Life Mastery, marriage, Relationship

Married to Nabal

This is one of the basis of contention in marriages today. Many people have lost faith in the Word of God because of the gross wickedness of those who claim to be born-again, sometimes holding spiritual offices and publicly known as members of the household of faith. We must not be quick to dismiss such people, by saying they were (are) not born-again. This argument, even if true, does not placate those who have been made miserable in life and marriage by such men. The story in 1 Samuel 25 helps us to see things clearly.

“Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb.” 1 Samuel 25:3

Abigail was described as “…a woman of understanding and of a beautiful countenance…” This simply meant that apart from Abigail’s beauty, she was not a careless girl, she had the capacity to discern what was right for her to do. For it to be stated, it meant that it has been proven over time that she had understanding. But unfortunately when it came to whom she was to marry, she seemed not to have exercised her discernment. May be the reputation of the man asking to marry her was too great for her to subject to such analysis.

This was a man from the house of Caleb. Caleb was one of the two men that God Himself attested to their lives before Israel entered into the Promised Land. Joshua was the second man (Numbers 14:24, 26:65). To be from that house was a huge reputation. And sometimes, one will just wonder, “what else does a sister want than a man of that calibre, a seed of Caleb?” It’s like saying a man from the family of any of our prominent Christian leaders. Unfortunately, something was missing in that man’s life.

Now, this is where many of our sisters run into error, especially those who are well brought up in the faith and do know better. Every man that comes to seek you in marriage, regardless of their reputation, must be subjected to the same degree of spiritual scrutiny you will subject the brother you term “unserious” or “unbeliever”. What you are looking for is not merely a testimony of their faith, but a testimony of their character. A testimony of faith can be given by the suitor himself, but a testimony of character can only be discovered over time. And it must be your own discovery, and eventually your reasonable persuasion.

How can a man be from the house of Caleb and be churlish (cruel, hardhearted) and evil in his doings? That was the kind of man Nabal was. Nabal is that “brother” that can give the testimony of his salvation but has no fruit to show for this alleged salvation. Nabal is quick to claim his connection to a godly heritage except that his wickedness betrays such a connection. Nabal is that rich businessman that has a good position in church but has no right standing with God. Nabal is a member of a reputable denomination but his name is not in the book of Life. This kind of man is becoming rampant today and it has made many people, even “christian” women, to cast aspersion at or at least dismiss some aspects of the Word of God.

The Word of God says “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The Word of God has never failed. People run into all kind of heartaches that made shipwreck of their faith, because they ignored the due process of the Word of God. When you say “I sensed in my spirit that this is the right man for me”, what do you mean by that? I am not criticizing your spirituality, I am only strengthening it. Put whatever you say you sensed in your spirit to the test. When you conduct the test of truth, it will amaze you how many things you sensed that are actually not good for you. In fact, my personal belief is that the more you put your private, subjective feelings under the infallible, objective Word of God, you will get better at discerning rightly.

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version.

Picture Credit: femmetotale

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Leadership, Spirituality

A New Cruse…

Sometimes I wonder why we don’t take the words of Jesus seriously, even though we will like to (make ourselves) think we do. We have creeds and statements of faith that evangelically lists our “biblical” beliefs but I am beginning to think that they are mere formalities that end up as an official document or a decoration gorgeously decked on the wall of the senior man of God’s office.

Now, look at something Jesus said, “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the skins burst and the wine is spilled out and the skins are destroyed. Instead they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17 (New English Translation). It is clear that the LORD is stating a principle that MUST guide His works. Every time God is seeking to continue His work, He will (and “can”) only work with those who will break the old wineskins of human traditions that has become a veil unto them, that does not allow them to see the LORD clearly

“And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.” Isaiah 25:7 

Practically, this sometimes will mean a raising of a new generation of men and women who will seek the LORD wholeheartedly without being trapped by the unholy traditions of “fathers”. Many times this has led to the rising of new movements that became severely persecuted by the established groups and “churches”. However, what is of utmost importance is this: the fresh, unadulterated flow of pure doctrine and the work of the Spirit to glorify Jesus, as it was handed down to the first apostles, must be preserved.

Whenever a group has settled into inertia and has allowed their human wisdom to take over from the Holy Spirit, they have unwittingly collected a number of traditions that rendered void the Word of God. And wherever the Word of God is mixed with human ideas/traditions, the continuity of God’s work is hindered and perhaps delayed until God can find fresh hearts who are either of the old order but have purged themselves of the oldness of the letter or entirely new brothers who do not have any history with the establishment.  

“Nobody pours new wine into an old wineskin. If he does, then the new wine will tear the old wineskin. The wine will run out and he will lose it. And he will destroy the wineskin. Instead of this, you must put new wine into a new wineskin. Then there will be nothing to destroy the wine or the wineskin.” Matthew 9:17 (EasyEnglish)

Why signs and wonders are not a proof of divine approval

Many are tempted to think that since God is saving souls, healing the sick, setting the captives free, it is a sign that “God is with us and approves of what we are doing”. First of all, let us clear this misconception by letting you know that the order of principle we are dealing with here is higher and we can call it “dispensational”.

That is, we are talking about what God is focusing on today based on the consensus of Scriptures and the witness of the Spirit. However, there is a lower order of principle that God cannot also deny a portion of His virtue, which is, wherever there is a genuine need and the hearts of men are focused on Him, virtue will be released towards that need, regardless of their disobedience to the higher order issues. So a healing here, a raising of the dead there was just a compassionate work, purely on account of God’s mercy and not necessarily His justice.

This is why Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:22-23

A higher order of things

Please note that Jesus did not deny the fact that they prophesied in His name and that they did “many wonderful works”, the issue He had with them is that they worked iniquity. Apart from the personal and moral issues of a life that falls short of God’s grace, to work iniquity speaks of a higher order of things that are generational and dispensational.

God considers it a work of iniquity, if you dishonor God’s Word on account of human traditions (Mark 7:7-9). “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [8] For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…” (Mark 7:7-8) Can you see His verdict here? They will be worshipping Him but because you are more emotional than spiritual, you will FEEL that God is there and approves all that is done. But He said it is a worship in vanity; it amounts to nothing. 

God considers it a work of iniquity, if you preach any other thing “…save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified…” (1 Corinthians 2:2). We are not talking about the perfunctory mentioning of the name of Jesus or singing, “oh how I love Jesus”, after which we begin to teach the doctrines of men that we are already used to. It is the doctrines of men that has divided the church so sharply in the last 500 years, as we see in church history

What is a doctrine of men? A perspective that a Bible teacher had at a particular time in history around which he raised loyalists, such that his/her sincere followers limited their reading of Scriptures to the “established thought” of their human teacher.

Bring me a new cruse

“And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren. [20] And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him. [21] And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the Lord , I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land . [22] So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.”

2 Kings 2:19-22 

At this point, I am trusting that it is clear to you that your personal sincerity is not enough in the matter of pleasing God. In the lower order (of) things, God in mercy, will always respond to every genuine need because He is a compassionate God. However, in the higher order of things, which has to do with His eternal counsel (purpose), His glory, the establishment of His kingdom, all of which will culminate into the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21, He can only work according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:9,11). 

In essence it means, we may receive things from God simply because of His generosity, which is not an approval of our lives, but a credit to His kindness. This does not mean we are in His will, and as we saw in Matthew 7:21, that does not prove that we are His true people. (cf: Matthew 12:50, 25:11-12, James 1:22, 2:20-26, Ephesians 6:6). 

It is the higher order of things that deal with God’s glory, that really determines those who belong to Him. When we choose to follow Jesus, that is what we sign up for: death to self and living fully for the glory of God (Luke 9:23, 14:26-33)

“…the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth…”

On God’s side of things, the city of God, the body of Christ is pleasant. Nothing is amiss on God’s part. However, the faithfulness of God’s side of things cannot be claimed by us unless we proceed to respond in obedience to Him, which makes our “faith” a living faith, for faith without works is dead (James 2:26).

“…but the water is naught, and the ground barren.”

How is this possible? Water represents “life”. The life is bad. It is not the same with the LIFE we actually received at newbirth. We wonder what happened to the divine exchange at newbirth. Refusing to follow Jesus and what He says will make the “water” bad, not good for anyone to drink. This is why the world cannot drink from us Christians. Mohandas Ghandi said about the Christian of his days, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” It is even worse now. 

The ground is barren. Some versions translate “barren” as “miscarries”. Even when we think we have won souls unto the LORD, how many of them have turned into lifetime followers of Jesus Christ? So much numbers are reported of souls saved, it is yet to produce a positive spiritual effect on society. This is a miscarriage. God did not plan to save a soul that will not continue to follow Jesus through out his life. It is our omission that has made God to look like a liar, and has given calvinists and non-calvinists more reasons to dispute about God’s sovereignty in evangelism. 

A new cruse is needed

The old cruse or container can no more suffice. It has brought us to a point of ridicule among the unsaved. They have written treatises and books about our faith, and dismissed it as a waste of time, or like one of them said, it is the opium of the masses. It is a great disgrace that has befallen us. Meanwhile, the faith of the (correct) fathers could not have been so easily dismissed and despised.

“And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.” Acts 5:13

“The others, in fear, kept back from joining them: but the people made much of them” BBE

It was not like today where it is fashionable to be a Christian, an error that has been traced to Constantine, the emperor of Rome, who made Christianity a state religion, and by that singular act emptied it of its power. The unsaved people saw God at work among the Christians and even though they had to think twice or more to join them (and many never joined them), they held them in high regard. 

Now, Elisha told the men to get a new cruse or container, which is like the wineskin we have been speaking about. They were to put salt in it. Any salt they put into the “old cruse” will be compromised. The new cruse (new wineskin) is like a new heart that has been delivered from the power of human and religious traditions.

Every existing religious tradition in Christianity has consistently ignored certain clear aspects of God’s Word, just because that was how they have “known” it. These cannot hold the “salt” of transformation that can affect men today. If you put the salt, it will only decay, and rather than the salt destroy any element of the flesh at work, it will magnify it. The wineskin will burst. Which means it cannot hold the Word of God again. It cannot allow the Spirit again.

So even if God were to pour out His Spirit on a “church” that has not done away with the old wineskin, it will only bring trouble. The result of such an outpouring will not be preserved. So, even if men are saved, they will be stuck; they will not be able to go on to perfection. They will settle for the existing status quo since the flow of the Spirit and the unadulterated Word of God has leaked away.

The living water

The water cannot be healed unless we have a new cruse, which is a new heart of utmost surrender to Him. In the words of Oswald Chambers, “my utmost for His Highest”. The extensive waters of poor Christian life that is a global issue today cannot be resolved, as we await the return of the Bridegroom, until we give up all allegiances to traditions and systems that compromise God’s Word

As simple as this is, it is also quite complex. For even when we are faithfully following the LORD Jesus in our own lives and families, that in itself will make us to run into conflict with those whose commitment are lower, and it can make men to perceive us as “rebels”. I beg you in the name of Jesus, don’t allow anyone in the name of their “spiritual office” to cajole you into not following through with whatever the LORD is doing in and with you. A true disciple of Jesus does not look for trouble but if He follows Jesus all the way and lives like Jesus did, trouble will definitely look for him.

The testimony of Jesus is what the Holy Spirit is recovering today. And He is preparing the bride (body of Christ) for her eternal joining with her LORD (Ephesians 5:27, Revelation 21:2). If you are also standing on the shoulders of the apostles and prophets, you will see that this is what to live for and if need be to die for. This is what should bind us together as one in the communion of the Spirit. This is the weightier matter that should preoccupy us and not the lesser issues of which offering is correct or which one is wrong (or who is more New Testament-like in approach than others).

May you also receive the testimony that you “…follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth…” (Revelation 14:4).

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotation is from the King James Version.

Picture Credit: Valley Baptist Church, thenewcruse.pentecostalpioneers.org

faith, Grace, Leadership

Scriptural Precursors to Unity of Faith

What must happen before we can have unity of faith

We see what God has done for us by His Sovereign Grace in Ephesians chapters 1 to 3. And if you have not yet seen it, you might as well take your time right now to go through it. It is a revelation of that which God began to do in eternity past, before the beginning of creation, which He continues to unfold today, according to the counsel of His Will. This is God’s Sovereign Grace towards all whom He has saved, whether they have understood it or not. Hence, it is this truth that should sober the hearts of brothers who are well learned in these things towards their fellow saints who are not yet taught or brought (up) into this realities.

Precursor: “something that comes before something else and that often leads to or influences its development, one that precedes and indicates the approach of another, predecessor, forerunner.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary

This soberness should bend our hearts in prayer towards our fellow believers, regardless of their denominational affiliations or current biblical understanding. So, we should long for God to unite His body in our day, “…that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:22). Thus, we see that what Bible teaching will not do, a genuine prayer towards all who have been saved will achieve our LORD’s prayer in John 17. In fact, correct Bible teaching requires an altar of prayer to enforce it upon the souls of men.

#1. Humility before the LORD and towards the brethren

Ephesians 4:1-2 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, [2] With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;”

We are to walk worthy of the vocation (the acting out of all that God has achieved for us by His Sovereign Grace) we have been called into. How? Not in pride of knowledge and criticism of our fellows. But primarily, with lowliness and meekness. And “.. with longsuffering…” That is, preferring to suffer a mislabel as long as it will take to win over your brother into a fuller experience of the knowledge of Christ. We are able to suffer long like this on account of our brothers, because of the forbearing love that the LORD Himself is willing to demonstrate through us, as He has already demonstrated towards us. 

#2. Taking responsibility against division

Ephesians 4:3-6 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. [4] There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; [5] One Lord, one faith, one baptism, [6] One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

There is already a unity of the Spirit that has been objectively breathed into the body by the Holy Spirit, and we are to keep (preserve) it. How? In the bond of peace. Regardless of differences that results from tradition and personal opinions on God’s Word, we must know that the “…God and Father of all, who is above all…” is the One that works “…through all, and in you all…”, when we allow Him. Please allow Him. If you cooperate with Him, He will unite you with others of different groups and denominations through your forbearance and longsuffering, simply because they belong to Him also.

#3. Your growth is the measurement of your grace 

Ephesians 4:7 “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.”

We have seen some precursors already that leads to unity of faith. First, we live out that which the Grace of God has achieved in us and then we continually moderate our passions to accommodate others of God’s people, all according to the breath of the Holy Spirit within us, which is the grace of God.

Now, this grace is given and experienced according to the measure of the gift of Christ. That is, the measure of Christ we know and experience devotionally is the same measure of Grace we will have operationally. So, what measure of Christ has been formed in you? How much of the LORD can be seen in your life? Yes, we know that He is in you but that which is inside has a way of showing forth on the outside. The amount of progress you have made, areas where you have allowed the LORD to have His way, is the measure of Christ, and it is that measure that determines the Grace you can literally experience in service towards the rest of the body of Christ. 

#4. Ministerial offices are given for growth and unity of the church

Ephesians 4:11-13 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: [13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”

So, based on the measure of growth we have experientially proven in Christ, we are given a measure of operation in the body of Christ. Hence, He gave some apostles… prophets, …evangelist, …pastors and teachers. You can look at these assignments in two ways.

1. A Gifting

2. A Calling

Even if you have any of these as a gifting, until the LORD Himself calls it forth, it does not become an assignment for you. And what will make Him to call it forth? The measure of the gift of Christ. Christ in you, being the hope of glory, is what determines your capacity to bear the office of a ministry or service gift. 

In verses 12 & 13, the LORD introduces us to two words, “For” and “Till”. Both are opening words for each verse, and they represent purpose and measurement respectively. All the ministries are given “for” a purpose, and it is to perfect the saints, to do the work of service (ministry) and to edify (build up) the body of Christ. If you look at these very well, you will see that a calling into the 5 fold ministry is not a calling to a denomination or sect, it is a calling to the body of Christ, according to the scope of ministry the LORD will give in your lifetime. 

How do you know that the saints are being perfected? How do you know that the work of ministry is being done? How do you verify that the body of Christ is being built up? The word “Till” points to how to measure the effectiveness of each ministry assignment among the saints. These ministries (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) must bring us together in the unity of faith.

Now, when you see people allegedly bearing such ministries not achieving that, you are free to discard their claim to such an assignment. No calling in the body of Christ is given to separate brethren and divide further those who are equally born again but don’t yet see eye to eye on a number of things, even in the Word of God. If one among us grows properly and God now calls him into a service of pastoring for instance, one thing that should mark it is the healing of breaches and binding together of brethren in love, rather than breaking of groups further along the lines of doctrinal differences. 

We are beginning to see a semblance of these in some places. Any life that can cut across denominations and international church groups without compromising the Word of God is a life that is serving this “Ephesians 4:13” purpose, regardless of their simplicity. Even if they are title-less, they are the real apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. It is those who achieve the purpose for these offices that are actually the real office holder, by the Grace of God.

#5. The maturity that produces unity

Ephesians 4:14-16 “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; [15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: [16] From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

God is very clear about how He will achieve His eternal purposes. Concerning the Church, God’s plan is to make everyone of us “…grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ”. This will happen as we speak the truth in love. Obviously there will be those who will presume that they will participate in (the fellowship of) Christ regardless of their hatred for the truth. A capital NO please! Love does not compromise truth; it only fasten it upon the hearer in a more forceful way. This is a way of living by example and giving room for the hearer to grow up into that truth already in your experience. 

To be against God’s Word that is clearly revealed to us is to be eventually cut off from the body of Christ (John 15:2, 6).

The maturity of speaking the truth in love will build up a generation of saints whose primary affection is to Christ and His Word, such that their understanding of doctrine and their experience of spiritual realities are shaped by the same. They will not be gullible to false teachings. They will not be tossed here and there by any wave of a new teaching since the Word of God is not going through any form of updating. Please note that the primary reason why these saints won’t be deceived is not their Bible knowledge; it is their growth in knowing Christ personally and experientially, which is actually the goal of Scriptures (John 5:39).

It is as everyone is joined to Christ in private devotion that they find that spiritual appetite for public fellowship with the saints, as well as, clarify the spiritual priority of unity in our experience. The body makes increase as every part grows in its own measure of Christ and shares that portion in his own experience with the rest. This constant, continuous supplies from every saint is what binds and compacts the body of Christ together. 

The privilege of knowing God and sharing Him

As we respond to God’s order, let us note that unity of the body of Christ equally emphasize the individual saint and the community of saints. One is not more important than the other. It is only a matter of priority. Personally spending time with God is the one thing that many of us lack, just as Jesus told Martha. Yet, we must also proceed to partake of the administration of life that God has approved for public fellowship; after which we withdraw again. In fact, we eventually gain strength to enjoy this private fellowship with LORD everywhere, even in the busyness of the public space, because of the Grace to maintain this priority of spending time with alone Him. 

We give of that Christ-life in us and then we receive of that Christ-life in others. And love is what makes all these possible.

“For the love of Christ constraineth us…” 2 Corinthians 5:14

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

NOTE: Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations are from the King James Version

Picture credit: end times prophecy report

faith, Spirituality

The Unity of Faith

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (KJV)

“In this way, all of us will become completely united by what we believe. All of us will become united because we really know God’s Son. So, we will be like a man who has grown up properly and completely. We will be like a man who is as tall as Christ himself. We will be completely as God wants us to be.”(EasyEnglish)

Ephesians 4:13

There are many brothers who are so concerned about doctrine and its systematic presentation that they alienate anyone who thinks slightly different from their established teaching. First of all, my mind has been trained by the grace of God to observe order and to be systematic (or orderly) in the presentation of God’s Word. However, just as any good thing can be carried to an extreme, being systematic can put two sincere disciples of Jesus Christ into theological disputes, simply because of how they have come to understand God’s Word. 

And unfortunately when one brother assails another with scriptural “blows”, as it were, without first tending the “Daystar that has arisen in their godly hearts”(2 Peter 1:19), they will soon bypass their simple devotions to Christ that makes them godly, and begin a battle of bible knowledge that forces each of them to read God’s Word academically, seeking their own superiority over the other and endlessly misrepresenting their position as a defense for the gospel.

Before we venture into understanding what the Holy Spirit means by the Unity of Faith, let us first of all deal with what it is not. 

1. The Unity of Faith is not Compromise with error.

2. The Unity of Faith is not a Lockdown on the Truth.

3. The Unity of Faith is not Participating in the Traditions of Men.

4. The Unity of Faith is not Uniformity of Expression.

#1. The Unity of Faith is not Compromise with error

Errors are in two categories. Deliberate errors and innocent errors. The best way to put this across is this: there are errors, either blatant or demonically woven with truth, that are perpetuated by people who are not planning to go to heaven. That is deliberate.  As the scripture says, their mouths must be stopped (Titus 1:10-11). Especially when you have a prophetic appointment to stop it. That means you have a clear anointing and (spiritual) authority to correct it. You identify the falsehood and deal with it by the Truth.

Now, there are people who are genuinely saved but are sincerely in error. This, for want of a better word, is innocent, and we need to approach it differently. The first thing is to establish a fellowship based on our common salvation. Until we fellowship on this basis, we may have no right to bring correction. In fact, fellowship among believers is what opens our hearts to one another, and it establishes the love that must accompany the (cure of) truth we intend to apply to the error.

The Example of Christ and Paul

The account of the LORD’s message to His seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3, is a perfect example here. Out of 7 churches, Smyrna and Philadelphia had no correction at all; only commendations. The remaining five had corrections. Out of these 5, only Laodicea did not have any commendation and that was because there was nothing to commend by the LORD. Sardis got a little bit of commendation after the correction in 3:4. So we see that the LORD mostly commends first before correcting. 

If you are familiar with the Epistles of Paul, you will also notice that every church he wrote to was greeted and mostly commended before digging deep to bring instructions and corrections where needed. Of the seven churches (not persons) he wrote to, Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Thessalonians, only the Galatians didn’t get commended after his usual greetings. But when you get a sense of his correction, just like the LORD’s correction to the church in Laodicea, you will see that it is all out of love.

That is the way of love. To deal with error in the family, love is the way. You don’t use the truth to insult people because they are partakers with you of the grace of life; and it is part of their growth to receive your correction, when it is well measured out, in love (having established fellowship). 

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” Ephesians 4:15

#2. The Unity of Faith is not a Lockdown on the Truth

Fellowship with those whom we are born together into God’s family is a matured response to the diversity that exists among God’s people in different nations and denominations. Now, there may be certain ideas in the system of a group that is not biblical. This is possible only because most of us God’s children choose to be carnal and not spiritual. We retain personal opinions in the faith, that is why we have different denominations with different beliefs. Yet, it is maturity to not make that your focus in relating with them or else you have no right to ask them to reconsider it in the light of God’s Word.

Now, I do not consider a group Christian, if within their belief system are core fundamental errors that undermines the faith. But when the errors are not fundamental, although yet incorrect according to God’s Word, we must allow the fundamentals we agree on to be the basis of our fellowship, trusting the Holy Spirit to open a way for Himself to correct them.

#3. The Unity of Faith is not Participating in the Traditions of Men

Tracing the history of traditions in church history, it is nothing more than personal, societal and sometimes occultic ideas imposed on the church by certian fathers. Some traditions that are good may not be a problem in themselves because they are only a way of doing things that is peculiar to a people. Methods must differ from group to group, the challenge, however, is refusing the temptation to canonize them or to make them sacred.

Our LORD rebuked any such attempt vehemently when He said, “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [8] For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. [9] And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” Mark 7:7-9 KJV

When we make traditions sacred, we have by that same token, dismissed God’s Word. Both cannot be held together with the same level of devotion. When it comes to traditions, they must never be taught as the doctrine necessary for Christian living, because in teaching them, you are making the Word of God of no effect (Mark 7:13).

When we put traditions where it belongs, we will realize that there will be no basis for much of the division we are experiencing today among Christians and Churches. Where does tradition belongs? It belongs to the world. No matter how good some of them may be, they must not become our doctrine; and because they do not originate from Scriptures, they cannot be a basis for unity.

#4. The Unity of Faith is not Uniformity of Expression

Now, this unity is not in how we organize worship (liturgy) or how we organize other services and activities (church government), rather it is in how we love our Saviour and LORD and how we share that love with others of the household of faith. Expressions don’t have to be uniform. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, we see “diversities of gifts”, “differences of administration” and “diversities of operations”. That means, expressions are bound to be diverse and different. Even when people have similar gifts, because it is the Holy Spirit at work, He tends to express it differently, since the scope of operation and the specific administration of the gift will always be different. 

This diversity is never a basis for division; it is in fact a call for unity. We are one body not because we speak alike or we literally do the same tasks but because we have been placed into a specific part/portion of the body of Christ. Where we have been placed is different and each of us have a service to perform towards one another. If we do exactly the same thing, we will have no need of one another. We can’t imagine the kind of monotony and dullness that will result. Our differences in gifting, spiritual office and scope of assignment is certainly a basis for unity because each of our assignments is ministered to the other not to ourselves. 

Unity of Faith comes by loving the LORD supremely and those whom He has drawn to Himself by that same love (Jeremiah 31:3, Luke 10:27)

If we focus more on the LORD and less on our individual or group peculiarities, we will all the more see the reason to be united in spirit with all those who are heirs with us according to the promise (Galatians 3:29). I know you know something but you will never learn what you don’t know when it is what is wrong with others that you are preoccupied with. We all could use some correction on areas that may be hidden from us but probably apparent to others.

George Whitefield, an 18th century preacher spoke kindly of another preacher, Gilbert Tennent, who was not as known as he was, when he heard him preach. He wrote in his dairy, “Never before heard I such a searching sermon. He went to the bottom indeed, and did not daub with untempered mortar. He convinced me more and more, that we can preach the gospel of Christ no further than we have experienced the power of it in our hearts. I found what a babe and novice I was in the things of God.” Page 166, Life and Times of George Whitefield 

Picture credits: flickr, 123rf

Grace, Relationship, Spirituality

The Goodness of God


Do you see how much God has got your back? How infinitely meticulous He is with His care for you? How many times have you been delayed and that was a covert deliverance from an impending danger? 

He has kept you from the plots of (evil) men and made you invincible to the spells of evildoers. All that, you may not be able to account for consciously!

You have a job, you are married, you have children, you are even a lifter of men. Even if there is one thing that makes you feel incomplete in your existential pursuits, you definitely have many things now, that will leave you forlorn (or despondent), if you were to lose anyone of them.

God has been good to you!

No one is so bankrupt of God’s goodness, that cannot withdraw a single memory of divine mercy from the bank of history… no matter how far away s/he might be from God today.

He has shown us mercy in the past, but why are we so destitute of His help today? And even feel overwhelmingly puzzled with the ever so elusive future drawing nearer, by the day!

Even though we all have received the first installments of His goodness in many ways, it does not become a permanent experience, until we have responded positively to the great love that God has displayed towards us. Loving Him back will bring you to a personal knowledge of Him and you will begin to “fear” Him (actually it means reference – fear mixed with love), worship Him, lean on Him and trust Him.

 

Repsond to Him

When you respond back with your love to God, your physiology will begin to experience a shift. Because your spirit man will begin to show signs of (new) life, and that may signal the beginning of a permanent experience for you. And you are now honoring the law of your being: spirit comes before soul and soul comes before body.

There is beauty in the symmetry of expressions that will begin to flow out of you to your fellow men, and very soon to the nations! You have touched something that will bring the world to your feet, not to be served, but to serve them with the specific “variety” of God’s goodness that your life (and purpose) represents.

Why not now?

Now, don’t despise “…the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering…” since “…the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4) The purpose of past experiences of God’s goodness to you, even when you didn’t know Him, is to lead you to make a U turn to God.

You will agree with me that God has already taken the initiative of pursuit over everyone of us alive, and it is now our turn to simply accept the waiting invitation to a new life, full of God’s goodness, safety and defense against satanic assaults and accusations.

Picture credit: miraclebook, youversion, beckyfarinacain

Life Mastery

Include & Preclude Modality

robin sharma1

We sometimes get overwhelmed by the excessive contents of possibilities surrounding us. So many things are possible, it all depends on your preference. Take an extreme scenario. Between living to a full, ripe old age and abruptly seizing from existence is a simple choice. And that choice makes us self-preserving… Or who among us would donate themselves to fill the casualty space in a road accident? It’s pretty much clear that a few little things we do daily are parts of the ways we keep ourselves alive.

Selectivity

We are involved in a selective existence. Irrespective of multiple contexts and contents in our different cultures, we gravitate to those things that can serve us. What does that mean? We have a mental activity going on within us that is stronger than any physical/environmental circumstances we are sandwiched into. With 100% precision, what is going on in your mind will always determine your personal experience, not what is going on in the world. Think about that!

So, to my Nobel-like idea on determining our experiences (which will not be new to most of you, anyway!), IPM is one way by which you can constantly filter the fury of contents swirling all around you to those useful to your present and eternal aspirations.

The ability to decide

Include what you prefer and Preclude what you care less about. Yes! It’s that simple. You already function in a similar fashion, trust me. You see, experience is your preferred share in life. Granted, some things are not within your control but like I always say, if we control what is within our grasp, we pretty much determine how what we can’t control unfold and to what end they manifest. Confusing? It’s just a paradox! Cos you eventually determine how things influence you…that decision is never taken from you.

So, you see… The world is a mixture of everything. There is good and there is evil. There is wealth and there is poverty. There is love and there is hatred. And on and on… It’s all there like in a market. You decide what you will like to purchase. It’s quite simple. You might say “there is so much evil in the world…do I really have a choice?”

Contributing to evil is always a choice. Even when people were under the threat of death, some refused to capitulate; for they preferred the victory of good over the tyranny of evil. The history of martyrdom is replete with such great heroes, old and young. And I am always inspired by the courage to assert what one believes.

The power of belief

The other day I heard that a man that was martyred in Rome was declared a saint in the evolving theology of that system some 400 years later. There are many people like that. What they stood for did not die with them. It might be temporarily suppressed in death but that death itself is what makes such ideals immortal.

What about wealth? That’s also a choice. Nothing becomes your experience until it feels your mind and rules your life. So, we have poor people in rich places and we have rich people in poor places. It is what runs your mind that runs your life. So, can you see that both the rich and the poor are actually doing the same thing.

Same process, different content, different results

The poor man includes poverty in his mindset and precludes wealth from the same. The rich man includes wealth in his mentality and precludes poverty from the same. Same process but different content. Here is how I know I can learn from anybody. If someone struggles a lot and things don’t work, it shows that that person is doing a pretty good job by increasing energy and keeping output at the same level. It’s genius level work. He continues to do the same thing while expecting a different result and he doesn’t get the result he says he wants and it is “working” for him. If this person knows nothing, at least he knows how to do things, expect a particular result and not get it. It is a specialty.

What are you including?

So, let me ask you. What do you permit into your mind? People say things like there are too many people scrambling for the same amount of limited resources. That’s a pretty well couched educated ignorance that has permanently disabled the potential of many people. Look, those who believe that can have any opportunity in this world, they will always think they are scrambling for their own share and either it’s never enough or there are always emergencies awaiting any financial windfall that keeps them at that same level of pity.

What are your precluding?

You must know that every physical thing you can ever need is already here. Our ancestors have created a gap between you and that thing called money. Once you can understand that these things are freely given by God to mankind, it will reduce their projected expensiveness in your mind and then that puts you in a vibration that either attracts you to opportunities or attracts opportunities to you. You have to make the leap (over money) in your mind and you’ll see that sometimes these things can come to you as a gift, not necessarily requiring the monetary exchange to be from you.

And then I hear some say, I can’t love this person. Oh I don’t love that woman any more. I can’t live with her anymore. Divorce court resumes another proceeding. Now… either in marriage or not, there is no one alive that another human being cannot love. The problem is never with them; it is always with you. Yes, you! Proximity deceives many married people with feelings of dissatisfaction and then they think they just need someone else until Someone Else comes and the whole pattern repeats itself. It is within the paradox of familiarity that we have to grow love.

Proximity & Curiosity

Why do you have to like another man or woman (because they are not currently filling your immediate space)? It’s simply curiosity playing tricks on you. Now, if you can consciously value your friends and your spouse, always going the extra mile to not take them for granted and do all you will normally do officially for those whom you are curious about (things like taking time to listen, giving gifts, sharing thoughtful experiences, giving verbal appreciation), you will live them with no other option than to reciprocate with the feelings of affection and joy (centred around you) that you’ve been looking for.

Finally…

Include and Preclude Modality is a way of mastering ourselves in order to maximise the noble opportunities life presents to us. So, to those who say, “oh, it’s your first marriage…well, in a few years you should have joined the rest of us in the “ex” collectors business (people who have a list of former spouses). You can choose to preclude that from your mind as well for if you don’t you already have a self-fulfilling prophecy waiting to materialise. No matter what the order of the day is around you, always choose to focus on the kind of experience you really want. This will determine the kind of friends you keep, the news you listen to, the ideas you permit into your mind etcetera. IPM is about preferences.

 

Credit: Image is from robinsharma dot com

Finances, Life Mastery, Work

Do you understand?

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…find something that suits your passion and mobilises all your potential, do it and serve the world with the sweetness that it promises, the solution it proffers and the change it brings. Just doing this one thing, and doing it well, will seat you permanently with the 5% that are making the remaining 95% grateful for a job or something like that.

That’s your contribution to the world. Don’t you get it? Think about what you think you need today. A home! Clothes! Shoes! Etcetera. Think about material things… Is any of them made of something out of this world? Who is the original owner of these raw materials? Can any man claim to be the original owner? You know the answer. God owns it all cos He made all there is before mankind ever began his existence.

Now, every physical thing you need does not answer to pressuring yourself or feeling jealous or wondering why others have what you don’t have. It answers to us in a very simple, cheap way. But do we know it?

Since all we will ever purchase for our physical usage was made of something of the earth, living or non-living, then every time you serve the earth by doing what you were born to do – which will be making life better for people, making the planet function better, generally making things work better – you create a link between yourself and everything you will ever need. They will always flow to you of their own accord.

The things you see (I mean the way material things can sometimes look really far away from your reach) may make you think you need to pursue them by neglecting your real assignment. No! Trust me, that’s a mirage. The more you literally pursue, the more they elude you. They are designed to follow those who understand how things work. When you consistently give your very best in service, you are compensated in such a way that you can afford whatever you need. (You don’t have to believe that. Be it unto you according to whatever you believe!)They are there for you but you just can’t access them unless you use the legal tender and the official way to get that is by offering yourself in some form of enjoyable, fulfilling and making-the-world-a-better-place kind of service.

NOTE: I hope I have done a good job of explaining this. If you can press it more concisely, I invite you to shoot a comment that summarises what has been said in a much better way. May be give a quote or something.

Credit: Image from Google