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The Lord will Fight for You…

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In several instances the Bible presents Yahweh as Warrior; a mighty Warrior who’s strong in battle. He wages his own wars and wins.

In life we are faced with many battles. As a matter of fact, spiritual warfare is one of the inevitable battles we must face and win because our union with Christ gives us power, strength, and victory.

Few weeks into the wilderness, during the exodus from Egypt, the nation of Israel found themselves trapped between an enemy behind them and a mass of water (Red Sea) before them.

Related, read One more night with the frogs

They had heeded the call of God through Moses to journey to the Promised Land. In a great way, God had demonstrated his power against the powers of Pharaoh and his gods.

But now God’s chosen people were in for a new colossal challenge. With their enemies advancing quickly in pursuit of them, their options to escape and life were dwindling by seconds! It was a real defining moment!

The only available option was to either to surrender to Pharaoh’s might and be slaves forever or fight a losing fight and die.

But Moses provided the third option. He brought in the God-perspective; a perspective that the people were blind to.

Moses knew something about God’s power and presence. He knew God is a miracle worker, a way-maker and performs the impossible. He knew that God presence means victory. He knew that God is a sure and near help to everyone who calls on Him.

These thoughts (though written years later) must have been going through the mind of Moses:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea– (Ps. 46:1-2).

And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me–               (Ps. 50:15).

A horse is prepared for battle but victory belongs to the Lord (Prov. 21:31).

He therefore courageously told the complaining and terrified crowd, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on” (Ex. 14:13-15).

This situation also speaks to our situations today…

Four Principles to help/assure us in times of need:

  1. Fear Not (vv. 13)

For sure, fear had crippled the Israelites when the saw the Egyptian army pursuing them. Behind them was an enemy, in front of them was a great sea. The only option, which Moses refocused them to see, was to look up.

Fear is something dangerous in your life. It paralyzes your potential and kills your faith. Fear leads to doubt, complaining, self-pity, and faithlessness. In your situation replace fear with faith and confidence in God. Make a deliberate decision to look up to God in faith. Rise above your fears and believe that you will make it by faith. Remember, God did not give you the spirit of fear but of courage, sound mind and love. Fear not.

Why should we not fear? It should be because God is on our side. We have seen God’s hand and faithfulness the far we have come. Choosing to response in fear does not solve the situation at hand; it only makes you more and more vulnerable to the enemy.

  1. Stand firm and be still (vv.14)

God wants us in our very time of need to be unmoved and to be still. To be unmoved by the number of the enemies, to be unmoved by the weapons they have, and to be unmoved by the powers ‘they’ claim to possess. On our side is a mighty Warrior.

Stand firm because you have a strong Deliverer. On your side is the One who is mighty in battle; the One who shields you in the day of battle.

  1. Be still (vv.14)

Be still because God is in control. Be calm and have a serenity of heart because the battle belongs to the Lord. He will fight for you (be sure to be engaged in battles that God is involved in). He will ensure your bones are not broken. Be still. Be still because by your own efforts you cannot win.

Be still and trust in the Lord, “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” (Prov. 3:5,6).

  1. The Lord will fight for you (vv. 14)-

This is a wonderful promise. The Lord shall fight for you.

You have the One who is an enemy to your enemies on your side. Worry not; for victory is your portion. Engage Him in your battles and he will fight for you.

  1. Therefore move/go forward (vv. 15)-

The next order from God to Moses was “God forward!” God wanted his people to take steps of faith; not by walking round the challenge but by going through it. Lack of faith can make us stagnate in one level and be comfortable with the status quo. As they edged to the coastlines of the sea Moses raised his rod and lo and behold the waters parted!

The people walked right in the middle of the sea with the mass of water against them. Move forward, don’t get stuck in the past with its entanglements like unforgiveness, but move forward with hope, optimism, and confidence in God.  In whichever circumstance, sober up and move on…

-The Lord will fight for you; because the battle belongs to the Lord!-

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Singular Focus in Life

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Life presents us an opportunity to pursue many things; but what is that one overarching thing that defines all that we pursue?

This attitude, of pursuing one thing over others, is explicit in the lives of prominent figures in the Bible. They had one chief and principal thing that they pursued wholeheartedly. This helped focus their attention, and energies to a productive end. Briefly, let’s look at biblical examples in which we see prominent figures who had singular focus/desire in life and ministry.

  1. Joshua: 15 “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).

In a generation that was experiencing a growing apostasy, Joshua desired to serve the Lord despite the strong opposition around him.

2. David: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Ps. 27:4).

David, desired, above all, to seek the Lord…and to experience the beauty and the tender care under God’s wings. His desire was a life-long desire; he will follow it through till the end of his life. Also, he commmitedly seeks what he has asked of the Lord. Did he fulfill this desire at the end of his life? A resounding yes, Acts 13:36 records that after David had served God’s purpose in his generation he rested with his forefathers.

3. Solomon: (when given the opportunity by God to ask whatever thing he needed): “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:9).

This man asked God to give him wisdom (a wise and discerning heart to be able to administer justice). In response, God gave him wisdom but also in addition gave him all the other things he did not  ask for like wealth, and long life. Solomon’s priorities at least at this early stage of his life were focused. He asked God for ONE thing.

4. Agur son of Jakeh: 7 “Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.  9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God (Prov. 30:7-9).

This little known man of the Bible asked of God two things. His focused desires reveal that he longed for contentment, truthfulness, and  honoring of God.

5. Jesus: 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work (John 4:34).

Our Lord, talked of accomplishing the will of God as his “food” (a daily necessity)

Also, Jesus instructed, 33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33-34).

We know Jesus accomplished his singular focus, when at the cross he said, “it is finished”.

6. The merchant in the parable of Jesus: 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matt. 13:45-46).

Why this the merchant in the parable sell EVERYTHING just to buy ONE thing? It is because the ONE thing he had found was of GREATER value than EVERYTHING he had.

7. Martha (the one thing that is needed): 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

One thing is needed, and that is what Martha chose; something that cannot be taken away from her! For Martha, it was to be with Jesus, to seat under the counsel of Jesus.

8. Paul: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:10-11).

Paul’s desired to “know Christ”; to know how wide, and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Paul achieved his purpose because at the end of his life he was able to confidently declare, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…” (2 Tim 4:7).

These desires consumed the lives of these key characters in the Bible. Notably, they desired what ultimately brings true joy and contentment. These men desired what counts eternally. Why is it important to have a singular desire/focus: we end up seeking what we desire, “one thing I have desired; that I will seek after”;  singular focus in life leads to simplification of life; it focuses our energies and pursuits; when we have our desires defined it is easy to turn them into prayers. Life is a process of simplification…

Read Satan’s thesis statement and Jesus’ Offer

Read- One more night with the frogs

Celebrating Unity in Diversity: Interview Links

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Africa International University is a Christian chartered university in Nairobi Kenya. Thankfully, I have had the privileged to study at this great university for my postgraduate studies. The university has students, staff, and faculty from over 30 nations of the world. This richness of diversity here is a representative reflection of God’s diverse plan for humanity at large!

The interview link below (and photos) features some of the  remarks by the Deans from the schools of the Graduate School of Theology (NEGST), Education/Art and Social Sciences, School of Economics and Business (SBE) and the Institute for the Study of African Realities (ISAR). I had an opportunity to interview them on their views on unity and diversity. This comes at a time in Kenya and Africa when nations are facing with challenges of negative ethnicity, cessation demands, and political polarization. As Christians, how should we handle our differences… Should it be the source of our of division or celebration….

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Some of the Questions Asked are:

  • What is culture?
  • Is unity in diversity attainable or is it just good-sounding oxymorons?
  • How does Christ redeem culture?
  • What is the importance of celebrating our cultures, especially as Christians?
  • How can we be truly biblical and truly cultural?
  • How can culture be a threat to unity?
  • What are some of our precious cultural values that we have lost or risk losing?
  • Is true unity achievable in our world today? What are some of the ways in which Christians can promote unity in the society?

For more information on their responses, kindly follow the following links:

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Notable Points:

  • Our diversities are a gift and blessing from God to be celebrated.
  • Sameness is boring but God’s idea of diversity is beautiful and glorious!
  • As diverse peoples and cultures we need to:
    • Learn from each other,
    • Tolerate each other,
    • Appreciate one another, and
    • Find ways of celebrating our differences.

 

Attitudes that Build Unity

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The Situation: There were apparent conflicts and divisions in the church at Philippi. In Philippians 2:1-11, Paul urges believers in Christ to consider two facts that should form the basis and motivation for their unity:

  • Their union with Christ and Fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
  • The example of Jesus Christ
  1. Union with Christ and fellowship with the Holy Spirit (vv.1-4)

Believer’s union with Christ and fellowship with the Holy Spirit should be the real cause for christian unity. This divine union brings blessings to the body of Christ. As a matter of fact it should make Christ-followers to:

  • Be like-minded, and agree with one another (certainly this does not mean uniformity of thought but plurality and diversity with overarching a singular goal and purpose).
  • Have same love.
  • Be one in spirit and purpose.
  • Act not out of selfish ambition but in humility.
  • Look not only at self interests but also interests of others.

A question for reflection: Why is it that in most cases our union with Christ and fellowship with Holy Spirit does not help us much as Christians in bringing unity in churches and society today? A good question for another day…

2. The Example of Jesus Christ (vv. 5-11)

Apostle Paul points out the example of Jesus Christ as the motivation and model for our unity. In Christ we see attitudes that bring true unity. Following Christ means living just as he lived.

Here are three attitudes that build/bring unity:

A). Attitude of Humility– Jesus Christ was in the very nature God but gave up his prerogatives due to his unselfishness. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). This attitude made Jesus to consider humanity in their helpless estate and to offer himself as a sacrifice and ransom for the salvation of many.

He took human body/nature without ceasing to be God; setting aside the right to his glory and power.

An attitude of humility will enable us set aside our rights and privileges in order to serve others.

Jesus implored, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28).

B). Servant AttitudeChrist had a servant attitude. He came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as ransom for many, Mark 10:45. Servanthood came out of his love. As true servant he (temporarily) emptied himself (kenosis)of many things, for example:

  • He gave up his riches-he became poor (2 Cor. 8:9).
  • The Glory (Jn. 17:4, 5).
  • He gave up some of the joy of heaven, to become a ‘man of sorrows’ and familiar with weakness (Isa. 53:3).
  • He gave up his omnipresence for the geographical limitation of time and place.
  • He gave up the separation of sin and misery; which is part of life in heaven.
  • He came in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering Romans 8:3. Although sin was alien to his nature, He became sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21).
  • He gave up his immunity from temptation so as to be tempted in every way. He learned obedience through what he suffered (Heb. 5:8).
  • Taking the very nature of a servant, a person who has no rights at all.
  • He became servant of all yet remained a master.

Believers should have/develop an attitude that makes them servants after Christ. Paul wrote, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1-2).

C). Attitude of Submission– Jesus Christ submitted himself to carry out the will of the Father. In his attitude of submission he became obedient to death- even death on a cross! Of course, he had within his jurisdiction, divine powers to unleash whatever fate he chose to those who crucified him; but he submitted himself to the will of the Father.

Jesus was humble, submissive, and obedient.

These are attitudes that build relationships and bring true unity. They are winning attitudes. It is what made Christ: to be exalted to the highest place, and be given a name above every name. The name that every knee will bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. We should pray God for grace to constantly develop these attitudes.

Nature of God’s Call and Promises

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The Bible records several instances of God calling people to different tasks. For example, God called Moses to deliver Israelites to the promised land; he called Nehemiah to rebuild broken walls and lives in the postexhilic Israel. In the New Testament, Jesus called his disciples to be with him and to empower them for ministry.

In Genesis 12 God initiates a new thing for humanity after the self-exalting episode of humanity in Genesis 11. He calls Abraham to be an agent of blessing to the nations.

In verse 1-3 two imperatives are given by God to Abraham, each with a promise:

  • Leave your country… go to the land…
  • Be a blessing, (you will be a blessing), v2.

God promises Abraham three things if he would respond by obedience:

  • A great nation
  • Blessing – a channel of blessing to the families of the earth.
  • Great name

These three would enable him to be a blessing.

Verse 4-9 records Abraham’s obedience. How did he obey?

  • He left (v4)- Any leaving is not easy. Abraham had to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household but he was told nothing about the land in which he must go. This required faith.
  • He was a blessing (v5-9)- This isn’t easy because naturally we are selfish. Abraham’s call was unique, it was a call: beyond oneself, one’s horizons, one’s people’s and nation to be a blessing to other nations. Undoubtedly, to be a blessing demands a change of heart.

In accomplishing His agenda in our world today, God puts different callings, passions, and visions in us. He calls us so that he can prepare us for what he wants us to accomplish with Him in bringing blessings to many. And so he takes us on a journey that every step/experience counts.  He takes us into a process of becoming….

When God call us to a difficult assignments three things are needed (for the going to happen):

  • Faith God calls us to walk by faith and not by sight. Walking by faith involves walking through unfamiliar paths with confidence on the One who has called us. There is no promise that things will be easy after a call; but God promises his sustenance and presence. In the journey God will teach you to take faith steps. In such cases, be open for God to guide you and renovate your heart. God wants us to ultimately trust him. Also, faith is necessary to be able to believe in God’s promises. Later in Hebrews 11, Abraham is reckoned as a hero of faith.
  • Obedience– God requires that we fully obey him no matter what. At some point in life you have to choose which voice to yield to: either God’s voice or voices of men. Abraham obeyed.
  • Patience– Fulfillment of God’s promises may take time, we need to patiently wait. God does not promise a miracle in every obstacle you face on your way; but he promises his grace is sufficient. He does not promise that people will not discourage you or that Satan will not tempt you to despair and quit; but he promises to strengthen you as you hope in him. Therefore be patient in every circumstance and keep focus on God who is able accomplish what he has started in you.                  Who knows perhaps through your faith, obedience, and patience many people/families of the earth will be blessed!
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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?

TRINITY- THE NATURE OF GOD AS REVEALED IN THE SCRIPTURE

In the Bible, God is revealed and described with such attributes as: eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, perfect, and the like.

Also, the doctrine of Trinity is taught in the Bible; that is, God eternally existing as three co-equal Persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), yet as one God.

Although the term trinity is not found in the Bible, it certainly represents a biblical theme and revelation that runs throughout the Bible. The term summarizes the teaching of Scripture that God is three Persons yet one God.

The concept of triune God is not foreign in the Old Testament Scriptures. There several passages that highlight this doctrine; the following represent few examples.

“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Gen. 1:26 (Mark the plural pronouns).

“The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil….” (Gen. 3:22)

“Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” (Gen. 11:7)

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’” (Isa. 6:8).

Further, there are OT passages where one person is called “God” or “Lord” and is distinguished from another person who is also said to be God (Ps. 45:6-7; 110:1. cf. Matt. 22:41-46; Prov. 8:22-31; Isa. 48:16; 63:10. Mal. 3:1-2). It shows that the Bible authors seemed to be much aware of the plurality of Persons in one God.

In the New Testament, we see a complete revelation of the Trinity. The incarnation of Jesus (the Son) was for the purpose of revelation of the Father. In several passages the three Persons of the Trinity are named together (Matt. 3:16-17; 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Pet. 1:2; Jude 20-21; 1 Jn. 5:7).

Summary of Biblical Teaching on the doctrine of Trinity

  1. God is three persons– They are distinct persons and work together without confusion (Jn. 1:1-2; 14:26; 16:7).
  2. Each person is fully God– They are co-equal and eternal.
  3. There is one God-There is one and only one God. The three Persons are one not just in functions, but also one in essence. There are no three Gods. There is only one God. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 reads, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” This is a clear affirmation and declaration of the oneness of God. The following verses also attest the same truth: Exodus 15:11; 1 Kings 8:60; Isa. 45:21-22; 44:6-8; Rom. 3:30; 8:27-29; 1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:3-6; 1 Tim 2:5. Jas 2:19.

There is a perfect functioning relationship within the Godhead and no conflict at all in respect to how they work: The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him (Jn. 8:29). The Father sends the Son yet remains with him. The Son represents the Father and obeys him willingly. The Holy Spirit brings to completion the work that has been planned by God the Father and carried out through the incarnation of God the Son.

A Disciple Submits to the Lordship of Christ

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In a context where many people easily identify themselves as Christians; it is essential to recapture what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus.

FYI, the Bible uses the word “disciple” 282 times, “believers” 26 times, and “Christians” only 3 times. The numerous repetitions of the word should cause us to dig deeper into its meaning.

Read here on the disciple of Jesus as a learner. 

It is worth noting here that in the first century, it was common phenomenon for spiritual leaders to have disciples. John the Baptist had disciples (Matt. 9:14); and also Pharisees had disciples (Matt. 22:16). Jesus himself had many disciples other than the renown twelve (Matt. 10:1; (Lk. 22:11). To be a true disciple of Jesus is to submit to his authority and lordship.

A Disciples of Jesus Submits to his Lordship –

In the first century Roman world, the emperor was regarded as kurios (lord). Kingdoms, new lands, and peoples were conquered and subjugated to the lordship of the Roman emperor. As a matter of fact sacrifices were offered in honor of the emperor, the embodiment of the Graeco-Roman gods.

But Jesus taught his disciples concerning a new kingdom, the kingdom of God. In that kingdom he is the Kurios (the Lord over all things). Following him involves acknowledging his lordship over the lordship of Emperor Caesar. Unconfusedly, this was not supposed to bring a threat to the state. Their submission to the authority of Christ was a superior allegiance because it was a loyalty to the Lord of Lords, the Lord and Creator of the universe.

Briefly, what does submission mean?

  1. Submission to Christ means hearing and responding to the call of God– It involves answering the call and invitation to salvation that is by grace through faith. It means acceptance of God’s gift of salvation in order to receive eternal life in Christ Jesus.
  2. Submission means constantly yielding to the authority of Christ– Coming to Christ in repentance and faith is a step to a Christian life. But that is not all; we need to have a daily walk with God whereby we yield to his leading. This process involves putting to death the old self and putting on a new self. It involves a process of total transformation of our minds, emotions, affections, and hearts.
  3. Submission means subjecting our will to his will– It involves praying “your kingdom come and your will be done.” It means subjecting our will to his will; and realigning our plans/vision/mission to God’s agenda. Jesus modeled submission by doing the will of God the Father who had sent him.
  4. Submission means obeying the words of Christ– Jesus instructed, “if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:31-32).
  5. Submission means letting the word of God transform us-The man who says “I know him” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him (1Jn. 2:4-5).

Disciples of Jesus always live a life of submission to the lordship of Christ.

Read here on Attitude of rebellion Vs Attitude of Submission. 

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A Disciple is a Learner

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FYI, the Bible uses the word “disciple” 282 times, “believers” 26 times and “Christians” only 3 times. The numerous repetitions of the word should cause us to dig deeper into its meaning.

It is worth noting that in the first century, it was common phenomenon for a spiritual leader to have disciples. John the Baptist had disciples (Matt. 9:14); and Pharisees had disciples (Matt. 22:16). Jesus himself had many disciples other than the renown twelve (Matt. 10:1; (Lk. 22:11).

In the Great commission (Matt. 28:19-20), Jesus charges his followers to go into all the world and make disciples.

So what does it mean to be a disciple?

A disciple is a learner-

The word “disciple” is from the Greek word “mathetes” meaning a “learner,” or “student.”

Jesus called his disciples to a new and different life. The new life called for a paradigm shift in their thinking, affections, actions, reactions, worldview and perspectives.

Disciples were taught life principles that were upside down from the conventional wisdom of the day. They were taught humility in a world that esteemed pride; in order to be first they were taught to be last. To be filled they must first empty themselves of human sufficiency; to live they must first die to self; to find they must be willing to lose; and in order to gain they must first let it go. Certainly, this needed quite some learning.

The disciples of Jesus were fishermen by profession, but they were called to be fishers of men. Their calling was more than a transfer of fishing skills; it needed learning.

Therefore a true disciple of Jesus needs to embrace learning as a lifelong activity.

Disciples of Jesus never arrive; instead they are in constant process of learning and becoming.

Disciples of Jesus learn to love unconditionally, they learn to forgive without taking inventory, they learn to discern the will of God; they are students of the word of God. They learn how to live out their newfound life in Christ. They learn how they can please their Master.

Disciples also learn from valley of life and mountaintop experiences of life. They learn from successes and failures. They will say, ‘when I went through that circumstance…. God taught me this and that…” Also, they learn from both young and old.

Learners have a teachable spirit, they have inquisitive minds and 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.

Jesus extends an invitation to every person to come and learn from him, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light, Matt 11:28-30.

The problem with the know-it-all believers is that they have no room for learning or a teachable heart. Such people do not listen, even when warned of an impending danger. They can’t stand to be corrected. The book of proverbs calls them fools. I

Therefore disciples of Jesus are in a constant process of learning and growing. If you are not growing in learning then you are not a true disciple of Jesus. Learn from his word, from life experiences he takes you through, and from young and old.

Remember, if you have stopped learning you have stopped marveling God’s greatness.

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BUT GOD…

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Ephesians 2:1-3 describes the status of man before an experience with Christ as Savior and Lord. Believers in Christ are reminded that formerly they were death in their transgressions and sins. Yes, dead. BUT GOD did something radical.

Boldly, verse 4 is introduced by the contrastive particle “but”- But God… (ὁ δὲ θεὸς).

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which he loved us,” (Eph. 2:4).

In addressing the former hopeless condition of man, God brought about a real transformation that totally changed the identity and position of believers in relation to Christ. To be able to understand the magnitude of what God did, we need to compare what believers in Christ were formerly as opposed to what they have become by God’s salfivic activity.

What we were and what we have become because of what God has done in Christ:

  1. We were dead in our transgressions and sins; BUT GOD in his great love and richness in mercy, made us alive with Christ. He is the voice that the dead hear and obey; He told Martha, the sister to Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:25). Thankfully, the life of God now flows through us!
  2. We were held hostage/captive/enslaved to the patterns of the world and its ruler and the desires of sin nature; BUT GOD out of his rich mercy and great love, raised us with Christ and made us seat with him in the heavenly places. In our present status and union with Christ, we are united with Him in his death, resurrection and ascension. In this we experience power, strength, and victory to lead victorious Christian lives.
  • We deserved God’s wrath and to be in hell; BUT GOD in his abounding mercy and great love, chose to show the incomparable riches of his grace in Christ. We did not deserve love but God’s wrath. That is what mercy means, it is being denied what you deserve for your own good!

We were far away from God, BUT GOD in his grace, love and mercy brought us near. God did what only God would have done. He saved us. He saved you! Not because of what you had done but because of his grace. He saved us through faith- a gift from God.

God changed us and made us new! He did what we could not have done on our own. He did not begin by changing our destinies, he changed us so that our destinies change!

Remember these words today as you go about your daily business, “BUT GOD…” and fill in the blanks…

  • Perhaps you did not deserve to live, BUT GOD made it possible that you are alive.
  • Perhaps you did not amount to anything by human standards, BUT GOD elevated you and gave you favor and a name.
  • Perhaps you do not have required human connections for that breakthrough, BUT GOD your Father is able to place you wherever and whenever he wants.

This idea runs throughout the Bible.

  • In Genesis 3 mankind fell into sin, BUT GOD right in the garden of Eden promised a seed of a woman that will crush the head of the serpent. 
  • Many may have laughed at Hannah’s barrenness, BUT GOD was on his way to remember her richly!
  • Rahab may have been treated as an outcast, BUT GOD rewrote he story.
  • Peter may have seemed a failure when he denied Jesus three times, BUT GOD later gave him a new heart so as to be the rock of the church.
  • Many despised the message of the cross as foolish, BUT GOD used it as power to save all men.
  • Many may have looked at Jesus disciples as ordinary and unschooled, BUT GOD used their witness to bring the gospel to the whole world.

People may write you off, BUT GOD is able to accomplish the impossible for you!

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