The Paralyzing Power of Fear(Part 2 of 3)

The entire narrative contained within the Bible focuses on a spectacularly all-encompassing Love Story of Redemption where God graciously extends salvation towards rebellious human beings. Within this broken world, only God’s boundless and exceedingly rich love extended through Christ Himself is capable of perfectly casting out fear in our fragile lives. Not only did Jesus Christ model the perfect example of what it means to love one another, but He also lived a perfect live of obedience to God, the Father. Therefore, those who place their full, unbridled trust and surrender in Jesus alone making Him the Savior and Lord of their lives, will be saved from the dominion of sin in their lives. In a similar way, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that “God made Him Who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”. Jesus paved the only way(John 14:6) for perfect reconciliation between us and the Father. Until we are made right before God through being justified by the blood shed by Jesus, we will continually be at enmity with God being under His righteous judgement.

The Christian Church today is under siege by false teachers who masquerade themselves as apostles of Christ(2 Cor. 11:13) whom are in control of many of the world’s largest religions(some of which operating under the guise of
prosperity-gospel“Christianity”
) . To many of you reading, this probably doesn’t strike you as strange considering the vast growth and popularity of the Prosperity Gospel within the West, even being exporting to other countries around the world. What I feel compelled to share and expose is that fear-based religion, whether it functions under the Christian label or not, is not of God, nor is this what God has ever designed for His redeemed people. This is purely of man, and it is basically a repackaged form of the way the Religious Leaders(Pharisees, and other Experts of the Law) of Jesus’ day sought to oppress and enslave the people of this time. Astonishingly, those who adhere to any form of fear-based religion are in greater danger of perishing than those without any religious affiliation, like the atheists, agnostics and/or those who have not yet heard the full Gospel message. Allow me to explain by quoting from part 1 of this series below:

However, the church is always one of the most dangerous places you can be if you ignorantly fool yourself into thinking that you are saved when you are really not. Essentially, you have not only become a hypocrite without even realizing(or through suppressing it) but once you are within the clutches of religion, it is exceedingly difficult to escape because the enemy has cunningly fooled you through using religion as his choice of weapon.

I don’t think that I need to remind everyone that Jesus also reserved the sharpest rebuke for the hypocrites who, ironically, were those within the religious community of this time. Therefore, it is critically important that we examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith as Paul prescribes in 2 Corinthians 13:5 saying, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test”. There is no such thing as a lukewarm, half-committed Christian contrary to popularly held opinion. We are either true Christians, or merely impostors–it is as simple as that. This also is why we need to be continually growing in our faith walk by pursuing the Lord daily and putting to death the deeds of the flesh(Rom 6:11-13), otherwise we will be drawing further away from Him.

One of the strongest indicators that you belong to a fear-based religion is that those who are placed in leadership seek to control you. We will term this, the “spirit of control”. Usually such people have been prematurely respected and therefore placed in positions of leadership in churches and ministries before their character can be clearly confirmed. This spirit of control will eventually lead to destruction if it is not stopped immediately. The distinction between God’s Holy Spirit and this demonic spirit of control is that the Holy Spirit liberates while the spirit of control imprisons. The Spirit-led person cares solely about being controlled by Christ, as opposed to the spirit of control which focuses on manipulating people. The main cause of someone with the spirit of control is almost always because they have not yet completely surrendered to Christ. When someone like this is ignorantly placed in leadership within a church, the consequences are wide-reaching and far-extending. These ripple effects are opposed to the work of the Holy Spirit, and tragically those who follow such leaders will replicate their hypocritical example.

spirit-filledThis is why spiritual discernment is absolutely essential for every believer which comes from being in God’s Word and leading a Spirit-filled life through surrender. Our spiritual walk is greatly contingent on the level of discernment we possess as believers. Isn’t it interesting how the majority of the followers of the religious cults of today are almost always those who lack Biblical Literacy? There is an unseen spiritual battle in our midst which is why we need to always be alert, and continually equipped with the entire armor of God(Eph 6:10-18) wielding the sword of righteousness which is the Word of God. It can only be effective if we keep it sharpened which comes from actually reading, meditating, and living out God’s Word. Otherwise, we as believers are extremely vulnerable and destined to fall away from the faith. False teachers prey upon the naive and the ignorant. They hope that they know the Bible better than you and I in order that they can exploit and manipulate us for their personal gain. One of the biggest lies “progressive Christianity” teaches is that once we are saved, we are free to live however we like because of God’s abundant grace. This heretical teaching has already been soundly debunked by Paul in Romans Chapter 6 and consistently throughout the entire book of Galatians. Rather than an easy-believism, seeker-sensitive, man-centred false gospel of health and wealth, the true Gospel must always be preached in its entirety. Being a real disciple of Jesus requires more than just attending church on Sundays and going out for brunch with some friends afterwards, it requires dying to self daily through continual repentance. The true Gospel message does not end at salvation. Salvation is like the first side of the coin which is like the first step in the Christian’s walk of faith. The second side is repentance through surrendering every single area of your life to Jesus so that the old self can die in order that the new self may live(see Galatians 2:20).

Those who reject the necessity of repentance within the Christian Walk were probably never saved in the first place, despite fooling themselves into thinking that they somehow were. Such people are in grave danger and they are really at the mercy of fear-based religious institutions which help to propel this false sense of security. While many fall into this category, there are still those who have genuinely accepted Jesus as Savior but not as Lord of their lives through repentance, thereby quenching the supernatural power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit drives the whole engine of the Christian life, we need to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled in order to walk in the fullness of God’s Plan. This can only happen through humility and dying to self. Indeed, fear will consume and paralyze the Christian when they do not live Spirit-filled lives through this daily surrender and repentance. The source of any kind of fear is not of the Father, nor can it ever be, it is of the flesh, primarily coming from the irrational fear of man. Those who are saved and living the Spirit-filled life are not only thriving spiritually and being used as instruments of God’s mercy and grace, but they are free from fear itself because of Christ Who dwells inside them through the Holy Spirit. In Luke 12:4-5 Jesus teaches,

“I tell you friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him”

Because Jesus has conquered the world and overcome death itself, His followers are liberated from the fear of man. The only fear we should ever have is the Fear of the Lord consisting of a reverential and holy fear because of God’s omnipotence and His supremacy over all things.

May God Bless everyone! Stay tuned for the last part of this series where I will share some practical steps to overcoming fear in your life through the power of the Cross and armor of God.

Father, I pray that You can use this blog entry to remind of us of who we are in Christ while re-orienting our attention to the Holy Spirit, Who is often the most neglected Person of the Trinity. Father, remind us of the need to lead a Spirit-Filled life in order to be victorious in the ongoing spiritual warfare we face and to be fruitful for furthering God’s Kingdom. Demolish any strongholds set by the enemy and as you perfect us by Christ’s love, I pray that the fear of man may also be eliminated!

In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen.

Reference: http://www.godfactor.com/blog/are-control-freaks-killing-your-ministry

 

Power in Eternal Perspective

As Christians, I do not think that it is possible to overemphasize the level of importance we should place on our perspective. Yet, I cannot even begin to count the number of times where my perspective became distorted and tainted by the deceitfulness of my heart. The truth of the matter is that even as Christians, we are still very inclined to waver and allow our perspective to be shaped by the lies of the world. Perhaps one of the best examples of someone in the Bible who truly got what having an eternal perspective looks like is Paul. In his letter to the Philippians(4:10-13), Paul writes,

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Let this sink in for a moment: Paul is literally a prisoner at this point, yet he is virtually unaffected by his present circumstances to the point where he is actually rejoicing. How is this possible!? Shouldn’t Paul be anxious about what may happen to him, or at the very least that the Jesus Will Supply All Thingsadvancement of the Gospel may be hindered? To the extreme contrary, Paul rejoices with the assurance that God will supply all his needs (Phil. 4:19) and that God’s will is being accomplished despite these adverse circumstances. The central lesson here is that “our inner attitudes do not have to reflect our outward circumstances”. Paul had unbridled confidence that Jesus was always with him and no outward circumstance could ever undermine this. The secret to this is simply found in relying on Christ’s power for strength. 

If you are anything like me, unfavorable circumstances have a tendency of leading me to thoughts of discouragement, doubts, and even despair. What I have found is helpful is preparing ahead of time through feeding my mind with God’s Word and meditating on His promises. Reading about God’s promises is one thing, but actually marveling and mediating on them so that they become entrenched in our minds is quite another. In doing so, when conflicts befall us and we find ourselves immersed in unpleasant circumstances, we can readily call God’s promises to mind. “What we put into our minds determines what comes out in our words and actions”; harmful input from the world needs to be replaced with wholesome input from God’s Word.

Interestingly, even the world has its own version of this teaching within New Ageism. The difference is that the world wants you to believe that you alone possess the power to change your inner attitude and perspective through relying on your own strength. While this may work in the short-term, it certainly does not within the long-term because only God through Jesus can provide us with an eternal perspective. We are weak and we will constantly fall short even though we like to view ourselves as wise in our own eyes; the heart is deceitful and it cannot be trusted(Jer. 17:9). You will find yourself chasing after the wind never actually finding the contentment which your soul seeks. All the while, you will become a slave to your own desires, becoming a product of your environment and situations rather than a conqueror through being anchored in the One who already victoriously overcame sin and death!  We all need Jesus, so let’s stopping leaning on our own strength like the enemy cunningly tells us to do by means of his lies. Instead let’s put our full trust in Jesus alone so that we can see life through God’s point-of-view. 

Please free feel to comment below! I welcome any of your thoughts!

God Bless!

Humanity Has A Preference Problem

Since the Fall of the human race in Genesis 3, accepting accountability for our actions has always been a real area of weakness for us. Arguably, one of the central reasons for why people would rather deny the existence of God is so that this very form of accountability is somehow removed. This is freedom after all, isn’t it? Being able to live however you true_freedom_in_christplease without having to answer to a higher power sounds both appealing and liberating at the same time. However, this type of freedom is not freedom at all. Don’t let the world’s way of thinking confuse and entrap you. In contrast to what real freedom in Christ provides, this is actually slavery which happens to be under the guise of freedom. Slavery to what you may be wondering? Simply put, it is slavery to your fleshly desires and impulses. The precise thing that you think is liberating you is in fact doing the exact opposite, that is, enslaving you.

Recently, I had the privilege of listening to a fascinating podcast by long-term Christian Pastor and Author, John Piper, entitled, “Why Hell Exists?”. Within this podcast, Piper makes the powerful argument that “everyone knows the supreme value of God…but that everyone prefers something to God“. Romans 1:18-19 supports this argument below:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

Regardless of whether you are: a skeptic, an atheist, a new age believer, or a follower of any of the world religions and denominations, God through His Word makes it abundantly clear God's Glorythat deep down inside you already know the truth of God. As seen in Romans 1:19, God’s eternal power and His divine nature are manifested throughout the beauty and intricacies of creation, consequently leaving people without excuse(Rom. 1:20).

Piper continues by postulating that “nobody leaves God simply because they value Him little; [rather] we always turn away from God because we value something more”. In a like manner, Romans 1:21-23 reveals:

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Wow! Think about this for a moment and let this truth sink in. This is God Who is the Creator of the entire universe! He literally breathed it into existence out of nothing, Who is the Alpha and the Omega, the Author and Finisher of all life, Who came down from Heaven, lived the perfect life, died the death we should have died, was raised on the third-day so that we can have forgiveness for our sins and have a forever relationship with Him! This infinitely beautiful and glorious God has given us everything, even Himself on the Cross. YET, we foolishly decide to exchange His glory for “images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and replies!(Rom 1:23)“.  Every sin is rooted in this abominable truth and heart-wrenching reality. Indeed, this is the biggest insult humans can possibly make towards God which is why unrepentant sinners must be judged. Interestingly however, whenever we sin no matter how big or small, we are committing this very exchange. The underlying reason for why we push God away is because in our darkened minds we think that we have discovered something more valuable. Therefore, we mistakenly find it more fitting to exchange God’s glory for things of this passing and transient world found in His creation instead of in God Himself.

With all this being said, believing in the One Living and True God is at the core derived from one’s preferences. The truth of God is tangibly displayed everywhere we look and eternity has even been hard-wired into the very hearts of our beings. Intrinsically, what matters is whether we decide to accept God for Who He is or to suppress Him as we aimlessly pursue the empty promises of this fleeting world.

Heavenly Father,

I pray that the spiritual-blinders may be lifted from unbelievers’s eyes to see You for Who you are in all Your honor and glory. Strengthen us as a Church so that we may faithfully share the Good News of the Gospel Message for everyone to hear! Also, please bring those of us who have gone astray back to You realizing how lost we are without You. Help us all to always cling close to You and please provide us with a re-vitalized hunger to know you more richly and deeply!

In Jesus’ Name, I Pray, Amen.

 

“Take off the GraveClothes and Put on the GraceClothes!”

The enemy has always had a propensity to offer cheap substitutes in exchange for the glorious hope which can be found only in Christ Himself. The fleshly desires which have plagued Contentment in Himhumanity since the Fall do not satisfy simply because they cannot satisfy. The desires of the flesh are unquenchable and they will continuously demand more and more. Interestingly, the more that we feed these desires, the more that they will hunger and thirst to be filled. True, soul-satisfying contentment is not found in more money, a bigger house, a faster car, a more lucrative career, a better education, partying it up, a more attractive spouse or even religion for the matter. You will literally go insane chasing after these empty pursuits because you will always come up short! Feelings of disappointment and disillusionment will ensue every single time. There is unequivocally nothing under the sun which is capable of ever providing our hearts with full and lasting satisfaction.

Our God is certainly a compassionate Father abounding in patience desiring for all of us to come to repentance, however I do believe that there is a point of no return that deserves to be mentioned. Dabbling in sin, particularly habitual sin, is extremely dangerous territory for the Christian. A prime example of this in found when Esau sells his birthright inheritance for a single meal, directly disobeying God. Upon desiring God’s blessing, Esau is unable to repent despite the fact that he sought it earnestly.

Hebrews 12:15-17 tells us:

15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

When it comes to sin in our own lives, particularly with respect to repeated, intentional and habitual sin, I fear that too many believers mistakenly believe that God’s grace somehow provides a licence for them to remain in this sin. In Romans 6:1-4 Paul reminds believers of the following:

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

The enemy is very cunning and deceptive with the strategy and the tactics he uses to lure us into committing sinful behaviours. What I have learnt from books as well as personal experience is that if we are not actively pursuing the Lord, then we are in effect drifting away which quenches the indwelling Holy Spirit. One of Satan’s primary weapons is to do whatever it takes to persuade us to compromise away No Compromiseour Christian convictions. It always starts with something seemingly small and innocent. As time progresses, we begin to rationalize and justify why this sin is not actually sin at all, falling prey to the enemy’s lies. Moreover, we begin to build up a threshold of tolerance where we our flesh demands more of a “buzz”. At this point, the seemingly innocent sin evolves into an addictive sinful pattern progressively pulling us further and further away from God. Our formerly high sensitivity to this sin gradually depletes and unbeknownst to the Christian, he or she has strayed so far away that it becomes exceedingly challenging to repent.

This concept of reaching a point of no return is quite controversial however I do believe that it merits discussion because Satan is constantly prowling around like a roaring lion looking for whom he may devour on sight(1 Pet 5:8). 1 John 5:16-17 talks about sinning unto death below:

16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

GotQuestion.org defines the “sin unto death” as “willful, continuous, unrepentant sin”. This specific passage is exceedingly complicated to interpret, however it should underscore the reality that we are living in a spiritual battleground where we need God every second of every minute of every hour of every day. We need to be consistently growing and maturing in our faith through being in God’s Word and living out an authentic Christian Life in joyful obedience to Him. We should be so filled with the Holy Spirit that we need not even entertain the very thought of committing any sin which formerly held us captive.

In a like manner Ephesians 4:17-19 says,

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

It is completely illogical to re-visit our former sinful ways because of this infinitely precious and glorious gift we have in Christ Jesus Who imputes His entire righteousness onto us when we humbly believe and trust in His atoning work on Calvary! We need to crucify those old fleshly desires and “…put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”(Eph. 4:24). Jesus already paid the price in full and destroyed the power which sin formerly had over us(Romans 7) so let’s embrace this glorious freedom we have in Christ!

New in Jesus

Reference: http://www.gotquestions.org/sin-unto-death.html 

The Way God Wins

Thank-you for sharing this beautiful reflection on the incomprehensibly glorious significance of the Cross!
God bless!

The Game Huddle

Gabriel Rosa Photo Credit: Gabriel Rosa via CC Flickr

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses…., God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in (Jesus).” Colossians 2:13–15 ESV

When God wins, He wins big time! We’re not talking an overtime, squeak-it-out victory. And we’re not talking about a soccer game where there’s a shootout win because one ball dribbles in, but otherwise it would have been a tie. God doesn’t operate like that. When He wins a battle, His victory is decisive.

As God was pouring out His wrath on His Son, we were there in His mind. From each painful step to Calvary, to His last…

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Pride will Destroy

Has anyone ever stopped and pondered on what the root of every sin is? Fundamentally, I would contend that the root of every sin is pride. As innately sin-prone humans, we do not merely sin for the sake of sinning. Rather, the allure of sin is derived from the deception that we are autonomous beings who foolishly think that we do not need to be accountable to any higher being. We sin out of our own selfish-thinking which postulates that we know what is best for us and that we have somehow evolved past needing God. When we sin, we blatantly transgress and disobey God, essentially telling Him that we are sovereign over our lives. In doing so, we push God away and decide to live selfishly.Pride.jpg

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The need for Compassion (Comparison Cure #4)

Beautiful message!
Maintaining Christ-like Compassion is so crucial yet so easily forgotten about nowadays!
Thank-you for this well-timed blog post!

Elihu's Corner

This is the fifth post in the series on Comparison Cures. To read the previous post, click here.

Jenny steeled herself and walked purposefully through the familiar front door. The cozy little house was already buzzing with the chatter of women. Jenny plastered a smile on her face, determined not to be the dark cloud on her friend’s special day.

After exchanging pleasantries with the hostess and a few other ladies, she found her dear friend, Julia, standing near a pile of blue presents and bright balloons. Her protruding belly announced to the world that a new life would soon be making its debut. Jenny wrapped her arms around her friend in a warm embrace.

“How are you feeling?” Jenny asked.

“I’m ok. My back is killing me, but that’s to be expected,” replied Julia. “Are you doing ok?”

Julia knew this wasn’t the best time to ask, but…

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Becoming What You Worship

One thing which believers and non-believers alike share in common is that we all worship something. There is always one particular thing which we dedicate and devote our lives towards. Whatever this thing may be, it will almost always form the identity and the very fabric of who we are as individuals. I would even postulate that in some sense we actually become what we worship and it is my contention that this view is also supported within the Scriptures.MAde for God
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The Gospel and Loneliness

Technology and Loneliness within the West

With the vast advances in social technology enabling us to seamlessly communicate and transmit information among one another, it seems logical to surmise that this degree of interconnectedness would in fact do that which it intends, namely connect us better. Specifically, connecting us better in such a way that we can develop fuller relationships in light of virtually constant, uninterrupted communication despite geographical boundaries which has encumbered us in the past. However, it dismays me to assert that this way of thinking is further from the truth than many are inclined to admit. In an article authored by Rebecca Harris’ called, The Loneliness Epidemic: We’re more Connected than Ever-But We are Feeling More Alone?, she states the following:

Changes in modern society are considered to be the cause[of loneliness]. We live in nuclear family units, often living large distances away from our extended family and friends, and our growing reliance on social technology rather than face to face interaction is thought to be making us feel more isolated” 

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God’s Unfailing Love

Today I feel particularly drawn to reflect on God’s steadfast and His unfailing love in my own life.

As sin-bent humans we are so prone to fall away from our faith walk. Media bombards us almost unceasingly with sin-infested messages where the Enemy waits for Christians to fall into all kinds of temptation. Not a single Christian is ever immune to our susceptibility to sin which is why it is so incredibly important to be in constant prayer Forgetfulnessand to actually be in God’s Word. I think that as Christians living in a self-absorbed western culture, we easily become ignorant of the fact that if we are not actively seeking intimacy with God then we will indeed fall away. For clarity, by falling away I mean that we begin to quench the Spirit thereby weakening our faith and delaying us from furthering God’s Kingdom. I believe that delaying the good work of Christians is one of the Enemy’s main spiritual assaults against us. It is when we enter into the forgetfulness of Who God is and all that He has done for us that the Enemy renders Christians ineffective for God’s work. Continue reading