Posts Tagged ‘sinful behavior’

Change is Coming

Scripture: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Thought for Today: “Welcoming the Crucible”

God knows the secrets of the heart (Ps 44:21). In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves. Yet we still feel a bit vulnerable yielding our lives to change. We ask God to use us and we know changes are coming, but being in the crucible of spiritual discipline can feel uncomfortable even to the most mature Christian.

Our Resistance:

When God tests and tries our heart, there are always things that firmly resist, because they have become our safety net. We have relied upon ourselves and trusted in own strength at times when we could not see clearly. The Apostle Paul tells us that many have exchanged the Truth of God for lies by serving and the worship of things that offer no real peace (Rom 1:25). He reminds us that we have all gone astray and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). These issues represent the baggage of idolatry and must be rooted out for us to enjoy the freedom found in Christ.

Real Transformation:

As much as we would like to believe we can change, transformation is not really something we can do for ourselves. It takes the power of the One who knows us best. We can change habits and shift our focus, but it is God who changes the human heart. When we step into the crucible of prayer and fasting, we make the most important move toward God’s best for our lives. The refining process frees us from sinful behavior, renews our thinking and enables us to discern the will of God more clearly (Rom 12:1-2).

God Loves and Receives Us:

Transformation happens in the safe place of His Presence, where the Holy Spirit gains access to those things that hinder our progress. God knows what is best for us and He always acts in our best interest by treating us as sons and daughters (Heb 12:4-11). We are reminded that when we are chastened by God, it is because He loves us and receives us as a father cherishes and loves his child. Remind yourself today that God loves and receives you as His very own son or daughter.

“Why do you spend money on what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me and eat what is good and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” (Isa 55:2)

Real Grace

The word “grace” has significant meaning for our relationship with God, ourselves and one another. Grace is God’s love offered. As a gift is freely given, so grace must be received to be appreciated. God offers us something beyond ourselves, yet within our reach. The power of this gift called grace, grows when we truly understand how it works in connection with faith and trust.

Grace is a Person:

God so loved the world that He gave us the gift of His only Son (Jn 3:16-17). Jesus is the gift of grace to all mankind. He is the way, the truth, and the life of God, given as the full representative of grace. Through Jesus, God comes to us and reveals Himself to us, because we cannot by ourselves find God. Jesus as our advocate with the Father comes to help us know Him and believe in Him as He really is. We cannot do this by our human limitation, because we get so blinded by carnal perception. We need God’s grace.

Religious Perceptions:

Religion can be negative to our perception, as it creates a way of seeing through boxes of morality, judgment and expectations. In fact, so many people are bound to religion that Christianity is often defined more by what it rejects than what it believes.

If we are sinful (and we all are), we may not want to come to God, thinking that God is unapproachable and will punish us for our sins. We may get the idea that we must be “good enough” to be acceptable to God. But this is where grace becomes so significant. Its the gift of God!

Understanding Mercy:

All sinners experience guilt, brokenness and emotional pain. But faith is our humble belief in God’s mercy. Mercy is simply God not giving us what we deserve so that grace can become visible. When we understand mercy, we naturally turn toward the one showing us that mercy. This turning is an act of humility, because we recognize the favor (grace) being shown us is undeserved and it causes us to feel like a burden is lifted from our shoulders. There are all kinds of burdens that mercy lifts when someone favors us.

Clarifying Our Focus:

It is important that we reject sinful behavior, but never reject ourselves or the person we see sinning. Unfortunately, in real life, many of us have the tendency to blend the two into one: we often associate the behavior with the person. In this way, we become condemning and judgmental, hypocritical and proud.

This is where God’s grace becomes visible. Jesus is not a policeman, but an advocate. An advocate is somebody who pleads the case for mercy and stands on behalf of the guilty before the accuser or the judge.

Restoration and Hope:

In the parable of the prodigal son, the father is not judgemental and condemning, but a restorer of broken relationship. Jesus tells us, he throws his arms around the returning son and kisses him, while his servant is commanded to prepare the house for a party.

Consistent with Grace:

Jesus would have us see God as the waiting Father, who runs to embrace the son at the first sign of his turning toward home. “This son was lost, but now has come home! Bring out the robe, the ring and the sandals, for my son was dead and is alive again. Prepare the fatted calf… tonight we feast!” (Lk 15:20-24)

Walking in Real Grace:

The other son is caught up in the epic battle with religious seeing and self-righteous attitudes. Jesus does not approve of that moralistic attitude, because it is hypocritical. In offering grace to others, Jesus wants us to embrace people at the first sign of turning toward home. Its not that we condone what they have done as much as we embrace who they really are. He wants us to know that grace is God’s unconditional love revealed at the first sign of humility. The Apostle Peter said “…be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet 4:5).

Keys of Authority

Scripture: “The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He relented and did not bring on them the destruction He had threatened. (Jonah 3:5-10)

Thought for Today: “Saving a City”

The Book of Jonah is so often described as the story of a selfish prophet, but it is also the story about a repentant city. Nineveh was on God’s mind for all the wrong reasons. It was a great city; but God was about to release judgement upon it, because of its sinful behavior. The story gets vague for those of us who are so far removed in time and distance, but there is no overlooking the fact that God was interested enough in this Gentile region, to send a prophet. We have no knowledge of the message Jonah carried, but the response of the city is powerful. They contended for their lives through prayer and fasting.

They Believed God!

We could speculate all we want about the sin of a city, throw stones and cast blame, but if there is a believing people, there is always hope. Believing God’s Word stands against all the natural instincts the sinful heart finds reasonable. Yet, God would say “Come let us reason together, though your sin is as scarlet” believe Me “they shall be as white as snow” (Isa 1:18-20). “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land, but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.”

The believing heart, the willing and obedient heart, is transformed when there is hope… and God offers hope to all men, everywhere. Any man, family, city or nation that believes God at His Word and will contend for the life found in Christ, shall be saved!

Proclaiming a Fast!

Nothing uncovers rebellion, like the activity of fasting. When we choose to repent of our sin through setting aside our legitimate appetites of the flesh and seek God; its like the city of Nineveh putting on sackcloth. We feel the guilt and shame… evidence of a heart that has gone astray. We see our rebellion for what it is and uncover its effect upon our family and community.

Yet, we also uncover something more beautiful, the spiritual emptiness that a loving God can fill. Fasting awakens our spiritual hunger, opening the heart to a fresh, clean, satisfying breeze of the breath of heaven.

Keys of Authority:

This is the greatest challenge to the Kingdom of God. Closed doors hinder the advancement of God’s heart into a city or nation. Can a believing people contend for the transformation of a city? Nineveh’s salvation is the story of a king, a throne, a robe and a decree… a transfer of authority.

  • Nineveh’s king held the keys of authority.
  • He arises from his throne! His seat of authority.
  • He lays aside his robe, the covering of superiority and commits to sackcloth and ashes.
  • He relinquishes his ruler-ship and publishes a decree that all the city would cry mightily unto God, perhaps He would relent from the violence in His hands.

Amazing! The idea that a city can be saved in a day… is true! If that city will hand over the keys of authority.

The Saving of a City:

My favorite statement in the book of Jonah: “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented” (Jonah 3:10). This city contended for its life through prayer and fasting. They were heard in heaven and God saved the city of Nineveh.

Could God save our city… were we to believe Him, fast and pray and hand over the keys of authority?

Update Busia

Recent visit in December 2012

Apostolic Training Center Progress Reports - Busia, Kenya:

Busia is a city along the western border of Kenya, full of people and bustling with ministry opportunities. It really has all that the rich African Culture provides in the way of diversity and character. Yet the size of this community brings some unique challenges to the table. Rose Kwomo and her husband Moses Ogutu have been friends of mine for over 2 years. Their commitment to the Kingdom of God is both inspiring and uncompromising… without question they have given it all for Jesus. A regional revival is on their heart. Rose often speaks to me of her ministry to orphans, widows and the downtrodden; while Moses in his deep African voice, reminds me of a strong passionate warrior ready to conquer the next mountain. I am thrilled to watch, as their humble approach to ministry begins to transform the minds of over 50 pastors and church leaders. Beginning this past few months with a handful of hungry pastors, they have already watched God expand their heart for the region as He has increased their class attendance.  

“My brother, these teachings on the Glory of God must resonate within the heart of our people, for mans’ wisdom cannot save us from our confusion and sinful behavior… it requires the supernatural power of God, by His Spirit! We must see the return of the Glory of God once more to the House of God. It begins with our leaders.” - Moses Ogutu

In the Crucible

Today is day 9 in our 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

Scripture: Psalm 139:23-24
Thought for Today: “In the Crucible”

God knows the secrets of our heart (Ps 44:21). In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves. Yet, we still feel a bit vulnerable yielding our lives to change. We ask God to use us and we know changes are coming, but being in the heated crucible of spiritual discipline can feel uncomfortable even to the most mature Christian.

Our Resistance: 

When God tests and tries our heart, there are always things that firmly resist, because they have become our safety net. We have relied upon ourselves and trusted in own strength at times when we could not see clearly. The Apostle Paul tells us that many have exchanged the Truth of God for lies by the serving and worship of things that offer no real peace (Rom 1:25). He reminds us that we have all gone astray and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). These issues represent the baggage of idolatry and must be rooted out for us to enjoy the freedom found in Christ.

Real Transformation:

As much as we would like to believe we can change, transformation is not really something we can do for ourselves. It takes the power of the One who knows us best. We can change habits and shift our focus, but it is God who changes the human heart. When we step into the crucible of prayer and fasting, we make the most important move toward God’s best for our lives. The refining process frees us from sinful behavior, renews our thinking and enables us to discern the will of God more clearly (Rom 12:1-2). 

God Loves and Receives Us:

Transformation happens in the safe place of His Presence, where the Holy Spirit gains access to those things that hinder our progress. God knows what is best for us and He always acts in our best interest by treating us as sons and daughters (Heb 12:4-11). We are reminded that when we are chasened by God, it is because He loves us and receives us as a father charishes and loves his child. Remind yourself today that God loves and receives you as His very own son or daughter.

“Why do you spend money on what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me and eat what is good and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” (Isa 55:2)

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