Archive for September, 2012

“Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he replied. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?'”

Genesis 4:9 NIV

Just as there is a cost associated with following the path of righteousness in being a living sacrifice for Jesus, there is also a cost in choosing to go our own way living from the desires of the sinful mind. From the beginning of time, mankind has wrestled with its own humanity and has been the direct beneficiary of its own shortcomings with tragic results time and again. From the Ancient of Days, in the book of Proverbs, Solomon explains it like this, There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” – Proverbs 16:25 NIV

According to her desires, it seemed right to Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but in the end it resulted in death. Her innocent act of eating one measly fruit from a tree resulted in being spiritually severed from her intimate relationship with her Creator and ostracized from the abundant life God had created for her and Adam to live in with Him in the garden of Eden. Both Adam and Eve had equal access to eat from the tree of life freely, but they chose to intake from what they were forbidden to have. They were deceived into thinking and believing that what was forbidden was more rewarding and fulfilling than what they already had access to. Isn’t it interesting that we usually don’t give much, if any, consideration to the consequences of doing wrong, but we will think of the many reasons why we should not do the right thing. This is the hostile mind at work, even in the life of a sincere believer.

Cain’s disappointment of not having his sacrifice received by God brought a stern warning from God to do what was right in order to be accepted, but if he did not do what was right; sin was crouching, waiting for the opportunity to strike and take siege of Cain’s heart and mind. Cain desired to encounter God’s favor (acceptance) without doing what God required. God challenged Cain to master (manage thought life and resulting actions) his sin, but Cain ignored God’s warning and this is the result of not delighting in God’s law in Cain’s life: (see Genesis 4:1-17)

  • Cain ignores God and His word after God corrected Cain
  • Cain becomes jealous of Abel
  • Cain becomes consumed with anger (hatred)
  • Cain kills his brother
  • Cain lies to God about the whereabouts of his brother
  • Cain becomes indignant with God (am I my brother’s keeper)
  • Cain never admits to killing Abel
  • Cain complains about the consequences of his sin, but shows no remorse for it (my punishment is more than I can bear) Genesis 4:13 NIV

May God bless you and help you to remain focused, stand firm in your faith, continuing to do what is right so you may receive His favor and experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

“So I find this law at work. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.”

– Romans 8:21-23 NIV

In Psalm 1 we read that the blessed man delights in God’s law and meditates on it day and night (Psalm 1:3). The Apostle Paul noted that the mind of sinful man is death (Romans 8:6) and the sinful mind is hostile towards God’s law (His word), does not submit to it, and it cannot submit. So the sinful man has no ability within him to meditate, delight, or adhere to the word of God in sincere submission and obedience, because he is unable to. Not so for the Christian. For the person who has been transformed by God’s amazing grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, there is now the ability to submit to God’s word.

What we see illustrated in Romans 8:21-23 is the real oppositional challenge every sincere believer faces in their faith walk with God that the life of Jesus Christ illustrated for us when He was in the garden of Gethsemane pleading with the Father about an alternative plan to His role in the fulfillment of salvation for all mankind. Though He wrestled momentarily (as the Apostle Paul illustrates in Romans 8:21-23), Jesus prevailed through persistent prayer, remaining focused, deliberate and intentional about doing the will of His Father even it cost Him his life.

Choosing to walk by faith and emulate the posture of a sincere believer (humility) will result in a cost associated with the principle of sacrifice. As we seek sincerely to adhere to God’s word and apply His wisdom in being a living sacrifice for Jesus, we begin to encounter the opposition within us due to the ongoing conflict with the sinful mind of our flesh (sinful nature) and the mind of Christ (Holy Spirit). In order to transition from hostility to peace consistently, being a willful participant in the life God has called me to in Christ, I must emulate the actions Jesus displayed in the garden of Gethsemane:

  • Persistent prayer
  • Accepting the will of God
  • Being willing to do what God desires over what I desire
  • Demonstrating a resolute determination despite external/internal opposition
  • Focus (like the blessed man who delights in God’s law and mediates on it)

May God bless you and help you to demonstrate the necessary focus in your faith walk that will enable and empower you to experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

“Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”

– Ephesians 4:19 NIV

The hostile mind is the mind that is not renewed in faith and opposes the attitude of Christ that prohibits the believer from displaying the likeness and image of God in their daily living. It is a mind that operates in resignation, reservation, resistance, doubt, unbelief and fear. The hostile mind is cynical in thinking and refutes the word of God as the authoritative doctrine of the Christian lifestyle. The hostile mind cannot embrace, accept, or validate the word of God as truth. The hostile mind is not sensitive to the Spirit of God when He speaks.

During the years of our pre-Christ conversion, we can clearly see how we could and have operated with a hostile mind towards God. Keep in mind, the Apostle Paul was writing this message within this passage of scripture in Ephesians 4 to those who considered themselves to be sincere followers of Jesus Christ. Paul is warning those who read and reflect upon this passage about the real reality that we are one thought away from turning back to a way of thinking that could prohibit us from living the victorious spiritual life God ordained us to walk in through faith in Jesus Christ. Even during the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, there were those who find it difficult to accept what Jesus taught and no longer followed Him, according to John 6:60-70.

The reality of misfortune, grief, loss and the ongoing circumstances of disappointment and the discouraging moments of life is enough to distract us, deter us, and dissuade us from remaining loyal and devoted to anything, including God. It takes a deliberate, determined, disciplined resolve and strong  internal display of fortitude in order to remain sensitive to God when the harsh, cold reality of this world begins to harden our hearts towards the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” – Luke 7:23 NIV

May God bless you and help you to remain steadfast, immovable and unshaken in your faith walk with Him so you may experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

“The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

– Romans 8:6-8 NIV

In my last journal entry, I asked the LORD to help me overcome thoughts and feelings that create resignation, reservation and resistance to what would be required of me in order to experience the fullness of life Christ came for me to have. That entry, along with recent internal challenges I have faced during this current season of my life (season of progress, success and prosperity), inspired this recent series on the subject of prosperity and this post about Prosperity Inhibitors.

The Apostle Paul highlighted, in Romans 8, the real internal oppositional, spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (a hostile mind) that can inhibit and prohibit us from walking by faith and experiencing the full prosperity God has prepared for those who demonstrate the posture of a sincere believer. Perhaps it is hard to see one’s self as being hostile in their mind to God as a follower of Christ, but momentary reflection from an objective perspective would allow us to see the many ways we may appear hostile in thought and attitude when it comes to obedience in loving your enemies, tithing, submission, sex before marriage, greed, pride, facing disappointing and discouraging moments, moments of unanswered prayers, etc. “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” – Psalm 73:21-22 NIV

A recent conversation with a friend of mine validated the recent thoughts I reflected on regarding the reality of coming out of a place where you felt being held captive to the point that the circumstances of captivity have now been internalized and though your circumstances have changed, you still feel a sense of captivity internally. Reflection upon the Scripture reveals to me that this is what the Israelites encountered leaving Egypt. They were free physically from their captivity in Egypt, but they had to undergo the process (faith walk) of being set free from their internal thoughts and feelings that were keeping them enslaved and separated from the prosperity God sought to provide them as they sojourned towards the place of promise He intended for them to step into. “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord., that you no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” – Ephesians 4:17-18 NIV

May God bless you and help you to grow in the grace and truth of Christ, becoming more like Jesus in attitude and actions, so you may experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season.”

– Psalm 1:3a

The conflict of limiting my perspective of prosperity to an external blessing solely (house, car, money, mate,material possessions), is it distorts my view of God as being with me, or absent from my life dependent upon those external signs to verify His presence, or favor, in my life. Careful inspection of the scripture, would allow us to see the Scripture’s perspective of prosperity may also include seasons of hardship by which prosperity is produced as a result of the adversity, or even in the midst of it.

When you read the account of Daniel, in the Old Testament book of Daniel, you will discover that Daniel came from a family that would probably be considered upper middle class, or a family that was wealthy by today’s standards. At the time we are introduced to Daniel, however, Daniel has been taken into captivity, along with the Israelites, by King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. In one moment, Daniel goes from a lifestyle of nobility, comfort and ease, to a life of captivity. However, in the face of his misfortune, Daniel resolves within himself to remain true to his devotion to God and encounters supernatural power from God that elevates Daniel to a life experience beyond what even the affluence of his nobility could have allowed him to encounter.

Daniel’s resolve to remain faithful to God in the face of his adversity caused Daniel to encounter a supernatural measure of prosperity that exceeded what wealth and material possessions could accomplish. Daniel lived a life of nobility, but his faith relationship with God elevated Daniel that inspired revival and influenced others in their faith walk as well. Despite being in captivity, Daniel made a choice to remain devoted to God that led to a supernatural encounter and season of prosperity sparked by adversity. Is it possible your current season of adversity, or circumstances of captivity,  has been designed by God to bring you into a greater, supernatural season of prosperity?

May God bless you and help you in your current season of adversity, and circumstances of captivity, to remain devoted to His word so you may experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

“When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground.”

– Genesis 2:4b-5 NIV

During the time I have spent investing quality, quiet time with the word of God there have been moments of revelation and illumination that have been a source of great inspiration. One such moment was the revelation of God’s involvement in Creation and how it relates to my desire to see the fulfillment of His promises in my life according to His word. It is a life lesson, practical application of His wisdom, I still wrestle and struggle with, but benefit from greatly when I surrender and respond to it.

When God made the heavens and the earth, it began with God declaring, speaking into existence, what ought to be from nothing (darkness). By His authority and power, God created all that exists and established the order by which everything would operate. What I discovered, through revelation of reading the account of Creation from the book of Genesis in chapter 2, was the fact that God planted seeds in the earth and then watered the earth to cause the plant life to grow. God had power to create everything anyway He chose, but He took His time and planted seeds, watered them and allowed the process of growth to occur. This simple truth reminded me that God is not asking me to do anything He has not already done. God planted seeds, watered them and waited for the process to produce what He planted.

Though I still struggle with waiting patiently, when I begin to wrestle with the discipline of waiting patiently, I am now reminded of what was revealed to me in the Scriptures, that teaches me to wait when I become impatient. How beneficial, I am learning, it is to read and reflect upon what is written in God’s word, and as Jesus taught His disciples, the Spirit of Truth, will teach us all things and bring them back to our remembrance to help us in our time of need (John 14).

May God bless you and help you to invest quality, quiet time with His word so you may receive His revelation and illumination, and apply His wisdom, to help you experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

– Romans 15:4 NIV

In the process of my recent posts on the subject of prosperity, the scripture reference for today’s post (from Romans 15) has quietly reverberated in the back of my mind. It is a definitive reminder to me of the purpose of the word of God for my life as a source of instruction and inspiration to aid me in my faith walk with God. The blessed man described in Psalm 1, who prospered at whatever he put his hands to do, did so because his delight was in the law of the LORD and he meditated on it day and night.

Prosperity, from the perspective of Scripture, is the expected outcome of one’s faith relationship with God. According to Romans 15:4, the bible was written to instruct us and inspire us to live with hope, or the expectancy of fulfillment. In the beginning, everything God created had the capacity to produce of its own kind (read Genesis 1). God created man (male & female), in His own image and likeness, with the expectation that we be fruitful, multiply, rule over and subdue the earth. In the gospel of John, Jesus teaches His disciples this very same principle of being frutiful (John 15). Later, in the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul teaches his readers about the fruit of the Spirit and our responsibility, as Christians, to bear the fruit (or character), of the Spirit of Christ (Galatians 5).

According to Psalm 1, it was noted that the blessed man who walked in the way God had chosen for him to take, stood firm upon God’s word as the authority by which he governed his life and sat at His feet to learn from Him, that man would be like a tree planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season (Psalm 1:3). In the same manner, God planted the seeds of the earth, watered them and waited for the process of growth to produce what He planted in Creation. As His creation, God has planted the seed of faith within me, as I confess Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior, and waits patiently for the harvest of righteousness and prosperity to be produced within and through me as it occured in the beginning.

May God bless you and help you to gain insight, knowledge and understanding from His word and apply His wisdom revealed from the Scripture, so you may experience the fullness of life Christ came for us to have.