CULTIVATING A TEACHABLE SPIRIT

teachable 2

God in his word has given us a mandate to go out and teach and make disciples of all nations. But at the same time he also wants us to be learners in the process of teaching and following him. In that, he desires that we have a teachable mind, receptive spirit, and obedient heart.

Deuteronomy 32:1-9 is a song that Moses taught the Israelites to be a witness against them when they stop listening to God. God deliberately journeyed his people to the Promised Land for forty years on what was normally an eleven day or so distance so as to teach them lessons on God, faith, humility, identity, and obedience. He taught and corrected them. Similarly, a life of a believer in Christ is a lifelong learning experience.

In this short-write up I want to focus on how to cultivate a teachable spirit/heart/attitude. But to cultivate a teachable spirit, we first have to acknowledge the fact that God is a teacher. He delights in showing us the way we should go.

Read here to see ways in which He teaches us or makes His ways known to us.

He uses His word, circumstances, godly people, and His indwelling presence in us to teach and lead us in his ways.

And so there is no excuse if we fail to listen Him. God is always guiding and teaching his people. But the challenge to all of us is having a teachable spirit or a receptive heart.

In Mark 4:1-23, Jesus taught his disciples about four kinds of people/ hearts. The four soils represent four different ways people respond to God’s message. In the parable, a farmer (God) went out to sow his seed (word); and the seeds it fell in four different grounds (hearts)- pathways, rocky surface, thorny ground, good soil). Let’s have a look at each of these four grounds.

sprouting
credits: Eco concept

Those that fell along the path– Some seed fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up.  Interpretation: Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan, like birds, come and takes away the word that was sown in them.

Those seed that fell on rocky places- It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and they withered because they had no deep root. Interpretation: they hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. Like people who only want miracles and blessings, when trouble come or persecution comes they quickly fall away.

The Seed that fell among thorns– The seed grew up in good soil but chocked by the thorns, so that they did not bear grain. Interpretation: Such people hear the word but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Remember, God cuts off unfruitful branches and throws them into fire, (Jn. 15:2,6).

The seed that fell on good soil– The seed came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even hundred times. Interpretation: Such people hear the word, accept it, produced a crop-thirty, sixty or even hundred times what was sown. The seed doesn’t return empty (Isa. 55:11).

bear fruit

From this parable, a teachable spirit/receptive heart: hears the word, accepts the word, and produces fruit.

On the other hand, the unreceptive heart/ unteachable spirit, the word is planted, it may look like it is making progress, but it produces no fruit.

It is true that many relationships/ marriages have disintegrated because of unteachable(unwillingness to learn) spouses, many children are not in good terms with their parents because they can’t stand to be rebuked, many employees have lost their jobs because they reject learning. The challenge is real to us. What soil are you? Do you personally have a teachable spirit before God? A spirit that hears God’s word, accept it, and yields to it.

So how can we develop a teachable spirit/ obedient heart?

Ways we can cultivate/develop a teachable spirit/heart?

  1. Ask God to give you a heart that is teachableask God the giver of all good things. What is the hope of a thorny or rocky ground? Can it be made a good soil? Humanly speaking, No. But it is possible with God. He can burn the thorns and break the rock into pieces and turn it into good soil! He says, “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29).

There may be certain areas of our lives we think it is impossible for change to occur! Don’t lose hope! God is able. Pray to him. He will listen; and give you a changed heart. He promises, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezek. 36:26-27).

The reason Pharaoh adamantly refused to let go the Israelites was because of hardness of heart. Out of his stubborn mind and stony heart he preferred to stay one more night with the frogs (Ex. 8:9-10). You see, hardness of heart is something that creeps in gradually; what we see as ‘small sins’ graduate making us grieve the Holy Spirit and be blind to God’s leading and soon or later our conscience becomes dead. Thankfully, the finger of God is able to break such kind of a heart and make it obedient to Christ.

David prayed a profound prayer, “create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” Psalm 51:10. Also in several verses in Psalm 119, he also prayed, “teach me”- your way, your laws/decrees/precepts, to follow your will, you wisdom, your knowledge. So when you pray, ask God to give you a heart that hears his word, accepts it, and is transformed by it. Ask God to teach you his ways, his will, his statutes. Ask God to become your teacher. It is only God who can change our hearts and incline it to his ways.

  1. Be a true Disciple of JesusThe word disciple means a learner, or a follower. The Bible uses the word “disciple” 282 times, “believers” 26 times and “Christians” only 3 times. The number the word “disciple” is repeated in the NT shows us that there is more to learn on what it means to be a disciple.

A true disciple of Jesus is someone who has heard God’s call to message of salvation, accepted it, and has been transformed by message.

On the contrary, the know-it-all believers are unteachable, full of themselves, they do not accept correction or listen; even when warned of an impending danger. They are fools (Prov. 12:1).

Learners have a teachable spirit, have room for correction, have a childlike heart (Matt. 18:2-4), they have inquisitive minds and learners have a receptive heart for God’s word. It is because of learning attitude that the disciples implored on their Master, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk. 11:1). Learners are always growing and transforming. And so if you are not growing then you have expired and if you are expired then you have outlived your usefulness in the kingdom of God. If you have stopped learning you have stopped marveling at the greatness of God.

  1. Let the word of God planted in you transform you– Many of us have had numerous opportunities to hear the word of God. We should allow this word should change us. It should produce fruit in us. Jesus instructed, This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples Jn 15:8. But in order to bear fruit however we must have a teachable attitude/spirit.

You see, the Holy Spirit works in your life as a believer in Christ to transform you into Christlikeness. He renews us inward out. He works to produce the fruit of Holy Spirit. And as this fruit (of love, joy, peace, faithfulness, kindness, self-control) gets manifested our minds and hearts are renewed to receive the word even more. And as we come nearer to Him we see him as he is and we see things as they are. And as the word of God takes root in our hearts our attitudes change.

But have you ever wondered why many people remain the same even after many years of salvation? It is because the word that is planted does not find a receptive heart. Immediately it is sowed, the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth and desires for other things come in and choke the word making it unfruitful, Mk 4:19.

Conclusion

Finally, when we want to know something today we quickly go to a dictionary or Google. But I urge you to let God be you teacher. Let him be the One that guides/informs you in the way you should go. If we hope to grow and mature in faith, we need to have a teachable mind, receptive spirit, and obedient heart. A heart that listens to the word of God, keeps it, and produces fruit.

Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near (Rev. 1:3).

Advertisements

WHAT DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU DID NOT RECEIVE?

Elkanah Cheboi

receive

It is very easy in life to adopt a false view of ourselves. On one hand, a wrong estimate of who we are can lead us into low self esteem and on the other hand the danger is an inflated ego. The Bible gives us a crystal-clear picture and truth of who we are in Christ. Here is a short verse that has been helpful to me.

1 Cor 4:7- “For what makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”  

You might rightfully want to ask yourself, “What is it that makes me different from other people? Could it be: wealth, family, education, power, personality, beauty, strength, diligence, intelligence, job, health, or talent?

Probably you might be tempted to think these things have ‘made’ you what/who you…

View original post 850 more words

Faith Hope and Love

faith hope love

Elkanah Cheboi

There are some crucial essentials in life that God wants all his children to know so as to live a life full of life. That is, a life that is fulfilling while delighting in God.

While addressing issues on spiritual gifts in the Body of Christ at Corinth, Apostle Paul mentions three important things that should remain in the life of a believer. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:13. These three are what the church and individual believers should be known for. Let’s have a look at each one of them.

Faith

We all have faith either on a person or a thing. But again we desperately need faith that is firm and that is put on an object that is trustworthy. Biblically, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we…

View original post 823 more words

SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO PRAY IN LIGHT OF TERRORIST ACTIVITIES AND GROUPS

SOMALIA MILITIA
                                                                                                                                                                (AP Photo)

We live in times when terror activities are happening at escalating rates in different parts of the world. How should we respond as Christians? The Bible teaches us to pray for our enemies (Matt 5:44), and focus on the Sovereign God. The answers to the challenges we face today can only be found by focusing not on ourselves but on God. And so like the disciples of Jesus we need to ask God to teach us how to pray, Lk 11:1. In our prayers we need to praise God for who He is, give thanks for the things He does and promises, confess our sins, and present our petitions to Him.

PRAISE THE LORD GOD

  • Praise the Lord of Hosts who commands armies of the heaven.
  • Praise Him who is the great Warrior; for his great power to subdue his enemies.
  • Praise him for the victory he gives to his servants and the church.

GIVE THANKS

  • Thank God for the hope he gives even in the midst of confusing times.
  • Thank God for he is accomplishing something new to those who love him even through terrorism; Rom 8:28.
  • Thank God for the remnant saints in those terrorist stricken areas; and the fact that despite numerous challenges and persecution the gospel is growing and bearing fruit everywhere in the world.
  • Thank God for the victory he promises to his loved ones.
  • Thank God for those heroes of faith who have courageously stood strong till the end.

CONFESSION

  • For the times the church has not lived up to its mission to the world as it should.
  • Ask for forgiveness of sins- Many times a talk on terrorism generates a lot of emotion toward particular groups. Some negative emotions can lead us to sin in our speech, thoughts, and views by expressing hate and resentment.

SUPPLICATION-

Pray for the defeat of these terror groups– Pray the lament (like Ps 28, 70) prayers and imprecatory (like Ps 35, 109) Psalms. Don’t fear to pray for God to judge and repay the wicked for their evil. Pray for the defeat of God’s enemies as promised in scriptures (Ps 2).

Pray for ‘Damascus experience’ to the terrorists– Terrorism is a problem of the heart. No one was born a terrorist. Terrorism is a deception of the devil and zeal without knowledge. Pray that the light of Christ will shine upon the individual terrorists destined for salvation.

Pray “Your kingdom come” and “your will be done”– In Christ’s incarnation and inauguration of the church the kingdom is come in part. Pray Maranatha, for the full revelation of Gods kingdom- a kingdom that is characterized by justice, righteousness, joy, peace, and justice. Pray that God’s will be done even with the immigration situation today.

Pray for the universal body of Christ– Pray that the church will continually be strengthened, grow, faithful to its mission, and have endurance.  Pray for the unity of church and believers.

Pray for the government (s) to assume their divine role– Pray for that the government in its efforts to stop radicalization of young people, and bring to justice criminals and terrorists. Pray for the government as it seeks to accomplish its God-given mandate as an, “agent of wrath to bring punishment on the evil doer” Rom 13:4.

Pray for security forces in our cities and countries– Pray for their protection, effectiveness and more so their families. Pray for true security from above, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” Ps 127:1.

Pray for the victims of war– Many innocent lives suffer while others perish, families are separated, property destroyed, vulnerable people displaced and forced to be refugees in foreign lands. Pray that in hopelessness that they will find hope in Christ.

Pray for missionaries and other humanitarian workers in “risk” areas– Pray for protection and sufficient grace to those who have risked their lives to serve in war zones.

Pray for young people– That they will not be lured to the Islamic radicalization. The evil one always seeks to establish a stronghold among the young generation.

Pray for our love as Christians to increase- Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, Matt 5:44. Obviously, it is easier to pray for a friend than an enemy or someone who derives joy from murdering innocent people. Pray that the love of believers will abound more and more in knowledge and deep insight.

Pray for spiritual wisdom in understanding the times– Pray for Christians to have knowledge of the times (evil times, Eph 5:16) and understand how to respond; to be like men of Issachar who, understood the times and knew what Israel should do, 1 Chron 12:32. Pray that our inner eyes be opened to see the things God is accomplishing amidst prevalence of evil. Pray that God fills his people with the knowledge of his will. Pray that believers will continue yield to the Spirit and live lives worthy of the Lord and please his in every way.

Pray that Christians will pray– This sounds out of context but it is important. In perplexing times, it is very easy to respond with fear, unbelief, worry, and pessimistic attitude and forget the role we ought to take. Pray that the church will be vigilant in prayer. “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil4:5-7.

DOES JUBILEE GOVERNMENT HAVE POWER TO CONTROL CHURCHES?

 

jubilee bible 2

Recently the government of Kenya introduced new regulations that affect churches, mosques, and other religious groups claiming to be stepping up its efforts to weed out rogue preachers. This is not an isolated case; issuing of regulations by the Jubilee government can be seen in other new regulations that has affected Media fraternity and NGO’s. Seemingly, the state is slowly but deliberately usurping more and more power, and this time round, power to control the church and church affairs. This systematic ploy started a year ago when the government stopped registration of churches.

The Communication Authority of Kenya in a new regulation restrains preachers from using broadcasting channels to convert people to their opinion or faith or ask to get ‘saved’ as they often do in their broadcasts. This is a blow to evangelical broadcasters because a call to be ‘saved’ or ‘born again’ is one of their primary tenets.

Other new rules by Attorney General require clerics to submit certificates of good conduct and their theological certificates from credible institutions of learning that have been reviewed by the umbrella organizations. In Kenyan context, this is a big blow to many Pentecostal and Charismatic churches who have not heavily invested in the education of their clergy. With this new law they risk a closure. Religious societies in Kenya are also required to have its constitution stating its programs, ministries, charitable activities and education activities it is involved in and details of persons coordinating these activities. The rule requires all religious leaders must make a declaration of familial relations with other religious leaders and officers-officers include secretary, treasurer, trustees and committee members. All religious societies are to seek registration and be subject to Registrar’s inspection.

The Religious Societies rules also require branches of churches with headquarters abroad to produce letters authorizing them to operate and also produce letters of recommendation from embassies in Kenya. All foreign clerics in Kenya must get work permits and 30% of officials must be of Kenyan origin. The rules further state that religious societies are required to display prominently their certificates of registration from the Registrar. Clerics who breach the new regulations drafted by AG will be liable for prosecution or sh 20,000 fine.

Once the rules are gazetted all existing religious groups have one year to comply with the new laws.

Church leaders have strongly condemned the regulations arguing that the state harbors ulterior motives and infringing on the constitutional right of freedom of worship. They claim they were not involved in drafting the final document that has been published. However a section of leaders drawn from the mainstream wing perceive it differently. The regulations, they believe, will protect desperate followers and help bring order in many new churches.

The opposition party leaders have also come out strongly opposing the new regulations.

Sustained pressure from religious leaders and opposition party has let the president to direct the AG to further consult with religious leaders.

Admittedly, there are fake preachers out there who are not interested with the true gospel but enriching themselves with “seed” money from their desperate followers. Distortion of the gospel is not a new thing. Jesus, the good shepherd, forearmed the church when he forewarned of fake shepherds who abandon the sheep and runs away when they see a wolf coming, Jn 10:12. Further he warned, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Matt 7:15.

Apostle Paul noted that there are those who “preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely” Phil 2:17. They “pervert the gospel of Christ” Gal 1:7 by preaching a “different gospel-which is really no gospel at all”. The Bible also warns of a time “when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Tim 4:3. So the truth is, there are false preachers but there are also audiences who will always entertain their messages because it suits their own desires.

The government has justified the introduction of the new regulations using the case of Victor Kanyari of Salvation Healing Ministry (who was exposed by investigative KTN journalists to have been faking miracles to enrich himself). This is unsound and misinformed, for the government to use few examples of con men to issue a blanket accusation to all preachers. This amounts to persecution of the church. There are a lot of faithful preachers out there who sacrificially labor, live, and preach the true gospel. Normally, you do not use bad examples to suppress those doing right instead you empower the ones doing right to overpower the wrong. But the case here is the opposite.

I am not advocating that those who manipulate people for selfish ends should evade justice. Rather, cases are better handled individually and due legal process followed. Each one should carry his/her own cross if found guilty of stealing from people.

In my opinion the state has no power to regulate the church. And by seeking to regulate churches, it is overstepping in its divine mandate. Biblically, the state is not the head of the church, Christ is (Eph 1:22). Jesus is the head and the church his body, 1 Cor 12. In addition, it is not the role of the state or even the church to preoccupy itself with separating tares from wheat.

In the parable of wheat and tares Jesus exhorted, that the servants were not allowed to uproot the weeds because they may root up the wheat with them. Instead, they should “Let both grow together until the harvest” Matt 13:30. At the time of harvest, the Harvester will come with “His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” LK 3:17. Jesus knows how to purify his church, he has been doing it and he will ultimately do it.

Again, this does not mean that the state has no role whatsoever in protecting those that are vulnerable to exploitation. The point is, on church matters and activities the state need to let the church be. In fact there is no crisis to warrant the new regulations. The church should be left to govern itself. It is able to.

The government could have handled this matter amicably by giving recognition to church bodies like NCCK, Kenya National Congress of Pentecostal churches &ministries, and EAK and the role they do to supervise what goes on within the churches under them. These bodies collectively can come up with biblical interpretation of what the church is, central tenets that define orthopraxy and orthodoxy (like the Apostolic and Nicene Creeds) and guidelines that safeguard the true gospel. This is possible and agreeable. I strongly suggest this can be one of the ways to move forward. These bodies can also be helpful in preliminary process of church registration before they are forwarded to the Registrar of Societies. Again, these umbrella bodies can be point of contact between the government and the individual churches or denominations.

Meanwhile these church bodies should do some housekeeping matters to ensure order in the churches under them. Personally, I think some of the regulations make sense. For example we need preachers trained in theology, and we do not need government to tell us. My argument against the regulations by the government is based on the interests of the wider body of Christ (as opposed to my denomination/ministry) and that should guide the opinion of all church leaders. And so the move to amend the document is welcome.

But how can Christians today define truth from error and avoid external interference? I have argued elsewhere that we need Christian apologists and polemics to arise and expose error and defend the truth. This is one way of helping desperate people to know the truth and not fall prey to fraudsters.