Relating to others through heavenly wisdom

Heavenly wisdom vs. earthly wisdom

heavenly wisdomWho is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18)

James asks this question: “Who is wise among you?” He associated the wisdom of this world as being sensual and demonic; some translations use the word animal in the place of sensual. He goes on to say in verse 16, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” In an atmosphere where people do not allow the wisdom from above to lead and influence them, a series of terrible spirits begin to manifest among them and terrible confusion and conflict ensues.

The Bible says however, that heavenly wisdom, that which is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James the Apostle who penned these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit added that those who make peace sow the fruit of righteousness in peace.

Normally interaction with others is part of our daily life. Whether we like it or not, we all have to interact with other people. The fact is that many of the problems that we encounter in life are the results of conflict of personalities. We hear people say things like, “My temperament is not compatible with that person.” Other people are essentially different from us. They have different tastes than we do, they make different choices then we make, they reason in ways that we find strange or inadequate, usually other people are different from us. It is very important that we understand how to relate to different types of people. Is being different a problem? The answer is no! It might even be the solution! Your different way of being can open my eyes to a reality that I previously was unable to see and from that point forward, I can begin to learn from the experiences that I face in a new way. We must learn how to relate, how to interact with all kinds of people. We have to admit that some people are very attractive relationally, like social magnets and attract many kinds of people around them. Other people are difficult to relate to and to understand. Some people are inspiring, others are irritating and whenever you approach such people, you always leave them feeling irritated and disturbed. Some people are fascinating while others are frustrating. Some people make our life easier others only make it more difficult. In any case, if we never learn how to interact with all kinds of people we will isolate and remove ourselves from where God needs us to fulfill his purposes through us. This is why it is so important for us to learn how to interact with others in heavenly wisdom.

This passage claims that those who make peace sow the fruit of righteousness in peace. Verse 18 therefore, is a key to the character of the wisdom from above through which we must sow righteousness as we relate to and interact with people. James began to explain several things about wisdom one of which is the importance to understand that in the first place, heavenly wisdom is a lifestyle. Wisdom has nothing to do with intelligence. Many people are extremely intelligent intellectually, but socially they are really quite stupid, they are not wise but foolish. Heavenly wisdom has nothing to do with intelligence but everything to do with relationships. Your words are not of fundamental importance, your actions are fundamentally important, your lifestyle, the way that you absorb emotional shocks, and rejections and whether you victoriously overcome these conflicts or not. These abilities make the difference in whether we successfully promote God’s kingdom on earth or not.

There is also a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom produces humility, but knowledge produces pride. Normally people full of knowledge end up falling in the trap of pride. It is common to see people who graduate with a college degree and think that they are the most privileged person in the world. They wind up with a big head and a small underdeveloped heart. They are unable to support the smallest conflicts in relationships and because of their intelligence, they somehow think that they are not obligated to exercise patience with anyone. We must not confuse knowledge with wisdom. It is very common to see people with a lot of knowledge and very little wisdom. The lack of wisdom creates all kinds of problems. It does not matter how intelligent you are and how much knowledge you have, if you do not have wisdom you will become embroiled in all kinds of envious and jealous situations. James taught that the fruit of righteousness, which refers to the results of our Christian walk, is sown in the character of peace by people of peace. Peace implies healthy relationships, so in other words he taught that the results of our ministry must be governed by peace and we must be people of peace. We must not wrongfully force our ministry of peace on others in our zeal to do God’s will, nor should we peaceably manipulate others into our ministry only to strong-arm them into following the path that we have determined for them.

When we do not operate in heavenly wisdom, there will always be envy and a self-seeking attitude, confusion and every type of evil thing. These are symptoms, clear signs of lack of wisdom: boasting, ostentation, the spirit that wants to show itself as something that it is not, dishonesty and sophistication. James says that some of his readers were lying against the truth. They were living in an atmosphere of confusion and disorder of every type. All of these are symptoms of lack of wisdom.

Seven declarations of heavenly wisdom

In verse 17, James says, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”

1 – If I am wise, I will not compromise my integrity

When James spoke of the purity that comes from heavenly wisdom, he was referring to integrity of character. This word translated as purity describes someone who is incorruptible and authentic, someone who has integrity. We can define a person of integrity as the person whose lifestyle is consistent with his or her words. It describes a person that has a serious commitment to the truth of his words so that there is no lack of consistency in the person’s life. His words match his actions. God does not expect you to be perfect but he wants you to be consistent, full of integrity.

Let me ask you some questions. Let me give you a little test of integrity. Answer each question in your heart with all sincerity.

  • Do you behave differently when your leader or an authority figure is present than when they are absent?
  • Do you catch yourself breaking small promises?
  • Do you normally arrive late for your commitments?
  • Do you frequently find yourself going back on decisions that you have made?
  • Do people have a hard time entrusting you with their secrets? Are they afraid to reveal things to you?
  • Do you prefer to get things done by taking shortcuts in life or by following life principles?
  • Do you believe that the ends justify the means or that the means justify the ends?
  • Is there anything that you would cease to do if you knew that people were watching you?
  • Do you think that it is unnecessary to give an accounting for the way that you spend small amounts of money?
  • Are you overly concerned about your public image and the way that people perceive and speak about you?

If the yes answers to these questions are more than the no answers it could be that you are having a serious integrity crisis.

Four suggestions to help improve your integrity

Without integrity, relationships become unsustainable. Without integrity, there can be no trust and without trust, there can be no relationship. Trust is not easily acquired. The truth is that trust is something that is very hard to establish and very easy to destroy. How can you cultivate integrity?

(1) Take care of the small things

We will never be faithful with many things if we have never been faithful with a few things. We must return our attention to the small things that many times we end up ignoring. This is one of the greatest secrets of integrity. Be faithful in the small things and in the small responsibilities. The Bible says, “Well done good and faithful servant you have been faithful in the little and you will be entrusted with much.” I will tell you something; you can pray all you want but if you are unfaithful in the small things God will not give you anything bigger.

(2) Say no to temptation immediately, as fast as you can.

To resist temptation can be the most difficult thing or the easiest thing to do. At first, it is difficult but when you do it quickly, later, you recognize that it was not that difficult. Overcoming temptation is mainly a matter of velocity. Speed is the secret of overcoming temptation. Be quick to flee from temptation. Do not loiter close to temptation, looking at it and feeding your eyes, emotions and thoughts on the sin, rehearsing in your imagination what it would be like to yield to it. Quickly say no to temptation. The biggest and most tragic mistake is to try to have fun with temptation. Train your spiritual instincts to deal with sin quickly.

(3)  Don’t separate your public life from your private life.

King Saul was very worried and concerned about his public life. However, he was not concerned with his true spiritual condition. Instead of repenting for his sin when he drew near to Samuel he said “O.K., O.K., I sinned, but honor me before the people.” He was more concerned with his public image than with this personal and intimate relationship with God. He was living a façade in the public realm. He wanted other people to see that he was a blessing because Samuel blessed him and honored him. Do not seek the approval of man seek after God’s approval. It is not important what man thinks of you but what God thinks of you. When you present yourself approved of God he will present you approved before men. You will not need human propaganda, marketing or any other natural device. God appeared to Joshua and said that he would honor and exalt him publicly before the nations because he had already privately approved him. God gave Joshua fame and public success because of his private relationship with him. Do not try to separate your public life from your private life. We must build the hidden altar of our lives before God that only he sees and not man. The emphasis is on what God says first.

(4) Maintain a clean conscience at all times

A clean conscience is a fundamental principle of integrity. If you lie to your conscience, your conscience will lie to you. Thus is the process of the destruction of the conscience. When we stifle God’s voice, we sear our conscience and cause it to lose all its sensitivity. Many people fall into error when they lie to their conscience. That is why the apostle Paul said, “I always strive to maintain a clear conscience before men and before God.” If I am wise, I will not compromise my integrity. If you want to be wise, do not sell your character but maintain your purity and your integrity.

2 – If I am wise, I will not provoke others to wrath.

James said that the wisdom that comes from above is peaceable. In Matthew chapter five Jesus said, blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God. When you assume the attitude of a peacemaker, God opens the heavens and gives you the revelation of his fatherly heart thus releasing your identity. Blessed are the peacemakers. It is easy to encounter people who constantly disagree with everything that people say and do around them. Such people react to adverse situations with hostility and conflict. They are normally adversarial always resisting others valuing opinion over relationship. Some people are so argumentative that they constantly eat food that they dislike; nothing is ever good enough for them. The Bible says that it is honorable to avoid arguments but the fool involves himself in them. This is how many relationships are destroyed. Instead of taking on the role of a peacemaker, the person provokes the wrath of those involved sometimes by using God’s Word. The Bible says that some people’s words are like the edge of a knife, dividing friends and families and provoking wrath in others.

If you are wise, you will avoid three things that have the potential to start a fight or an argument: comparison, condemnation and hastiness. The first is comparison it is terrible when someone compares you with another person. Perhaps a new pastor arrives at the church and the people start saying that he is not like the former pastor. Of course, he is not like the other pastor he is not a clone. Imagine if your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse started comparing you to other “old flames”. How do you feel when someone compares you to another person? It is foolish to compare people. Imagine how you feel when people say things such as: “You are just like so-and-so, why can’t you be like so-and-so, just look at how so-and-so is, why can’t you be more like that person” this type of comparison only drags a person down, and it provokes wrath.

Another thing that the wise person will avoid is condemnation, the Bible says judge not and you will not be judged. If you forgive you will be forgiven do not condemn other people. Only one in the universe has the right, the confidence and the authority to judge and that is God. The Bible says do not condemn, this is neither my responsibility nor is it yours. How often do you hear people say things like “You see it’s all your fault? Or “You should be ashamed of yourself”. “You’re always doing things like this, you will never change”. “There is no hope for you”. How many parents make such prophecies over their children? Someone once said that you can destroy a marriage by many little criticisms. It is not one or two big things that destroy a marriage but many little things, small criticisms. Divorce always begins with criticism. It is a tremendous lack of wisdom to condemn someone. You may even think that you are doing some good by censoring or correcting someone but the truth is that you are destroying others through your condemnation. You become an accuser and there are already enough accusers in the universe. Satan is the only one but he is one too many. If all you do is condemn others then you are not doing anything to provide solutions. In addition, the worst part is you quite possibly will become a victim of that which you are condemning in others.

The last thing that the wise person will avoid is hastiness. The Bible commands us not to judge according to appearances but according to righteous judgment. Sometimes we will be asked or required to judge certain circumstances, which has nothing to do with condemnation in order to exercise righteous judgment, you must not be hasty. You cannot simply listen to one side of the story. One of the basic principles of justice is that the judge must listen to both sides of the story before coming to a conclusion and making a judgment. That is why the Bible says in Proverbs 18:17 “The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.” Many times, you only hear one side of the story and you hear so many things that you think that if just a fraction of what you hear is true that the person really must have some problems. Almost invariably however, if you have the wisdom to hear the other side of the story you will see that the first person was not so correct in their judgment. You must hear both sides of each matter and you must be careful not to make any hasty judgments or come to any hasty conclusions. In hastiness, there is always sin and foolishness. When you say a word in haste and you come to a conclusion without full knowledge of the facts you will provoke the wrath of the person, you will commit unrighteousness. Therefore, if I am wise, I will not provoke your wrath. I will be a peacemaker.

3 – If I am wise, I will not diminish your feelings.

The Bible says that the wisdom that comes from above is gentle. Gentleness speaks of the capacity to be treatable, the ability to respect the opinions of others, the ability to respect the different ways people do, think about or feel about things without diminishing the feelings of the other person. When we do not feel something that another person feels, we have the tendency to discount these feelings. Gentleness means that we are attentive to others feelings and needs, it is the ability to identify with people who are different from us. This does not necessarily mean that we have to agree with other people’s feelings; however, we must understand and respect other people’s feelings.

Many times, during an argument between husband and wife, the wife will expose all of her feelings and the husband should listen to and respect them even though he feels nothing similar. Although this does not present a problem, he must respect her feelings. Perhaps he will have to disagree and explain to her that he does not see things in the same manner but he must have the maturity and the love sufficient to give attention to her expression. We must not despise other people’s feelings. This is a common weakness that most of us have. If I do not feel what you feel than your feelings must be wrong. Something must be wrong with you, your feelings or your ideas because I do not feel the same thing. James says that the wisdom that is from above is gentle and able to give others a fair hearing. Normally when we feel contrary to other people’s feelings, we are going to say things that will hurt the other person. When a wife has certain feelings and her husband goes against them, he is going to hurt her. Is going to put on an air of superiority and wound her spirit causing her to draw away in the relationship. By playing this game, we open the door to the foolish attitude of diminishing the value of others. Many times husbands and wives argue about who has the most difficult lot in life attacking the value of each other and their experience saying things such as: “I work more than you do, no I work harder than you do, no, you don’t do anything” Be wise, do not diminish the other person’s feelings. Empathy and compassion always accompany heavenly wisdom.

4 – If I am wise I will not criticize your suggestions.

James said that the wisdom that comes from above is willing to yield. We must be willing to yield; we must be flexible in person that knows how to ponder each matter. The worst thing in life is to have to deal with someone who is never willing to give in.

The greatest example of willingness to yield was Christ in coming to serve and die on the cross. Philippians 2:5-8. God identified with us in our sin on the cross and solved our problem of sin. It is terrible when you have to relate to someone who is un-teachable, someone who affirms their identity based on their knowledge. When you disagree with the person’s knowledge, they interpret it as rejection. Such people feel rejected because they base their identity on their knowledge. We must be open to learn from each other, to accept the truth that comes from others no matter what their position. If you are wise, you will be open to the suggestions of others.

5 – If I am wise I will not emphasize your errors, weaknesses or mistakes.

James taught that the wisdom that is from above is full of mercy and good fruits. Mercy always produces good fruits. The Latin term for mercy comes from two words misero and cardia which when put together imply to put one’s heart in the miseries of others. If God did this with us and we do not practice it with others than we are being unjust and placing ourselves above him. Do not emphasize the errors of others but be an encourager. Do not make the other’s mistakes the cliché of their lives. The bible says, “He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends.” Forgive and forget, stop digging up the “cold cases” of those around you, they have to live with you. Give them a break; God gave you a break, right? When others trip up, do not judge them, confront them, correct them but give them a vote of confidence. It is not enough to feel empathy for others, we must exercise mercy, we must do something, approach the person and offer them a healing hand and not a stone of condemnation. The principle of mercy is superior to that of judgment.

6 – If I am wise I will not favor others over you

All of us have our crowd of favorite people and obviously we cannot be best friends with everyone. However, as members of the body of Christ we cannot involve ourselves in carnal favoritism. We must have the same love and affection for all members of Christ’s body. Any other attitude is just a form of partisanship and division.

7 – If I am wise I will not conceal my weaknesses and sins.

James said that the wisdom that is from above is without partiality and without hypocrisy. Do not attempt to hide these things. The church is not a place for perfect people but a place where they are being perfected. The church is a place for real people with real sins and real defects, real emotional problems and real financial problems. The church is not a place for people who assume they are perfectly correct in every area of their lives. Normally this perfectionism is based on particular rules that mark our personal intimacy that has to be changed. All those who overly emphasize an external pattern of holiness or a pattern that is merely a behavioral holiness rather than an intimate motive of holiness are camouflaging serious moral failure. This was the syndrome of the Pharisees when Jesus said that they were like whitewashed tombs, outside ceremonially pure, well behaved, faithful in their religious observances but inside full of dead men’s bones. James taught that if we are wise we will not cover up or hide our failings. Trying to hide or conceal sin is the most foolish thing a Christian can do. Therefore, the church is not a place for perfect people neither is it a place where people will use their failings and sins as excuses for anything. The bible says that whoever tries to cover up their sins does not prosper. People are rarely surprised when we confess our sins because they already see the error of our ways, and some have become victims of our carnality.

Many times, we destroy our relationships and our family with our own hands. We can blame Satan; we cannot blame our past or our spiritual inheritance. We must deal with the past and the sins of our past but we must also deal with curses that affect us for what we practice today.

How can we gain wisdom to deal with these issues? Knowledge comes from education but wisdom comes from God. To obtain knowledge you look around you and learn. To obtain heavenly wisdom you must look up to God. Knowledge comes from reason but wisdom comes from revelation. Knowledge is something that you learn; wisdom is a gift of God. The bible says that if any of us lack wisdom, we should ask God and he will give it to us.

If I am wise, I will not compromise my integrity. If I am wise, I will not provoke others to wrath. If I am wise, I will not diminish your feelings. If I am wise, I will not criticize your suggestions. If I am wise, I will not emphasize your mistakes. If I am wise, I will not disguise my weaknesses and sin.

Do you want to be wise? I would like you to think about your relationships, especially those that are in conflict. How have you administered your relationships with respect to these principles? Perhaps you must recognize that you have destroyed much ground in your relationships. However, if you are willing to repent of your foolishness, your lack of wisdom, your arrogance and pride, all of these things that sin against our relationships, passivity, hypocrisy, walking in the “law of the jungle”, the law of indifference, the law of the bad example, God will forgive and restore you. If you need wisdom for this, he will give that as well.

The Good Samaritan and interpersonal relationships

The four laws of relationship – The parable of the Good Samaritan

parable of the good samaritanThe greatest problem in the world today is not a lack of resources, but difficulty in relationships and how to deal wisely with others. In years past, economic consultants claimed that whoever controlled oil controlled the world. After oil diminished in power, computers took over therefore whoever controlled computer technology controlled the world. However, in spite of all this advance in technology and convenience there has been a regression in the area of morals. Therefore, today they claim that whoever is capable of giving wise counsel and knows how to relate to others wisely controls the world. They are referring to those who have the correct message for this generation. Who has the correct message for this generation? The answer is the church! However, as the church, we need God’s wisdom. The greatest problems in the world today are not shortages of resources but problems in relationships. So many families are self-destructing because they are sinning against godly principles of relationship. People are becoming blind to the way that we must deal with and administer our relationships. In the parable of the Good Samaritan we can identify four laws or principles that govern interpersonal relationships. I believe that Jesus told this parable to the inquiring lawyer to teach his people to examine the principle or law in which they administer their relationships.

But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29-37)

I would like to apply this parable not to the reality outside the church or to an evangelistic need, but to the reality inside the church. Inside the church many people have fallen victim to robbers and thieves, and their lives have been destroyed inside the church, not outside in the world but inside the church and sometimes in the context of ministry.

We can identify four basic laws in the parable of the Good Samaritan:

The law of the jungle (Luke 10:30)

A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

This law applies not only to relationships in the church but also to family relationships. It refers to people in families who destroy other people. The law of the jungle refers to relationships of victims and predators, those who become victims and those who victimize others. This law teaches that in order for one to survive another must be destroyed. It is the survival of the fittest, the strongest and the smartest, the most agile and the slyest. Whether this applies to the context of family relationships or to relationships in the local church, it speaks of graceless treatment.

Many times, deep down inside we have employed trickery and deception in the attempt to take advantage of others in order to get our way and attend to our own interests without caring about the means that we employ to reach these objectives. This law determines that it does not matter if we harm others in the process. The only thing that becomes important is to win and get what we want. This breeds the attitude of revenge that thinks, “So many people did this to me, now it’s my turn to do it to them.”

Many times leaders who have suffered at the hands of unloving leaders feel that it is now their right to throw their weight around and oppress those who serve under them. This expresses the motivation that comes from the law of the jungle. However, this is how hell attempts to conquer the world. This is the tendency to see the world as a threat and lash out against it in the attempt to survive.

This dynamic is very descriptive of many relationships. One person trying to tire out and exasperate another. There is no goodwill or collaboration nobody wants to serve anybody. The law of the jungle teaches me that in order for me to win someone will have to lose. It is the mentality of scarcity, misery and lack.

We begin to relate to others obstinately motivated to win at any cost. This of course is jealousy, greed and competition. These things activate the law of the jungle. Greed brings turmoil to our lives and our families. Many times people in our families and our church operate according to the law of the jungle. We do not tolerate the idea of losing, of someone overlooking or forgetting us or of serving and becoming the least. We do not tolerate the feeling of inferiority. All of these feelings serve as a platform for the beginning of rebellious and ungodly behavior. We begin to take justice into our own hands. This was the law that moved Cain when he lifted his hand up against his brother Abel. He could not tolerate his own brother’s success and became a murderer.

This was also the motivation of Joseph’s brothers. They could not bear to look at his coat of many colors and the fatherly preference that it represented. They murdered Joseph in their hearts and sold him to the Ishmaelites. These two passages speak of the principle of brothers who assault and destroy other brothers.

The law of indifference (Luke 10:31)

Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

Many people who have become victims of the law of the jungle have also fallen victim to the law of indifference. This is another law through which Satan rules although it is more subtle.

Here we have the law of minimum effort. The loss of the opportunity to be a blessing. This describes people who have many opportunities to meet many needs and neglect them. The problem here is not a matter of doing evil but of neglecting to do the good. How many times does God try to get our attention and awaken us to the needs around us and we simply ignore them. Many times, we idolize our own problems, too often staring into our own navel so much that we lose our awareness of the needs of others. Every time that we take our eyes off ourselves and begin to be involved in other people’s problems it is incredible how God comes and meets our needs. Whenever you take care of the things of God, he will take care of your things. This passage does not speak about people who are ignorant of the needs of others. These are people who know other’s needs. This was a priest that passed by the man. Today we take part of a kingdom of priests and ministers. Our problem is not that we are ignorant of the good that we should do, we know what we must do, but we are overly complacent with respect to our God-given duties. When Jesus used the example of the priest and the Levite, he referred to people who have learned how to intercede for the people but that for some reason lost their priority. Here we see how religiosity robs us of God’s vision as well as the inspiration to please him. We begin to serve ourselves. The greatest crisis of the church is not the lack of knowledge but the lack of a sense of responsibility and love. It takes a lot of work to love. Very few people are willing to put forth the effort to love.

The law of bad example (Luke 10:32)

Likewise a Levite when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.

Here we have the propagation of the preceding law. This is the law that determines that some people feel good when they observe other people doing wrong things. When the Levite observed the priest pass on the other side of the road and neglect to help the wounded Samaritan he thought: “since the priest didn’t stop to help him, why should I stop?” “He didn’t do anything, so why should I do anything?”

This attitude numbs the conscience of these people. This corresponds to people who have lost godly zeal. These people defend their wrong decisions on others bad example. These people do not like to assume responsibility. They attempt to hide and justify their errors and complacency by always blaming others. They make the mistake of thinking that others mistakes justify their own sins and mistakes. They are constantly fleeing from the responsibility merely criticizing and accusing others. These people have a tremendous ability of finding fault in others. They are constantly pointing out the faults of others. However, they never present themselves as the answer or the solution. They constantly criticize others irresponsibly. Many times these people have been deeply disappointed by others and have decided to give up on relationships with others. People who are deeply disappointed normally become complacent and insensitive to the needs of others. They are too wounded and touchy to care about others. Because of this, a genuine experience with Jesus quickly deteriorates and a religious façade soon emerges. This describes people who walk in the law of bad example.

The law of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:33-35)

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.

The lesson from this law is that it is not important to know who your neighbor is but whether you are a good neighbor or not. The law of the Good Samaritan emphasizes the capacity to care about others unselfishly. This implies a divine attitude that produces responsible attitudes. Jesus described the Samaritan who had almost no knowledge of God, but the little he did have he lived it out and put it in practice.

The law of the Good Samaritan emphasizes six abilities:

  • The ability to identify with others he had compassion on the Samaritan.
  • The ability to draw near to others, he drew near to see how he was.
  • The ability to heal
  • The ability to carry the burdens of others who are no longer able to bear them
  • The ability to depend on others to help those who need it
  • The ability to meet needs

Many times your neighbor could be your spouse who little by little is being consumed and destroyed. It is just like the wick of a candle that is about to burn out. You approach the flame that is about to burn out and you pinch it and extinguish it through a cruel word that ministers death to the person who hears it.

Embracing the purposes of God for your life – God wrote your book

Living out the purposes of God for your life

Purposes of GodO Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; you understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from you, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to you. For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:1-16)

In order for us to live out the purposes of God for our lives, we must meet certain conditions. We must have a basic knowledge of God’s character. We must know God, who he is, how he thinks and acts. Aside from the basic knowledge that he loves us and has a wonderful plan and purpose for our lives, we must understand that he deals with us within the context of his eternal purposes. Although he loves us with a perfect love, if we do not understand how he manifests his love in our lives and how it relates to his purposes, our experience and enjoyment of his love will be seriously compromised. This means that although God is all-powerful, all wise, omnipresent, omniscient and sovereign, if we do not properly understand how his purposes relate to his dealings with us, our quality of life may seem no different from that of those who have no relationship with God whatsoever.

Many people come to God initially because of a need. I came to God because as a young teenager my parents taught me that I was born in sin and that I had to have my own experience with God. This was in spite of the fact that I came from a family of pastors both on my father’s side as well as my mother’s, both sets of my grandparents converted before I was born and my parents and all of their siblings were Christians. I came to God because I did not want to go to hell. I wanted deliverance from the fear of eternity in a place of suffering.

My need was not immediate but it was very real since I had fixed my thinking on my eternal destiny. Many people come to God for much more immediate reasons: some because of financial problems, others because of relational problems, loneliness, rejection or persecution and conflict. Many come to God in search of deliverance from addictions or vicious cycles of sin. However, independently of the motive for coming to God it is important to recognize that all of God’s dealings with man are ultimately related to his purposes in creating man.

I believe with all my heart that God’s purpose in deliverance is not merely for our relief, but for the fulfilment of his purposes. Relief and the enjoyment of God’s blessing are natural consequences of God’s deliverance but they are not the primary objective. God made us for a purpose and the fulfillment of his purpose is the governing principle of his dealings with us as his creation. When we understand this concept and begin to apply it to our lives, not only will we be able to fulfill his eternal purposes for our lives, but also the quality of life that we will enjoy will come naturally.

God has given gifts to each one of us but these gifts must be released before we can begin to use them. Satan’s main goal is to attack our joy, our identity in God, and our clarity with respect to our purpose. As a result, when we focus on these areas that Satan has attacked we progressively lose the ability to put God’s power and character as it relates to the purpose for creating us in its proper perspective. In other words, as long as we focus on the areas in which Satan has attacked us and have believed his lies we lose the vital perspective necessary to remain on track for God to use us.

One of the most somber and serious passages in all of the Bible is found in Revelation 20:11, 12

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

There are two different kinds of books discussed in the Bible, the book of God’s plans and the book of our works. Revelation 20:12 speaks of books that were opened. These are the books in which God writes the story of our works. There is a reality television program in Brazil called “Big brother Brazil”. This program involves a group of people who live together in a big house with movie cameras in every room. The program films every aspect of their lives, the cameras record and transmit all of their words and actions to the entire country. God’s penetrating eyes are more thorough than a multitude of the most sophisticated movie cameras that will ever exist. From the time of your birth to the time of your death, every word, every action, every attitude, every sin, every carnal motivation will be recorded and read before an innumerable multitude. I believe that those who are in Christ Jesus will not have to stand before God at the Great White Throne Judgment. Our judgment will be at the Bema Seat, the Judgment seat of Christ. In either case however, somehow each one of us will go through the experience of having the contents of the book of our works compared to God’s “Book of Life”. How will your works measure up to the works for which God has created you? Paul wrote, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Someday each one of us will answer the question: “Have you lived out the purposes of God for your life, or your own purposes?”

God sees the hidden side of our lives, which are completely open and exposed to him. He sees that which we hide from others and he knows even what we do not see ourselves. For example, do you know how many hairs are on your head? It is your head! Haven’t you ever counted them? Neither have I. I would really like it if no more would fall out. That would be great! But I don’t count how many fall out or how many are left. It’s just not that important to me. But, apparently, it is to God. Now if he knows how many hairs you have on top of your head, imagine what else he knows about you. He knows everything!

In Psalm 139 David expressed the dimension of God’s complete knowledge of every aspect of our lives. I would like to suggest that we listen in to David’s prayer as he recorded it in this psalm. I believe that the Holy Spirit saw fit to preserve these psalms in written form in order to give us a model of how to dialogue with God.

In the first verse, David recognizes the manner in which God knew him. “You have searched me and known me”. I regularly write content for several blogs that I have set up to disseminate the philosophy of our ministry. Over the last couple of years, I have learned a bit about how Google operates in providing the most powerful search engine of the Internet in existence. The technicians that work with Google have created electronic robots called “crawlers” that crawl from site to site examining the content of each Internet address. In years back, many website owners and administrators tried to “rig the system” by attempting to fool the search engines into returning advantageous results for any given webpage. So, what was happening is that different businesses would set up a webpage and use a method called “keyword stuffing” the content of their site in order to attract a higher priority for returning website search results to their site. For example, if a company wanted to sell a certain product on the Internet like weight loss pills or medication then the company would set up a website and write a bunch of articles with the words “weight loss” or “weight loss treatment” in order for Google to put their site at the top of the list for those keywords. Then, if someone goes to a computer and does a Google search by typing in the words “weight loss” the sites where these words appear the most will show up at the top of that search. Consequently, the web surfer would click on that link, go to the vendor’s page and hopefully, buy the product from them. This became a problem for Google however because people wanted good information about different subjects and instead of good information they would wind up visiting a site trying to sell them something. Therefore, Google developed a series of updates and sophisticated crawlers who were able to discern if this type of anti-ethical behavior was going on or not. Those who were abusing the system were punished by either having their sites banned or by being sent to the bottom of search engine pages where most likely no one would ever come across them.

In the same way, David declared that God had sent his crawlers to search out his life. He examines every detail, every area, every subtle inconsistency, sin, bad attitude, dishonest behavior as well as noble attitudes and gestures. God’s crawlers are very thorough and God’s searching over the “pages” of our lives is exhaustive. He has seen everything, he has heard everything, he has searched everything, and as a result, he knows everything about us.

God knows you. In verse 2 David declared that God knows our sitting down and our rising up. When we sit down it is because we came from somewhere. When we get up it is because we are going somewhere. God knows where you have been and he knows where you are going. He knows where you have walked, he knew how you felt as you walked through those places, he heard your words, read your thoughts and felt your emotions. He was there. He was always there. He saw everything that you saw and much more. He heard everything that you heard and much more. He felt everything that you felt and much more. Whenever you sit down, he knows everything that you went through to get there. When you get up, he knows where you plan to go. He knows what you plan to do. He knows what it will do to you and what it will do to others. He sees all, knows all, and feels all. Whether we sit down or get up, whether we work or lay down to sleep, whether we are near or far, he knows our every move.

God knows us so well that he anticipates every word that comes out of our mouth. Beyond reading our minds, he has already seen the conclusions that we will make even before we have enough information to arrive at a conclusion. David said “You have hedged me behind and before”, or in other words, he knows more about where we came from, about where we are now and about where we are going, than we do. Everything has already been recorded and he can skip forward or backwards or jump to the middle. He has always invisibly accompanied us, but even more, his hand was upon us, still is upon us and always will be upon us. Have you seen his hand? Did you perceive his hand in your past? Can you perceive his hand on your life right now? Do you believe that his hand will be on you always? David said “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me it is too elevated, I can’t get a handle on it”. Think about it! God was always there. Many times, you did not see him, but he was there.

There is no escaping God’s Spirit, no way to flee from his presence. Whether we go to heaven or to hell into space or to the bottom of the sea even there his hand will lead us, if we are aware of his presence. You see, he was always there. His hand was always upon you; his right hand was always there to hold you. He was always willing to guide you. However, if in the past, you did not know enough to acknowledge him in all your ways, even though he was their right beside you with his hand upon you, you did not perceive him, and lost the blessing of the experience of his loving and guiding hand. He was with you, but you did not know it, or at least you did not understand what it meant for his hand to be upon you at the time. Now, you must know that he is with you, that his hand is upon you, that his right hand will hold you and he will never leave you nor forsake you.

In Psalm 23 David declared that even though he walked through the valley of the shadow of death, God would be with him. Sometimes God will lead us through the thick darkness of some seemingly hopeless valleys. However, in verses 11 and 12 David acknowledged that darkness is nothing to God since he sees everything in darkness as if it were light. God is light and in him is no darkness at all. The darkness of life’s valleys will never be able to hide us from God’s presence.

Beginning in verse 13, David gives us insight into how God sees the beginning of each one of our lives. From the beginning, God has always been intimately involved in our life’s story, in our book.

13 For You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.

The Holy Spirit, through David’s prayer teaches us that God formed us within our mother’s womb. You see, when your mother conceived you it was not merely a matter of a mass of cells forming within her body. God did not set the laws of human reproduction into play so that he could remove his hand and allow the human race to multiply on autopilot. Even if your parents did not plan your birth, God did. That is why it is such a tragedy, such a horrendous offense against God to commit or involve yourself in an abortion. Abortion is nothing less than celestial robbery. Life begins in the human womb as a direct result of God’s plans and purposes. Even before our conception, God wrote our book. He determined our position in the heavenly places. Human life, in God’s eyes transcends time and space. Each human life is part of the divine and eternal mosaic masterpiece that God planned since the foundation of the universe. You belonged to God ages before you were conceived in your mother’s womb. Eons before you were merely a fusion of two cells in your mother’s womb, God had carefully and lovingly crafted your life’s story. Your conception was not even the beginning. It was merely the first step of the implementation of a perfectly planned project of life, your life. For anyone to terminate a human pregnancy is the equivalent of stealing the book that God has already written from the foundation of creation. The size of such a travesty is almost unimaginable.

God has always been active in your story. He was active in projecting which family you would be born in, the circumstances of your birth; he determined all the characteristics of your life before he put you together. He wrote the prologue of your life story and then followed the script up to the point of your conception. From the first split-second of your conception he began his work forming you within your mother’s womb. He did not leave it up to the forces of nature to form you, you are not a product of nature, you were not made in the United States, or in Brazil, or in Turkey, or in South Africa, you were made in God. In verse 14 God the Holy Spirit through his man David wants you to know: you were made in God and he made you fearfully wonderful. There is nothing wrong with standing in front of a mirror and looking at your reflection and in praise to God wonder at the work of his hands and say “awesome”! If I could hold a mirror before you this morning, it would not be misplaced vanity for you to declare “awesome”!

In verse 16, the soul must concluded the description of God’s active role in our conception by adding the words of the first chapter following the prologue “and in your book they were all written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” God tailored every detail and characteristic of our life before our conception, wrote it as the prologue to our life’s story, and began the first chapter with the details of our formation within the womb as well as those that surrounded the events up to and including our birth into this world. Each of the subsequent chapters details how God fashions each one of our days according to his plans.

You can begin to perceive the serious mistake of failing to consider the purpose for which God created you. He has invested a lot in bringing you into existence. Research indicates that 90% of all people have not determined their purpose in life. No one can take your place in God’s plan. He may accomplish his purposes through other people, but not in the way that he originally purposed through your life. Just as it is true that nobody creates anything without a purpose and a plan, God has not created you without a specific purpose and plan. His purpose and plan is for you to have dominion in the world, and overcome Satan’s attempt to rob lives and destinies. That is what the great commission is all about: fulfilling the purposes and plans of God in people’s lives by overcoming the attempts of the enemy to undermine the message of the Gospel and the implications of the divine image in which he created us.

In Psalm 139:16 David, inspired by the Holy Spirit presents God’s concept of his plans for our life.

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.

Before our conception, God had already written the purpose for which we should live in his book. That is the high point of this Psalm: to attain the sublime privilege of knowing the personal purpose of God for each one of us. David implied that although we are the owners of our own lives, only God knows the true purpose for which he created us. Only he knows. Only he knows how to fulfill us one hundred percent.

I believe that there are at least three books for each human being:

The first is the bible – the revealed and written Word of God. The bible is our operating manual. Jesus said to examine the scriptures for in them is eternal life, not only the quantity of life but also the quality of life. When our lives are out of line with the spiritual laws and principles of God’s Word, we will fatally compromise our eternity. The Word is our instruction manual for life. Every valuable piece of equipment that you acquire comes with an instruction manual. Many people do not like to read the manual, we want to take the thing out of the box and start using it intuitively. We think, “I can figure this out myself. I don’t need to read a boring manual with painfully obvious instructions.” However, if we do not obey the instructions of the operating manual we run a high risk of ruining that piece of equipment.

When our two sons were going through seminary, my wife Sandra and I visited them several times and on one occasion, my wife took along a Crockpot made here in the U.S. along to leave with them to help them cook their meals while they were in class. One day she left some meat and vegetables in the pot and we left the house. Later we came back to the house and there was a bad smell like burnt plastic. She plugged the crock-pot into the 220 Volt receptacles forgetting that the pot was made to be used with 110 Volt electricity. It melted as it cooked the food. The pot was ruined because of the wrong voltage that we tried to use.

Many Christians are like that crock-pot. They neglected to read the instruction manual and got burned by life. You see God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives but if we neglect to read the instruction manual, we can destroy ourselves.

The second book for our lives is the Book of God’s plans – We must learn how to read this book through our intimacy with God and through a life of surrender without reservations. The principle of revelation is based on surrender. If we surrender ourselves totally to God, he will begin to reveal his specific plans for our lives. God will not reveal what you have not surrendered. The amount of our surrender determines the amount of the revelation that we receive. Why should God reveal his will to you if you make no commitment to accept and follow it? First, comes our surrender and then comes his revelation. You will begin to understand. He will make your righteousness more and more evident until it shines like the noonday sun. You will begin to gain a divine objectivity, seeing as God sees. One of the greatest problems in the church today is a lack of objectivity. There are so many people distracted by so many things, some of which are good things. However, all of these distractions are taking their eyes off what should be their focus: the greater reason for their existence. If we are not fulfilling God’s specific purpose for our lives, it is only logical that we should feel misplaced and frustrated.

The third book is that of our works – Revelation 20:16, 17

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

Every one of us human beings whether we are literate our not, writes at least one book: the book of our works. All you have to do is be alive for this book to exist. This shows that we, as human beings are intrinsically responsible. God will never treat anyone as a poor victim incapable of making our own choices and choosing our own works. In other words, we will all have to give an account before God for the way that we have conducted our lives and for the results that we have produced. The bible says that day will be so great that the heavens and earth fled away; there will be no place to hide. God’s throne will be set in the center of the universe. Each one of us will have to look God in the eye and give an account for what we have done and what we have become.

Just as John the Baptist rebuked the Pharisees and doctors of the Law when he said, “Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance”.  A wise person will properly relate to these three books. However, not everyone is wise. Do you know why so many people live in frustration, without direction, embittered, embattled, just tired of their existence? The reason is that they are not properly linked to God’s purposes. That is why so many people, even Christians fill up the hospitals, mental hospitals and clinics, jails and prisons. They have never properly related to the purposes of God for their lives.

I believe that God puts a dream and passion within each one of us. I believe that this principally happens in our youth. That is why the Bible says that young men will see visions and old men will dream dreams. Our enemy Satan will use all of his resources including people close to you to kill our dreams and visions.

God gave Joseph a dream and Satan lifted up his own brothers in the attempt to kill Joseph’s dream. Imagine what would have happened or would not have happened if they were successful in killing Joseph’s dream.

God does not impose his plans on anyone. However, he holds us all responsible for our response to his call, which implies that we have to understand his call and then embrace it, do our part and wait on The Lord for its complete fulfillment.

Perhaps you have drifted from God’s plan and you think it is too late. You must recognize that we serve a God who is the God of the second chance. God has a plan for those who drifted from the plan.

Moses had insight into the purposes and plan of God but overstepped his limits and drifted away from the plan. 40 years later God called him back, and gave him a second chance. Through Moses, God wrought the marvels of the Hebrew deliverance from the powerful nation of Egypt. Moses fulfilled God’s plan for his life after he was 80 years old, it is never too late if you are open to God’s purposes.

Bible meditation and productivity

The role of God’s Word in fruitful ministry

Bible meditation and productivityI believe that God is lifting up a generation of overcomers. I also believe that God is going to use our church and the group of churches that we call the Vine to this end. However, I am concerned with the level of relationship that many of the members of our church and the church in general have with the Word of God. Of course, I know that when I say this I am generalizing since some of the members of our church have a very intimate relationship with God and his Word. However, in a general way I feel that many in our midst and all across the world have a relatively superficial relationship with God and his Word. Sometime ago research was done among evangelical circles and the results of this research showed some disturbing data. Part of the results communicated that on the average, pastors and church leaders spent a total of five minutes per day in God’s Word.

The Word of God is like a gold mine to excavate and dig up. I believe we need to ask God as his people for the spirit of spiritual miners, not underage Christians, but Christians who take a spiritual pickax to hack through the solid rock of truth of God’s Word extracting the precious nuggets of truth that God wants to reveal to us as we labor in his Word. By choosing the word labor in this process, I believe it brings to light the difficulty that most people have in spending time in the Word of God. I think it is fair to say that most Christians are not willing to labor in the Word. We want to feed on the Word as if it were a spiritual health shake and just gulp it down. We believe we do not have time to labor in the Word. We must recognize that there is a relationship between bible meditation and productivity of ministry.

When we remove God’s Word from our lives, we remove Jesus from our lives. Because he himself told us that, he is the Word, the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. Remember that vision in Revelation 19 when Jesus appeared seated on a white horse. And his name was called faithful and true. His eyes were like flames of fire and on his head were many crowns. And it says that his name was the Word of God. Jesus is the Word. If you do not have a real commitment with the Word, if the Word has no place in your daily schedule, if you have taken God’s Word out of your life, then you have taken Jesus out of your life. You may argue that Jesus lives in your heart! Yes, it is true he abides in your heart. It is also true that your spirit has become one spirit with his spirit. There is no way to separate the two. All of those truths remain however, unless you regularly spend time meditating in the Word, they will not change the fact that you will not hear his voice and he will not manifest himself in your life, and as a result, you will not produce fruit for his glory. You will be fruitless. You will be useless in his kingdom.

Some of the most precious experiences that I have ever had with God never took place in church meetings, or conferences, or in some type of program that the church puts on. The most precious experiences responsible for producing most of the spiritual fruit in my life have come when I have been alone with God before his Word receiving the revelation that he gives in response to my labor in the attempt to understand what he says in it.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1, 2)

Paul explained that this presenting ourselves is our reasonable service. It is normal. Perhaps you have heard of those types of testimonies with an ex-drug addict or some kind of ex-criminal who explains how he gave up so much for God. He says things such as; I gave up smoking, I gave up drinking, I gave up drugs, I gave up sex, I gave up this and I gave up that. It is as if he was implying that he did all of those things! Good thing for God, that he abandoned all those things. After reading these verses, I would think that God would say something like, “Finally you stopped being an idiot and started doing what is reasonable.” This passage reveals that complete surrender and holiness is normal. There is nothing extraordinary about it. It is merely what God requires.

So the normal thing to do is to be holy and then he says do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. How is it that we renew our mind? By the Word of God. Only after we renew our mind by spending time in his Word can we experience God’s good, acceptable and perfect will. Therefore, we come across a principle here that many Christians do not understand. God is so good! He loves us so much! yet so many of his children never experience his good, acceptable, and perfect will. And why is that? They have made no commitment to labor in God’s Word in order to renew their minds. You do realize that spiritual life is analogous to physical life right? In other words if you were raised in a super protected environment and you never advanced from using the baby bottle and drinking formula you would be pretty maladjusted towards life wouldn’t you? We must not think that we can go through life in the Spirit, in the spiritual realm by drinking out of a bottle.

I would go so far as to say that without an intense life of meditation on God’s Word that Christians will never be able to experience God’s good, acceptable and perfect will. I believe that is what the apostle Paul said here in verse two of Romans chapter 12. That is why I want to talk about the importance of meditation in God’s Word.

This is a message that we must absorb in a practical manner. Something has to change in our lives in order to reach the ideal that the apostle Paul put forth in verse two. As Christians, we fight our battle in the spiritual realm mostly on the level of the mind and thoughts. That is the way that our mind must be transformed. The only way to transform the mind is through meditation in the Word. Both our victories and our defeats occur first in our minds and only afterward in our experience. So then, we have the principle: if in your mind you sow a thought, you will reap and action. Our works are highly related to our thoughts. If you sow an action, you will reap a habit and if you sow a habit, you will reap a character, and when you sow a character, you will reap a destiny. Therefore, in a manner of speaking, our life of thoughts determines our eternal destiny – thoughts, actions, habits, character and finally destiny. Everything begins in the life of our thoughts. That is why the transformation must begin in our thoughts. We need a metanoia, a change of mentality. So then, our relationship with God’s Word is the cornerstone of our spiritual life.

We must understand where a man or a woman of God is formed. Where does this happen, how does this happen? The answer is, in God’s presence. You can take a theological course or go through a pastoral seminary, you can take every single course that our church offers, and you still will not be a man or a woman of God because that only happens in God’s presence. Jesus went through this type of seminary. In John chapter 7, the Jews marveled and said, “How does this man know letters having never studied? “Jesus answered them “my doctrine is not mine, but of he who sent me.” Jesus received his doctrine by spending time with the Father. Men and women of God are formed by spending time in his presence. The main purpose of all the courses that we offer as a church are to teach people how to get into God’s presence and stay there and grow in that place. So then, if you do not have time to spend time daily in the Word and examine the Scriptures, and allow the Scriptures to examine you, then certainly you are doing things that God did not tell you to do.

Moreover, there is a principle that is very important to understand here. Spiritual learning engenders obedience. In other words, the more effort you put into learning something, the greater the potential of obedience that you acquire with respect to what you have learned. When you spend time before God’s Word and allow the Holy Spirit to teach you, this learning process transforms into a greater potential for obedience in that area. Therefore, in specific areas of your Christian life where you have experienced great difficulty even to be willing to obey, these situations resolve themselves automatically.

Seven points

1.   There can be no revival without a renewed commitment to God’s Word

Hilkiah the high priest who served during the reign of Josiah found the book of the Law as he was attending to the repairs of the temple. Josiah learned of the tremendous transgression of the nation and through the reading of the Law and his commitment to obey it, his reign was saved from the eminent judgment that otherwise would have devastated Judah.

Luther brought on the reformation after hundreds of years of dead religiosity without the preaching of the gospel because of his commitment to teaching of God’s Word in the face of tremendous resistance of the religious leaders of the day.

2.   The creative power of God begins with a collective action of God’s Word moved by the Holy Spirit

If we look back to the beginning and ask how God create all things, we would see that he created all things by speaking the Word. In verse two, it says the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters. Then God said, “let there be light”; and there was light.” when God speaks the Spirit begins to move.

3.   If you want to have supernatural experiences with God you have to learn how to walk on God’s Word and God’s counsel

Matthew 14:29 – When Peter walked on the water he walked upon the Word. When God speaks to you through his Spirit and you obey, you will see supernatural things begin to happen. This is the miracle principle when we begin to walk upon the Word, and undo the power of all circumstances and difficulties.

4.   If you want to move in the power of faith, you must prioritize the Word and God’s principles.

The disciples asked for a sign but the centurion asked for a word. Jesus marveled at his faith and said not in all of Israel have I seen such faith. In John 2:23, 24 it says that many believed in his name when they saw the signs, which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself to them, because he knew all men. He did not trust in those who sought after a sign. We should base our lives and our relationships on God’s Word and not on signs. If we follow the Word then the signs will follow us.

5.   If you want to overcome in spiritual warfare, you have to commit yourself to a daily life of meditation.

How many of you really want to be spiritual warriors and Overcomers?

Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:7, 8)

6.   A victorious life of prayer is only possible through a deep relationship with the Word of God.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (John 15:7)

One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination. (Proverbs 28:9)

7.   In order for you to prevail over the adversary and adverse situations, it is fundamental for you to know your identity in the Word.

Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” John 10:41

John the Baptist operated no miracles and gave no wondrous signs at all and his ministry. However, he was a man who was aware of his identity and knew his destiny. He knew who he was. He said, “I am a voice crying in the wilderness; make straight the paths of the Lord”. Identity is a fundamental aspect of character unless you know whom God made you to be, your character cannot be intact.

You remember when Jesus submitted to the baptism of John that after he came out of the water the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit in bodily form landed on his shoulder as a dove. The heavens opened and God called out from heaven in a thunderous voice this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Then, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And what was the very first thing that Satan tried to do against Jesus’ identity? What was the first temptation? The devil asked him, “If you are the son of God”. What were the Father’s last words before Jesus went to the desert? Satan tried to get Jesus to doubt the words of his Father. It is the diabolical attempt to accuse God of being a liar and of provoking Jesus to try to prove his identity. So what was the temptation? Was it because Jesus was hungry and Satan offered a solution? I believe that the temptation was for Jesus to prove that he really was the Son of God and show Satan that he could transform stones into bread. Jesus overcame the temptation because he understood his identity and saw no need to prove it to anyone. He passed this test of character. An important aspect of our character with respect to our identity is that we must not try to prove to anyone what God has already affirmed to us. It is enough that we have God’s Word on it.

A lot of people, spiritual leaders, and pastors are running around attempting to convince others through self-affirmation pointing to great works, or miracles or wonders, that they are God’s anointed. They try to prove what they are and sometimes they even try to prove that they are something that they really are not. The reason for this is that they really do not know who they are in God. The truth is that most of these people are unaware of the exalted identity that God has already given to them. The tragedy is that they have hardly any notion of who they are in God and what they are called to do so they expend a tremendous amount of energy trying to convince others of what they have not convinced themselves.

Through a responsible life of meditation you must understand who you are and to what ministerial identity God has called you. It is in your relationship with God’s Word that you will discover these things. Only then can God begin to pull away the curtain of the trajectory in the ministry that he has prepared for you. It is only in your own time in the Word that you will begin to understand what you are vocational profile is. All this comes through your life of meditation in the Word.

Interaction with the Bible as a principal in producing fruit

We know that the objective of God’s heart is for us to produce fruit. The great secret of fruitfulness as taught in John 15 is the need to abide in the Vine, in Jesus. He said that if he abides in me, and I in him, I will bear much fruit.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it will be done for you.

He also said, By this my father is glorified, that you bear much fruit. Therefore, we must concentrate our effort on our relationship with the Word of God; because of this, we will naturally produce fruit.

It is not necessary to exert any effort to bear fruit. The only effort that we have to put forth is to abide in the Vine, and then the fruit will come as a natural consequence.

There are three very important aspects of productivity.

In order to examine these aspects I would like us to look at the parable of the sower of the seed. This parable is recorded in three of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke.

I would like to follow along with what happened to the seed that was sown in the good soil. What happened to the seed that fell into the good soil?

First, let us look at Matthew 13:23 – He who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the Word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces some hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

This is the first aspect of the productivity of those who hear and understand the Word. Many Christians hear the Word but they don’t understand it. Did you know that? It is not enough to hear, we must also understand it. To hear God, and understand what he says is the first aspect of producing fruit that comes from God’s blessing.

Everything that you do, every investment you make, every attempt that you involve yourself in that is the fruit of hearing and understanding God’s direction will prosper. Why is it that so many things that Christians do, they never follow through with? Why is it that after so much effort, investment in time, energy, even in prayer ends up with no results? The answer is because it did not begin with hearing and understanding God’s voice and direction. It was not conceived in God’s heart.

The Bible says that whatever is of the flesh is flesh, but whatever is of the Spirit is spirit. Therefore, we must understand that the flesh will never become spirit. Any human idea no matter how good it is will never receive God’s blessing because it did not originate in his heart. If you do not hear and understand God’s voice then you should not even get involved in the things to which you have been lending your time and energy. It is not enough to hear we also must seek the understanding of what God has spoken to us.

Ephesians 5:17 says, “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” I say it is about time to wise up! Enough foolishness, enough ignorance! Enough childishness, enough petulance, enough presumption! Let’s stop making decisions and doing things based on our own wisdom in our own confidence and competence! Let’s seek to understand, to hear and to understand! Too often, we think we understand and we end up refusing to hear! We must hear God first and then seek to understand what God says to us.

Do you know what the great explanation is for all of the success and fruit of the great men that we read about in the Bible? It is simply that these men heard God, understood what he said and acted on that understanding. It is not that they did not have difficulties they did have difficulties. It is not that there was no resistance to what they did, there was very much resistance! It is not that they did not have to combine faith with what they understood, they did have to believe, they simply heard, understood, and obeyed.

It is important to understand this equation: revelation = surrender. When we begin to meditate on God’s Word and we begin to surrender, the result is that revelation comes. If we surrender 100%, then we will have 100% revelation and understanding. If there is no surrender, there will be no revelation. If we surrender halfway, then we will have half of the revelation. This is the big secret of Revelation. How many of you want to walk in God’s revelation? So here we understand why so many things that Christians do have no results. They are being unwise and acting without an understanding of God’s Word and his will. Without this foundation, we build our house on top of the sand. It is interesting that included with the first commandment of loving the Lord is with all of our understanding.

We can see the second aspect in Mark 4:20 the seed that falls into the good soil are those who hear and accept. The first aspect was to hear and understand the second is to hear and accept.

Faith is agreeing with God’s Word and disagreeing with the lies of the devil. Faith is the principal work that God expects of us. Remember when Jesus said: “This is the work of God: That we believe on him who he sent.”

In Luke 8:15 we can perceive a third aspect of productivity – But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the Word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

Therefore, we have talked about hearing and understanding, hearing and accepting, and now about hearing and keeping the Word.

Hebrews 10:36 – For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.

The Bible teaches us that we obtain the promises of God through two elements: Faith and patience. The great element of test is time. Many times we think that when we have a promise from God that it has to be fulfilled instantaneously. However, the things of God do not work that way. We must have patience and be transformed through the Word that we receive. Many times Christians receive a legitimate word from the Lord and they think that it has to be fulfilled the next day. This Word will test us, transform us but only in the future will it fully come to pass. Whenever God gives us a promise, he is inviting us to enter into a process by which the Word will transform us. Moreover, many times what God will do within us during this time of testing is more precious than the fulfillment of the promise itself.

Suppose God promises you your own home. By the time God fulfills the promise, compared to what you have learned through the waiting process, the house no longer has any value to you. That is why it says in Hebrews that many only saw the promises from afar. They never actually experienced the fulfillment of the promise but God transformed them. They fulfilled the greater objective through their patience and their lives were transformed.

Another example is a child who receives the promise of a bicycle if he gets good grades in school. The experience of achieving good grades is superior to that of receiving a bicycle as a gift. Therefore, we will attain the fulfillment of many promises through our perseverance. Perseverance demands an honest and good heart, the more we persevere the more we anchor our heart upon God’s purposes.

When these three aspects: hearing and understanding, hearing and accepting and hearing and keeping describe our interaction with the God’s Word we can be sure that we will clearly hear God’s voice and his direction and that whatever we do will be blessed with success and our fruit will remain and abound to his glory.

GODLY LEADERSHIP: FAST & SLOW TRACKING

SAMSON’S WEAKNESS AND JOSEPH’S FEAR OF GOD

Godly leadership

“Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall he teach in the way he chooses.” (Psalm 25:12)

This question suggests that God is attentively searching for people who have the precious quality of fearing him, in order to supernaturally illuminate their paths to godly leadership. I am not referring to being afraid of God and living under a religious oppression, but I am referring to the graciousness of having an intimate disposition of living in accordance with the Lordship and sovereignty of God, loving what God loves and hating what he hates.

As long as man has a healthy fear of God, he will be able to follow his path with the eyes of God, but whoever abandons the Lord will have the eyes of his understanding put out. This is the dramatic conclusion of the comparison that we can make between Joseph and Samson, two men with very different stories in their preparation for godly leadership.

In order to demonstrate the effects that the fear of God has on People’s destinies in more detail, I would like to compare the lives of these two great men of the Bible side-by-side: Samson and Joseph.

Both of them had a ministerial call of great proportions over their lives. Both of them became prominent personalities of their generation. Both of them went through the test that every man called by God goes through: the test of purity, which expresses our control over the sentimental up and downs of life and the burning desires that simmer within us. This is exactly what makes the difference between those who walk in the spirit or not, between true and false success.

Both of them were heavily and constantly confronted by the spirit of sensuality, which represents the qualifying process in order for them to be placed and spiritually supported in a higher spiritual dimension of authority.

Before the same test, facing the same demonic hosts, although both obtained great victories, they ended up very differently as I will now demonstrate.

SAMSON’S WEAKNESS

The transgression of chronic sentimental weakness

It seems strange to refer to Samson in terms of weakness, but a very prevalent fact and Samson’s life was his moral weakness devoid of the fear of God. In today’s society where the ethics of character is out of style, this model of weakness typified by Samson becomes even more subtle.

Samson was one of the men most enabled with the supernatural power of God. As far as we know, no man comes close to having similar powers except for imaginary superheroes or in mythological fables. Samson was a true stronghold of God for his nation.

He was extremely charismatic. The Holy Spirit would manifest himself through him by granting him phenomenal physical strengths and abilities. He was single-handedly facing and eliminating the captivity imposed by the Philistines against his nation.

In several of Samson’s attacks against the Philistines, it became apparent that he was invincible. No one could physically overpower him, not even an entire army. With the donkeys job own he killed 1000 men at one time. In addition, through many other attacks he grew in fame and became the biggest headache for his enemies.

However, Samson’s weakness begins to appear when he seemingly ignores the possibility that he could be betrayed by his feelings. Samson’s cause as a judge and defender of Israel was not merely limited to a human conflict with the Philistines, but also had a real spiritual connotation.

It is interesting to note in Samson story how although he was tremendously successful in his victories on the human level, he was losing spiritual ground. In many cases, this can be explained by this moral Law: power and fame without the fear and the seal of God can be catalyzing elements for the fermentation and control of the spirit of sensuality. Moreover, the result is always catastrophic and scandalous.

This is an example of the mortal sin of chronic sentimental weakness that has debilitated many people’s destiny and subverted their promising future.

People are able to face many attacks and resistances in life until they must face their own feelings. In a few minutes, the person is knocked down by passion, kissing the canvas of the spiritual boxing ring, compromising principles, rebelling against leaders, abandoning God’s call and doubting the most important convictions.

THE ROUTE TO DECADENCE

For each moral failure, there is a staircase of broken principles and violated laws. Let us analyze this route of failure and Samson’s life through the three principal episodes of his life as recorded in Scripture.

The first episode: Samson’s marriage (Judges 14)

“Now Samson went down to Tim not, and saw a woman in Tim not of the daughters of the Philistines. So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, ‘I have seen a woman in Tim not of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.’” (Judges 14:1, 2)

Lust: overcome by his eyes

First, we see Samson’s vulnerability to lust. In spite of his physical vigor, he seems that his strength was not sufficient to rule over himself. He simply saw, desired, and subjugated himself to lust, obeying the expediency of his feelings. This is the first characteristic of someone to whom the Lord is not revealing the way that he should choose.

The path that God appoints for us to choose always carries the marks of the cross. It is sufficiently narrow to filter out our frenetic and compulsive desires and feelings. Without realizing it, Samson was beginning to lose control of the spiritual situation.

By yielding to his sentimental lack of control and sit subjugating himself to lust, Samson was enabling his own feelings to become a terrible spiritual enemy.

Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go in get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “yet her for me, for she pleases me well.” (Judges 14:3)

Samson wanted to please his eyes so much that he ended up losing both of them. In this passage, we see a double error:

He ignored the counsel of his parents

It is necessary for us to stress this point constantly. The consequences of dishonoring our parents by disobeying orders and ignoring advice in harmony with the word of God bring curses upon us. Especially in Samson’s case who was a Nazarite (Judges 13:4, 5), or in other words, his parents had assumed the responsibility to help him to avoid sinning against the foul made to God that granted him a special plans over his life.

However, Samson with the confidence in his charisma was neglecting his strongest spiritual protection: the godly advice of his parents. Him here we see the old story repeating itself: the arrogance of exulting charisma in detriment to character, submission and humility. Samson was ignorantly making his file more vulnerable.

It is important to make a brief summary of some of the serious consequences of honoring our parents, which were literally fulfilled in Samson’s life.

A life cut short: “are your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)

The word of God is a two-edged sword, it cuts to bless as well as to curse. The promise of obedience to the fifth commandment is a long and abundant life. The sentence of disobeying it is premature death, a life marked with frustrations, depressive tendencies, and other alternatives of survival. It is no wonder that Samson died prematurely.

Curses: “Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.” (Deuteronomy 27:16)

An innumerable gamut of adversities such as addictions, psychological and sentimental problems, financial problems, spiritual torments, infirmities, chronic relational and temperamental problems, etc., are put into play by an attitude of disrespect to parents. For this reason, Samson was temperamentally tormented and sentimentally persecuted, as we will further see.

Blindness (life of stumbling): “the eye that mocks his father, and scorns obedience to his mother, the ravens of the Valley will pick it out, and the young Eagles will eat it.” (Proverbs 30:17)

Samson’s eyes were literally plucked out by the Philistines. Some of the ways in which this blindness expresses itself could be failing to find solutions and directions in life; practicing the same errors, that one condemns falling into traps of the enemy, believing in the enemy’s accusations and lies against God, people in oneself.

Jesus confronted the Pharisees applying Isaiah’s prophecy to them: “hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive” (Matthew 13:14). The case that he pointed out where that those religious men had violated the commandment to honor their parents through the custom of core band (an offering to the Lord), which was nothing more than a pro spiritual pretext to release themselves from the responsibility of honoring their parents (Matthew 7:6-12).

These religious leaders had contracted a spiritual insensitivity so strong that they went to the point of planning to execute the much awaited and promised for centuries coming Messiah, for which they were waiting.

Unequally yoked with the uncircumcised

Beyond disrespecting counsel of his parents, Samson was simultaneously committing the error of “taking a wife from the un-circumcised Philistines”.

Circumcision is a physical sign that expresses the spiritual covenant with God. God inaugurated this covenant with Abraham. It represents those who are committed to the values of the kingdom of God, who have an open mind and heart to divine revelation.

On the other hand, in circumcision points to those who are spiritually hardened by sin or even by religious tradition. The apostle Paul to confront the exaggeratedly inflexible and close-minded Jews the strong term sometimes used it. It was if they had a mental block that bound them in a carnal and traditional understanding of spiritual truths. Thus where the Philistines completely closed off to the Revelation of God and for this reason they were unfruitful.

Again, to be unequally yoked expresses moral instability that acts against covenant principles. It is the gross error of wanting to reconcile the un-reconcilable just as Paul exhorted “do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with B Lyle? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

Moral values have no relative attributes, they are only absolute and in this passage, Paul demonstrates this by demonstrating to extremes eliminating the possibility of any agreement. The word of God teaches that someone who submits themselves to a covenant with the world, or unrighteousness, or darkness, or idols is excommunicating himself or herself from the kingdom of God.

Paul also puts forth another as important aspect of an unequal yoke saying: “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” he says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.” Herein resides another spiritual principle that asserts the contaminating power of an unequal yoke. In other words, it is impossible for someone to be unequally yoked and escape spiritually unscathed.

To be unequally yoked describes a state of spiritual prostitution in which the believer ends up taking on the character and behavioral pattern of the evil spirit that governs the other person.

Obviously, based on this understanding, Samson’s parents pleaded with him trying to dissuade him not to marry the Philistine, but rather one of the daughters of Israel.

Samson begins to break his vows

“Then he went down and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. After some time, when he returned to get her, he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion. And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion. He took some of it in his hands and went along, eating. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they also ate. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion.” (Judges 14:7-9)

Perhaps Samson was not taking God’s call upon his life seriously because he had simply inherited the vow of a Nazarite. He was living a superficial spiritual life, seeking to merely maintain appearances and satisfy his feelings. From this point on, he begins to feel the harmful effects of this.

The passage above shows how Samson sinned against his Nazarite vow by touching the corpse of a dead animal and eating something impure (the honey contaminated with the lion’s carcass). It is as if the spiritual impurity that Sampson exposed himself to due to his plans to marry a Philistine was materializing.

Samson was so aware of his error that he hid the fact that he had taken the honey out of the dead body of a lion from his parents. He was now walking in darkness.

Samson develops a wounded spirit

It is interesting to note how things began to go wrong for Samson. The consequences of being unequally yoked fell upon him like an avalanche. At his wedding feast, Samson proposed a riddle for the Philistines to solve. In the end, he became a victim of a great scheme of betrayal.

First, the Philistines betrayed him as the passage describes “but it came to pass on the seventh day that they said to Samson’s wife, “entice your husband, that he may explain the riddle to us, or else we will burn you and your father’s house with fire.” (Judges 14:15)

Simultaneously he was also betrayed by his own bride that danced to the tune of her compatriots by manipulating him to give the answer to the riddle and revealing it to the Philistines (Judges 14:17).

And in the end he was doubly betrayed by the father of his bride who after everything was prepared for the marriage, gave his daughter in marriage to another man who was his best friend (Judges 14:20). It is obvious that Samson’s relationships were not trustworthy. What a calamity! Samson’s marriage ends up with the traumatic reality of being betrayed on his honeymoon. This whole episode of betrayal in which his friend ends up occupying his place on his wedding night pierced him like a sword in the back, leaving a mortal wound in his soul.

Here we begin to see the inner profile of Samson: a sentimentally disappointed and disillusioned man emotionally shattered and fragmented. Samson’s next steps were marked by irrelevance and desperation. He became relentless, vacillating between extremes of rejection and violence, emotional pain and search for pleasure, inferiority and revolt.

Second episode: the prostitute from Gaza

“Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went into her.” (Judges 16:1)

Total decadence

In a kind of sentimental rebellion, Samson sought to relieve his pain through an act of prostitution. He literally threw his future away by dishonoring his family, his nation and his God. He poured out his anguish on a Philistine prostitute. By doing this, he swallowed the bait and permitted himself to be completely manipulated by the spirit of sensuality because of his sentimental wounds.

He became spiritually speaking like a city without walls. He was open with no defense against the scathing attacks of the enemy that from this point on became even more inviting.

For those who have certain clarity of how relentless this spirit of sensuality is, it is easy to foresee that with that it would only be a matter of time before Satan ended up in defeat.

His conscience with respect to the commandments of God was darkened. Any light of spiritual discernment to be appeared to be nonexistent. His exaggerated confidence in his charisma progressively depreciated his character. He no longer possessed anything aside from his physical strength, which would not be sufficient for the victory over the intense spiritual battle in which he had already found himself, where the situation was already critical and dangerous.

Third episode: the romance with Delilah-the final knockout

“Afterward it happened that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.” (Judges 16:4)

Consumed by passion

It is incredible how episodes of passion and betrayal accumulate in the life of Samson. Everything seems to repeat itself this time as an incurable trauma. Now the Philistines not only wanted the secret of a riddle to win a bet, but they wanted the secret of the manifestation of God through Samson. The Philistines had discovered his “strong weak point”. He could easily be overcome through the mechanisms of sensuality. He was clearly vulnerable in his feelings.

Everything seemed to collaborate toward the Philistines interests. Samson was hopelessly in love with Delilah. Once again, Samson’s bride is willing to sell herself in betrayal in favor of his enemies. Delilah began an insistent manipulation to yank the secret of Samson’s forces from his mouth.

Even though he lied to Delilah several times, she finally succeeded in discovering his secret. After repeatedly being ambushed by the Philistines in his hate and desire to destroy the Philistines after being openly betrayed by her it appears that he was no longer able to see what was right in front of his nose. Samson was already too spiritually drunk with the wine of sensuality recognize the mortal danger that surrounded him.

As the days passed, Samson became more and more a slave of his feelings until he reached the point that he could no longer resist Delilah’s “loving” manipulation.  “And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart, and said to her, “no razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazarite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” (Judges 16:16, 17)

Here Samson broke the last Nazarite vow. He had already touched death, eaten that which was unclean (the carcass of the lion, and the donkey’s jawbone), got drunk with the wine of lust and sensuality and now he definitively lost his anointing by having his seven braids of hair shaved off. He spiritually prostituted his covenant with the fullness of the spirit and the seven spirits of God as described in Isaiah 11:2.

Delilah immediately betrayed him allowing the Philistines to capture him. After putting out his two eyes they took him to Gaza enchained him with shackles of bronze. Love is not only blind, but it also blinds, in chance, and puts out the eyes of understanding.

Imprisoned and without strength, Samson walked in circles grinding grain in the prison like a beast of burden, humiliated under the yoke of his enemies. Before being defeated by his enemies, Samson was defeated by his own feelings. His greatest enemy was inside of him.

Defeated by his own feelings and a slave to the spirit of sensuality, he was condemned to blindness, prison, forced labor and subjected to the entertainment of the Philistines. He became a trophy of the God Dagon, the greatest victory of the Philistines, and a shame for God and his nation.

It is terribly sad when so many times we are obligated to live with the testimony of people with the tremendous potential who simply allow themselves to be betrayed by sensuality. Too many have exchanged their inheritance in God for their own feelings. They sell their birthrights for a plate of lentils. They suffered reproof with respect to God’s purposes in their lives; they were personally shaken without a purpose, having their families destroyed along with their ministries causing incalculable harm to the kingdom of God do to their great scandals.

It does not matter how much charisma we have, or how much God has already used us, if we abandon the fear of God, we will be sacked and destroyed by the enemy. (The secret of the Lord is with those who fear him, and he will show them his covenant.” (Psalm 25:14). The lack of the fear of the Lord slowly leads Samson to compromise God secrets through the spirit of sensuality. He sinned against the covenant of God. The end was nothing other than tragedy.

Joseph’s fear

Thus he left all that he had in Joseph ‘s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. (Genesis 39:6-12)

Joseph did not rise to pro-eminence as quickly as Samson much less did he have as many supernatural powers. Sold by his own brothers, he was a young man seemingly condemned from an early age to a life of a slave without much expectation.

His spirit was forged in the furnace of rejection, incorporating the spiritual principle that was also fulfilled in the life of the Messiah: “the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” (Psalm 118:22). In spite of the traumatic beginning that Joseph had in his life, he made a decision that was superior to any charismatic ability: the fear of the Lord.

Therein resided the great strength of Joseph that allowed him to rise above all of the vigor and charisma of Samson catapulting him to the pinnacle of God’s will. Joseph’s fear of God granted him more than strength, more than power, authentic divine authority. A position grants power, however genuine authority comes from character, and that is what Joseph possessed.

Joseph simply did not compromise the principles of God. Therefore, when the spirit of sensuality through Potiphar’s wife tenderly seduced him, he did not even think about the possibility of giving in to the temptation. He possessed a clear discernment of the evil attack.

In spite of the force of the enchantment that accompanied the seductive and insistent advances of Potiphar’s wife and the fact that they were alone in the house, everything that Joseph did revealed how absurd he viewed the situation: “how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9)

Joseph had a rare quality: he was trustworthy. Even with no one close by, he was trustworthy. He had a profound consciousness of the presence and omnipresence of God. Character is that which you are when you are not being observed or policed. Joseph could not tolerate the idea of betraying the confidence of his boss and even less so the confidence of God. He did not compromise his responsibility with pleasure, as easy and tempting as it was. He was a man of character, a true leader, a man worthy of taking the lead because he served with loyalty.

Once again, he was wronged, shamed and imprisoned, because of his integrity with God. He was a godly man. He paid a great price for his integrity: approximately 13 years in prison. The word that Jesus used to describe the situation of those who are persecuted and maligned because of righteousness is blessed! The word of God affirms: “but the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and he gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the present.” (Genesis 39:21)

It is no wonder that during these years in the “seminary of the dungeon”, Joseph had become one of the men most filled with the spirit of revelation and wisdom. At the right time, after being defeated by his own family, betrayed and maligned by his boss’s wife and forgotten by his prison mate who had been restored to his position in the kingdom, God remembered Joseph.

His situation was reversed and that dream that provoked relentless jealousy in his brothers was literally fulfilled. God established him in the highest position of authority, superior only to Pharaoh, in the greatest nation of the age. A man completely approved in the school of brokenness who is able to put his foot on the neck of the spirit of sensuality.

Now through his deep discernment and precious wisdom acquired in all those years of exile, he supplied the grain of God to satisfy the hunger of the world. The grain silos were full of fine-grained. He had the resources of God to feed the nations. His hour had come! His dream became reality! God’s purpose in his life was fully fulfilled!

CONCLUSION

Many things could have gone differently for Samson, who I believe serves as a symbol of godly leaders who are exalting their charismatic to the detriment of the fear of God, who are seeking to be great personalities, but forgetting the importance of moral integrity. Character is the backbone of the soul.

Surely Samson did not need in should not have died as he did, prematurely, almost through a heroic act of suicide, killing more Philistines in his death then in all of his life. He strongly punished his enemies; however, he was also strongly punished by them. A deathblow of retaliation sealed in a dramatic way his destiny. We can save ourselves and save others by allowing God to lead us, by fearing him, deeply respecting his presence, his government and his purposes.

In spite of the avalanche of immorality, infidelity, betrayal, perversion that the devil has vomited upon the earth through the occult and sensuality, God is raising up for himself, a zealous people, holy, who will soon crush the head of Satan under its feet.

However, many things can be different for you, and your family, your relationships, if you enter into this battle with discernment, inspired by the example of Joseph, a man like any other, however who possessed a deep prophetic consciousness of the presence of God. He as an example of godly leadership, was preserved, led, inspired and prevailed by the fear of God!

TWO KINDS OF GENERATIONS

I can clearly perceive that in these days of moral decadence and family disintegration that we live in there are two remarkable types of generations inside of the church:

The Samson generation consists of adolescents and teenagers who in spite of their stupendous potential are going down the drain of sensuality. They are blind, imprisoned and subject to evil torments walking around in the circles of life. They are going through something worse than death: a life without a purpose. This generation has been a shame for its parents and for God. It is filled with people who live merely for their desires and passions.

However, there is also a Joseph generation, formed by those who have not compromised the dream and the purpose of God. They are adolescence and teenagers who are part of the visionary generation of the last days prophesied by Joel. These persistent and persevering young people firmly look to God’s purposes. This generation diligently seeks the face of the living God. They have not allowed themselves to be confused or blinded by the seduction of the world. They are under a powerful outpouring of the spirit, full of vision, full of objectivity; inspired by the prophecies of the lips of God they will change the history of the world. I want to invite you to participate in this generation!

I would like to conclude by asking two questions:

From which of these generations of godly leadership potential have you come from? More importantly, to which generation would you like to belong?

THE MESSAGE WE PREACH

the-message-we-preach

What would you say if someone came up to you and asked you to explain what it means to become a Christian? Would you be able to respond in a biblically correct manner? Many Christians think that evangelizing is simply giving a testimony about their experience with the Lord. But even if your experience is valid and real it is not sufficient to explain the meaning of the gospel. There are also many Christians who believe that being a Christian means becoming a member of an evangelical church. Although the members of many of these churches are Christians this is also an inadequate answer.

There is a definite and distinct message to the gospel. It is the gospel of which the apostle Paul was not ashamed that has the power to save all those who believe. But how can we define this gospel?

An adequate presentation of the gospel must include the following elements:

  • Man is a sinner
  • Man cannot save himself
  • God is holy and just and therefore must punish all sin
  • Jesus Christ is God
  • Jesus Christ died on the cross because of our sins
  • We receive salvation on the basis of God’s grace
  • We are saved through faith in Christ and his sacrifice

God

We know that the Lord is a loving God and doesn’t want to condemn us. On the other hand, he is just and cannot fail to punish sin. Therefore God faced a dilemma: how would he reconcile his justice with his love? In his infinite wisdom, he came up with a solution: he sent his own Son to the world to die in the place of man and thus resolve the problem of sin.

Upon sending his Son to die for us, God the Father reconciled his justice and his love. He proved his love by sending his only Son and showed his justice by imputing our sin on his Son Jesus Christ to be punished in our stead. It was the perfect solution.

The gospel only makes sense if there is a just God who condemns sin. Many people simply reject the idea of a just God that condemned sin, they say: “I believe in the God of love and he would never do that”. That’s the problem we are used to the worldly idea that God is only love. If the facts were as people think, nothing that we say would make any sense, because if God was only love, then it wouldn’t matter that man is a sinner. If God is love, then it makes no difference whether Jesus died or not. God is love therefore we shouldn’t be concerned whether men believe in him or not since we are all safe.

Many people upon discovering what God will do on the Day of Judgment reply: “my God would never do that”. This is true! Their God would never do that. The problem is that their God doesn’t exist. He is just the fruit of their imagination. Many people create a mental idea of God and worship him in accordance with their own mental idea, but the true God is not the one that they have conceived in their minds. The true God is love, but he is also righteous and just and because of his righteousness he must condemn sin.

If we don’t tell people about the true God, the message of the gospel will make no sense to them. If we don’t understand God’s nature as it is revealed in the Bible, we cannot understand the nature of the gospel.

Some people would like God to slap man on the back and say: “okay so you sinned! Let’s just forget about it and move forward!” But he will never say such a thing. Our sin is like a crime before God. Suppose that I had robbed a bank and a hidden camera filmed everything and the bank employees identified me as the thief. When I face the judge, he will say: “What do you plea, guilty or not guilty?” If I simply answer: “I’m guilty your honor”. Then the judge will pronounce a sentence and condemn me to 10 years in prison for bank robbery. Now suppose that I tell the judge: “Your Honor, I’m really sorry for having robbed the bank. I returned the money and no one was hurt. If you let me go free, I promise that I will never rob another bank”.

Do you think the judge would be just if you let me go? As a judge he must comply with the laws of sentencing. If judges allowed bank robbers to walk free, simply because they say they’re sorry, there would be no safe banks in the world. I’m sure you understand my point of view. God is much more just and righteous than any judge. He will simply not ignore sin.

The fact is that in analyzing man’s condition, we can turn it into an equation. Man’s sin plus God’s justice can only equal one thing: eternity in hell. That is what we deserve. However, there is another factor to be added. Man’s sin plus God’s justice plus his love, will always be equivalent to the cross of Christ. On the cross, God shows us his love without denying his righteousness.

Man

The Word of God teaches that all men are sinners. All of us have committed sin and none of us are sufficiently good to deserve salvation. It does no good for us to try to be good, Jesus said that we must be perfect (Matthew 5:48). But far from being perfect, we fail in thought, in word and in action. We all sin not only in what we do but also in what we fail to do.

As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)

This is the reason why none of us can make it to heaven through our own efforts. We are sinners. We have a fallen nature and we can only be saved if the Lord extends his hand to us.

But we have not only committed sin, we are sinners. We have all been born with a sinful nature. The Word of God says that we must be born again. That is why we can’t save ourselves through good works, there is no way for us to go back into our mother’s womb and be born again.

Imagine man as if he were a little pig. If we take a little piglet out of the pigsty, take it home and give it a bath, dry it and off and put talcum powder all over it and tie a bow on its head we may think that it is no longer a pig, it smells so good. Then imagine that we taught the piglet how to walk on its hind legs, eat at the table and dress just like a little child to the point that some people may mistake it for a child.

Then one day you take the piglet for a walk and the second you become distracted he darts away and jumps into a nearby mud puddle. Why would it do such a thing? Although it looks like a human child, it is really just a pig. It has a pig’s nature. That’s what religion does. It changes us on the outside and put “Christian makeup” on us, but the gospel changes us on the inside giving us a new nature.

It would take a miracle for a piglet to be transformed into a human being. It would somehow have to die and be reborn as a human being. Of course, that is impossible, but it was exactly what God did. When we believe in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus we are born again and made new creatures.

There is no way for a man to be saved unless he understands that he is a sinner under God’s wrath. If man does not understand that he is a sinner, the gospel will make no sense to him.

Imagine if I would say to you: “I have good news for you someone has just paid a $25,000 traffic ticket for you!” You would probably react by saying: “what are you talking about? That’s not good news! It doesn’t make any sense! Nobody has written me a ticket for $25,000!” My good news would not be good news to you, instead it would seem like foolishness! Besides it would be offensive because I would be insinuating that you have committed a crime that you think that you haven’t committed.

But instead let’s imagine the situation in another way: “on the way here, the police radar clocked you going 20 miles an hour in a 15 mile an hour speed zone. There were plenty of traffic signs giving warning of the speed limit and you didn’t pay any attention to any of them. The worst part is that in this traffic zone the infractions are extremely high and you have been fined $25,000. The ticket was just about ready to be charged on your driver’s record when someone came on the scene and paid your ticket. In this case, you would really be relieved!”

If we explain precisely what is wrong first, the gospel will make much more sense to those who hear it. If we do not clearly show that the individual has violated God’s law then the gospel will seem like foolishness and be received as an offense. But once the person understands that they have broken the law then the gospel truly will be received as good news!

I am sure that you understand the illustration. If we approach someone who thinks that they are not a sinner and tell them: “Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins”. This will sound like foolishness and may even be offensive. It would sound foolish because it doesn’t make sense and offensive because we are insinuating that the individual is a sinner when he thinks that he isn’t. However if I take the time to open the law, the 10 Commandments, and show the sinner precisely what he has done wrong, how he has offended God and violated his law; then when he is convinced by the law of his sin that he is a transgressor (James 2:9), then the gospel and the good news that the traffic ticket has been paid, will not seem like foolishness but will truly be received as good news.

Grace

The first element is God’s grace. Grace is simply when God gives us what we don’t deserve. Grace is different than mercy. When God shows mercy he simply does not give us what we deserve. We deserve death but because of his mercy he does not condemn us. Grace goes far beyond mercy. We deserve death and condemnation but God in addition to not condemning us, gives us his life, makes us his heir and allows us to participate in his glory in heaven.

Salvation is a gift from God and it cannot be earned or bought through good works or any other means by which we could deserve it. Many Christians mistakenly think that if they are good and practice good works they will end up deserving heaven. But heaven is a gift. It is not an accomplishment, nor is it an acquisition, nor a reward. Heaven is a free gift!

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

The free gift, the present of God is eternal life. The Word of God categorically affirms that we can only be saved by the grace of God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

We must clearly explain the meaning of grace when we present the gospel. The apostle Paul taught in Romans that grace and good works are mutually exclusive.

And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work (Romans 11:6)

With respect to eternal life people can either trust completely in Christ or they can trust in themselves, or they can partially trust in Christ and partially trust in themselves. But the truth is that whoever partially trusts in Christ does not trust him at all. It is common to hear people say that God has done his part and now we have to do ours. The problem is that with respect to salvation we have no part. He did everything. The only thing left for us to do is to accept the free gift of God.

Jesus Christ

The Word of God reveals Jesus Christ in innumerable ways. At the same time he is portrayed as the bread of life and the water of life. He was already the resurrection even before he overcame death. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He is the Amen, the head of all things. At the same time, he is the Lamb of God that since the time of Genesis died for the sins of man, and is the Ark of the tabernacle in the midst of the desert. He is the exact expression of God. In him all things exist. He’s sustained all things through the word of his power. But even so he is man, and in God’s mind is the exact expression of man. But above all he is God the Creator of the universe.

The Word of God says “in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God” (John 1:1). This Word is God who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). And just why did God become a man? He came to die on the cross and be raised from the dead to pay the penalty of our sins and give us eternal life. He offers all of this by grace.

The whole Bible revolves around a great transaction. Imagine a book in your hand. Now imagine that all of your sins are written in this book as well as every sordid detail of your life. Imagine that everything you have ever done, and thought, all of your secrets and motivations were written down in this book. The Bible says that someday this book will be opened in the whole world will know everything about us. This will be a very embarrassing day. But the principal fact is that those who are judged according to the facts written down in this book will be condemned.

Therefore this book is a great problem for us, it is a record of all of our sins. This leaves us outside of heaven and prevents us from having communion with God. What can we do then? We ourselves can do nothing, but God in his grace, sent Jesus to us. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

What did the Lord God do? He took this book and put it on Jesus’ accounted with all of my sins recorded in it. Once Christ was weighed down with all of the things written down in the book he went to the cross and paid for all of my sins.

In order for a person to understand a gospel we must explain about Jesus and about God. Many people have the idea that Jesus was just a good man, an extraordinary teacher or something similar. This simply cannot save us. We must teach that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. That child in the manger was God.

Beyond this a person must understand that death on the cross was not a mere cruel act of the Jews. Jesus was not a mere martyr dying at the hands of the Romans. It is necessary to explain that Jesus himself went to the cross voluntarily. He did this in order to save us.

Most people know that Jesus died on the cross but what they must understand is that their sin was laid upon Jesus. The Lord died because of them. When people understand this reality, their perception of the gospel completely changes.

Faith

The Word of God says that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Therefore faith is a key that opens the door. Faith makes everything that Jesus accomplished on the cross real and present in our lives. Don’t think that faith is some kind of work. Faith is the empty hand of the beggar extended to receive the King’s gift.

Many people assume that they have faith but don’t truly believe. In the first place, it is necessary to distinguish faith from mental or intellectual assent. In other words, many people know that Jesus Christ lived, died and rose from the dead supposing that this is faith. They know that God exists. The devil also believes and trembles, but this type of faith is absolutely useless.

When the Bible speaks of faith it teaches us that faith is trusting completely in the Lord Jesus in order to receive eternal life. We can say that people trust in their own strength, or they trust in Christ in order to be saved. This can easily be understood. Imagine if I would come to a person and say: “Do you believe that this chair exists? Evidently he will answer yes. So I continue: “and do you believe that this chair can support you if you sit in it?” If the person answers in the affirmative, but refuses to sit in it this is merely mental assent. Whoever believes simply sits in the chair. I hope you understand that this chair illustration points to Christ.

Besides this we must explain that faith in faith itself is absolutely useless. The problem of this generation is that many people think that it is not important what we believe, and that the important thing is that we believe. Some people think that faith possesses some type of intrinsic value. Faith only has value if its object has value.

If you get up in the middle of the night with a headache dizziness and go stumbling into the bathroom in the dark and by faith take some medicine out of the medicine cabinet thinking that it’s aspirin but take insecticide by accident you will probably die and they will write these words on your tombstone: “here lies so and so who died by faith.” But your faith would have been resting on the wrong object, unworthy of trust. In order for faith to have any value it must be based on the truth and there is only one ultimate truth: the Lord Jesus. Faith in any other person or any other thing is disastrous.

THERE IS MORE TO LIFE – INTRODUCTION

more-to-lifeMore to life (more 2 life)

Everyone has needs, we all need something. A man wandering through a hot arid desert without water needs a drink. In such a circumstance that is all he can think about. If someone would ask him “What is the desire of your heart?” He would immediately answer: “I want water!”

But for you and me today, a drink of water means almost nothing. We can easily go to the drinking fountain down the hall and drink as much water as we want. All of us of course need water, but when we know that it is easily obtained, we waste no time thinking about it.

This example shows us that when we perceive that a need is easily and normally met we don’t think about it. We take it for granted. It is no longer an issue for us. Even though we can quickly die without water, it is not a great concern because we perceive that there is an abundant supply.

Not all needs however are a matter of life and death. There are many needs that go unmet without any apparent dire consequences. However when we consider and factor in, quality of life, and when we define what life is, or what Jesus called an abundant life, then we must consider the needs that are associated with such a life.

Unfortunately many of us have inherited a religious but anti-biblical view of God with respect to our needs. We tend to think that it is wrong to desire abundance and frequently confuse our needs with our desires. We rightly reason that God has not guaranteed to provide us with all of our desires but has promised to meet all of our needs. The problem is that we must define what a need is and distinguish it from what a desire is and vise-versa. Needs are considered legitimate while some desires may not be legitimate. The problem with differentiating needs from desires is a matter of definition.

Before we can intelligently distinguish between needs and wants or desires we must define what God means by life as a basis for needs. For example everyone agrees that water is a basic need, because we will die if we don’t drink water. Food is also a need because if we do not eat we will also die. Rest is another basic physical need. The air that we breathe is also a basic physical need necessary to maintain life. No one would dispute the idea that God is willing to meet all of these basic needs and supply his people with each one of them. Even so, within the body of Christ there are many unmet basic needs. There are Christians in different parts of the world who don’t have enough water to drink or food to eat, much less clothing to wear and a house to live in. If our definition of life is merely “physical life” then to say that God meets our needs could mean as little as giving us just enough food and water to stay alive. In this case clothing is not a physical need since we will not die if we don’t have clothing. All of us however would consider clothing as a basic need, as well as a place to live like a house or apartment.

In the Gospel of John chapter 10:10 Jesus made a statement that is necessary for us to understand when we establish a definition for life. He said: “the thief does not come except to steal, kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

There are two important details in the definition of Christ concerning what life is. The first detail is that the word that Jesus used was translated from the Greek word “zoe” and not “bios”. This is important because the first means the life of God and the second means physical life, or biological life. Therefore we must conclude that God’s idea of life for us is not merely that which sustains our biological functions, but that which sustains our experience in relationship to him. In the Bible, God’s idea of life is to be with him. The biblical idea of death is separation. Therefore the life that God has for us implies an experience close to God, and death implies separation from him and the life that he gives us. Therefore the definition of need is intrinsically related to the definition of life, since the quality of life establishes the basis for the set of needs to sustain it.

The second detail that Jesus stressed in this statement is that he has given the “life from God” with abundance and the reason for his coming was so that God’s people may have this abundance of life with God. Therefore when we talk about needs as distinct from desires and wants, we must first consider the basis for defining what a need is and what a desire is.

If God’s purpose in sending Christ was for us to experience life with him in abundance then this reality implies that many things that we consider desires are in reality needs. First we must recognize that an abundant life with God must include all of our basic physiological needs. We cannot have an abundant life with God if we constantly live in physical hunger. We cannot have an abundant life with God if we constantly live with physical thirst. We cannot have an abundant life with God if we don’t have a physical place to live. We cannot have an abundant life with God if we don’t have an appropriate means of transportation. We cannot have an abundant life with God if we don’t have access to an abundance of material goods.

Now we must be careful not to misunderstand the truth is of the statements that I have just made. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:8 and said “and having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” There is a difference between being content in any circumstance and having our needs met. It is all a matter of attitude. The apostle Paul also said in Philippians 4:11-13 “not that I speak in regard to me, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everything in all things I learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The abundant life with God does not mean that we will never go hungry, or that we will never thirst, or that we will never be deprived of anything. But it also does not mean that our needs will not be met. The abundant life also implies an attitude. Paul had learned that life with God was a life in complete dependence to him. Sometimes he went hungry, but that did not affect the abundance of his life, and he looked to God for the fulfillment of his needs. Most of the time when he needed food God gave him food. When he needed something to drink God gave him something to drink. When he needed to go on a trip, God provided a means of transportation for him. Paul was a world traveler. He spoke to kings and rulers and was a very influential man with many followers, friends and loved ones. From time to time he suffered hardship, deprivation, and persecution, yet his experience was also one of having his many needs met according to God’s riches in glory by Christ Jesus. When he received an offering from the church of Philippi, he said “indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Paul had an experience of a full life with God who provided him many resources for his many missionary activities. The apostle Paul wanted the same experience for those who read his epistles. His prophetic declaration was that he is God would supply all of their needs according to his riches in glory. A key to the abundant life is to understand the tension between God’s willingness to abundantly supply the elevated and many needs of the ministry of the gospel and the unfortunate tendency of God’s people to be fascinated with God’s blessings placing emphasis on the things God gives to the detriment of the purposes of that he has for fulfilling such elevated needs.

The key to abundant spiritual life in any area of tension is learning how to walk on both sides of each issue without tipping over on one side or the other. God has a rich provision for us as his people and while it is not wrong to enjoy this rich provision sometimes it is also necessary to suffer hardship, testing and sacrifice, seeking first got kingdom and his righteousness.

Adam and Eve had everything in the garden, they had comfort, they had food, they had health, they had love, they had purpose. They had everything! But it wasn’t enough! Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptation when he said that she would be like God.

There’s a cry within every human being after all of our needs have been met, we become attuned to the desire for more in life. After we are sure that we will have enough food to eat then we start thinking “there must be more to life than a full stomach.” After all of our financial needs are met, we start thinking: “there must be more to life than a good job, than paid bills, than money.” When we are assured of good health, we begin to think: “there must be more to life than good health.” No matter what our station in life, no matter what our lot in life, no matter what our social or economic level, we always think that there must be more. We are always looking for something more. We all have in inner desire for more. This desire is not illegitimate, it is God-given, and sometimes it is repressed because of our religiosity, and that type of thinking comes from the enemy. There is more to life and God wants us to have! There is no problem in recognizing our unmet needs. However, the means of obtaining the fulfillment of needs must be done within God’s perimeters. We will never be truly satisfied and fulfilled until we have God’s best.

Once we understand these principles in these truths, then we must learn the principles in accessing the fulfillment of these needs.

ACCESS TO MORE

It’s important for each one of us to ask ourselves the question:

Isn’t there more to life than … _______________ (you fill in the blank by recognizing what you already have)

What you already have?

Are you getting enough to eat? Do you have a job? Are you able to pay your bills? Do you have enough time? Are you in good health? Even if you have all these things don’t you wonder: “isn’t there more to life than enough to eat, a good job, a nice family, house, car, friends?”

Yes there is more! Jesus came so that you would have abundant life in a fulfilling relationship with your God and Creator.

In order to access this abundant life there is a series of seven things that you must do.

  1. You must SEE more
  2. You must THINK more
  3. You must NEED more
  4. You must ASK FOR more
  5. You must SEEK AFTER more
  6. You must KNOCK for more
  7. You must IMPORTUNE for more

When you do these seven things, then you will HAVE more! And when someone asks you if there is more to life, you can answer yes there is and I’m living it!

There is more to life – Store

Isn’t there more to life?

more2life_tshirt2

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