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Monthly Archives: April 2014

BE NOT A CHILD BUT A SON OF GOD!

What does God desire the most from us believers? It is that we would all become sons and daughters to Him, not just his children. Because there is a world of difference between being a child and being a son or a daughter. A child is an immature human, and a son is a mature human. A child cannot be very useful to a father because he cannot help the father take care of business, whereas a mature son can.

Apostle Paul admonished the Galatian brethren that “…As long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces[a] of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b]Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” – Galatians 4:1-7

Now, the main point Paul sought to make here is that though all men are made in God’s image and are therefore, His offspring, an unsaved man cannot operate as God’s son because the sinful nature of the unsaved man makes it impossible for him to relate to God as His son. So Paul likened this to a child whom, though he is his father’s son, does not yet live up to his proper and expected role as a son to the man, because there’s something still standing in the way: childishness and immaturity. And in the context that Paul used the analogy, what is standing in the way of a man being recognized as God’s son is sin. Therefore, the salvation from sin that Jesus has provided has made it possible for men to be fully recognized as heirs of God, as through salvation:

  • The nature of God is restored in men, and we can now call Him Father.
  • The power and authority of God is restored in men.
  • The ability to take care of God’s business as His sons is restored in men.
  • The ability to represent God on earth as his sons is restored in men.

So while that was the context in which Paul made that admonition to the Galatians, there are more contexts in which more understanding can be gained from that admonition. The story of the Prodigal Son provides one such context in that in this story we have the father and his sons representing God and His children, and the father’s estate representing God’s kingdom. [Please refer to Luke 15:11-32 for the full parable of the prodigal son]

This story reveals a number of issues that prevent God’s children – born-again believers – from being God’s sons, namely:

  • LACK OR INADEQUATE AMOUNT OF LOVE FOR GOD
  • SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY
  • LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF WHO WE ARE AS HEIRS OF GOD
  • SPIRITUAL CARELESSNESS

Though the prodigal son and his older brother were their father’s sons, they behaved more like children even after they had grown to the age when they should have behaved like sons unto him. As we know from the story, their father had a huge estate; the kind that requires that he appoint people in important positions to help him run the affairs of the estate. But his sons fell short of such important positions. Likewise do the majority of God’s children woefully fall short of expectations that God has of us, for the reasons listed above.

Though the prodigal son and his older brother had two very different personalities, both were very immature sons who lacked understanding of who they were in their father’s house. The prodigal son’s issues were more obvious than the older brother’s. The prodigal son didn’t care about their father at all, and simply wanted to go and live his own life for himself, at his father’s expense. Meaning that he didn’t have a sense of ownership over their father’s estate like a son would, and therefore, didn’t care to help grow the estate. Many in the church are like this man. We only see God’s kingdom as His kingdom, and not ours as well. We don’t see it as our Heavenly Father’s property that we must take part in helping to grow in this world. But most of our prayers are about asking God to give us our piece of His riches.

Had the prodigal son loved his father, he would have lovingly stayed and helped to build the father’s estate, and wouldn’t have even thought of the inheritance. And had he been wise, he would have understood that in helping to build the estate, he was building his own estate; that he was building his own future. Because you see, had he been wise, and had he loved his father, he would have waited for his father to die before receiving his inheritance. For instance, let’s say that his share of his father’s estate was 20%, and that the estate was worth 100 million dollars on the day he received his inheritance. That would mean a share of 20 million dollars. But then let’s say that their father got to live 20 more years before dying, and that at the time of  his death, his estate was worth 1 billion dollars. The prodigal son’s inheritance at that time would have been 200 million dollars! So had he been wise, he would have stayed and worked to build up his own inheritance!

If only we believers were wise to understand the glorious stake that we have in our Father’s kingdom!!!

The Lord spoke to me one day, and asked me “those mansions that I said I’m going to prepare for you in heaven (see John 14:2), what do you think I’m building them with?” He then proceeded to explain to me that it is the work that we do for Him here on earth that produces the resources that He uses to build our mansions in heaven. In other words, as we serve in His kingdom here on earth, we get paid both here on earth, and in heaven for our services, and the Lord uses the payments that we receive in heaven to build our mansions for us. This is why He told us in Matthew 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (KJV)

Here’s an illustration: Many Africans who live abroad endeavor to send money to their home countries to build houses for themselves. When I was living in Nigeria, a cousin of mine who lived in Germany came home one day, expecting to find a fully-built and furnished house waiting for him. He had been working hard and borrowing money to send to one of our uncles to build a house for him. But when he got there, there was no house. That’s an example of a man who tried to lay up treasure for himself here on earth, and the treasure was stolen from him. Had he endeavored instead to lay up treasures in heaven by investing all that hard-earned money into the work of the kingdom, he would have given the Lord the resources to build him a mansion in heaven. And the Lord would not have cheated him!

Now of course I’m not saying that one should not build houses for oneself here on earth. But I am very much encouraging us to re-evaluate our priorities in life! Because it is a fact that we believers do spend AND WASTE the resources God gives us on personal things, instead of spending it on things that concern and benefit the Kingdom.

  • A TRUE SON OF GOD IS ONE WHO UNDERSTANDS THAT KINGDOM MATTERS COME FIRST IN HIS LIFE!
  • A true son of God understands that he is only a steward of whatever God puts in his hands, and that paying tithe of 10% doesn’t mean that the remaining 90% is for him to spend as he wishes. Rather He asks God how he is to spend every red cent that comes into his hands.

So much more work would be accomplished in the kingdom of God if more believers committed their possessions to serving God with it first.

Brethren, so many people will be shocked when they get to heaven and see the mansion that was built for them. Those believers who spent their time on earth pursuing their own things, seeking fulfilment in their own ways, serving God how and when it pleased them, will be shocked to see what they got. And they will be even more shocked to see the greater mansions that were built for those who selflessly and tirelessly served God! Those who gave Him their all here on earth, WILL go to heaven to receive their great rewards! All because they were wise enough to understand that their reward up in heaven is the more important one.

Proverbs 11:30 says “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. (KJV)

I used to wonder a lot about the meaning of the second part of this verse; I mean it’s obvious that winning souls is a good thing to do, which all believers are expected to do anyway. But what has wisdom got to do with it? I used to ponder this issue until the Lord gave me the understanding about the relation between serving in His kingdom and laying up treasures in heaven. If the work we do for the kingdom here on earth is the means by which we’re paid in heaven, then you’ll agree with me that a person who denies himself much personal pleasure here on earth in order to devote himself to the work of the kingdom is a lot wiser than a man who doesn’t, because he is wise enough to look ahead and build up a treasure for himself where it truly matters – in heaven – where he will get to enjoy the fruit of his labors FOR ETERNITY!

So we can see how the prodigal son lacked insight into the future, and was not wise enough to make the best decision for himself. ALL BECAUSE HE DIDN’T CARE ABOUT HIS FATHER’S AFFAIRS! Believers who spend their earnings on themselves and neglect the affairs of the kingdom are no different. True sons of God are mature and wise believers who know better! Who understand that true fulfilment in life is in helping to build their father’s kingdom by helping to populate it with His lost sons and daughters! Who understand that if they don’t do it, nobody else would! If they don’t do it, who would? The unbelievers? The careless and unserious believers who don’t have time for God?

So from all this we learn that a true son or daughter of God:

  • Loves God and wants to serve Him out of love and devotion, not for what he can gain from God
  • Sees God’s Kingdom as his own, and devotes himself to helping build it
  • Is wise to understand that worldly gains cannot be compared to eternal gains in heaven, where it truly matters. Like the prodigal son who would have gained much more if he had stayed and served his father to the end, we stand to gain so much more if we serve wholeheartedly, and never stop serving to the end!

Let’s now take a look into some of the older brother’s issues, which are summed up in his angry comments to his father when he said: “‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’” (Luke 15:29, NIV)

By his own admission, the older brother was so immature that he didn’t understand who he was in his father’s house. He saw himself as a slave, though he owned the estate. He served his father, not as a heir to his father, but as a slave because that’s how he saw himself. Not as a co-owner and co-builder of the estate, but as a slave. Hence another lesson from Paul’s statement to the Galatians that “as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.

The employees at a multi-billion-dollar retail chain don’t have a sense of ownership in the company as do the owners of the company because they are not heirs to the company. And by owners I mean the man or woman who owns the company along with his/her children. They’re the ones enjoying the billions. The employees only get their fixed salaries, so it’s understandable that they couldn’t care any less whether the company is doing well or not, because as far as they’re concerned, even if the company went down, they could go somewhere else and get another job making the same salary. But if the heirs of the company’s owner are grown up and are working in the company, they would take their jobs and positions more personally than the employees would, and the wellbeing of the company would mean everything to them.

We believers must see God’s kingdom as our very own kingdom because it belongs to us. We are heirs to it; so what concerns it MUST concern us! We must take personally the affairs of the kingdom of God. The church we belong to does not belong to the pastor-in-charge or the overseer, but it belongs to us because it belongs to God our Father. What concerns the church MUST concerns us deeply. The needs of the church must be our needs. We must love the church as Christ loves her, and avail ourselves to be used by the Lord to see that the affairs of the church are running smoothly.

If an heir to the retail company needed a 60-inch TV set, all he would need to do would be to order that one TV set be brought to his house from one of the company’s stores, because he knows that  the TV set, along with everything in the stores, belongs to him. The prodigal son’s older brother didn’t even have this understanding. He didn’t know that he had the right to order a servant to kill a goat for him to enjoy with his friends. He was waiting for his father to see him working hard one day and tell him to reward himself with a goat, when he himself was in the position to see one of the servants working hard and tell the servant to reward himself with a goat. But if he didn’t even know that he could reward himself with a goat, how could he tell the servants to reward themselves with one?

Brethren, if you don’t know who you are in Christ, how can you tell others who they are in Him??? If you don’t know who you are in Christ, how can you know what rights, authorities and powers you have in his kingdom as co-heirs with Him??? How can you call yourself a son??? It is a child who goes about his father’s house not understanding these things, because he is a child. Which is why the father assigns servants to care for him and provide him with things that he needs but doesn’t know how to get for himself. But it is expected that with time, the child would grow into a mature man who knows what rights he has as his father’s son, and begins to exercise his authority over the estate. Likewise MUST a believer grow into a son or daughter of God in whom now dwell God’s power and authority, and who knows how to use this power and authority to perform his God-assigned duties in the kingdom!

And just as a small child cannot be expected to work alongside his father to help build the family estate, neither can an immature believer successfully work with God. So it is expected that a believer MUST mature into a son whose existence on earth is all about working alongside God-the-Father and our Senior Brother Jesus, to help build and advance the kingdom!

This is why Romans 8:19  says “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” (KJV)

Not the manifestation of the ‘children’ of God, but of the ‘sons’ of God! Only true sons of God have what it takes to manifest His power and glory for the world to see and believe in Him!

Lastly, we see the same lack of love in the older brother as well. In fact it’s not at all surprising that with all his immaturity, the older brother would also lack love, because a mature son would be man enough and loving enough to graciously welcome back his wayward brother. One of the greatest failures of the Church is in the way newcomers are treated sometimes. The existing members can at times be incredibly hostile to newcomers. Whether they realize it or not, they react as if they aren’t happy to see a lost soul come home to the Father. But a true believer is a son of Love. God doesn’t just have love, HE IS LOVE! So as His children we are children of love! And as we grow into sons, we grow to become sons of Love! Love MUST be a defining trait in a true son of God. AS GOD IS LOVE, SO MUST A TRUE SON OF HIS BECOME LOVE! The ability to love ALL men unconditionally and to readily welcome them into the kingdom must dwell in a son of God! Our lives must be all about working to reconcile our lost brethren to our Father, out of deep love for our Father and for our lost brethren!

WHO THE BROTHERS BECAME

In the parable, the Lord did not say what happened after the prodigal son returned and was accepted back into his father’s house as a son. But as we can see from the story, he and his older brother were subjected to some serious life-changing lessons on who they ought to be in their father’s house. The older bro found out that his father’s possessions were his to use freely, and that he was not to see himself as just one of the servants. And the prodigal son became a different person from who he was before he left.

As a result of this transformation that took place within both sons, they could now truly be sons to their father! How so?

The prodigal son was now a broken man. He had had his fun in life and was no longer interested in having fun. All he wanted before was to use and abuse his father’s wealth, but now he was ready to be useful to his father! HE HAD ‘DIED’ AND WAS BORN ANEW into a reformed and responsible person who could be counted upon, as a true son! The experience that he had gone thru was the kind that gives wisdom, and produces in a man the right kinds of personality traits, such as humility, wisdom and understanding, graciousness, dedication, selflessness, temperance, etc… Therefore, I can imagine that he must have gone to his father the next morning and asked where he could be of service on his father’s estate! And we can be sure that WHATEVER he was told to do, he would have done it judiciously and excellently, as he was now selflessly dedicated to the service of his father!

This is the kind of brokenness – and resulting reformation to our personalities, that God seeks to produce in believers that He is looking to make into sons! This is why He takes His time to put us thru harsh ordeals that are akin to the hardship the prodigal son endured.

The older brother also underwent a transformation that day, stemming from the understanding that had just been handed to him by his father. Here’s how his own future might have changed: From the way he saw himself, and the way his father spoke to him, it is doubtful that the father had given him a befitting position of responsibility and authority in his estate. Let’s remember the statement “As long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father…

Their father had servants who occupied positions of authority and helped him run the estate, instead of his own sons. One son had run away, and the older one who had stayed was unfit to take on such important positions. Just as the father waited for the day his prodigal son would come back and be a son to him, he waited for the day his older son would overcome his shortcomings and become a son to him. Therefore, if the father’s words to the older brother had had the right effects on him, then the older brother would have had the kind of change of heart, change of perspective, and change of self-view, that would have transformed him into the person his father had been waiting for him to become: A grown man who knew who he was as his father’s son! It is to such a son that their father would assign a position of importance within his estate.

The ‘new’ older brother would be a new person in that he would no longer be insecure and resentful of his younger brother and his father. His anger towards both men would dissipate and turn into love. And this love would produce in him the gentleness and graciousness with which he could lead the servants and treat them well and justly. He was already dedicated to serving their father; but while he used to do it with bitterness and resentment, he would now do it out of love and devotion to his father, and would happily and lovingly serve alongside his reformed brother.The Lord is not looking for slaves in us! He is looking for dedicated sons and daughters who CHEERFULLY seek to serve Him because they have grown to love and value Him above all things!

CONCLUSION

We will conclude this teaching by pointing out the powerful role that righteousness plays in all this discussion about sons. BECAUSE RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE SOURCE OF THE POWER IN A SON OF GOD!
We’ve mentioned that a son of God must be holy. But holiness is simply man separating himself from sin, and the simple fact is that no matter how much we try to be holy before God, we could never attain the standard of holiness that God has. Therefore, God devised a system by which He puts His own righteousness upon us once we believe in His Son. That way, He overlooks our imperfect state by looking at us thru His Son’s own perfection, and sees us righteous.

This presence of God’s righteousness in us brings us into an incredible position! In fact the greatest tragedy this world has ever known is the fact that believers do not understand the kind of position the righteousness of God brings them into in this world! Imagine a homeless vagrant with no good name and origins, no possessions, nothing whatsoever to boast of in this world. One day, a wealthy and powerful man takes in the bum, adopts him and confers upon him his own powerful name, then places him in a position of power within his estate. This is literally what happens when God confers His righteousness upon a man! His authority and power are suddenly placed upon the man!

Now imagine that the only condition placed upon the bum is that he be faultlessly obedient to the man who has adopted him and made him his son. That’s exactly the condition that sons of God MUST meet without fault! The secret to the Lord Jesus’ success is simple this: He was always obedient, even to the point of death!!!!! (See Philippians 2:8) As long as He was obedient to the instructions that He received from God the Father, the power and authority of the Father were upon Him and worked for Him. Likewise, as long as every single person in the Bible whom God had worked with, had been obedient to God, His righteousness was upon the person, and produced the mighty manifestations of the power of God in the person’s life!

God’s kingdom belongs to God!!! He decides how things are done in it. His Church belongs to Him. He decides how it is to be built! His sons are his servants. Therefore, all that is expected of them is to listen attentively to His instructions and do as instructed. Nothing else and nothing more or less!!! If the Lord Jesus came to earth and did nothing other than to receive instructions from the Father and then do strictly as He was instructed, how much more we whose righteousness comes thru Him!?! As long as the prodigal son and his older brother obediently served their father as instructed, he would be pleased to maintain his authority and power on them. The day any of them disobeyed in any way, his position of authority would be in jeopardy. The estate belonged to their father, and he had a specific vision for where he wanted to take his business. The sons were there to help him take his business where he wanted, and the only way they could do so was by receiving their father’s instructions, and strictly doing as instructed. Even if they never understood where he was taking the estate, they would obey faithfully because they now believed in their father, that he knew best, and they loved and respected his judgment.

So brethren, God is looking for sons and daughters of His who have grown into mature believers who have learned to be obedient to His every command, for therein lies the secret to their success as sons and daughters of God! EVERY SINGLE SON AND DAUGHTER IS UNIQUE! Therefore, the way God works with one son or daughter is not the way He works with another. Every church or ministry is unique. Therefore, God has a way that He plans to build every church or ministry. Watch and learn the way God works with you to build what He has committed to your care, and determine to follow His lead no matter what the cost of doing so may be! Seek out and faithfully follow His instructions no matter how ludicrous, crazy, unpleasant or scary they may sound! Therein lies the key to your success as a son or daughter of God!

If you’re a man, be a SON unto God! If you’re a woman, be a DAUGHTER unto God! Go and be great in our Father’s kingdom and vineyard! Be blessed!

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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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APPREHENDED TO BE BLESSED

In the message titled APPREHENDED FOR SERVICE (previously titled ‘Apprehended For What?’) we explored what it means for a man to be apprehended by God for His service, and we alluded to the fact that every believer would love to hear that God’s hand is upon him, because it means that God’s blessings are flowing upon him. [NOTE: It is highly recommended that you read APPREHENDED FOR SERVICE before reading this.] So in this follow-up message, we will explore the ways in which the Lord’s blessings flow upon the man whom He has apprehended.

 Someone said “everybody want go heaven, but nobody want dead” (sic). This is very similar to the attitude that believers have towards God and His blessings. We all want His blessings, but not many of us want to do what it takes to attract his blessings, and that’s where the problem lies because His blessings are reserved for those who serve Him. Like an employer who remunerates his workers, so does God rewards those who work to advance His kingdom here on earth. Simply put, God apprehends to use and bless! Here are some of the ways this works.

 SERVING AS AN AMBASSADOR OF HEAVEN

 An ambassador is a person that has been appointed – apprehended – by the head of a state to represent him in a foreign nation. When the ambassador enters a room, it is considered that the head of the state that he represents has entered the room. He speaks for, and carries the authority of the head of state. Everything that belongs to the ambassador – his residence, office, vehicle, hotel room, luggage, mail, etc. – are ‘sovereign property’ that are considered to be the property of the state that he represents. Thus, being inside an embassy of France in any country means being in the state of France. The laws of France apply inside that embassy, not the laws of the host country. The embassy and all the folks that work therein, from the ambassador down the guards at the gate, enjoy the full backing, protection, provisions and authority of France. 

 This is the kind of privilege a servant-believer enjoys for having been apprehended to be a servant of the kingdom of God. He is made a representative, an ambassador of the kingdom of heaven! Any believer who dedicates himself to serving the Lord in the specific ways the Lord leads him to serve, WILL see the hand of the Lord at work in his life! If human heads of state know how to support and care for the ambassadors they send out to represent them on foreign lands, how much more our great God!!! Wherever he sends a believer to serve Him, He is faithful to provide for every need that believer might have!

 It is crucial to understand something: The Lord knows what tools, equipment in order for us to effectively and efficiently render our services unto Him, and He is more than willing and ready to supply them. But the reality is that so many servants of His seem to be struggling to make ends meet, and to adequately equip their ministries or originations. The reason for this is always that we, the servants, fail to properly attract His blessings and provisions. How? 

  • By failing to be obedient. An ambassador NEVER does anything that he was not asked or ordered to do by the president who sent him. He does not set his own agenda, but is given an agenda by the one who sent him. And he must strictly follow any measures given him on how to execute the agenda. So must we believers learn to strictly obey our Lord’s commands and follow His directions very faithfully. If we do this, WE WILL see his rewards in our lives.
  • By failing to apply the principles provided in His word. An ambassador must know the rules, regulations, international laws and treaties, that regulate that way embassies must operate in foreign lands. If not, he would fail at utilizing to the fullest extent the rights afforded to him by the existing international laws and treaties, and would thus find himself in unpleasant situations that he could simply get out of by invoking the appropriate law or treaty. Likewise, the glory of the great God that we believers serve is not seeing in our lives the way it ought to because we fail to successfully apply the principles that He has set forth in His word. These principles govern the affairs of this world, therefore, knowing and following them faithfully is the key to having dominion over ALL sphere of life in this world!
  • By failing to ask for the right things. An ambassador will be provided with things that he needs, not things that he wants. The responsible state will supply even private aircraft to some of their ambassadors if they deem it necessary for their service to the state. Likewise, our God is known to provide aircraft for some of His servants, and I will submit to you that He is more than willing and ready to supply more of His servants with aircraft if only we would give Him reason to do so, and if we would properly call it forth!

 SERVING AS A COLT FOR THE LORD TO RIDE ON

 The story of the colt upon which the Lord Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, shows us a powerful thing about the way God’s servants get to enjoy His blessings. We read in Mar 11:7-10:“And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.>And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.” (KJV)

 The Lord Jesus needed to enter Jerusalem in a triumphant way, as prophesied about Him long ago. In his day, the donkey was the ride of kings. So he ordered for one to be literally apprehended and brought for Him to ride on. Now as He rode on the donkey, the people wanted to honor Him by laying down their cloths and branches along the way. But who got to walk to walk on those clothes and branches? The donkey! In fact even before the Lord sat on the donkey, the disciples dressed the donkey with their garments, in order for it to look good enough for the Master to ride on.

 Likewise, it is as a believer, who has been apprehended by the Lord, serves the Lord, that the believer gets to enjoy some of the blessings that are actually directed at the Lord. Like the Jewish priests and their families enjoyed the gifts that the people brought unto the Lord, so do his servants today get to enjoy the various gifts that people bring unto the Lord. It is a common thing for people to sow financially into the lives of God’s servants. It is God whom they really wish to bless, but since they can’t throw the money up to heaven for God to receive, they have to bless him by blessing His servants. And these are some of the ways that He provides unto His servants.

 This is why the irony of those who criticize God’s servants for having aircraft is that they only see the aircraft, but don’t see the Jesus that the servants are carrying on their backs. They don’t understand that the people who are financing the aircraft’s operation are doing so because it’s the Lord Jesus’ work that they seek to finance. It’s just that it’s the servants who are carrying Jesus on their backs who will get into the planes and go where the Lord wants them to go and do His work.

 SERVING AS A CARETAKER OF GOD’S AFFAIRS

 The story of Obed-Edom and King David offer a powerful example of the way God rewards those who take care of His belongings. We read in 2samuel 6:6-12:“When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God. Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.[e] 9 David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household. 12 Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.” (NIV)

 This is a popular story of the time King David tried to bring back the ark of the covenant from captivity in the land of the Philistines, to Jerusalem. But he followed the wrong procedure for transporting the ark, and as a result, a tragedy ensued. In anger, David decided to abandon the ark in the field of a man name Obed-Edom.

 Who was Obed-Edom? From his name we can understand that he was a descendant of Edom, meaning, a descendant of Esau. And David of course, was a descendant of Jacob. This means that Obed-Edom carried the curse of Esau, which states that the descendants of Esau must serve the descendants of Jacob. Because of this curse, the descendants of Esau were treated as second-class folk in the land of Israel. This is why when David became afraid of the ark and decided not to bring it into the city, lest it kills more people, David decided to leave the ark in Obed-Edom’s compound. The point was that if the ark was going to kill anyone else, let it be the people in Obed-Edom’s household that would be killed. That’s how insignificant the lives of Obed and his family were to David, because they were Esau’s descendants.

 But instead, the opposite happened. The presence of the ark in the midst of Obed-Edom’s household caused his household to prosper! In fact, God prospered Obed-Edom in a way that his prosperity became a threat to David’s kingship! Which is why after David learned about it, he ran and took the ark away from Obed’s place. The Lord was set to prosper Obed in a way that would have surpassed King David’s prosperity and power in the land, and the only reason the Lord didn’t go that far was because of the covenant that He had made with David that his throne will be established forever! It was only the grace that God had on David because of this covenant that saved David’s throne!

 Why did the Lord bless Obed-Edom so much? Because Obed took care of God! The ark of God carried God’s presence. It wasn’t just a box. It was God Himself! The Lord told me that when David abandoned the ark in that field, it was He Himself that David had abandoned like that. David did not make even a single provision to care for the ark, meaning, to care for God. He just left God like that in the open field for the sun and the rain to beat on Him. But Obed-Edom took care of God, and that’s why God blessed him the way He did! We don’t know exactly what Obed-Edom might have done to care for the ark, but it’s easy to imagine that he probably pulled the ark into a barn, away from the sun and rain, and fed the oxen that pulled the cart upon which the ark rode. It was this act of caring for the Lord’s affairs that caused the Lord to bless everything Obed-Edom had!

 Now get this: The curse of Esau that was on Obed-Edom dictated that David shall be greater than Obed. And it was so. But because of the great service that Obed-Edom had rendered unto the Lord by tending to His affairs, the Lord broke that curse and turned it into blessing in a way that if not for the covenant that He had with David to establish his throne forever, He would have made Obed-Edom greater than David!

 Brethren, I urge you to take all matters concerning the Lord very seriously! Consider yourself apprehended by Him to care for His affairs. Who else do you think is going to do it? The unbelievers??? The church you belong to, whose responsibility is it to care for it? Who is going to make His voice heard around the world? The unbelievers? Who is going to represent and defend his name in the society? The unbelievers?

 I urge you to make it your personal responsibility to see that the work of God is done in this world! Love God with all your heart and love to tend to any matter that pertains to Him. He will bless you for it! The story of Obed-Edom teaches us that we cannot serve a big God, and remain cursed in life! You can’t be an ambassador of heaven and be small in life! You cannot carry the Lord on your back and let Him use you to accomplish His mighty deeds, and be small in life! God is no man that He would use a person and not reward the person. As He rewarded Peter with a great catch of fish after using Peter’s boat, He WILL be faithful to reward anyone whom He uses for His kingdom work. He apprehends to use and bless!

 Go and be great for God in His service, and watch Him bless and prosper you on every side!

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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UNDERSTANDING FAITH!

Understanding the thing called faith is one of the biggest hurdles that believers encounter early in their walk with God, and explaining it has been the subject of countless sermons, teachings and writings. Here’s my humble take on the matter.

FAITH AS ‘SUBSTANCE’ AND ‘EVIDENCE’

Simply put, a substance is something that exists. Though it may be visible or invisible, tangible – can be touched and felt – or intangible, taste able or tasteless, all that matters is that it is real. The air we breathe is both invisible and intangible; but it is very real. We can feel it sometimes, and it even has a chemical property.
That is what Apostle Paul likened faith to in Hebrews 11:1, where he declared:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (KJV)

Let’s look at what Paul is saying here:
‘Substance of things hoped for’: According to that statement, if you are hoping for something, there can actually be something within you that can fuel that hope. Something that you can’t see or touch, but that you can feel deep within your being, that gives you hope. So faith is that substance – that invisible YET very real thing – that you feel within your being; something you can’t explain, but you just know for a fact that it is there within your heart.
‘Evidence of things not seen’: Ever heard of an unreal evidence? One huge burden that prosecutors always carry is that of providing the evidence of the accused person’s guilt. They can’t simply claim that the evidence exists, without bringing it forth for all to see, and simply expect the court to take their word for it. If it’s a murder case, a very real murder weapon must be presented before the court. They can’t claim that it is just a strong feeling that they have which tells them that the accused is guilty. But according to Paul, faith is like an invisible evidence, which, even though it can’t be seen, is nevertheless very real! Why? Because faith is a very real substance. Even though it can’t be seen, it is nevertheless very evident, and can be felt by the person who is carrying it!

So faith is that thing that you feel or sense within yourself, which makes you believe that what you are hoping for WILL happen! You can’t see how it could possibly happen, but you have this unseen evidence deep within you, that it WILL happen! If someone asked you how you can be so sure that it will happen, all you can reply WITH ALL CONFIDENCE is that you just know!

The Lord Jesus made allusion to the fact that faith MUST exist in a believer as a real substance when He likened faith to a mustard seed, in this story recorded Matthew 17:14-20:
“And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (KJV)

Though the mustard seed is one of the smallest fruit seeds, it is nevertheless very real. And ironically, it grows into quite a big tree. So can – and must – faith be very real in a person, and must grow within the person!

THE ORIGIN OF FAITH

So where does this very real and evident substance known as faith come from?
To answer this question, we must first of all answer another one: where do we feel faith? In our spirits. Therefore, faith is a spiritual thing. And if it’s a spiritual thing, then, in the Christian context, faith comes from God’s Holy Spirit. Let’s see how.

1. Faith comes by spiritual hearing
According to Romans 10:17 “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God…” (KJV)
I’ve heard a lot of folks turn this statement around and say ‘… and by hearing the word of God’, instead of ‘… and hearing by the word of God.’ Why? Because they can’t make sense of the way the preposition ‘by’ is placed in the original text.

This is VERY UNFORTUNNATE because it has led many to believe that faith comes by hearing and hearing and hearing the word of God over and over and over… The point being that as one hears the word over and over and over, one will eventually develop faith in what one has been hearing. WRONG!

The truth of the matter is that ONE ONLY NEEDS TO HEAR THE LORD SPEAK ONCE in order for one to receive the faith in what one has heard the Lord say! Meaning that you can hear and hear and hear something over and over and over, but unless the kind of hearing that produces faith occurs within you, faith will never be produced!

Simply put, the statement should have been:

‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing [cometh] by the word of God.’

What happened was simply that the authors of the King James Bible chose to not repeat the word ‘cometh’.
So what we are being told basically is that while faith comes from hearing the word, the hearing – which produces the faith – comes from the word of God. Here’s how the NIV puts it:
“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

Meaning that faith comes from hearing the message, which itself is heard through the word.

As we know, Jesus is the Word of God. So what we have is: Faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Lord Jesus. Therefore, you can hear the word spoken to you by a human pastor over and over and over, but unless you hear the Lord Jesus himself speak to you somewhere along the line, you cannot hear the word in a way that will produce faith in you.

This ‘hearing’ that produces faith, is what is referred to as ‘spiritual hearing’. It is the hearing that occurs when the spirit of a man hears what is spoken to it in the realm of the spirit. Therefore this hearing will produce faith in a man when the man hears the Holy Spirit speak to him, or it will produce doubt and fear when the man hears the spirit of the devil speak to him.

Here’s an example to illustrate this phenomenon: One day, my wife was reading the Bible and as she came across the words ‘fear not’, she said it was as if those two words took on life and spoke to her in a way that she heard the Lord tell her that she should fear not! She said that suddenly she felt a surge of faith in the Lord that gave her total confidence that the Lord would take care of the issue that she was dealing with at the time.

From this example we can see how faith came to be in my wife’s heart from that moment forward concerning the issue that she was dealing with. She suddenly had this thing in her inner being that told her that she should fear not. She suddenly had this substance within her heart; this feeling that she couldn’t put her hand on, but which was nevertheless very real and evident!!! From that point onward, she could say that SHE KNOWS that all is well! Why? Because hearing had occurred within her. Because the Word – Jesus – had spoken the word in a way that the necessary kind of hearing had occurred within her spirit.

2. Spiritual vs physical hearing
Man is made up of a soul, a spirit, and flesh. The soul and the spirit are the parts of man that are made in God’s image. The flesh is simply a physical housing that enables the soul and spirit of man to dwell and operate in the physical nature of this world.

God is Spirit. He has no flesh. Therefore, He only speaks a spiritual language that ONLY man’s spirit can hear and interact with. This is what makes it so challenging for men to relate to God, because most of the time, we are living by our flesh – our physical senses – and cannot readily communicate with his Spirit. This is why acquiring the ability to communicate spirit to Spirit with God is a must for a believer! A believer must acquire the ability to hear, see, and discern spiritually, so he can communicate with God.

With his physical ears, a man can hear another man promise him a thing, and believe in the promise, because he actually heard the man make the promise. He was able to hear the man with his physical ears because the man spoke with his own physical mouth, and spoke physical words. Likewise, we can only begin to believe in God’s promises if and only if we actually hear God make the promises, and this can only be possible if our spirits are able to catch the spiritual words spoken to us by God’s own Holy Spirit. When we hear with our spiritual ears, that’s when ‘hearing’ has occurred, and this hearing then produces faith in us!

Every word of Scripture is spiritual, and only our spirits can hear, and understand and accept them. We can read and read and read them over and over, but never ‘hear’ and understand and accept what we are reading until and unless God Himself speaks to our spirits as we are reading those words. This is why we must always pray before we set out to spend some time reading the word of God. Pray and ask the Lord to speak to you as you read His word, and give you the ability to understand and believe in what you are reading.

A minister can preach the word of God all he wants, but unless the Lord speaks thru the words of the minister, the minister will be speaking in vain. Unless the people listening to the minister are also able to hear the Lord speak to them thru their spiritual ears, then the minister will have spoken in vain. The kind of hearing that matters will occur if they actually hear the Lord speak to their spirits even as the minister is speaking to their physical ears.

This is why no man can save another man. Only God can save a man, because only God can speak to a man’s soul and spirit, and convinces the man to believe in Him. The only thing God asks of us believers to do, is to open our mouths and share His words with others. As we do that, we give Him the chance to now speak thru us in the unseen real of the spirit. So we must always know and do our part only, which is to deliver the message God puts in our mouths, and leave God to do His own part of convincing and convicting the people we are speaking to.

3. Faith in God comes from God.
The last paragraph already said it all: It all begins with the Lord making contact with man within man’s spirit, and convincing man to believe in Him. This is why it is said of Abraham that “…he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (KJV) From this statement we see that righteousness can only come from two sources: From God, and thru faith in God.

If a man never promised to give you a car, should you somehow begin to believe that the man will give you a car? No. But if you hear a rich man promise to buy you a car, you would believe it to the point where, as far as you’re concerned, you already have a car because you have faith in the man who made the promise. Likewise faith in God comes from the fact that He actually spoke to you and you heard Him speak to you, and you believed what you heard him say.

Therefore faith in God can only come from God Himself. If He hasn’t spoken, and you begin to have faith in Him for something you never heard from Him, then what you’re feeling is not faith in Him, since He never gave you any reason to believe in Him for that which you are having faith in Him for.
On the other hand, once you do hear Him speak a thing to you, believe in what you heard Him say to you with your heart and with all your mind! Allow faith in what you heard to blossom within you and grow into a mighty substance that you know is very real within you!

No man alive has ever seen God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But we believe that they exist because we have faith that they do. And we have this faith because we heard them tell us in their Word that they are real, and we believe it!

Furthermore, faith comes from God because faith is produced by Christ. Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1). The reason the word can speak up in a manner that produces faith in a man is that the word is Jesus.
As we know, salvation is thru Christ only. He is the Bridge between us and God the Father. He comes and dwells in us and helps us believe in the Father. THEREFORE, Jesus is the source of the faith that we feel in our hearts and spirits! He is the Word that speaks to us and tells us to believe!

THE INDISPENSABILITY OF FAITH

As we know, another word for religion is faith. Whatever religion a man follows, he does so because he has faith in that religion. Therefore, faith in God is indispensable to His followers for the following reasons:

1. Without faith it is impossible to relate to God
Has any man alive today ever seen Jesus? No. Not even the great Apostle Paul had seen the Lord Jesus in person. But like Paul, many have literally given their lives up for the Lord Jesus! Because they believed in Him! They believed that He is whom He says that He is! That faith in Him is the only thing that made possible their relationship with Jesus. What’s the point in trying to have and build and relationship with an invisible God that you don’t even believe to be real? Or whose claims about Himself you don’t believe? Those who are willing to die for God obviously have such great faith in Him that they are willing to lay down their lives for Him!

Without faith in God, how can one grow in God? Satan fights a deadly battle against anyone who begins to believe in God, and the only thing that can help the new believer to keep on believing in God is the faith that he has in God. It is only this conviction –this faith – that he feels deep within himself that can help him withstand any assault from the devil, and stand strong in God!

When I hear God speaking to me spiritually, or when I see something with my spiritual eyes that I feel that He has just shown me, or when I sense the move of His Spirit in me, it is only by faith that I can believe that I have just heard or seen, or sensed that thing. Needless to say then, the greater one’s faith in God, the greater one’s ability to relate to God; therefore, the greater one’s relationship with God!

It is by this faith that I know – because I believe it – that I am His child! It is this faith that speaks up and tells me to be joyful at all times! Faith is that feeling that comforts me during times of tumult; that reminds me that greater is He who is in me than the jerk that is in the world! It is faith that tells me that God loves and cares for me, and produces peace and calm within me when I have so many reasons not to be at peace! Faith it is that gives me a steady dose of power, courage and confidence when I’m going thru a worrisome ordeal!

This is why relating to God is all about having ‘faith’ in Him. And this faith comes from nowhere but His words, therefore, from Jesus Himself! A believer will swear that he knows that God is real, and even allow himself to be killed rather than renounce this faith in God, because he feels this thing – this real substance called faith – deep within his being, that tells him that God is real!

So brethren, never cease to seek after a deeper relationship with God so you can keep improving in your ability to interact with Him spirit to Spirit. Never cease to ask the Lord for more faith in Him! Let the substance of the faith that dwells in you continue to grow, that you may be able to do great and mighty acts of faith for the world to see and believe in our great God!

2. Faith is the currency in God’s kingdom
When you need something, you go out to the place where they sell that thing, and you purchase it. This action requires that you exchange something – like money – with the owner of the thing you wish to purchase. Well, things from God do not come free either, and faith is the currency that He requires from us.

No matter what we set out to do that involves God, whether it is simply to ask God to do something for us, or if we’re trying to call down fire from heaven, our faith in God is what will make it happen for us! And as we know, the more money one has on earth, the more things – and more expensive things – one can afford. Needless then to say, the greater one’s faith in God, the greater things – greater miracles, favors, answers to prayer – one can obtain from heaven!

3. How much faith is enough?
Earlier we read the story of the time when the Lord rebuked His disciples for not having the faith to heal a sick boy. He told them that if their faith was even as small as a mustard seed, they could, by the power in that faith, command mountains to move, and the mountains would obey! This means that faith even as small as a mustard seed is all we need! What this means is that to God, faith is faith!

The story of the time when God told Elijah that He was going to send rain upon the drought-stricken land, offers a great illustration of how this works. 1Kings 18: says “And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.” (KJV)]

And 1Kings 18:42-46 says:
“And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, 43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. 44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down that the rain stop thee not. 45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. 46 And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.” (KJV)

As we all know, rain comes from clouds. For 3 long years, there had been no rain in the land of Israel. So it is safe to assume that for those 3 years, there hadn’t been any clouds in the sky over the land of Israel. Then one day, out of the blue, God told Elijah that He was going to send rain. When Elijah heard this from God, he believed God!

So later that day when the time came for the rain that God had promised to fall, Elijah set out to call forth the rain thru prayer. And while Elijah prayed for God to fulfill His promise and send the rain, he acted on his faith in God’s promise by having his servant look out for the clouds that were to bring the rain. So get this: Once the servant saw a patch of cloud in the sky that was as small as a human hand, Elijah stopped praying. Why? Because as far as he was concerned, the promised rain was coming!

Here’s the point: By faith, Elijah believed that the tiny cloud that had appeared was the first of many – and bigger – clouds that would eventually produce the promised rain! That tiny cloud was all he needed to see to know that the rain was coming. This illustrates the way faith is born in the human spirit. When you believe in God for something, it might start as something very tiny in your heart, which is why the Lord Jesus likened it to a tiny mustard seed; then as you keep on believing in God for the fulfilment of His promise, that tiny faith will steadily grow into something bigger, just as the tiny cloud grew into thick clouds that dropped a deluge upon the land.

So how much faith is enough? From all this, what we can understand is that faith is faith! All that God wants to see in us is faith. Even if it’s as small as a mustard seed, it is faith, and that’s enough for God to be pleased in us. If faith as tiny as a mustard seed is enough for us to move mountains, then that’s enough faith to please God. If that tiny faith can enable us to move mountains, it means that God is pleased enough with the tiny faith to grant us the power to move mountains. Therefore, whenever hearing occurs in you and the smallest glimmer of faith sprouts in you, hold on to that faith and keep believing, and acting on it. It will be enough to see you through because God will honor and work with it! That tiny faith is all He is asking for!

CONCLUSION

Just like Elijah saw that tiny cloud and was satisfied that rain was coming, so does God see the tiny faith in a man and is satisfied that the man has started to believe in Him. God then sets out to help the man grow that tiny faith into a giant faith! What does this mean?

The mustard tree teaches us a serious lesson on what is expected of us believers. The Lord Jesus spoke highly of the mustard tree when He said in Luke 13:19 “…it is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.” (KJV)

A quick search on Google revealed that there are many types of mustard trees, and some grow to be as high as 20 feet tall, with widespread branches adorned with pink fleshy fruits. Here’s an interesting description I ran into: “While many trees provide shade and food, the mustard tree also serves as a toothbrush, treats dental problems, soothes away body pain and functions as a medicine . Properly known as Salvadora persica, the blooming mustard tree is a multifunctional evergreen shrub.” (1)

A very productive, useful and beneficial tree indeed! And all it takes to produce such a tree is a tiny seed. So MUST the tiny faith that springs within our spirit-man cause our spirit-man to grow into a spiritual giant! Once we begin to believe in God, a tiny faith in Him springs within us, and that tiny faith must grow into a strong, mature, unshakable, immovable and undying faith in Him!

Because we believe in God, we MUST, by this faith, allow Him to work on us and make us into spiritual giants, the way He made Paul, the other Apostles, and the great men and women of the Old Testament! They all started to believe in God at some point in their lives, and they nurtured their tiny faiths into giant faiths! As they grew their faiths in God, they grew into people who were great blessings to those who came into contact with them!

That’s what the Lord Jesus is talking about in Luke 13:19. Just as the mustard tree offers shade, food, and a variety of benefits to people and animals who come into contact with it, so must a believer offer all kinds of blessings to everyone around him! As believers we must grow into people who represent our great God in every sphere of life. Like the tree that is productive and bears fruits, we must prosper in all areas of life, and share the prosperity with all men. Thru our faith in a miracle-working God, we must grow into great miracle workers as well! Like the tiny cloud that gave way to thick clouds that produced a deluge, our faith must grow and produce in us a giant well that pours out rivers of living water upon everyone around us!

Dear reader, the world awaits the manifestation of your faith in God! Seek to grow your faith into a giant one thru which you are able to do great and mighty acts, to the glory of our great God!

[REFERENCE:
(1) BLOOMING MUSTARD TREE by Christa Sheehan http://www.ehow.com/facts_7154132_blooming-mustard-tree.html#ixzz2yRN0siJJ%5D

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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