Category Archives: Reflections

The Role of Holy Spirit in the Spiritual Formation of a believer-  

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Spiritual formation is, “the ongoing process of the triune God transforming the believers and character toward the life and character of Jesus Christ- accomplished by the ministry of the Spirit in the context of biblical community” (Pettit, Foundations of Spiritual Formation, 24).

Spiritual formation process is a synergy of the divine initiative and our human response (Phil 2:12-13; 1 Thess. 5:23). It involves developing right relationship of love with God (vertical relationship) and with fellow men (horizontal relationship).

God is actively involved in bringing a sinner to Christ and consequently in the spiritual formation (sanctification process) of the infant Christian as s/he progresses to maturity in Christ.

The role of the third Person of the Trinity (Holy Spirit) in the spiritual growth of a believer is paramount.

Here are ways in which the Holy Spirit is involved in the Spiritual formation in the life of a believer:  

  1. He convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. He brings sinners to salvation. So he is involved in the conversion/turning to God experience.
  2. He indwells believers to bring an inward-out change.
  3. He illuminates God’s truth/mysteries (Jn. 14:26) for understanding.
  4. He is the power that enables believers to bear witness (Jn. 15:26; Acts 1:8; Rom 8:26).
  5. He intercedes for believers (high priest role) in accordance with God’s will (Rom. 8:26-27).
  6. He distributes gifts to believers as he wills for the edification of the church (1 Cor. 12:11). The church is not only the people of God, and the body of Christ, but also the temple of the Holy Spirit.
  7. He is deeply grieved by sin in the lives of Christians (Eph. 4:30).
  8. The Spirit applies redemption to us (Jn. 14:26; 16:7).
  9. The Holy Spirit gives us regeneration or new spiritual life (Jn. 3:5-8). He is the “giver of life”; all living creatures are recipients of the life-giving principle of the Spirit of God.
  10. He sanctifies us (Rom. 8:13; 15:16; 1 Pet. 1:2). He is the source of holiness.
  11. He empowers believers for service (Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 12:7-11).
  12. He produces in us the fruit of Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23); that are signs of sanctification.
  13. He provides spiritual guidance to believers in the ways they should go (Acts 15:28).

Read here for other ways God guides believers.

Also, Hindrances to hearing God’s guidance.

Questions to ponder:

  • Spiritual formation process is a synergy of the divine initiative and our human response (Phil 2:12-13). What are some of the steps we can deliberately take to achieve spiritual maturity. What is the believer’s role in spiritual formation?
  • Do believers in Christ make deliberate efforts to grow spiritually?
  • Formation is the primary task of the church. Do you think the church is faithfully discharging this mandate?

Hindrances to Discerning God’s Guidance

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The Word of God promises that God will guide us in the way we should go.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)

While we firmly uphold this promise, we need to take note of some hindrances in discerning God’s guidance in our lives. They are:

  1. Unholy life

Sin separates. It creates enmity between God and man; and in human relationships. A sinful heart does not delight itself in seeking God’s will because God’s guidance involves walking in the paths of righteousness (Ps. 23:3). Sin is a hindrance to surrender, and embracing God’s sovereign rule over our lives.

2. Self will

In the Lord’s Prayer, we are commanded to pray, “Your kingdom come and your will be done…”

God’s will is what we should constantly desire to accomplish or to be accomplished in the world just as it is in heaven. But as a prerogative, we first need to dethrone our own/self will for God’s will to prevail. It is illogical to expect God to be your guide when all you’re doing is holding up tightly to your own will. God is not there to rubber-stamp your ways/will; He is there to guide those whose hearts are fully surrendered to his will.

Therefore, as individuals, we need to overcome the desire to doing things ‘my way’ and let God have his own way in our agendas. Naturally, human will and its way of doing things is conditioned by culture, past experience, and tradition. Dethroning our self will need courage for it to bring forth surrender and humility. An attitude of surrender makes us cede ground/control so as to allow Spirit’s guidance. In order to overcome self-will we need a total surrender and desire to follow God’s path; the way of wisdom and righteousness.

God delights in guiding those whose hearts are loyal to Him and have surrendered their will.

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” (Prov 3:5-7)

3. Influence of others-

Being surrounded by a network of people is something good. The value of friendships and relationships can’t be overestimated.

But it matters what type of friends surround you.

Friends come in all shapes and forms. Some friends, in their pride, pretend to know every solution to your predicaments. These ‘professional’ experts in every life-matter can land you into a big trouble because all they have to offer is limited to their experience, convenience, knowledge and predictions. I’m talking about the self-proclaimed ‘professors’ of love/ marriages/health in your life who claim to have power to discern every aspect and detail of your life. Beware of them!

Some friends can massage your ego by telling you what your itching ears want to hear. They can suppress or compromise truth to sustain their friendship with you. They can be economical with truth; or lack courage to confront a situation truthfully. They can also pressure you to make certain decisions.

As a result they become a hindrance towards your discernment of God’s leading in your life. The point is not that you do away with friends, but that you be cautious whom you listen to. They should be godly; friends who walk by faith; people who are able to discern God’s move in your life and offer biblical solutions.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of God, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Ps. 1:1-2)

4. Ignorance of God’s word

God has given us his holy Word to be our sure guide. It is our life-manual. We consult it when we are in the crossroads of life. It teaches us, corrects us, directs us, rebukes us and leads us in the righteous path. God’s will is revealed in his Word.

But there is a big problem if you are ignorant on what is written in there. Ignorance of God’s word deprives us of having a Christian worldview that in turn influences our actions, reactions, decision, emotions, convictions, affections and how we interpret the world/reality around us.

Ignorance of God’s word makes it hard to discern God’s way or leading in our lives.

5. Busyness of life

Discernment of God’s leading often comes when we spent time off our busy schedules and to have a time of reflection and solitude. From time to time we need to get out of our activity-packed schedules and seek to hear the small still voice of God.

6. Impatience

Sometimes an answer to a prayer can ‘delay’. This will certainly need patience; a fruit of the Holy Spirit. God is not in a hurry; He was, He is, and He shall be. He does things at his appointed time; and his timing even in answering our prayers is the best. Those who wait upon the Lord shall be rewarded and strengthened.

Impatience can breed a fertile ground for self-will. Impatience over God’s promise made Abraham and Sarah in their sunset years to doubt God and execute a back-up plan/plan B to address their childlessness situation.

Discerning God’s guidance may take time, and more time; so developing this fruit of the Spirit is necessary.

7. Fleshly desires– (related to the first one)

Not all of our desires are evil; some can be good.

In Galatians 5:16-21, desires of the flesh act in contrast to the ways of the Spirit. In discerning God’s guidance we need to beware of the lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (Gen 3; Matt 4:1-11; 1 Jn 2:15); we are not immune to temptations in these areas. You want to discern God’s guidance? keep in step with the Spirit of God by living a holy life.

He will guide You!

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Read here on Hearing God’s Voice and Discerning His will

CHRISTIAN LIFE AS A RACE

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When Apostle Paul likened Christian life to a race, he was certainly drawing his metaphoric language from the ancient Greek Olympic games that started way back in 776BC. Traditionally, the Olympic games took place after every four years; but in a major city like Corinth, where Paul’s audience lived, major games were hosted after every two years. This analogy therefore served well to illustrate profound biblical truths in familiar terms. I hope it also does today.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (1 Cor. 9:24-27).

How does this athletic metaphor enrich our understanding of Christian life?  

  1. There is a course marked out for every Christian to run–                                            www.hdnicewallpapers.com                                                  You see, God’s call to salvation does not invite us to a life of inactivity. Rather, we are called to run a race that is marked out for us. Simply, there is a race that you must run. Christian life is not like boarding a matatu with a ticket at hand and waiting to arrive at your destination. No, hapana. It demands focus on what is marked out before you; the race has to be run irrespective of distractions, discouragements, obstructions, and interference that the enemy might place on your path.
  2. Run in such a way as to get the prize– In a race there are false runners (pacesetters), who unsustainably begin the race so fast that within a very short period of time they bow out. Likewise, there those who snail their way through for the purpose of just earning a participation certificate. Paul exhorted his audience to run the race not just for the purpose of participation, but more importantly to WIN the prize. Winning the prize is important. It is glorious! The prize rewards all the toils, self sacrifice, and cumulative efforts spend during the preparation. Genuinely, a christian should not just run the race for the purpose of getting to heaven; but to win the prize that is kept in store for the faithfuls in that glorious day.

Elsewhere, Paul says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). Run the race marked out for you with a goal, and a purpose. A focus fixed on a particular goal helps one overcome distractions from within and without. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith (Heb. 12: 2). In the words of apostle Paul he committedly presses on, “to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12).

  1. Any true athlete goes into strict training– This can’t be exaggerated. Any successful athlete knows that to produce record-shattering results, time has to be invested in preparations. This is the tough part of the Olympics. It demands discipline, self-denial, sacrifice, patience, long suffering, forfeiting your privileges, and determination. How does Paul accomplish this?
    1. He focuses on the Crown– It sounds repetitive here but the fact is, it is easy to lose focus in preparation unless we keep in mind the bigger picture of winning the glorious reward. In Paul’s day, athletes competed to win a crown/wreath of olive leaf which, of course, withers within a very short period of time. Perhaps the winner could also have enjoyed other favors and incentives like monetary allocations, honors, recognition, and relieve from taxation. But as Christians we run the race marked out for us in order to receive a crown that lasts forever. In this case, the focus on the crown/prize makes him give up what is good now and settle for the best that lies ahead. Like a boxer, Paul is not without aim, he is not beating the air because of his deliberate end-goal.
    2. He beats his body–                                                                                                           athlete 2                     You can’t win a race with an overweight. The plus-size weight has to be worked on. Otherwise winning will remain a dream. We must pay the price of hard work if we want to win. We must master our bodies, desires, and affections. Part of the weight we have to shed off to stay “fit” includes “everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” Heb. 12:11.
  2. Beware of disqualification

Here Paul is clearly not talking of salvation; because every believer, through repentance and faith in Christ, is enlisted to the race. Disqualification or specifically “disapproval” can be construed in relation to the prize. It is disqualification for the prize not the race. The aspect of disqualification is serious because then the strict training in preparation and the running becomes in vain. Therefore the rules (God’s terms) must apply (2 Tim. 2:5). Paul was conscious of this reality.

I pray that when we finish running our race of life we shall say like Jesus, “it is finished” or like Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race” 2 Tim. 4:7.

But for now, there is a race to be run, there is preparations to be made, there is a prize to be won!

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The Heart of Man

Last week I visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial site in Kigali town and got to understand the extent and the heartbreaking background of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In this site were buried about 250, 000 people who died in the 1994 genocide that claimed over 1,000, 000 people in about 100 days. In our (my guide/friend and I) tour around the busy facility, I could observe many people who were overcome by emotions and breaking down in tears. Their painful memories (of the death of their loved ones at their helpless watch, rape, murder, deportation, untold injustices and inhuman activities) are still fresh in their minds. Their wounds are still in the process of healing two decades later.

The whole experience reminded me of several truths from the Bible that I want to share.

  1. The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9)- The issue of murder, of the minority Tutsi by the majority and ‘powerful’ Hutu in Rwandan genocide story, is not a Rwandan problem but a human problem. We are not unaware of other genocides that have happened in human history and in different parts of the world. The problem is a heart-problem. Naturally, the heart of man is unrighteous, full of hatred, division, and wickedness.

Apostle Paul quoted several scriptures in Romans 3:13-18 to show the vileness of the component parts of the whole of human nature, “their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God in their eyes.” In short, all men are sinners and man’s inner being is controlled by sin. And the inclination of man’s heart to evil is evident in our world today.

  1. The danger of words– The genocide in Rwanda like many other genocides and violence was inflamed by propaganda, verbal abuses, ethnic prejudices, messages full of hate and animosity, as well as broadcasts that degrade other tribes or people groups. Words, like fire, have power to destroy if not contained.

Apostle James wrote, “the tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body” (Jas. 3:6). He adds that the tongue “is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (Jas. 3:8). The mouth speaks the contents of the heart; “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34); “Can a fig-tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water” (Jas. 3:12).

  1. The role of justice in healing– For true healing to occur, justice has to be pursued. The planners, sponsors, and perpetrators of war, whether direct or indirectly, needs to be pursued and be held responsible for their actions. This is the path that Rwanda also took.

God is a God of justice and judgment; “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Amos 5:24.

  1. The power of truth, forgiveness, and reconciliation– For two decades, Rwandans have been rebuilding lives and healing their wounds. This has happened through open confessions by the perpetrators on their role in the war and more importantly asking for forgiveness. This has hugely contributed to the healing of the nation and in developing harmonious relationships. It is said that time heals, but that may not be actually true; forgiveness heals.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus charges us to reciprocate forgiveness we have received, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” Matt. 6:12. The message of forgiveness is a message of love and acceptance. In addition, God has given us the ministry of reconciliation; reconciling men to God through Christ (2 Cor. 5:18). The heart-problem needs a Mediator/ Reconciler between man and God, who is Jesus Christ. And the church/Christians are called to be ambassadors of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation.

  1. God is doing a new thing– In the words of Apostle Paul, God’s people had long been, “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9). The problems that many people here have gone through has not eclipsed their hope in Christ. You could see this hope alive in their churches services and in individual testimonies. God is using his church and the cross to bring about unity, healing, reconciliation and community transformation. God has also given the people of Rwanda political leaders that are committed at bringing people together. Evidently, God is at work transforming his people into the likeness of Christ.

#God Bless Rwanda.

LIVING ONE DAY AT A TIME

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One of the very essential truths that God wants every believer to learn is to wholly depend on Him every single day. It is a lesson he consistently taught the Israelites for over forty years in the wilderness. Let’s read Exodus 16:15-21.

When the Israelites saw it (manna), they said to each other, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Each one is to gather as much as he needs…’ The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some gathered little. And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed. 

God had provided food for his people but the condition was that each was to collect what was enough for a day. Then Moses said to them, ‘No one is to keep any of it until morning.’ However some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them. Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed (vv.19, 20)But some disobeyed and stockpiled for the following day. Unfortunately, it didn’t last; it had an expiry date of the same day!

Jesus also taught his disciples on the same (living one day at a time). In the Lord’s Prayer, the disciples are to pray, “Give us TODAY our daily bread”; in the same chapter (Matt 6) the disciples are further instructed on the same subject.

Why should Christ’s disciples live each day at a time?

God knows what we need– Living one day at a time stems from the understanding that God knows what we need. Prayer is not a channel of furnishing God with information or list of our needs but a channel of expressing dependence on God. For sure, He knows what you need, Matt 6: 31-34. He not only knows what you need but also when you need it. God knows our daily needs and he is in a daily business of ensuring that those needs are met.

Each day has enough trouble of its own– Matt 6:34- Each day has its own challenges, worries, disappointments, discouragements, and demands. But at the same time, each day has its own highs, joys, praises, and opportunities. Each day, we have our hands full.

Further, each day brings about newness. God’s mercies are new every morning, (Lam 3: 22-23). Each day has its, new connections, new assignments, and new wonders. The Hebrew meaning of manna is “What is this?” Israelites woke up each morning collecting and wondering, “what is this?” (manna).

Although you may have many challenges to face, remember every single day brings about God’s sufficient grace and power to overcome. And I pray that this day God will surprise your life with good things.

There is enough for our need not for our greed –In the Exodus account, there are some people who disobeyed what God had said through Moses. They collected manna more than they needed for a day; but it never worked to their advantage. Why did some people collect more than they were supposed to? It is apparent that they were driven by human greed. They had a selfish desire to have more and more for themselves. Gathering more today does not necessarily mean satisfaction or a secured tomorrow. Bringing together concern’s for tomorrow and today is a good recipe for worry. But God’s daily provision is sufficient for our need.

It is an expression of trust in God- To put this point in perspective, ponder on this: Why didn’t God rain manna that would be stocked for a whole year or so? I think one of the reason is that God was teaching his people to trust Him step by step. It is not an easy one. It is harder to walk by faith than by sight. Yet, trusting God is a daily aspect we have to learn and apply. God’s people must learn to surrender control and put trust in God and on his unfailing promises. The point is, the God who provided for my needs yesterday is the same Jehovah Jireh who can do it once again and in the future. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, Heb 13:8. And so, living one day at a time means walking by faith and not by sight, 2 Cor 5:7.

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WHAT DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU DID NOT RECEIVE?

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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 have become; but a honest analysis will show that God is indeed the one who has made all the difference. He is the one in whom all things hold together. All things in our possession have been RECEIVED (except our sin nature). It’s all about the grace of God. From God we have received grace upon grace.

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The idea that you have received everything  should cause us to:

Be humble-What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”  1 Cor 4:7. Obviously, there is no point of boasting of what you were give. But the issue of pride is a heart problem.  A heart full of pride says, “I deserve it all”; it is all about my powers, my education, my investment, my talent.  It is “my” and “I” because it is all about me (not about others, not about God). Therefore, knowing the origin of what we have should cause us to be humble and only boast in God.  Pride slowly creeps into our hearts the moment we forget that all we are and have is by the favor of God.

Be Thankful- There is no better way to appreciate a gift that has been given to you other than by giving thanks. God has given us so much that we owe him lots of thanks. He has blessed us with all we need, both material and spiritual blessings. Through his power we are provided for- “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” 2 Pet 1:3. The thing we give back to God after receiving is a thankful heart.

Give praise – We praise him because he is the Giver of all good things; “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows Jas 1:17. This understanding should make us praise his name. The purpose of what has been received is for the magnification of his name.

We have many things to praise God for- salvation, life, healing just to name but a few. David in the Psalm 103:1-2 wrote, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”. Has God satisfied your life with good things? Praise Him.

 Trust in the God of grace- – Grace has been defined as unmerited favor. To the question, “For what makes you different from anyone else? 1 Cor 4:7 I suggest it is the grace of God. God has given his grace to different people as he determines and as it pleases him. How special are you that God saved you and has not saved others? It is all by grace! It is not based on any merit. Every blessing we posses is a receive grace and gift from God; and if we desire something in life we should ask God, the one who gives us freely and generously.

Discover how rich we are- you can imagine how much you have received (physically and spirituall)from the Lord for the days you have lived under the sun. You are simply blessed!  As a child of God you have one spiritual blessing after another,  you have: forgiveness of sins, redemption, justification, sanctification, wisdom and understanding, Eph 1. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” 2 Cor 8:9. And so the poor should say “I am rich”, the sinner “I am forgiven”, and the weak “I am strong” because of what the Lord has done.

Love more– The fact that we have received all should challenge us to love (people and God) more.  In relation to God we are all debtors, “The more God has given the more we are in debt. Why should a man boast that he is deeper in debt than another?” However the debt we have should be that of love, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another” Rom 13:8. Believers should not be like storage tanks to God’s blessings but vessels that convey the same blessings to others.

Give God glory– The understanding that God has given us all things should make us to give God all the glory. Because we realize it is not by our strength but by God’s mighty hand and outstretched arm.  It is not by the chariots or horses but by the name of the Lord our God (Ps 20:7). Giving God glory involves acknowledging that it is not by my sword and my bow but by the power of the Lord Almighty (Ps 44:6). “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory because of your love and faithfulness” Ps 115:1. Let God be glorified.