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GOD KNEW YOU BEFORE

So one day out of the blue, God came to Jeremiah and plainly told him: I knew you before you went into your mother’s womb. That got Jeremiah’s attention. And it got mine as well, the moment I saw the meaning of this powerful revelation.

We know that Jesus existed in heaven as God’s Son before He went into Mary’s womb to take on flesh and be born into this world as a human being. But did you ever wonder when we mortal men actually begin to exist? As believers we agree that ‘life begins at conception’. But according to God’s words to Jeremiah, the truth is far deeper than that. Here’s what God said to Jeremiah:

“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5 (KJV)

The key words here are “I knew thee”. So before Jeremiah was conceived and started to take on flesh in his mother’s womb, he obviously already existed! The powerful lesson here is that we begin to exist as souls first, because God starts by creating us in His image. God is Soul and Spirit. So when He first makes us, He makes us souls and spirits. That’s what we truly are. And so we begin to exist as soul and spirit before we enter our mother’s womb to be born into this world!

(We understand that it is those souls who have accepted Christ while on earth, who earn a place in heaven for eternity. So am I saying here that souls exist in heaven before they’re sent to earth? I don’t know the answer to that question. We can only know about heaven the little that God reveals to us in His word and by other means of revelation. But one thing is clear: A soul is obviously created and begins to exist at some point before it is sent into a woman’s womb. And where else but somewhere in heaven would the souls be before they are sent off to the earth? What length of time goes by between the time that a soul is created and the time that it is sent off to earth, is not known. What a soul does while waiting to be sent into a woman’s womb, is not know. How long Jeremiah existed during the time when God himself says that He knew him, we don’t know.)

Knowing that God might have actually interacted with us before we were sent into this world is a very crucial knowledge to have, because it gives us the kind of understanding that is crucial in succeeding as God’s children in this world. It was this knowledge that helped the Lord Jesus succeed, because by this knowledge He understood that He came from heaven, that He came to earth for a purpose, and that He had to go back to heaven.

Here’s one of the most powerful statements the Lord Jesus ever made:

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17-18 (NIV)

Here, the Lord reveals to us a conversation He and the Father had prior to His coming to earth. You see, the Father gave Jesus an assignment to come to earth as a human being, teach humans about Himself and God, display the power and glory of God through miraculous deeds, show men the way to God, then die to atone for the sins of men. AND THEN, RESURRECT and come back to heaven.

It was during this interaction that the Lord was given His mission to earth. And what we learn from God’s words to Jeremiah is that He had had that same type of conversation with Jeremiah at some point before sending Jeremiah down into his mother’s womb.

God had that same type of conversation with you and I!!!

Unfortunately, as we are born into this world as humans, we forget all about any conversation that we might have had with the Father before being sent into this world. But our Father remembers!!! So just as at some point He reminded Jesus and Jeremiah, He can remind you too!

All you need is to ask Him. God is excited when He sees our faith in Him! Especially when it’s faith that comes from a deep understanding that we have of Him. In this case, this understanding ought to make you deeply appreciate the idea that the great God who made the heavens and the earth, actually knew you personally, and gave you a specific assignment before sending you into this world. And this ought to make you determine to live for nothing else in this world other than fulfilling that assignment!

YOUR GREATNESS IS IN BEING THAT PERSON GOD SENT YOU TO BE IN THIS WORLD. It’s in fulfilling the tasks that He has assigned for you to do in His name and to His glory.

‘I think, therefore, I am’. We all know this quote by the French theoretician Rene Descartes very well. And also Proverbs 23:7For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” (KJV). These two statements attest to the power of the consciousness of oneself, and there’s nothing more dangerous to a man than the lack of, or inadequate, consciousness of who he is an individual.  As long as the Lord Jesus kept His focus on this understanding of whom He was and what He was on earth for, He was able to focus on accomplishing the tasks given to Him by the father, and was able to make it back to heaven.

Therefore, brethren, I urge you to begin to see yourself as not just an individual in this world, but as someone on a special assignment given to you by the Father Himself! See yourself as the ambassador of the Kingdom of heaven that you are! An ambassador sent to represent the kingdom of heaven on earth, with specific instructions. Therefore, go to your Father in prayer and ask Him to reveal to you what He had in mind concerning you before sending you into this world! Then let the knowledge of who He sent you to be in this world be the guiding purpose for the rest of your life, to His glory!

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Posted by on December 2, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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AND GOD SHUT HIM IN!

‘Per ardua, as astra.’ That’s Latin for ‘through adversity to the stars.’

So Noah got all the animals and his family into the ark and shut the single door of the ark behind him, and they all settled in and got ready for the foretold deluge to hit the ground, right? Not quite!

According to Genesis 7:16 “… the Lord shut him in. (KJV)

After Noah, his family and the animals got into the ark, GOD HIMSELF shut the single door of the ark from the outside! By shutting that door Himself, God assumed total responsibility over Noah and everyone and everything that were inside the ark!

Here’s one of the powerful things to understand about what happened in the story of Noah: When the flood started to inundate the earth, people began to drown, and those who could get into boats did so. But eventually, their boats proved to be incapable of withstanding the force of the raging floods. The boats broke apart and the people in them perished.

There was another factor in play: atmospheric pressure. The flood had swelled to such a level that, as we read in Genesis 8:4 “…and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.” (NIV) So the flood had risen so high that it carried the ark to such a high altitude that after the flood began to recede, the ark came to rest on top of a mountain!

Now, note that this event took place in an era so primitive that there was no way Noah could have built the ark in a way that the ark could have survived the effects of atmospheric pressure! Every other boat that existed at that time was destroyed by the elements of nature except Noah’s ark! Why? Because God had assumed responsibility over it!!!

So here are some powerful lessons from all this:

1. Noah’s ark is a representation of Christ, therefore, of Christianity.

As that ark was the only means of escape from the flood provided by God, so is Christianity the only means of escape from the coming judgment that God has provided for mankind. As every other boat eventually failed to save its occupants, so will every other faith in this world fail its followers in the end. Christ is the only way to escape both the floods of this current life, and the condemnation that leads to hell.

2. The single door of the ark is a representation of Christ.

God had commanded Noah to build only one door on the ark (see Genesis 6:16). It was thru that one door that they all went into the ark. So does Christianity have only one way into it, which is Jesus-Christ!

3. The storms of life are never meant to kill a believer in Christ!

The heavy rains beat upon the ark, but never harmed the people inside. As the heavy rains fell, they gathered up under the ark and formed a raging flood that could never capsize the ark. So do the storms and floods of life beat upon God’s people, but can never destroy them, because they are hidden inside Jesus. Apostle Paul said it best in Acts 17:28: For in him we live, and move, and have our being (KJV) So just as the storms beat up on the ark and not on the people inside the ark, neither can the storms of life harm us, because we are hidden in Christ. Therefore, fear nothing in this world!!! Any harm that would come upon a believer would have to go through Christ first! As we know, that’s impossible!

4. Rather, the storms of life are meant to lift the believer to greater heights in life!

The flood lifted the ark to a level so high that when the ark started coming back down, it rested upon a mountain. So do the floods that God allows to come upon our lives lift us up in life! God is a Master Planner! Every hardship He allows into your life is always designed to lift you up in life! And note that the ark was carried around by the flood, so that in the end, the ark ended up at a different place than where Noah had built it. So are the hardships God allows into our lives designed to move us from where we have been stagnant, to new and higher places!

5. The storms are God’s teaching and training tools

Being ‘shut into Christianity’ means to abandon oneself into God’s hands, and allowing yourself to be constrained within the confines of Christianity. It means saying to Him: Have your way with me, Lord. I will only do what you say I should do, and will never do anything you say not to do. I will follow your ways only. It means depending on Him for everything in life, and aspiring to be nothing else in life but that person that He purposed for you to be here on earth.

Dependence on God is no easy thing, and must be learned, and God uses the difficult situations that He allows to come upon us, to teach us to trust and depend on Him for help, provision, well-being, protection, etc.

One example of this from the ark, is the fact that the ark had been subjected to the rigors of atmospheric pressure due to the high altitude that it had been carried to. So this must have created a severe panic in the hearts of Noah and his people, as they feared and wondered whether the ark would be able to sustain the effects of atmospheric pressure. This is the kind of fears that believers encounter when they find themselves in situations where God is telling them to be still and know that He is God! Pressure builds from every side against us, and the attacks from the enemy can get so intense, and all we can do is wait on the Lord to see us through. Just as Noah was not driving the ark, and must have feared that the ark might smash into a mountain or fall off a cliff, we have absolutely no control over the situation we’re dealing with, and have no idea if we would make it to the end alive. Like Noah, we can only trust that God knows what He is doing. But like the ark and everyone in it, we do survive! Because Jesus, in whom we have entrusted our lives and look unto, can protect us and hold us together in the face of any kind of pressure! Jesus was that ark that carried and protected Noah and his people, and He can protect against anything in this universe!

Another powerful lesson from the ark is in how God is able to provide for, and sustain His people. At high mountain altitudes, it becomes harder to breathe because there is less oxygen in the air. But Noah and everyone in the ark had no trouble surviving up there when the ark was carried up to the mountain levels. So does our Lord make sure His people never succumb to the lack of anything, no matter how scarce the hardship they’re undergoing tries to make things in their lives! He provides them with what they need! Haven’t you read that “God is our refuge and strength; an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NIV), and that “…those who seek the Lord lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10, NIV)?

6. We must build our Christianity right!

Brethren, here’s one extremely crucial thing to understand from all this: The ark ‘worked’ because God had accepted it. Had Noah not built the ark exactly the way God had commanded, God wouldn’t have approved of the ark, and would not have been with Noah and his people inside the ark. Like the ark, our Christianity must be ‘built’ according to the design that Christ has put forth in the Bible. And what is our ‘Christianity’? Our relationship with God. Every believer has his own personal relationship with God, and this relationship must be based on the ways that God commanded us to relate to Him. Take for example, the fact that God told Noah to build only one door into the ark. Our Christianity must have only one door: Jesus. But some of us have other doors, through which they can escape when things get tough for them. That’s the kind of believers with one foot inside Christianity and one foot in the world. When things get tough, they still try to do things the way the world does it, instead of relying firmly on the God is showing them. We must be perfect in building our Christianity – our relationship with God – the way He wants it. By commanding Abraham to be perfect before Him (see Genesis 17:1), God made it clear that we must be perfect in our walk with Him. We must be perfect in following His commands! And if we do so perfectly, then we WILL see His power and glory at work in our lives, just as Abraham and Noah saw it!

7. We must die ‘the required death’!

Noah and his people ‘died’ when they went into the ark. When they marched into that ark and let God shut them into it, they literally died to the lives they had been living, and abandoned their lives into God’s hands. Likewise, Christianity is about dying to the life you once lived, and letting God shut you into a new life that He alone has total control over! That’s the death the Lord Jesus said we must die in John 12:24-26Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My father will honor the one who serves me.” (NIV)

There are principally two kinds of believers out there: Those who have agreed to let the Lord shut them into Christianity, and those who haven’t. The story of Noah is all about COMMITMENT. It’s the story of a man who was totally committed to the will of God. God showed him something that was about to happen, and told him what to do to escape the coming calamity. He heard what God said and committed himself to obeying to the letter, the instructions that he received from God. That, in turn, made it possible for God to be God in Noah’s life. That made it possible for His power and glory to manifest in Noah’s life. That’s what the Lord promised at the end of the passage quoted above, that “my Father will honor the one who serves me.”

This is why the majority of believers in this world are not showing forth the glory and power of our great God. They are not as committed to following His lead in their lives as Noah did, and as did the great heroes of faith that we find in the Bible! They fail to abandon their lives to His divine care as Noah did. They refuse to let God shut them into Christianity, therefore, INTO HIS DIVINE CARE! And the sad result is that they fail to allow the power and glory of God to manifest in their lives.

CONCLUSION:

Because Noah died to himself and agreed to live the life that God had for him, Noah produced many seeds indeed by becoming the father of all mankind! That’s what the Lord explained in John 12:24: ‘If it dies, it produces many seeds’. Because Abraham agreed to die to his old life and live for God only, he produced many seeds indeed and became the father of nations! The Lord Jesus agreed to leave His throne and come to earth to live the life that the Father has planned for Him. He died to His throne above to live in obedience to God on earth (see Hebrews 5:8-9). As a result, He has produced countless believers for the last 2000 years and counting!

You who are reading this, what’s your excuse for not being productive for God??? If your Christianity has been built the way God commands, and you have truly died to yourself and are alive only for Christ, where’s the evidence? Where are the fruits produced by your death! Where are the souls that are being won over by your life? If you are indeed laboring for your Master Jesus, where are the harvest produced by your labor?

The greatest irony in the Church is that every believer would love to see the power of God move mightily in his or her life, but the majority are not willing to do what it takes to see that power at work in their lives. They’re not willing to die the death that allows the power of God to go to work in a believer’s life; they’re not willing to allow God to shut them into the kind of commitment in which he can be their all and all.

Christianity is not easy. That’s why the Lord made it plain that anyone who decides to follow Him must know what he is doing. He said in Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

Deciding to follow God all the way, to let Him shut you inside Christ, is not a small decision. It wasn’t small of Noah to decide whether to build the ark or not. It wasn’t small of Abraham to leave his whole world behind and set out for Canaan. But they decided to be obedient to their God, and they lived to enjoy the fruits of their decision! That’s why I started this message by quoting ‘Per ardua, as astra’: Through adversity to the stars. Allowing oneself to be shut into Christianity brings one into a world of adversity ordered by God Himself. But it is through those very forms of adversity (floods) that God takes one to great heights in life!

Therefore, I challenge you, dear brethren, to allow God to shut you inside of Christ! Allow Him to be your all and all. Give Him absolute control over your life. Do that and watch Him take you to heights that you can’t even imagine! The world needs to see the greatness of God in you so that they might believe in Him. Allow God to use you to showcase His greatness to the world! Allow Him to shut you in!

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

 

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WHAT ARE YOU HUNGRY FOR?

Both the first and second Adams were tested by God for the following  purposes:

  • To prove that they knew who they were
  • To prove that they could be trusted with power.
  • To prove what they were hungry for.
  • The first Adam was tempted by Satan thru his wife, and he failed the test by eating the forbidden fruit (see Genesis 3 for the story) [Please note this: Even though it was Eve that Satan spoke to, Adam was right there (see verse 6), and heard every word the serpent spoke, and did not intervene to prevent his wife from falling to the temptation. So we are going to treat this as Adam’s temptation, not just Eve’s].
    Later on, Satan came after the second Adam – Jesus – with the same food-based temptation at first, by telling Him to turn stones into bread and eat (See Matthew 4:1-11 for the story). When that failed, Satan realized that it wasn’t going to be as easy as the first time around, so he then tried two more different temptations, which failed as well.

  • To prove that they knew who they were:
  • In each temptation, Satan said to Jesus: “If You are the Son of God…”
    And in each case the Lord’s reply simply meant to say ‘I don’t need to do any of the things you’re asking me to do to know whether or not I am God’s Son. God has just declared to me a few days ago when I got baptized that I am His Son! If I was His Son in the water, then I am His Son in this wilderness!’
    In Adam’s case, had he known that he had already been made in God’s image, he wouldn’t have fallen for Satan telling him that eating the forbidden fruit ‘would make him like God’ (see Genesis 3:5). He should have rebuked the devil, like Jesus would later do, by reminding him that he and God were practically the same!
    Therefore, brethren, know who you are in God! No matter how bleak the situation you find yourself in, no matter what the enemy tries to tell you to get you to doubt that you are still God’s child and that He cares for you more than anything, remember those times when it was clear to you that God is with you, and know one thing: that God who was with me then, IS WITH ME NOW! I was His child then, and I am His child now! Though the circumstances surrounding me may not look like the God of miracle, of prosperity, of success is with me, I know that He is!!! In due time, when I’ve passed this test that He Himself is putting me thru, He will show His face to me again, and His angels will come and minister to me again, as they did to Jesus at the end of his trial! (See matt. 4:11)
    And when tempted with sin, as Adam was, remember who you are: a child of the Holy One of Israel! Unlike Adam, who failed to remember his friendship with God, remember your friendship with God, and rebuke the tempter!

  • To prove that they could be trusted with power:
  • Satan told Adam (thru Eve) that eating the fruit would ‘make him wise’ like God. Meaning that it would make him as powerful as God! Proverbs 3:19 says “By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place…” (NIV) So you see Adam and Eve had already understood that God created all things by the power of His wisdom, and they jumped on the idea of gaining the same source of that wisdom and power! Thus proving to God that they could not be trusted with power. Despite all the authority and power that God had already given them to rule the earth with, they craved and coveted more power!
    In the Lord’s case, Satan took Him to a high place from where he showed Him all the kingdoms of the earth, and tempted Him with the idea of handing over to Him all power and authority over the earth. Of course, the Lord rebuked him by reminding him that one should worship only God! Meaning that a servant of God MUST recognize that only God can have all power, and that everyone else MUST bow to that power, and not seek to be like God.
    Brethren, God WILL want to know whether you can be trusted with His power! If The Lord Jesus had to be sent to the wilderness to prove that He did not want power for Himself, but only to serve The Father with it, then so will you and I.
    So brethren, be humble with the power God entrusts into your hands. Don’t try to use it to make yourself big. Don’t get proud and arrogant about it, and don’t try to use it in a way that was not sanctioned by God. Above all, recognize that you are only a steward of it, and don’t ever seek more of it in a manner that challenges God’s authority over you.
    ANOTHER CRUCIAL LESSON HERE: Here again there’s the test to see if Jesus knew who He was in God, in the sense that He had to prove that He knew that as God’s Son, He ALREADY HAD ALL THE POWER NOT JUST IN THIS WORLD, BUT IN THE WHOLE UNIVERSE!  If He hadn’t known this, then He would have been tempted to accept Satan’s offer, as Adam did. If only Adam had known what a special being he was! If only he had known that he had been made special, unlike the angels, to be like God Himself, and that he already carried all the power that he needed to rule over all of creation!
    So brethren, when tempted with an offer of power, be careful to remember that you already have been given power by God Himself, made in His glorious image! You are His ambassador here on earth, and that means that you have the full backing of heaven behind you! So be attentive to the Holy Spirit to know the source of, and purpose of whatever power that  is being offered to you by any entity in this world. Seek the Lord’s consent before accepting positions of power.

  • To prove what they were hungry for:
  • Satan had said to Jesus: “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew 4:4, NIV)
    Knowing that Jesus must have been starving, Satan told Him to turn stones into bread and eat.
    Again, as is rather obvious, the question here is whether The Lord knew who He was!
    The Lord Himself was the Bread of Life! He Himself was more than physical bread. He was the Bread that created breads!
    But in that moment of starvation, exhaustion, frustration and confusion in the wilderness, did He still know that He was the Bread of Life? Was He going to jump at the tempting suggestion and say “man, you’re right! I’m tired of being hungry. Let me use my power and make me some bread out of these stones.”
    Had He done that, that would have been the end of the test! God would have said “I thought you were my Son, but you’re not. I thought you knew that you are the Bread of life, but I guess you don’t. And if you don’t know that, then I can’t work with you. The job and the glory that I was reserving for you are not for you.”
    In Adam’s case, in his moment of temptation, he should have recognized who he was: The caretaker of the garden of Eden! He should have rebuked Satan and scolded his wife for even suggesting that he disobey the simple command that His Master had given him, which was to eat of all the fruits in the garden, except this one.
    So brethren, the question is: When you find yourself in those dire and bleak situations when Satan comes to make suggestions for you to do things that are not of the will of God for you, do you know who you are at that critical point in time? Are you a committed child of a God or not? Are you a believer in God or not? Are you His servant or not? Did you give your life to Him and He owns it, or not?
    Because if your answer is yes to these questions, then you have only one option, which is to keep on waiting on His time! He put you in that wilderness, like He did Jesus, to prove you. Therefore determine that you will pass the test in that wilderness with flying colors! Determine to come out of it shining like refined gold, worthy of the great assignments He has prepared for you! If He had to prove Jesus before sending Him out into the world to minister, how much more you and I!!!
    Now as with all the other temptations, there’s a powerful underlying issue raised in this temptation: What was The Lord hungry for?
    Was He hungry for physical bread or was He hungry for what lay ahead of Him? Was He hungry for some physical food or for the great job that God had sent Him to earth to do? Was it for some instantly gratifying temporal food or for the glory that awaited Him at the end of His work on earth?
    The same question goes for Adam: What was he hungry for? Did he want that single fruit more than ALL the fruits that had been put at his disposal for food in that garden? Did he want that food badly enough to lose his friendship with God over it? Unfortunately we know the answer: He was hungry for more than what he had with God. He was hungry for equality with God.
    Brethren, when we’ve been in a wilderness for a while, we find ourselves subjected to all kinds of temptations; to all kinds of suggestions from people to do one thing or the other to help ourselves out of that wilderness situation. The question for us at such points in time is: what are you really hungry for? What do you really want? Do you want to get out of that situation so badly that you would be willing to do things that are against the will of God? Or do you want the greater things that God has in store for you, which He WILL give you if you endure and pass this test by remaining faithful to Him to the end?
    You see, brethren, in life we are what we’re hungry for! We are what we pursue!
    Jesus was hungry for the great work that God had sent Him to do on earth! He was hungry to save the souls that had been held captive by sin and death. That’s why He left His throne in heaven and took on human flesh. He didn’t come to earth to eat and be merry! He proved this again sometime later when His disciples asked Him to come and have some food and He replied “My food… is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” (John 4:34, NIV)
    My brother and sister, what are you hungry for? What are you on earth for? Is it to pursue the riches of this world? To build a ‘good’ and satisfying life for yourself? Nay! As Apostle Paul said, ‘let this mind be in you, that was in Jesus’, that you may be hungry for the one food that truly matters: Service unto the God who put you in this world for a very specific work!
    I pray that God would reveal to you the specific work He sent you to do for Him here on earth, and that you will make that calling your food!

     
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    Posted by on January 11, 2014 in SHORT MESSAGES

     

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