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Hope

Hope is a good starting point. Hope, when it is rooted in God, will not disappoint. Hope is the anchor for our soul and thanks be to God that He has not left us without hope.

We receive of the Lord what we expect of Him. If we hope for the better this year, we can be sure to get it.

And if the struggles seem to be more … it’s only an indication of your high calling. Be encouraged my friend. Keep up with faith. Crisis always occurs at the curve of change. But I’m sure you’ll prevail.

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Posted by on March 11, 2016 in Motivational, Testimony

 

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Your path to Victory!

Obadiah 17 (KJV)
“But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.”

The path to victory is beset by many woes. There are troubles without and conflicts within. There is a war that is beyond our scope and there are battles within our reach to master. And certainly there is an end for which we fight.

Mount Zion is the designated place where victory can be attained. It is here that we are accorded the support of an innumerable company of angels. It is here that we are in fellowship with the general assembly, the church of the first born whose names are written in heaven and with the spirits of just men made perfect. It is here that we have an advocate, Jesus the mediator of a new and better covenant and have rights to the blood that speaks better things. Finally it is here that we have God, our Father, as the very judge who sits to adjudicate every charge raised against us. (Heb 12:22-24)

Now we are engaged first and foremost in an universal war which could be considered external to us as individuals. “For there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows that he hath but a short time.” (Rev 12:7,8,12)

God’s enemy, satan, systematically distributes himself and his agenda through his demonic hordes on national, tribal and family levels. His main aim is to devour the human race, both saved and unsaved. (1 Pet 5:8) He sets up snares: devices and systems to trap those who fall prey to his schemes.

This universal war also finds expression in our personal battle against sins. Paul therefore cautions us of the sin that easily beset us through the lusts of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. Personal temptations and trials also fall within this category of the battles we fight within.

In Obadiah 17, the prophet Obadiah tells us that upon mount Zion shall be deliverance; in other words escape! And you may ask escape from what? Escape from the snares of the devil. “For the snare is broken and our souls have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowler.” (Psalm 124:7) We escape from the systems the devil has put in place on national, tribal and family levels to keep men in bondage and captivity. Whether it’s via the media, cultural norms, governmental systems or peer pressure, the devil has cunningly devised instruments to trap men and to keep them captives. Our first stride of victory is wrought by the blood of Jesus Christ: “For with his own blood hath he redeemed us to God out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” (Rev 5:9) That is why upon mount Zion we have come unto the blood of sprinkling that speaks for our liberty. The blood is the price that was paid for our redemption from captivity.

Although this first stride of victory is phenomenal, it is in complete. Freedom does not only entail deliverance from captivity, but also entering into a place of rest and abundance. The prophet therefore goes on to say that there shall be holiness; which means separateness. Whereas our first stride of victory involves our escape from the corruption in the world to assume a position of righteousness in God, our second stride of victory is the victory over our old selves which had an adaptation to sin. We are sanctified onto true holiness (Eph 4:24) through the work of the Holy Spirit in us by our own volition (will). We have the power to choose to live for God. This victory is a consequence of our first victory in assuming a righteous position. Unlike previously, we now have the power to say NO! to sin. Hallelujah!

We now have a sense of accomplishment in the Lord but still haven’t yet attained to the ultimate victory. Remember that the devil came to steal, to kill and to destroy; but Christ came that we may have life to the fullest. (John 10:10). The ultimate victory is for us to take back whatever the devil stole from us. This is what the prophet meant by possessing our possessions. Our health that was lost through diseases, our relationships that was broken by sin, our education that was disrupted, our life dream and God-given purpose to accomplish on earth and every other God-given inheritance by right. And I add, our Father’s pride, when on that day the Lord looks on at us and says ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matt 25:21)

 

 

 

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Paradigm Shift

The story of the invalid by the pool of Bethesda is very revealing. Here, we learn of a man who wastes thirty eight years of his youth in a system that always raised his hopes to be cured of his infirmity, but in reality made it difficult for him to ever receive the cure he so desired. Although the system promised a solution for any kind of problem, it was operated under conditions which only favored a certain class of people. You had to be smart, you had to be swift, and you had to be the first, in order to benefit from this system. It was a “survival of the fittest” kind of system.

In the opening verse to this story, we read:

John 5:2
“Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches.”
NKJV

Jerusalem is the city of God, a place of peace, delight and rest, symbolic of the perfected Messianic kingdom. The sheep is symbolic of believers and kingdom seekers; and the sheep gate is the port of entry through which sheep were led into Jerusalem.

In Psalm 24:3-4, the Psalmist asks and answers a vital requirement for entering into Jerusalem: “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.” – NKJV The pool, therefore, was strategically positioned near the sheep gate to provide cleansing for people seeking to enter into the kingdom.

A further background study unveils to us a hidden contradiction embedded in the system we find at work in Bethesda. This great contradiction is hidden in the description given to this pool whose waters had curative power. We are told that the pool is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. Bethesda, of Chaldee origin, means “house of kindness”, which could also mean “house of mercy”. But this invalid was not shown any kindness or mercy. Rather, he suffered a great deal of unfair treatment: (1) There was no one to help him. (2) There was no consideration given to how long he had spent there. (3) He was always overtaken by another.  In order to deceive him and to keep him glued to this unyielding system, he was made to be at home in a porch.  In fact he even had a bed there! This porch was a covered colonnade where he could sit or lie, protected from the weather and the heat of the sun. It’s amazing how this system could make him comfortable in his discomfort for 38 good years! We are also told that Bethesda had five of these porches; the number five being symbolic of grace. But this invalid was made to struggle for his redemption.

I have heard several preachers criticize this poor invalid without really looking into the challenges he was faced with. Some say that: he was lazy, he was not determined, he did not persevere, and he did not have enough faith. But this invalid made attempts for 38 years. He always watched for the stirring of the waters. He persevered for as long as 38 years. And he did have faith in the curative power of the agitated waters. The real problem was that he placed his faith in a system that sabotaged his efforts to be cured of his infirmity.

This man should have received his healing right in the first season he spent in Bethesda, when the angel came down to agitate the waters.  He did have a desire to be healed but his desire was not enough. He needed to meet the demands of the system. He needed to be smart and swift. He even needed to learn how to be ruthless – how to step on a dear brother or displace a friend so he could be successful. This system perverted justice and contradicted every virtue it stood for. In the house of mercy, we witness cold-bloodedness. It was a legal system based on works. And you had to learn to play by the rules, which were weak and unyielding by reason of human limitations.

The system of law promised life but brought forth death. The system of law promised liberty but rather brought bondage. The system of law had the power to eliminate the sinful act but could never purge the sinful conscience.

“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” – Rom 8:3-4, NKJV

It was obvious that this man’s predicament was a consequence of sin because Jesus told him afterwards to stop sinning (John 5:14). We all have been plagued by sin in one way or the other. The fact that someone sins in a different way than we do, does not make us any less sinful. The wages of sin is death and if we are to be delivered from the grips of sin so we could enter into Jerusalem (the kingdom), we must identify the right system of faith to rely on.

Jesus walks into the story after 38 years of struggle in this invalid’s life. In John 5:2, we read:

“ When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?” – KJV

Notice that Jesus walked passed everyone and went straight to this invalid. There must be a special reason for this because we are told that a great multitude of impotent folk were gathered at Bethesda; and I believe they all wanted to get well. Jesus takes note of the fact that this invalid had been at Bethesda for a very long time and He asks the invalid a very necessary question: “wilt thou be made whole?” I see this question to mean two things: Number one, Jesus was asking this man if he desired to get well; and number two, Jesus was asking if this man thinks he could get well in that kind of system.

Psalm 127:2 reads: “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for He grants sleep to those he loves.” – NIV

Again notice how the invalid responds to the question. He does not give a definite ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to Jesus’ question, but rather brings up a complaint in response to the question.

The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”  – John 5:7, NKJV

In other words, the invalid was telling Jesus: “I certainly want to get well, just that my efforts cannot meet the demands of this system. I need a helper; I need a savior.” We all have a “defining moment”—a moment when it becomes clear that we can’t save ourselves; a moment when we finally understand that we need a Savior.

It’s interesting to note the moment at which Jesus walks into this story. Jesus comes at a time when this invalid had patronized this old system for 38 years. In the number 38, we see two numbers at play here. We see the number 3, which is symbolic of ‘divine completion’ and we see the number 8, which is symbolic of ‘new beginning’. Jesus therefore comes at such a moment to fulfill the law and thus bring an end to the old system of salvation by works, and also to initiate a new system of salvation by grace – independent of works. Jesus was the help that was absent in Bethesda. Jesus was the mercy that was absent in Bethesda. Jesus was the kindness that was absent in Bethesda. Jesus was the grace that was absent in Bethesda.  Jesus came to offer the cleansing that was independent of special seasons and requirements. The healing miracle that Jesus wrought in this man’s life was immediate!

Another interesting development was the reaction to the sick man’s healing.

John 5:9-10:
“At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.””
NIV

These Jews were the custodians of the law. They sought to challenge this man’s healing because it violated their laws. Today, the situation is not different. We have men who refuse to enter into the kingdom of God, and yet by their so-called traditions and laws, they shut the door to those trying to enter. The lesson here is that, we are bound to face opposition whenever we make that decision to switch or shift into the new system based on grace.

“And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize — a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion].” Matt 11:12, AMP

The order has changed! But sadly, most of us are like this invalid. We are glued to an old system, although there is a new and better system. We are stuck to using our own efforts to solve problems we could never solve on our own. It’s time to acknowledge the need for a savior. It’s time to stop struggling with sin, addictions, sicknesses, lack and needs in our lives. Why are we strangely occupied in solving an old problem that has already been solved? God has already provided a solution for every need through an awesome Savior – Jesus Christ.  It is therefore not a question of whether we have faith or not. Rather, it is about what or who we chose to place our faith in.

In conclusion, I submit to you a paradigm shift from an old system that did not only lack a Savoir, but also sabotaged your efforts to get saved, to a new system that has an awesome Savoir and is also founded on the sure corner stone of grace.

Eph 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
NIV

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Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Commentary

 

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Saved by Grace

Eph 2:8-9
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
KJVsaved by grace

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2013 in Apologetics, Testimony

 

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Love: the only true delight!

Prov 30:18-19
There are three things too wonderful for me to understand-no, four! How an eagle glides through the sky. How a serpent crawls upon a rock. How a ship finds its way across the heaving ocean. The growth of love between a man and a girl.
TLB

Some folks take offense at this subject of love. Others run from it and some fear it; The rich cannot buy it and the wise cannot understand it; but Love is a true delight to those that find it!

Lesson 1: Love is an Attraction.

Thine oils have a goodly fragrance; Thy name is (as) oil poured forth; Therefore do the virgins love thee – Song 1:3.

Love is first a spiritual attraction. It ignites from the depths of the human spirit and it penetrates much deeper beneath the covering of mere flesh; No wonder love often defies sense logic. When Adam first met Eve, he said: ”this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”. Note that he did not say: “this is now flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones. His attraction to Eve was ‘inside-out’. Adam’s remarks on his first contact with Eve clearly portrayed the fact that love stems from the inside.
In Song 1:3, the Shulamite introduces us to the fragrant oils of Solomon which made him attractive to virgins. We also see a simile between the fragrance of the oils and Solomon’s name. The oil therefore defines personality, which is the totality of ones attitudes, interests, behavioral patterns, emotional responses, social roles, and other individual traits that endure over long periods of time. Personality is the principal attraction our souls yearn for when we seek for love.

Lesson 2: Love is a Desire.

Thy love is better than wine – Song 1:2.

The cost of love is so priceless that you can’t afford to trade it with anything you have no delight in. Lesson one lays the foundation of developing a personality that would successfully attract many suitors; both people who sincerely appreciate your fragrance and people who simply want to take advantage of your precious oils. How do you then separate the wheat from the tares, seeing both bear close resemblance?
The Shulamite was caught up in a similar predicament to choose between love and wine. Both promised to offer her pleasure, but love proved better than wine. Her desire was the key to discerning the thin line between truth and deception. Desire then becomes imperative to prudently discern the true from the false. What you want and what you delight in is what you are most attracted to. Lesson two teaches that nothing can rival a true love, because it is born out of a burning desire. Be careful of what you passionately desire because you will surely get it!

Lesson 3: Love is a Choice.

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated – Rom 9:13.

This is perhaps the most controversial lesson on love. It even questions God’s righteousness! However when viewed in the right light, it is the most awesome lesson on love because it favours the poor, the weak and the undeserving. Lesson three stresses the neutral grounds of love – its independence from merit. It’s amazing how some work so hard to win love, but it is given rather freely to the supposedly undeserving. The core reason of choice is usually unknown and it does not follow a logical precedence. It is spontaneous, and any attempt to explain it usually proves futile. You simply love because …   it’s a delight!

Lesson 4: Love Perseveres

Love is patient … always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres – 1 Cor 13:4-7.

Love is seldom found on the first attempt. For most people, disappointment cannot be avoided and the only way to avoid getting hurt is to avoid trying at all. The pursuit of love is like a winding road to the mountain top. It comes with lots of twists and turns; but once you arrive at the mountain top, the view is beautiful, the pleasure is delightful and the satisfaction cannot be measured. It is worth the toil! Proverbs 25:2 says ‘it is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. You must remain open to the prospect and must diligently guard your heart from the evils of pain and resentment. Every precious stone is hid in rocks and like roses, love also comes with its thorns.

Lesson 5:  Love is Action

Where is your beloved hiding himself? For we would seek him with you – Song 6:1.

Love must always be expressed in action. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. A smile, a gesture, or a kind word will hasten the appearance of love much faster than just entertaining the desire. Rebekah knew this secret when she offered water to a stranger and also watered his camels. When God loved us, He gave His only begotten son to die for us. Love which does not find expression is a deficiency and the root of this deficiency is fear; but perfect love casts out fear. Jesus said: ‘out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks’.
In most cultures, the whole initiative of love is the responsibility of the man, so most women cower to express or at least invent this glorious enterprise. However, in Him, there is neither male nor female, and the shulamite is an inspiring case study. Lesson five simply says: ‘if you desire it, then take the risk to go for it’!

Lesson 6: Love never fails

We love him, because he first loved us – 1 John 4:19.

We understand that gravitational force, which is a force of attraction, varies indirectly with separation. In other words the force of attraction fades with an increase in distance. But this only applies to physical attraction. In fact, Albert Einstein once said that: “Gravitation can not be held responsible for people falling in love”. True Love is spiritual and is independent of distance, conditions or any such barriers we cook up. He loved us when we were far off; He loved us when we were alienated from the commonwealth of Israel; He loved us when we were strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. He first loved us! Such is the force of true love. It is unconditional and many waters cannot quench it. No wonder she warns: ‘Do not stir up love until it pleases, for love is as strong as death’. Lesson six? Love is unconditional, and it never fails! I hope you find it.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Commentary

 

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