Full Partakers: All Day, Every Day

For we have become fellows with Christ (the Messiah) and share in all He has for us, if only we hold our first newborn confidence and original assured expectation [in virtue of which we are believers] firm and unshaken to the end.”

Hebrews 3:14 AMPC

When a lot of us first came to know Christ, there was this confidence we had; and with this confidence came unspeakable joy, “I’m a Child of God!” We would exclaim; “My sins are forgiven!”
We felt brand new, shiny and untainted. Somewhere along the line, however, this confidence began to wane.

“Am I really a Child Of God?” We asked ourselves the first time we did something wrong.

“Can God still be pleased with me?” We asked when it happened for the 50th time.

“Is God really still with me? Or is He now angry with me?” We wondered the first time we experienced a setback.

Subtly, we began to get discouraged and believe somewhere in the back of our minds that we’re no longer as “In Christ” as we were before.

We have a way of complicating things that have no business being complicated for ourselves. These beliefs have made people live in constant fear and worry.
We were saved by grace, through faith when we first believed. That’s it. You can’t undo what Christ has done and you can’t do more than what Christ did.
You, Child of God, share in ALL Christ has for you simply by holding on to that confidence you had when you first believed.

His Greatest Delight, Right Now!

Happy New Year!! 💕

At the beginning of each year, we almost always make resolutions. When making them, we often do so with the aim of becoming a better person (“New Year, New Me” sound familiar?). We fixate on the ways we might have fallen short the previous years and resolve to do better. For our spiritual goals, we resolve to read our bibles and pray more, listen to more messages, etc. Now while these resolutions are very necessary, it is important to question what drives them.

Why do you want to pray more in 2020?

For myself (and a lot of people, I suspect) these resolutions usually came from a place of fear that I did not please God in previous years because I “did not do enough”. So I’d begin the New Year vowing to read my Bible for xyz hours or pray in order to be a “better child” of God. All this did was set me up for constant performance anxiety, afraid that If I underperformed in some way, God would no longer be pleased with me. This led to a vicious cycle where I’d have an intense period of prayers and studying followed by a period of relaxation, till my spiritual high faded again and I’d be spurred by guilt into another bout of intensity. So I’d have sporadic bursts of intensity, but no real consistency.

I think it’s important to point out that in all the accounts of Jesus’ baptism in the scriptures (Mat 3:13-17, Mk 1:9-11, Lk 3:21-22) it was noted that the Spirit of God descended on him and said, “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased”.

It’s important because this happened BEFORE Jesus began his earthly ministry. If it had happened say after Jesus raised Lazarus from death, we could have rationally thought, “God was pleased because of what He did” but Jesus hadn’t done anything that we know of. I’ve talked about how God’s love doesn’t depend on us <here> and I think it’s something we need to remind ourselves as we step into the New Year.

I am starting this year with the knowledge that I am God’s beloved daughter, chosen and marked by his love, and that he is well pleased with me. His greatest delight is in me. Right now. Today.

So I’m not reading my Bible more this year because I’m trying to earn his favor. I’m doing it because I love him and I want to spend time with him.

I’ll tell others about Jesus, not to rack up evangelism points, but because he’s too wonderful to not talk about.

And if peradventure I miss my bible reading one day, I won’t feel bad because I think he’s annoyed with me. I’ll feel bad because I prioritized something over my greatest love.

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Mat 3:17 (NIV. Please read it in KJV, MSG, TPT and AMPC as well)

Letting Go Of The Reins

“…if anyone wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way…”
Mark 8:34-35

For the longest time, I tried to follow Jesus while holding on tightly to my own way. I attempted to call the shots in my walk with Him, doing what I felt like and then asking Him to bless it.
Then one day, I heard something that made me stop and think.

There’s space for only one King on the throne of our hearts.

I realized that I had been trying to battle with Him over the course and purpose of my life. And it wasn’t really working out for me.
Have you ever been in this position, Unwilling to let go of the reins of control in your life? How’s that working out for you?

Recently I was listening to a teaching and the pastor asked, “what is worship?” After everyone attempted to explain what they understood by it, we saw from Scripture that at the heart of it, worship is sacrifice. Every time “worship” was used in the Bible, it was in reference to someone paying homage/humbly making obeisance to God while offering a sacrifice.
Under the New Covenant we no longer need to sacrifice lambs and bulls to worship (thank God!), but there’s still an element of sacrifice- our will, our pride, our talents, our resources. Romans 12:1 (AMPC) says, “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational,, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.”

Becoming disciples of God means that we let go of our selfish ambitions and remain devoted to Him and obedient to His commands. It means that we accept His Lordship over our lives and align ourselves to the purpose He prepared for us instead of the one we dreamt up for ourselves.

The thing is, at the heart of it, our reluctance to follow God wholeheartedly is a sign of unbelief. It shows that we don’t really trust that He has everything that pertains to us under control.
Giving up control is never easy because there’s always that thought at the back of our minds that we know best for ourselves. But who knows the original purpose of a thing better than its inventor?

This week,
Have you been unwilling to hand over control to God? Why do you think that is?

Me First! Me Only!

1 Corinthians 13:5

One of the main reasons Christians frown on teachings about “self-love” is that a lot of people believe such teachings will encourage people to become selfish. This is a very valid fear, as we live in a time when we are already battling heavily with the “me first!” attitude of the world. We must be cautious not to misinterpret one as the other; “Self-love” is having a healthy regard for one’s own well being and happiness, while “selfishness” is being so preoccupied with our own selves that we lack consideration for other people.

To be honest, as human beings, putting other people first is not a natural reaction. We are instinctively wired for self-preservation. Now, having a sense of self-preservation is a good thing, and is an important component of loving oneself. It means that we will avoid the things that bring us hurt and pain; that we understand that our feelings, wants and needs should matter. The problems come up however, when we do not extend this same courtesy to other people.

When we want other people to put us into consideration, but we do not reciprocate; when we constantly do things that will favour only ourselves; when we constantly put ourselves first; when we do not consider the feelings of others and the toes we step on in this our quest to get what we want- this is no longer self-preservation, but selfishness.

“Love is not self-seeking” means that while acknowledging that we would not want others to insist on their own way if it would bring us pain, we understand that other people also feel this way and so we go out of our way to make sure that their needs and feelings are taken care of.

In Phillipians 2:3-5, we are told, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus”. We cannot do this in our own strength however, we need to daily ask God for the grace to love unselfishly.

Plugged In

Pray without ceasing…

-1 Thes 5:17

I really don’t know how people managed to be in meaningful relationships before the advent of telephones and instant messaging (lol, spoken like a true millennial). These technological advances have made it so that we can be in constant, real-time communication with the people in our lives even if we happen to be on different continents. We are constantly plugged in with them and are able to tell them about the things going on with us as soon as they happen. It’s strange and worrisome to us to hear people in a relationship say they don’t talk/text multiple times everyday.

A lot of people see prayer as just presenting a list of requests to God and so when they hear “pray without ceasing”, they imagine just droning on and on to God all day (which actually sounds tedious). I’ve heard quite a number of people say things like, “won’t you run out of stuff to say?” However, prayer is not just presenting a wishlist to God and it isn’t a monologue, it’s a conversation.

For us to be told to pray without ceasing, it means that God is able and willing to keep the lines of communication between us open constantly. This does not mean that we’re to separate ourselves from everyone else 24/7 and say we’re praying, It means that He wants us to be in contact with Him throughout our day, from the moment we wake up till we’re winding back down for bed; we’re to develop a lifestyle of prayer. Things like; thanking Him for opportunities/provision, asking for help before doing difficult things, praying for people we come in contact with/who cross our mind, praising Him for the beauty of the things he created, etc are all included in prayer. These are often called “spontaneous prayers”. Praying without ceasing means we stay connected to Him the same way we’re constantly plugged in online to our friends and families.

This week, explore the meaning of prayer and what it means to “pray without ceasing”. Stay plugged in.

The “S” Word

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…” Rom 3:22-23 (NIV)

No one ever wants to be called a sinner. When a lot of people hear the word “sin”, they think of things like rape, murder, theft; “Evil” things. So you hear people say things like, “I don’t think I’m a sinner, I’m a pretty good person. I haven’t killed anyone and I don’t steal or cheat”. This, however, is a pretty myopic view of sin. According to Selwyn Hughes, “a sinner is someone who is estranged from God and who maintains a rebellious, resistant and independent attitude towards Him”. Sin, basically, is living your life independent of God and in disobedience to Him; That’s it. It doesn’t matter how good or well behaved you think you are generally, you can’t cancel out sin by doing a million good things- “for the wages of sin is death…” (Rom 6:23). The price of the sin must be paid.

A lot of churches and Christians shy away from teaching about sin because it seems to be such an uncomfortable topic. The mood of the present age is to challenge people less over issues, and a big part of the church is now striving to be politically correct to the detriment of the integrity of the scriptures. But to not talk about sin is to ignore the cost of Calvary. “For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood” (Rom 3:25, NLT). Jesus literally gave his life to pay for sin on our behalf so that we might be reconciled to God.
To not talk about it is to not talk about the foundation of our Christian faith.
To not talk about it is to ignore the greatest gift ever given to us by God.

We read from Rom 6:23 earlier; the full verse says, “for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Jesus died for our sins and is only through His death that we are saved and made righteous before God. Salvation is a gift. It’s not something we earn by doing good deeds and it’s one that you need to accept if you haven’t already.

Grow Up!

Hebrews 5:12-14, 6:1-3

When a child is born, breastmilk is the only food they can take that is mild enough to not irritate their digestive system, and It provides all the nutrients they need at that stage of their lives. As they begin to grow, their nutritional requirements grow also, until a point is reached when just milk isn’t enough. Solid food is then gradually introduced until they begin to eat “adult” food, and then the milk is phased out. This is normal physiology.

What happens when you see a 4-year-old who takes breastmilk as his only source of food? Eyebrows will be raised and questions will be asked. Why? Because we all know that it is abnormal. That child will be malnourished and his growth will be stunted compared to other children of the same age because he isn’t getting what he needs. So then, why are there so many 10-year-old and 20-year-old Christians who are not bothered that they are subsisting on “breastmilk”? People meant to be breaking bones are sipping milk, and they are not worried about their states of malnutrition!

The writer of Hebrews noticed this abnormality however, which is why he said, “you have been Christians a long time now, and you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things a beginner must learn about Scriptures. You are like babies who drink only milk and cannot eat solid food” (Heb 5:12 NLT). According to their years in Christ, they were supposed to have moved past the stage “milk” because it was for those who were yet unskilled in the ways of righteousness (v13), but they hadn’t! Their slothful attitude towards the word of God had resulted in spiritual stunted growth.

Are you like the Christians to whom this letter was written? Have you been taking milk for too long? Are you spiritually stunted? Now, the definitive treatment for physical malnutrition is addressing the underlying cause and correcting the nutrient deficit and It is the same for spiritual malnutrition. Yes, you are a Christian and you have given your life to Christ, but You’re not spending enough time reading the word? You don’t pray? You regularly neglect going to church? Please correct the deficit. Remember however, that you cannot do this on your own, and trying will only leave you frustrated. It is God alone who can give you both the desire and the power to do His will (Phil 2:13). Why not ask Him for help today? It’s time to grow up!