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Tempted to Look Down


The last few posts have been about the temptation as it today’s but I want to look at something different; a very surprising one if I say so myself because it surprised me too.

I was negotiating a payment a while back and had used what I making in business as a base and multiplied it by a factor that I thought was good to go. One of my sisters called and asked what I had settled for  followed by some really hard questions about how I arrived at that figure. I explained it and when asked why I thought it was the perfect amount, I couldn’t really say. I think I had just guessed it. Over coffee she asked a myriad of questions and did some calculations then she drastically increased the asking price, and I mean drastically increased it with solid reasoning behind the rise. I was aghast! 

It wasn’t the price that got me rather how off base I was with what I had thought was adequate. A while later when I was once again negotiating a fee for a job and I gave a figure I thought was fair but was later told I needed to value myself better.

It doesn’t end there; another situation came to mind. 

In a conversation with God when I was changing work situations, He asked me to consider earning twice my then net pay. I almost screamed in shock (well, actually I did). Why? I was already able to do so much with what I was earning so why would I need more? Anyway, after a few days I accepted the amount as a possibility but guess what, the next week He upped the figure to almost three times my current pay. What did I do? You can guess; I stalled. Yes I did!!! I sat there and couldn’t understand why He would have me earn that kind of money. I had never wanted much from life and that may not be a good thing. I was used to settling and making do with what I have never making too many demands.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with money, what I am looking at here is my attitude. In this instance, I had a poor view of who I am in comparison with God’s view of me and agenda for me. It was clear that I saw myself as less than He did and didn’t even know that. I bet you never thought that possible; yet it is the truth.

Romans 12:3 is absolutely clear that we should not think more highly of ourselves than we ought but very little is said about thinking too lowly of ourselves. It operates like low self-esteem and often stems from the thought that we are being humble. In truth, we must choose not to yield to the temptation to undervalue ourselves and therefore lower our standards in life or expectations. This is worse than thinking too highly of oneself because it is denying the reality of God’s view of us and living our lives on a lower plane…false humility!

Sound strange right? Just give it a moment to sink in!

This low expectation of oneself is often based on a false sense of humility we learn early on in life. We learn to respond to life in a certain way so as to gain acceptance. How do we learn it? By the things we are told to do or not, talk about or not to talk about etc. It also comes from being told girls should behave this way and boys should behave that way or just accept what comes your way  others have had it worse.

What is the solution for this?

It goes back to a question I ask people all the time; Who has God said you are? This is God’s spoken word to each one about how he sees us and therefore must remain the minimum standard to live by. This must become the definition of our lives. When we live by this definition our steps are carefully guided, our choices are made with certainty and our path is secure.

The big question here is; what is your perspective of yourself? 

What has informed your perspective? When did you develop it? Are you on track or off track? How do you get back on track? Have you let yourself believe you are less than who God says you are?

Do not yield into the temptation to undervalue yourself. It is not worth it and will guarantee you become less than all you are slated to be. You are the beloved of God, destined for greatest and impact…don’t sell yourself short like I almost did.

 

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Rom 12:3

The Journey to Perfection…


On the soul’s journey to perfection, there are so many things that go on. We go through different stages and grow at different rates. One of the greatest struggles we go through is temptation. There is so much so say about temptation and its different stages. There are people bring clarity about the most complex topics in simple ways…you know those people right? One of mine is Samuel Phillips, the son of my father and my brother.

The first stage is the animal stage where we are content to live in the gratification of our senses, totally unaware to the knowledge of sin or our divine inheritance. We are also altogether unaware of the spiritual possibilities within us.

IMG_20171114_182217-EFFECTS.jpgThe second stage is the dual stage where the mind is awakened to the reality of its animal and divine tendencies and continually oscillates between the two. It is a state of continual fighting, falling and rising, sinning and repenting because we still love our lives yet we aspire to a life of purity and excellence; the spiritual state. In reality we are continually mortified by this inability to choose and the divine life within us makes this stage fraught with pain, anguish and suffering.

The third stage is knowledge. In this stage, man rises above sin and temptation and enters into peace. Temptation is now a passing phase because he has new understanding and he uses this understanding to measure his level of growth. When man fully understands the source, nature, and meaning of temptation, he is able to conquer it. Temptation is simply a pointer to what a man has not conquered and nothing more. It shows where his animal desires beat his soul. For every man is tempted by the desires of his heart and these desires show the direction of that heart.

The greatest place of congregation is the dual stage where people judge themselves and others against a never ending list of do’s and don’ts. The net result is struggling to keep our feet on the ground as well as how to get up when we fall down. You know those times when you do something you don’t want to and beat yourself over and over again until there is nothing but guilt left? So many of us are stuck here judging and being judged and taking pride in pointing out people who we believe aren’t living right.

IMG_20171127_183428.jpgIt is so easy to look down one’s nose at others and talk about all the things we are seeing that could be ‘wrong’ with them. I was there a while back, so confident in myself until the day I did something so ‘big’ that it didn’t leave my mind for years. Today, that sounds so foolish to me because I know there is no ‘big or small’ sin or temptation. Temptation is temptation! Sin is sin! Wah! Just imagine being super confident in your ability to live right then you hit a bump so big that you fall apart and the real you is exposed.

Coming face to face with our mortality and fallibility is important because we understand that our walk with God is not a result of our goodness. It helps us understand that we will face temptation but have a choice to move closer to God or remain in the same place. Remember, “Temptation is simply a pointer to that which a man has not conquered and nothing more.”

 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Cor 10:13

Am I living the way I do because I want to keep people happy or do I live by the word I have heard from God Himself through His word and confirmed by His servants.

He Tested ME


IMG_20171118_180845.jpgNo man can be tested outside of what he has learnt, and no one can be tempted outside of his own fleshy desires. That you are tested shows you are ripe for promotion and that you are tempted shows you are growing and maturing. For example, a prostitute cannot be tempted with sex, neither can a drunk be tempted with alcohol. It is just a natural state of such base existence so temptation can’t come into it. Therefore, this means that whatever you are tempted by is what you are growing out of. So are you tempted, don’t kill yourself over it. Just take a look at your heart and see clearly the beauty of the seed of Christ in you that shows you are growing.

Do all to pass the test of the things you’ve learnt and do all to rise above your desires, for in doing these two, you rise into conformity to Christ.

Samuel Phillips

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I came across this post recently and it resonated very deeply. A few days later, I was chatting with a group young people on the subject. Talk about advance provision of notes. This God!

In our discussions, it became apparent that we all have things we struggle with in our hearts and minds, that others neither see nor know about. This is because the real us, is hidden behind whatever ‘masks’ we wear. Those hidden places are the spots God is dealing with in us and we know what we should be working towards; what God has told us about who we are and where we are going.

However the conversations with the young people brought to light how being less than we know we should be really affects us. Many of them were feeling low because they were totally stuck in struggles they needed ways out of and they wanted to be much further along in their life journey. This situation left them feeling like failures because they hadn’t conquered everything in life.

Why would they feel like they have failed yet they were making progress? Why would this load be so heavy? In their opinion, all the older believers they knew weren’t struggling with anything. There was an outer presentation of ‘perfection’ and ‘having arrived’ that the older believers had which put pressure on the younger ones to achieve. The net result was they were hiding their struggles to look good yet they were distressed within.

A certain conversation with my father came to mind and the lessons I had recently learnt from him.

Not one to keep facades, I set out to burst that bubble with a series of questions.

  • How many times have older people hidden fear behind smiles?IMG_20171118_181827.jpg
  • How often have parents hidden their fear behind strict rules, regulations, anger or threats?
  • How many times have we kept our phones with secret locks and always on our person because of things on them?
  • How many times have we failed to share how we made our wealth because we did a deal many years ago that got us the right footing but we paid someone something?
  • How many times have we changed our story because the truth wasn’t how we wanted to be known?

I didn’t have real answers to these questions but they created points of comparison to their own behaviour and that of others around them. You should have seen their eyes when they realised that we all struggle with different things. We could almost touch the relief and a load was lifted from their backs.

It also led me to track people in scripture who sinned but God extended grace. Think of David, who seemed like a perpetual sinner but God had mercy on him every time because his heart was in the right place. However, at the end of the day, David committed to walk with God always and he was called a friend of God. Ananias and Sapphire lied but twice they were given the opportunity to redeem themselves by telling the truth but they were more concerned about looking good so they lied and as a result died.

I have found courage in my brother’s words, “whatever you are tempted by is what you are growing out of.”

This means that the place God is focusing on to help me grown in and become all He sees me as is the place testing starts. Testing is the stepping stone to my next reality and revelation. It is the area He needs dealt with out of the way so that I may walk in the fullness of how He sees me.

He will not let me remain lost forever rather He will press and prod until I become all He sees me as. He will not give up on me the same way He didn’t allow Hosea to give up on Gomer. However, His eternal desire for me to reach fullness doesn’t give me the license to live in wanton sinfulness otherwise He will hand me over to my fleshly desires and raise another to be and do all that is established for me.

I choose to say; Not on my watch Lord! Not on my watch!

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Cor 10:13 NKJV

 

Hearing God is a Choice


I know he speaks to all of us but hearing and responding aright is a choice. To really hear is to listen to what he has to say and then act accordingly. Hearing God is a choice.

Recently I was pleasantly surprised by friend I will call Jane. She is young and in a tight position financially so every coin she earns is budgeted. Over a period, she had been thinking about me and sensed that God would have her bless me. She had a very specific instruction down to what to do, when, how much and why. She also knew that this assignment was time bound but her perception of herself and her capabilities stood in the way and it took two weeks for her to finally agree to act.

Once she made up her mind, it became clear to her that we would meet on a certain day at a certain meeting and it was now time for her to follow through with her instruction. The funniest part is that she was still bargaining about that matter and telling God many long stories.

Long story short, we meet on the appointed day and I am clueless about her predicament but she pulls me aside and shares her experience. I am totally tickled as she begins to share her two week battle with God. No, it is not because I think she is funny, I am tickled because her process and mine overlapped during that period. Just a day or two before she had the impression to bless me, I asked God for something very specific.

A few years ago, God taught me how he supplies our needs. He asks for specifics. I had always asked for money to buy this or pay for that and for a period there it wasn’t coming. One day after a long fight, he simply asked, what do you need? And I gave him a shopping list of what I needed. I honestly needed food and clothes for the family so I wrote the list out. Wah! In the next few days, yes I just said days, everything on that list arrived in my house in the right quantity. Even more interesting were the unlikely people who brought these things.

So I know that is my process with God. When I need something, I ask very specifically so I had written my shopping list for him. As the supply of the said item continued to run low, I reminded God that we needed to replenish that item and I was open to know how to do it. So imagine Jane’s shock when she got to the end of her story and I was not surprised.

I wasn’t shocked because this is how God dealt with me but Jane was floored and not for the obvious reason. Yes she was shocked that I would need the exact thing that she had in her heart to give me and the amount quoted had a calculation behind it but there was a bigger reason for her shock. You see, in her mind, she was the last person she would expect to be the source of something for me. I am not special nor do I have extravagant tastes but she had internally judged herself as unable to help others because of her situation. She was worried how she would survive now that God had leaded her to give away a portion of what she had yet he knew she didn’t have much.
This dear people is the matchless hand of God at working clearly knowing what each girl needs and raising the channel that would provide. When each of us learned to listen and really obey placing our full trust in His promise to provide; he is moved to cause his word to perform.

The key thing was to shift our focus from our capacity to sort things out based on what is in our hands so we are blind to see his capacity to use each one as a vessel of mercy. Each of us had to trust. Jane had to trust that giving away that thing wouldn’t affect how she would survive the rest of the month and I had to trust that as long as I have told my father what I need he is doing all he can to provide it.

He spoke to each of us and we had a choice about how we responded. We each had to trust that when God says he’ll anything it doesn’t matter what is going on around us or how long it takes, that thing will come to pass. This will get us to the place of faith where no one can shift us no matter how good or dire the situation is.

That is his deepest desire for us; that we may be secure in Him and therefore secure in our walk with Him and the sound of his voice. This security then makes us unshakable, unchangeable and unstoppable. When we are secure in Him as God then we can ‘step off the cliff’ no matter what.

Would it be us that our lives would be fully poured out for Him and His glory? Would it be that we may fully produce ONLY Him because we are so deeply steeped in Him.

Shalom

I Pray for You…


Sometimes the words of another say it all…thanks Chioms

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This came from my heart today, because I saw an image of myself with my forehead permanently wrinkled with the worry and stress of the journey and I said to myself, noooooo!!

No because my cry to Him has been that I would enjoy the journey, no matter what He takes me to or through, because this life which He has chosen for me and chosen me for is perfect; Made perfect in and because of Him.

Therefore I choose Him always and I choose to give Him thanks and praise knowing that this is a good life. A very good life (Jer 29:11).

I pray for peace for you; God’s peace not the world’s. That the stresses and strains of the journey, what it has taken to get you here, to this place in Christ… that the drama, the heartache, the tears, the distress, the conflict and the separation – the frustrations, the discomfort of the new and the pain of the separation with the old would all take their proper context and therefore the accurate perspective in God.

I pray that all you would be left with would be an unhindered connection with the source of your peace who is God. I pray for an overwhelming awareness of His peace, love and understanding, that you would no longer carry the burdens and pressure of the journey either physically or emotionally or any other -ly :). In its place would be the joy of the expectation of the destination to which you are being carried by your Maker.

He who is your Husband, caregiver, nurturer, provider, comforter, shelter and strength; whatever His unique expression is to you. I pray that no matter what, you would go on with joy and expectation of Him in you, filling you and overshadowing you. That whatever lies ahead (even what the world calls hardships) you would move forward boldly and with His joy and His peace surrounding and encompassing you dear one to Him, dear one of His.

I pray this for myself too, because eish man, I need this… I pray this in Jesus’ name. I bless you.
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I need this prayer as much as my sister and so Lord, I join my voice with hers.

May we all find you Lord and walk in your ways…till we all come to the unity of the faithIMG_20171008_144904.jpg and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Eph 4:13-16 NKJV

Alleluia

 

The Season to Tread


IMG_20171026_181324.jpgIf you are like me who was raised in church circles, we grew up with an unhealthy idea that because we were saved and loved God then everything would go well after all Jer 29:11 says so. Or does it? So we learnt to walk tall and look down our noses at people who didn’t know God or live like we did as less than us. one day however, much later in life we woke up to the reality that many of those so called heathens are doing better than us yet scripture says we will be the head and not the tail.

What happens when you realise that the very thing you held on isn’t working? What happens when the aggregate of your life doesn’t seem good? What happens when indeed you get all those things your heart desired but you’re not even a smidgen happy like you thought you would be? Where do you start when all the doctrine you were taught fails you and you watch your life going down the toilet?

A friend told me of a minister of the word around here, let’s call him Jimmy. Jimmy’s only child died just as she reached her prime. He and his wife had prayed for child and received and they were sure this child would take over the ministry and grow it even more; after all, succession planning is important. How else would they have a lasting legacy? However, this was not to be. One morning their collapsed and died on the way to hospital. She was young by all standards as it was before her 30th birthday.

Can you imagine the pain? Grief hit him like a wall. Anger at God consumed him. He shut down and no one could reach him. Oh he smiled at people and looked find but on the inside he was dying. How could God do this to him? How could God change his mind and go back on his word? If God really cared, why did he allow his daughter to die? Why was it his daughter yet she was so young? Who would take over the ministry? Why should he continue serving this God who didn’t care about people? Nothing made sense and he couldn’t share how he felt with anyone.

This God…could he still trust him? Would he make sense of things one day? how was he expected to go on with life. one day after a long rant to God that ended with him saying just take me home, it became clear that God still had plan it was just different from what he had assumed. He received a word that said, ‘This next phase of your life will be your greatest yet.’

That didn’t make sense? How could he believe it? Nope…it was impossible! Why would a loving God let such a thing happen to his faithful minister? Yet Jimmy knew that he didn’t have another way to go or another person to walk with so he chose to walk the path he now found himself on.

Don’t be cheated, by that choice, it wasn’t easy especially at the beginning. He swore at God, screamed at him, cursed him a couple of times but still sought him. He took a break from serving so he could really get through this phase. He let go of many things and relationships that were too much to deal with and in the silence his healing begun. When he laid down his expectations and really listened, things begun to move, connections were made, love was shared, grace was found and grace abounded. He found real, satisfying life on the other side of his plan and pain in God’s plan.

IMG_20171021_135553.jpgThere are stories of others who found the same. Do you remember how long Joseph was in the process to his dream? Seventeen years. Do you remember Esther’s process? Her preparation took a year and even after becoming queen she didn’t see the king for almost a year. How about David? Oh, this is the best one! He was called from the fields and anointed by Samuel but promptly went back to the fields…nothing really changed in that moment. During his process he killed a giant, had a spear thrown at him, lost his wife, was hunted down like a common criminal by the very king he served and defended. Yet when Saul was killed and the door for his enthronement was opened he dealt decisively with the man who killed Saul. The book of psalms is full of his rants and complaints as well as celebration as he makes it through each stage.

How did these ones keep going? They fixed their eyes on the prize. What was the prize? The glory of God premised on the word He had spoken. How about you? What word has God spoken to you? What obstacle is standing in the way that you need his grace to overcome? Which way has he instructed you to go? Walk into it with great confidence.

This is the season where the #Truth of who we are will be seen.

This season will expose what we are made of and what we actually believe. It will show how we walk and who we walk with. Our walk is the measure of our faith and a solid faith is only as stable as its foundation. Our foundation will be the source of our thoughts, words and interactions with others. Our faith will be the key to life.

Tread carefully but mostly prayerfully because every thought will become a facial or body expression or a word that will show the depth of your heart and faith.

IMG_20171026_180913.jpgI am changing daily,
I am not who I was yesterday
Tomorrow I will be a different person
My life is no longer static and you cannot tag me by my past experiences
HE renews, shifts, restores me daily 
For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

II Corinthians 5:2‭, ‬16‭-‬17 NKJV

Shalom.

 

I didn’t know my Father


I recently had a conversation with my Father. That may not seem like anything big but you have to know my Father to understand. He is the coolest guy with the deepest faith I have ever known. He is intense like a strong black Ethiopian coffee yet gentle as a dove. I love this man with all my heart.

IMG_20170804_181232Yet, I would sometimes shy away from him because I don’t want to waste his time or keep others waiting for him🙈….foolish right? It sounds so vain now that I have said it. Anyway, this day I needed to work through somethings and the best way was to speak openly with a trusted person and receive grace, that’s when Daddy came in. Sometimes help is needed to decode life and I needed to face up to some stuff in my life that wasn’t shifting. The things I had refused to deal with up to now were expanding.  I needed them to be confronted before they get sorted?

This was one of those days but I was struggling because I’m used to being the one who helps others through their issues and holds their hands yet here I was…I found myself in need of a hand holding. I won’t go into the details but it’s this was a soul unburdening moment for me.

I needed a ‘naked and unashamed’ position for once but those can be hard. Why? Well, don’t we all have things we have kept hidden? Oh yes, I had hidden many things under the carpet or in my heart and mind. I had an intimate knowledge of being ‘clothed and totally ashamed.’ I’ve lived there for a long time but I don’t really know that much about naked and unashamed. Now I just needed an open heart moment to share things that I’d never dreamed of telling a soul.

For the first time in a long time I unloaded and talked to Daddy. I talked quickly with no breaks or brakes lest I stop and never start again. 🙈 I didn’t give myself time to think things through lest I change my mind. I held my breath then remembered to breathe and waited, expecting the sky to fall down or the ground to open up and swallow me. 🙈

IMG_20171008_144951.jpgWhen I was finished and fully unloaded there was nothing left to say, only silence…deep quiet, slow breaths, calmness and a deep peace. I never thought it would be so great to let things go. Then my thoughts turned to Daddy, Would he still love me? Would he ever talk to me again? Am I still worthy to be called his daughter? What would my siblings think? Am I the only mad one? How could I live such a life for so long? So I ran and hid for a few minutes. (Hahahaha madness right?)

He simply smiled and said, ‘I’ve been having a chuckle because your challenge isn’t all the stuff you’ve enumerated….your challenge comes from not knowing your father enough and therefore developing an ability to judge yourself by and from the law.

What? Really? How did he know? All the same, he was right! I remembered my sisters sharing how he has walked them through their processes with grace not pity, love but the rod when needed, gentleness but a firm hand. You see, a solid push into the arms of God has always been his answer.

Indeed…. I never really knew him as my father and this was why I could think those thoughts about myself. So I got thinking, what don’t I know about my heavenly Father? Do I relate to Him right or have I developed the capacity to make a decision based on something other than faith.

IMG_20170910_082730.jpgAnd we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to  be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can  be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It  is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It  is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:28-39 NKJV