you think differently about God or yourself etc, confess the ungodly thought and replace it with God's truth. Reject the lie and receive the truth! For example, you may think that God doesn't love you because you believe the information your negative circumstances are shouting at you. When you read Romans 8:35-39 that tells you that "nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" you must choose to replace the ungodly thoughts with the truth. Having received the truth and replaced the lie, you must own the truth and make it yours. Then you can rely on that truth and defend it whenever the enemy tries to convince you otherwise!
  • Meditate on and memorise the word of God! Reflecting on God's word is important for it to become part of you. Memorising scripture is helpful if you have spiritual understanding of the verse or verses. Simply having the scripture in your brain without understanding it is not much use. The word must move from your thinking to your heart, from your soul into your spirit.
  • Act on the Truth! If you really trust God's word to be the truth you will be convinced that it is the truth. Consequently you will act on what you believe and are convinced about.When we don't act on God's word we don't really believe it is the truth. Obedience and submission to God's word are the evidence of genuine faith.

I encourage you to saturate yourself with the truth and to build godly strongholds as you accept, receive, own, rely on, defend and act on God's word. Then you will be a living epistle, set apart by the truth and living in Christ-likeness and freedom.


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Reconciled to Culture or Christ?

"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sin against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: be reconciled to God." 2 Cor. 5:18-20

Jesus modelled the ministry of reconciliation

Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He entered the world in the form of a human to reach those who were separated from God in order to reconcile them to God.

Jesus not only came to provide a way for man to be reconciled to God but also modelled God's method of reaching the lost that I believe the Church in general has moved away from. Just as Jesus came to seek and save the Lost, the Church is called to go and seek and save the lost.

God's method to reach the Lost

Jesus came to seek!

God took the initiative! Jesus entered humanity's darkness (John 1:1-18; Hebrews 2:14-18). He did not wait for broken humanity to find Him. As the Light of the world, Jesus made His dwelling amongst imperfect humanity to draw mankind back into fellowship with God.

Just as the Father sent His Son into the world to reconcile man to Himself, so He sends His Body, the Church into the world to reconcile man to God. Just as Jesus came as the Light of the world, He sends the Church into darkness to be light (see Matthew 5:14).

Sadly the Church, for the most part, expects broken humanity to find its way to her meetings instead of her entering into the darkness.

Jesus came to reconcile man to God and not to a culture!

Jesus sought the Lost to reconcile man to God. He did not seek out the Lost to convert them to a christian culture! Christ's priority was to bring man back into fellowship with the Father and with other believers. The believer's christian culture (the way he responds to God with his life) becomes a barrier for the Lost when it is inauthentic, inconsistent and only reserved for church meetings. Christian culture becomes attractive and influential when it is the fruit of sincerity and an authentic relationship with God and other believers.

The moment the Christian has to adopt a form to be acceptable in the church, a cultural wall is erected that becomes a barrier to the unchurched! 

The reason many Christians are uncomfortable with inviting the Lost to their church meetings is that there is often a discrepancy between the way they are in the world and the way they are in their church meetings.

Authentic Christianity

The solution is not to force a different church culture that will be less offensive and more palatable for the Lost but to ensure that the church is authentic in her relationship with God and others, both in the church meetings as well as in the world! God is more concerned with the heart than with our christian culture (the form we choose to express our relationship with God).

When the Church strips herself of her man-made form she will be able to enter the darkness of broken humanity and be able to reconcile man to God.

The church that seeks to impose her form on broken humanity seeks to convert man to culture rather than to Christ!

Floyd McClung, in his book entitled "You see bones, I see an army," states,
"The church that does not carry a passion to reach the world isolates people behind walls of cultural irrelevance."

I believe the Church is called to be uncompromising in essence but flexible in form. That way the Church can be light in the darkness and be "all things to all men" (form) without compromising the Truth (essence).

I agree with McClung when he writes,

"The Spirit of God calls each generation to re-imagine church for their own context and culture, and to a fresh encounter with God to live the Gospel."

The Church must get rid of old wine skins - old ways of doing church and adopted christian culture, if she is to make room for new wine - revival and awakening as real believers connect with a real world with the real love of God.

The role of the Church is to enter the darkness to seek and reconcile broken humanity to its loving Creator so that believers can enjoy fellowship with God and one another (1 John 1:3)!

It is time for the Church to be revived and for the "grave clothes" to be removed so that she will "come out" (John 11:43) in newness of life to reconcile man to God. This is the ministry of reconciliation that has been entrusted to Christ's Body!


Thursday, 13 October 2011

Are you living in fullness of life?

Jesus said that He came "that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).

In order to understand what He meant with fullness of life, I believe we need to go back to the creation account in Genesis.

The creation of Man

When God created Man, He created him in his image so that Man would be like God (Gen. 1:26). Being made in God's image meant that Man was originally godly.

God also created Man to do the work He purposed for man - to be fruitful and look after His creation (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:15).

Man was also created to live in fellowship with God and to walk with Him in unhindered intimacy (Gen. 2:25; 3:8-10).

God therefore created Man to be like Him, to do His work and to live in fellowship with Him.

The Fall

When Man disobeyed God, he became separated from God, causing him to no longer be like God, no longer walk in fellowship with God and no longer able to fulfill God's will for Man.

God's original plan and purpose for Man's life was interrupted. The fullness of life that God had breathed into Man to fulfill God's purpose for his existence was stolen, killed and destroyed by the enemy! Consequently Man became separated from God's life and could no longer fulfill God's original purpose for him.

God's Solution

God's solution was to restore mankind to divine life and God's purpose for Man by sending His Son. Jesus came to model fullness of life as well as to restore Man to fullness of life.

Jesus demonstrated a completely human life, filled with the life of God, the Holy Spirit. The Son of God laid aside His divine rights and self-sufficiency to demonstrate a human life in complete dependency on God (Phil. 2:6-8; Heb. 3:14; Acts 10:38). Jesus always emphasised His complete dependency upon the Father to demonstrate how His followers were to live their lives (John 5:19,20; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10,31; 1 John 2:6).

Jesus, therefore lived in fullness of life - a life joined to God that revealed God's nature in true holiness and godliness (John 14:9); a life that revealed unhindered fellowship with God (John 14:11) and a life that demonstrated the work of God (John 4:34).

Man restored

As the last Adam, Christ not only came to demonstrate true humanity as God intended it but also paid the price to restore Man to God's life - fullness of life! What the enemy had stolen, killed and destroyed, Jesus returned, resurrected and rebuilt through His death, resurrection and complete victory over the enemy (Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:21,22, 45; Col. 2:9-15).

Through faith in Christ, the believer is no longer separated from God but is joined to Eternal Life - fullness of life (Eph. 4:18; 1 John 5:11,12,20). The believer is therefore given fullness of life in Christ (Eph. 1:3; 2:5; 2 Peter 1:3; 1 John 4:15).

Fullness of life

Those who are in Christ are called and empowered to live their lives in true godliness and holines as they reveal God's nature (Eph. 4:24; 1 Peter 1:15,16); live in unhindered fellowship with God (Eph. 2:18; 3:12; 1 John 1:3); and do the work of God in the power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:10; John 14:12).

Those who are in Christ Jesus have been conformed to the image of God's Son so that they can live in fullness of life as God intended it for mankind (Rom. 8:29).

Glory to God for His indescribable Gift to us who believe and for fullness of life in Jesus Christ!


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Whose kingdom do you belong to?

Everyone belongs to a kingdom. The question is, "Whose kingdom do you belong to?"

A kingdom is made up of a king and that which he rules over. Those who belong to a kingdom are subject to their king and that which he commands. The kingdom each person belongs to is determined by who is king and who he obeys.

Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords even though not everything has surrendered to His rule and reign yet. In the letter to the Hebrews we read,

"In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him." Hebrews 2:8

3 Kingdoms

Every person belongs to a kingdom, whether it is a self-created kingdom, someone else's kingdom or Christ's Kingdom. A self-created kingdom has self on the throne and lives in a realm that is governed by self and does what self desires. The self-created kingdom lives according to self-created values, beliefs, and standards.

Who is king?

The moment a person responds to the offer of eternal life through Christ, the believer surrenders his life to Christ. In other words, the believer gets self off the throne and invites Christ to take His seat as King in his life. What was once ruled by self is now ruled by Christ (1 Peter 3:15). However, the believer only truly lives as a subject of Christ's Kingdom if he is living in obedience to his King!

Whose Kingdom?

Many Christians would say that Christ is King in their lives but their lives bear the fruit of their belonging to another kingdom!

Jesus confronted the religious leaders concerning this very issue in John 8. Jesus even went so far as to say that the Pharisees were of the devil because they did what the devil desires (John 8:44). The religious leaders had created a kingdom for themselves that operated according to self-created values, beliefs and standards. When Jesus exposed who was on the throne of their lives and whom they were subjecting themselves to, they took offense.

The revelation of God's Kingdom offends the self-created kingdom!

The religious leaders responded to the revelation of God's Kingdom by taking offense. They could have chosen to repent of living according to their own, self-created kingdom but they took offense and rebelled against God. They chose to disobey and live according to their own kingdom.

Daily surrender

Daily, every believer faces the choice between living according to the old, self-created kingdom or God's Kingdom. That is why Jesus tells His followers (His subjects) to take up the cross and deny themselves daily (Matthew 10:38).

When God reveals truth to the believer, the believer always has a choice to either believe and obey or disobey. Either we believe God and submit to our King's will or we disobey Him.

Excuses, excuses

Most believers would never blatantly disobey what they know to be God's will. So the only way to avoid submitting one's self to God's will or standard is to create another standard that can replace God's standard. In other words, the believer creates an excuse not to have to obey God's will. By creating another standard for himself, the believer no longer feels convicted to obey God's revealed will but rather has peace, living according to another "godly", self-created standard. The word excuse literally means free from accusation. If the believer can create a standard that does not accuse him, he can fool himself into thinking that he is still doing God's will! This is the essence of self-righteousness - living according to self-created values, beliefs and standards (see Phil. 3:7-11) to be justified before God.

Deceptive excuses

Let me give you an example of this deceptive process. The believer reads God's Word which says, "I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:44,45). Immediately the Holy Spirit brings to mind who one's enemies could possibly be. Perhaps it is a neighbour or a relative or a brother or sister in Christ. The moment the Holy Spirit puts His finger on an area in our lives that needs to be aligned with God's truth, the believer has a choice. Either he will repent by obeying God and changing his attitude toward that person and praying for him, or he will disobey God's will. No believer would say, "I am not going to do what God clearly says!" That would be blatant disobedience and sin.

The believer rather begins to reason with God by creating a new standard. The self-created standard can sound godly but it is still disobedience! The believer may think something like this: "I don't need to love that person because of all he did to me. And anyway, he doesn't accept me and love me either." This form of reasoning makes an excuse so that the believer can live with his disobedience. A self-created "godly" standard is created that seemingly justifies one's disobedience (see 1 Samuel 15)!

Just as man can replace the King with his self-created king,
so he can replace the Kingdom with his self-created kingdom!
(See Romans 1:18-32)

Still itching?

The believer who lives in disobedience by living according to a self-created standard is still living according to his self-created kingdom with self ruling on the throne. It is these people who enjoy listening to teachers who agree with their self-created standards, who reject the truth and those who preach the Kingdom! Paul warns us in his letter to Timothy where he says,

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers
to say what their itching ears want to hear." 2 Timothy 4:3

God is calling His people to absolute obedience to further His Kingdom! Disobedience furthers every other kingdom but God's Kingdom! We must stop making excuses and stop living according to our self-created righteousness - our kingdom!

Ask the Lord today to search your heart and to expose any disobedience in your life. Don't allow your self to make any excuses but rather repent and obey. Self desires what is contrary to the Spirit. They are in conflict with one another (Gal. 5:16,17). Who will you obey? Who is seated on the throne? Whose kingdom do you belong to?


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Fellowship with God

"God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful." 1 Cor. 1:9

What a wonderful Scripture. What an amazing invitation. God, in His everlasting love for us beckons His children into an intimate relationship with His Son. Fellowship with Jesus. Abiding in the Son of God. Dwelling in His fullness. What bliss. What wonder. Listen to the Father's call: "Come and commune with me. Let us enjoy one another's presence. Let us fellowship together." Those who fellowship with Jesus walk in communion with God. They become so saturarted with love that all they desire is to invite others to come. The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" Let us commune together. Let us enjoy our union with God and one another so that our joy can be complete.


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Do you have faith?

"When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Luke 18:8

God expects His people to have faith.

The Holy Spirit says,

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6

It is man's responsibility to believe in God and in His promises. The woman who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years was healed because of her faith! Jesus commended her and said, "Daughter, your faith has healed you." Mark 5:34

Jesus also commended the centurion's faith and said about him,

"I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith." Matthew 8:10

Faith pleases God and releases God's will on earth as it is in heaven.

How can the believer strengthen his faith?

In the account of the woman at the well in John 4, Jesus reveals how the believer can receive from God.

In response to the Samaritan woman, Jesus replies, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." John 4:10

The key to strengthening one's faith is to grow in the knowledge of God and in the knowledge of that which God freely gives. It is as the believer fixes his eyes on Jesus that his faith is strengthened and "perfected" (Heb. 12:2).

The greater the revelation of God, the greater the faith to believe for the impossible!

If the Samaritan woman had known who it was that was speaking to her and knew what He wanted to give her, she would have had the faith to ask and receive! Faith releases the glory of God - the manifestation of His presence and power.

Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" John 11:40

The believer must understand that faith is required. "If you believed.." There is a condition to the revelation of God's glory - faith!

Unless the believer grows in his knowledge of God and the will of God, his faith will not grow. For this reason the apostle Paul prays,

"We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.." Col. 1:9,10

The believer needs spiritual revelation of God and His will!

I encourage you to spend time in God's presence and in His Word so that you grow in the knowledge of God and in the knowledge of His will. It is as we grow in our knowledge of Him and His will that we will be able to pray with faith and confidence and then see the glory of the Lord!

"When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?" Luke 18:8


Monday, 25 July 2011

Are you a leader?

Divine leadership

"Be holy, because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:16

God leads by example. Those who are called to leadership are called to lead by example. Just before the Lord Jesus went to the cross, he washed the disciples feet to teach His followers to lead by example just as He did. Jesus said to His disciples,

"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." John 13:15

Paul's leadership

The apostle Paul understood true leadership and wrote to the Corinthian church,

"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1

King David's leadership

King David also led by example. In the preparation for the building of the Temple, we read,

"And now, because of my devotion to the Temple of my God, I am giving all of my own private treasures of gold and silver to help in the construction." 1 Chron. 29:3

Subsequently, King David asks,

"Now then, who will follow my example and give offerings to the Lord today?" 1 Chron. 29:5

The first to respond were the leaders of Israel because King David modelled true leadership! We read,

"Then the family leaders, the leaders of the tribes of Israel, the generals and captains of the army, and the king's administrative officers all gave willingly." 1 Chron. 29:6

In response to the generosity of their leaders,

"The people rejoiced over the offerings, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord, and King David was filled with joy." 1 Chron. 29:9

Leadership in secret and in public

God calls leaders to lead by example both in secret and in public. What we are in secret is what we truly are in public.

The apostle Paul and his companions led by example to encourage the church to be like them.

He writes,

"You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord...And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia." 1 Thess. 1:5-7

"You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of Gd, who calls you into his kingdom and glory." 1 Thess. 2:10-12

Leadership means modelling a devoted life to Christ and His people.

A devoted life lives for God in secret and in public. The power for leadership comes from the integrity of devotion in secret and in public. A form of godliness, an external, public appearance of leadership will never influence and produce true followers of Christ.

Imitate Christ in the secret place

I am convinced that leadership begins in the secret place as the leader seeks the face of God to imitate Him (Eph. 3:24; 5:1). Those who try to lead in public without following Christ in secret will lead from themselves and not from Christ. They will lead to please man rather than to please Christ. Paul, however says,

"If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Gal. 1:10

Leaders, imitate Christ and lead by example, in secret and in public!

"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." 1 Cor. 11:1


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Do you have a religious spirit?

"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:23

The unity of the Church is evidence that Christ was sent and that the Father loves the Church even as He loves His Son, Jesus!

It is finished!

Jesus always prayed according to the will of the Father and knew that His death would accomplish the Father's purpose. Paul writes,

"His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord." Eph. 3:10,11

God's purpose in Christ has been accomplished so that the Church is one Body - the unity of believers that is the revelation of the Father's love and purpose. God's wisdom has been revealed to the spiritual realm through joining believers to be one Body in Christ.

Unity attacked!

The Church is therefore God's demonstration of His wisdom, His love and His purpose for man which He accomplished in Christ! It should therefore not surprise us that the unity of the Church is the primary target of the enemy! Satan is all out to bring division in the Body of Christ so that she veils what God has accomplished in Christ! The unity of the Church is at stake!

How does Satan bring division into the Church?

Clearly there are many ways but I believe the primary way is to influence believers with a religious spirit. A religious spirit is an attitude that brings division within the Body of Christ.

Jesus was clear with the Pharisees that their attitude was of the Devil (John 8:44). Their focus was on outward appearance rather than on the attitude of the heart. Jesus spoke sharply against them and said,

"Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness." Matthew 23:27,28

The religious attitude is more concerned with outward appearance than with what is on the heart. Paul says the same to the Corinthian church,

"We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart." 2 Cor. 5:12

Form and essence

That which is outward is form whilst that which is on the heart is essence. When there is a form or appearance of righteousness but the heart is wicked, the person is essentially wicked. It is what Paul calls "A form of godliness without power" (2 Tim. 3:5).

Focused on appearance

The religious attitude seeks to look good on the outside but ignores the true nature of his heart. His focus is on external appearance. In the Church the religious attitude criticises the appearance (form) of others such as the way people dress, the way people worship, the way people pray and the way people behave. The religious spirit does not look at the heart of others and immediately judges others based on outward appearance rather than seeking and appreciating the sincerity or heart (essence) of another.

Unity of form?

The religious spirit insists that their way is the correct way and any other form is simply wrong. This demonic attitude is full of pride and extremely divisive. When the church begins to expose the religious spirit and learns to accept one another's essence and not insist on unity of form, she will live in the unity Christ purchased with His blood.

Unity in diversity

Being in an international church, we have people from all over the world with many different cultures and forms. As we value one another because of our essential unity in Christ, we bear with one another and seek to focus on the essence rather than the form of lives in Christ. As we do so, we reveal the unity of our faith that reveals the wisdom, the love and the purpose of God.

Church splits

The primary reason churches split is because people think that unity of the Church is unity of form. Groups split up because each insist that their way is the correct way, rather than appreciating the diversity in the Body without comprimising the essence. Our church is committed to being uncomprimising in essence but flexible in form. That way we learn to value one another's different ways (form) and still enjoy what unites us (essence).

Make every effort!

Understanding what is at stake and what the enemy is up to should cause us to "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" because "there is one body and one Spirit" (Eph. 4:3,4).

Church, be alert to the works of the enemy and don't allow a religious spirit to dominate your attitude toward your brothers and sisters in Christ. Learn to appreciate the different forms and value your unity in Christ. Don't be responsible for veiling what God has accomplished in Christ. Make every effort to keep the unity that has been bought with Christ's blood through the bond of peace. Then the spirit realm will see the fullness of God's wisdom and the world will know that the Father sent Jesus and loves the Church as He loves His Son!

"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Sam. 16:7

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Are you being sanctified?

"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Romans 8:29,30


There is a teaching in the Church today that goes something like this:

Believers have been predestined by God to become like Christ. This becoming like Christ is termed, sanctification and is understood as a process by which the believer increasingly becomes more and more like Jesus. God's purpose for the believer's life is therefore to use circumstances and life to conform His children to Christ. Every hardship and difficult circumstance is then embraced as God's will to refine the believer to become Christ-like. Scriptures such as Romans 8:29,30 and Hebrews 12:5-11 are quoted to substantiate this teaching and you will hear Christians speak of God taking them through the desert; God breaking them; God disciplining them so that they become more like Christ. It sounds spiritual but is this really what the Bible teaches?

The Problem

The problem with this teaching is that it is not only unbiblical but also deceptive.

Let us suppose for a moment that the teaching is true and that every believer is undergoing a process of sanctification.

First of all one needs to ask, why? What is God's purpose in saving us and then working on us to become like Christ? If it is to prepare us for heaven, then surely it is unfair when some live longer than others. If the goal of sanctification is to make us Christ-like, then who will be included as the Bride that God is coming back to that is "a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Eph. 5:27)? Will it be those who have completed the process of sanctification?

Confused Christians

Those who believe this theology live lives of condemnation and fear and interpret the work of Satan as God's work of sanctification! These poor Christians live their lives in misery and even thank God for His "discipline" when the Devil is having a field day, tormenting the deceived child of God. "It's my cross to bear," they explain and continue faithfully and miserably serving the Lord. I thought the Gospel was Good News and that the teaching about God our Saviour was attractive (Titus 2:10)!

Sanctification explained

The root of the problem is in the wrong understanding of sanctification. Wrongly interpreted, Romans 8:29,30 is said to show us that the believer is predestined to be conformed to Christ in the sense that once saved, the believer becomes more and more like Christ. However, the Bible is clear that once the believer is saved through faith in Christ, s/he is sanctified! The believer is therefore predestined to be conformed to Christ, the moment s/he believes. In other words, the believer is Christ-like, the moment s/he is baptised into Christ (Gal. 3:26). The believer's union with the Holy One makes him holy - sanctified! The NT always addresses the Church as God's holy people (sanctified people).

Be holy!

"To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy." 1 Cor. 1:2

God says "Be holy, for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:15,16

God does not say, "become holy"; He says, "BE holy"!

You can only be what you are! I cannot be holy unless I am holy!

You ARE sanctified!

Those who are in Christ are holy - they are sanctified. The believer is called to live a holy life because s/he is holy and not in order to become holy. Click here for more on "Are you holy?"

Does God not dicipline His children?

Yes, certainly! Hebrews 12 confirms that. But, what does God discipline us for?

The context in Hebrews 12 is not character-building but disobedience (sin). God disciplines His children when they sin so that they will continue to live holy lives. God is faithful and will help us continue in holiness (see 1 Thess. 5:23). Hardship is used by God to test our faith and for us to persevere in holiness (see James 1:2-4).

Good News!

The Good News is that through faith in Christ, the believer is sanctified and is made "a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Eph. 5:27). This is the believer's assurance and hope and it is from this hope that faith springs up that drives out fear and condemnation (Col. 1:5; Rom. 8:1, 33-39; 1 John 4:18).

Where is your joy?

Where is your joy? The fruit of the Spirit is joy (Gal. 5:22).

"For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17

Satan is intent on stealing your joy. As long as you believe that the purpose for your life is to become holy, the Devil will continue to accuse you, condemn you and and make you completely ineffective for God's Kingdom purposes as you continue your self-improvement program and live in misery and continuous failure. Don't let Satan deceive you, child of God! Jesus is your holiness (1 Cor. 1:30)! Depend on Him! He has made you holy!

Jesus, your Brother!

You have been predestined to be like Jesus so that He can be your Brother (Rom. 8:29).

"Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers." Hebrews 2:11

As a son of God, you have been made holy; you have been justified and you have been glorified (Heb. 2:10; Rom. 8:30). That is Good News! Rejoice in your holiness and don't allow the enemy to deceive you and rob you of your joy!

Recommended reading: "The Believer's Secret of Holiness" by Andrew Murray.


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Is the Church superstitious?


I define superstition as, "deriving truth from the created."


Many people are superstitious. Whether they look at the stars to determine the truth (horoscopes) or believe they will have a bad day because they saw a black cat, they use circumstances and creation as a means to determine truth. Anything from fortune cookies to shapes in the clouds are interpreted as being of significance for the superstitious person.

Message from God?

The principle of looking to the natural, created realm for truth is prevalent in the Church. Believers don't go to fortune tellers but instead run to prophets for a word from God. Believers interpret their circumstances as God's message to them. Every dream and every "strange" occurrence is somehow a message from God.

Dependence on the created

Undoubtedly God can communicate to His people in any way He chooses but the believer must be careful not to depend on the created rather than on the Creator. Those who trust created things more than God are practising idolatry. The apostle Paul writes,

"They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator." Romans 1:25

Led by God

The born again believer who has been born of the Spirit has been given the Holy Spirit to lead him and guide him.

"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth." John 16:13

"...those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." Romans 8:14

God has given us His Spirit so that we can hear from God and do His will. It is by the Spirit of God that God communicates to His people. That is why Paul prays that the Colossians would receive spiritual wisdom and understanding in order to do the will of God (Col. 1:9,10).

What about God's prophets?

Someone might argue that God used the natural to speak to His prophets. For example, God asked Jeremiah,

"What do you see?" Jer. 1:11,13

However, they fail to realise that God's prophets walked closely to God and were already hearing His voice when He told them to look at the natural to confirm God's Word!

Listen to God!

Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice" John 10:27

The primary reason Christians look to the natural realm to hear God is because they are not spending time with God and learning to hear His voice out of an intimate relationship with Him. Consequently they don't know God and depend on people, circumstances and the natural realm to determine truth! Clearly this can lead to deception and being completely misled by unspiritual people and the enemy!

Depend on God!

God wants His people to depend on Him and not on creation. The natural realm points to God so that we seek Him first (see Rom. 1:19-23). The principle of looking to God as our Source is so important to Him that Jesus even rebuked the teachers of the Law for depending on the Word more than on God (see John 5:39,40)! God's Word must lead us into an encounter with the living God - the Author!

The believer must learn to be led by the Holy Spirit. Clearly we will only know God's voice if we grow in our knowledge of Him by spending time with Him, by reading His Word and praying.

Spiritual revelation

Ask the Lord for spiritual revelation and understanding as you read His Word, and expect God to speak to you (see 1 Cor. 2:9-14; Matthew 13:11,12). Meditate on what the Holy Spirit highlights to you and allow the Lord to show you the deeper things of God.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Are you holy?

"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'be holy, because I am holy.'" 1 Peter 1:15,16

God is holy.

God is holy because of who He is and not because of what He does. God is holy because He is like no other god. He is beyond compare!

"'To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?' asks the Holy One" Isaiah 40:25

It is the "otherness" of God that defines His holiness. He is completely (wholly) good, pure, loving, righteous, just, light, merciful, gracious, etc, because that is His holy nature!

God makes holy.

In the Old Testament we read about how God brings the people of Israel out of Egypt to set them apart from all other nations as His people - a people belonging to God and set apart for Him. God thus makes His people holy by setting them apart. That which is set apart for God is sanctified - made holy.

For example, when the priests were ordained in the OT, they were set apart with blood and oil (see Leviticus 8). Likewise the believer is set apart and made holy by the blood of Jesus and the oil of the Holy Spirit.

Through faith in Jesus, the believer is sanctified by His blood and by the gift of the Holy Spirit! 1 Peter 1:1,2

The believer is therefore holy! He is sanctified. He cannot become holy in his own effort. It is God who sets the believer apart and makes Him holy. Holiness cannot be attained!

The New Testament calls God's people, saints because they have been sanctified and set apart for God. Believers cannot become saints by their own effort. They are made saints by the mercy and grace of God! See Eph. 1:1,15

"This sainthood is not an attainment, it is a state into which God in grace calls men.." W.E. Vine

You are holy!

As a believer, you are holy by nature, regardless of whether you sin or not! Your obedience or your disobedience does not change the fact that God has set you apart for Himself. As God's holy people we are called to live holy lives - lives that express our separateness for God. Paul writes,

"To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy.." 1 Cor. 1:2

The believer is called to live a holy life because he is holy and not in order to become holy!

Made holy to reveal God's holiness

God's purpose in setting apart a people for Himself, by bringing His people out of darkness, is to reveal Himself through them as the only true God - the Holy One!

"..you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." 1 Peter 2:9,10

"Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes." Ezekiel 36:23

Called to holiness.

The believer is called to live a holy life because God is holy. The believer's holiness is expressed by his separateness from the world, the flesh and the devil. As God's holy people, we are in this world but not of this world.

"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified." John 17:15-19

Through the believer's union with Christ, he is made holy so that he will reveal the One to whom he is joined - the Holy One (see 1John 4:15).

Revealing God.

The way we live holy lives, as God's holy people, is to be like Jesus (1 John 2:6)! We reveal God's otherness as we reveal His nature - His love, mercy, kindness, patience, goodness, grace, forgiveness, etc.

As God's holy people "let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God!" 2 Cor. 7:1

Saints, be holy because God is holy and you are holy!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Are you being saved?

"And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:47

Salvation is present continuous. Christians are in the process of being saved as long as they believe and remain in Christ.

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:8,9

You are receiving the salvation of your soul. Salvation is present continuous.

"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation - if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel." Col. 1:21-23

As the believer continues to believe, he continues to receive salvation.

"And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming." 1 John 2:28

The believer continues in Christ as he continues to trust in God's grace. By faith the believer enters into this grace and it is by faith that the believer must continue to live in this grace until Christ comes again!

"After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" Gal. 3:3

"..if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." Romans 10:9,10

As the believer continues to believe and continues to confess he is saved and will be saved.

Salvation is union with God that is realised (worked out - Phil. 2:12) by daily and abiding fellowship with Him.

"This is how we know we are in him: whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6

Your initial "prayer of faith" to be saved has gained you entrance into the grace in which you now stand. To stand firm, you need to continue to have faith by continuing to abide in Christ. Your abiding in Christ will bear fruit which will give you confidence on the day He returns.

"...as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world." 1 John 4:17

"...those who obey God's word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him." 1 John 2:5

Are you being saved?

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Cor. 1:18

"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you - unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2 Cor. 13:5

Friday, 18 February 2011

When do you approach the throne of grace?

"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infimities; but was in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:14-16 (KJV)

Jesus has overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. It is by Christ's overcoming Spirit, resident in the believer that we overcome.
Most of us approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace because we have sinned but the above verses encourage the believer to come to the throne to receive from God in order to overcome!

So often we start in the flesh and when we fail we end in the Spirit. Surely God's invitation to His children is to begin in the Spirit and remain in the Spirit by depending on Him for mercy and grace in order to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil?

Paul encourages Timothy and says, "..be strong in the grace that is in Christ." 2 Tim. 2:1

God's mercy means we don't receive what we deserve but God's grace means we receive in abundance what we don't deserve.

Come to the throne of grace and receive mercy and then in your time of need today, find the grace God has given you in Christ to overcome trials and temptation! Don't start in the flesh! Start in the Spirit and end in the Spirit and hold firm to the faith that you profess.

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ!


Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The key to praying in power

"It is written, 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With the same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak." 2 Cor. 4:13


The spirit of faith believes AND speaks!

"The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45

A heart filled with faith speaks.

The words we speak because of faith have creative power to influence and change the natural realm.

The apostle Paul writes,

"The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." Romans 10:8-10

Powerful words

The words we speak that agree with our faith, have power! To confess is to agree.

"From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him." Proverbs 12:14

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue." Proverbs 18:21

The words we speak have power only when they are in agreement with what we believe. It is not the right words that have power but the words that flow out of a heart of faith!

Faithless words?

Those who use words without faith can get themselves into a lot of trouble!

"Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, 'In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.' Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, 'Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?' Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding." Acts 13-16

Praying with the spirit of faith

The believer must pray the will of God. If we are praying in the Spirit, we will pray in agreement with God's will so that His Kingdom is manifested on earth as it is in heaven (see Matthew 6:10). The Holy Spirit intercedes in accordance with the will of God and so should we, if we want to pray with the spirit of faith (see Romans 8:27).

The key to praying in power

The key to praying in power is to know and believe the will of God and to speak it into the physical realm. This is praying with the spirit of faith!

How to pray with the spirit of faith

A great way to build your faith and to grow in the spirit of faith is to pray God's Word out loud. For example, you can take Psalm 91 and pray it out loud over your own life. Verse one states,

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."

You can pray, "Thank you, Lord, that as I dwell in your shelter I find rest in your presence! Thank you Lord that I can dwell in your shelter and abide in your presence. Thank you that you overshadow me right now as I rest in your presence."

Faith comes from hearing God's Word (see Romans 10:17)! Therefore, praying God's Word out loud is operating with the spirit of faith and it strengthens your faith at the same time!

I encourage you to develop the "spirit of faith" as you believe and speak God's will on earth as it is in heaven. I pray that you will be filled "with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding....so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." Col. 1:9-12

Thursday, 20 January 2011

How to listen to God

"You are permitted to understand the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken from them." Matthew 13:11,12 (NLT)

God speaks!

In Deuteronomy 6:4 we read what is known as the "Schema" which says, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one."

God commands His people to pay attention! The Lord speaks and He calls His children to listen. Jesus says,

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)

Jesus says, "proceeds" and not "proceeded"! God continues to speak to the believer and so the believer must continue to listen.

The apostle Paul in his introduction to spiritual gifts explains that God is not a "mute idol" but that He is the living God who continues to communicate with His people in many different ways (see 1 Cor. 12-14).

Why does God speak to us?

There are many reasons why God speaks to us, but from Matthew 13 we see that Jesus wants believers to know "the secrets of heaven" (vs 11) and to have this knowledge "in abundance" (vs 12) so that they "might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn" so that God "would heal them" (vs 15). Jesus says that those who truly listen will produce "a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown" (vs 23). In the context we see that Jesus is talking about receiving spiritual revelation of the Kingdom so that it grows in our lives and influences our lives through and through (see also Matthew 13:31-33).

Hearing or listening?

There is a difference between hearing and truly listening. To hear is to perceive but to listen is to understand and respond. Many believers hear God speaking to them through the Bible, through sermons, through the Church, etc. but are stunted in their spiritual growth. Christians attend conferences and hear the most amazing sermons but still remain "babes in Christ." Why is that?

The reason that many believers are not growing spiritually and not coming to wholeness in Christ is primarily because they are not truly listening to God!

Luke gives us even more insight to what it means to truly listen to God:
"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop." Luke 8:15

A true listener hears, understands, retains and perseveres so that a crop is produced! If we want to produce a crop then we will need to listen to God.

How do we truly listen?
  1. Ask - ask the Lord to give you ears to hear! (Is. 55:6; 1 Cor. 2:9-14)
  2. Be alert - be attentive to God speaking to you throughout your day and night (dreams)
  3. Position yourself to hear - read the Bible, listen to sermons, etc
  4. Have an open heart - listen to receive and understand
  5. Have a teachable spirit - allow God to challenge and change your thinking (Isaiah 55:8)
  6. Remember what God says to you - retain and meditate on what God has said to you by praying it over your life and repeating it (Psalm 1:2; 119:15)
  7. Apply God's Word to your life - act on what God says to you by faith
  8. Persevere - continue to act on God's Word to you even if you don't see immediate results
  9. Expect a crop - believe you will receive what God has spoken to you
How do you train your listening skills?

I have discovered that those who struggle to listen in the natural also struggle to listen to God! Use your everyday relationships to train your listening skills. Here are a few tips:

  1. Don't do all the talking - "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak" James 1:19

  2. Pay attention - don't think about other things or what you are going to say next whilst you are "listening"

  3. Ask questions - make sure you really understand what the other person is communicating to you. Don't assume you know what the person is saying and where the person is going with what s/he is saying.

  4. Repeat what you have understood to the person speaking to you. Don't say "aha" or the like when you haven't understood or to be polite whilst your mind is somewhere else. It's dishonest and not "owning up" to not knowing something is pride.

  5. After your conversation, check what you can still remember of what the other person told you.

Practice in the natural what you want to grow in spiritually!

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Rev. 3:22