September 26, 2010

The benefits of confessing our sins one to another

Free Stock Photo - Beautiful woman praying Every Christian is familiar with confession but it is certainly not an easy thing to do especially if it is a sin the family or society frowns at. At most, some of us would want confess only to our father in heaven. Have you ever wondered why you keep crying unto God to deliver you from your sins and it seems you got no answer? It does not mean God is not willing to help; however, some of his principles ought to apply:
Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed... (James 5:16a; The Message)
 
To confess means to acknowledge openly your sins. For James to advocate this, it means it has benefits one should not ignore if one sincerely wants to live a godly life and be a true representative of Christ. When I confessed my hidden sins, there are some benefits I observed which I would like to share with you.

Avoidance of public humiliation
God is so loving he will not allow you to continue to live secretly in sin for long. Indeed he is patient and will continue to nudge you to take the necessary steps required for your deliverance. But if you continue to allow the flesh to hinder you and not take action, he will allow you to be exposed so you can be helped. If you feel the consequences of public humiliation will be grievous; then go look for someone to confess your sins to. 

The hold of Satan is broken
When a sin becomes a habit, it is an indication the sin is ruling your life. You find yourself going on and off the guilty lane. This happens because of self centeredness - the strong desire to satisfy the cravings of the flesh. Furthermore, the devil thrives in secrecy. So no matter how hard you try to help yourself you do not succeed because of the hold of the devil over your life. When you allow Mr. Self not to let you tell someone because you believe you will be condemned or you are seen as spiritual and so no one must know about the hidden sins, then you hinder yourself. However, when you confess, you expose the devil, breaking his hold over your life and with help from other Christians; you are on your way to victory.

Power of agreement
I remember when I was sick and I would keep praying alone, my healing was not made manifest. However, when my mother prayed with me, I received instant healing. There is power in agreement. By yourself you may be overpowered but with a friend you can defeat the enemy (paraphrased - Ecclesiastes 4:12). This is also confirmed by another scripture which says ‘how can one chase a thousand or two put ten thousand to flight...(Deut 32:30 NIV). Yes you have been praying concerning your sins but when you and the person you will confess to pray concerning the hold of Satan over your life, its impact is more in the spirit realm. 

Healing and growth begins
From the book of James, it is clear and even sounds conditional that when we confess our sin, we are healed. The NIV version of the bible says we should confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that we may be healed. So that is a clause used to indicate purpose or give explanation. What is the purpose of confessing to one another? The purpose of confessing to one another is for us to obtain healing. Healing is explained by strong concordance to also mean wholeness. Hence open confession activates cleansing and wholeness.

It encourages trust and support
Confession of sins one to another builds trust in relationships. A number of us are able to handle offenses in relationships better when the offender tells us than when we find out or a third party tells us. It is more profitable in a relationship if you are open about your weaknesses the devil may take advantage of. When you are open, it tends to be less of a habit because you know someone knows. Because of accountability, you are less prone to sin and less of a target for Satan to control.

Ability to continue with God’s work
When I had hidden sins, I was always hesitant to minister lest the demons expose me by saying “Jesus I know; Paul I know but who are you?” I found out I could not correct anyone because I felt I had not moral justification to do so. I knew who God said I am but I could not agree or appropriate because I felt really unworthy. I felt hopeless, helpless and hypocritical; a person bearing the name – Christian - without power. Confession enables you to step into your God-given destiny without fear or guilt. It empowers you to minister to others as God has directed – casting out demons, healing the sick, teaching and encouraging people in the path of righteousness.

The journey to victory begins
 When I confessed my sins and the person prayed for me, I saw in my mind’s eye someone walking out through the door. I believe it was the devil walking away defeated. Now I feel I am free to live, be and love God. However, I know it shall be like in the case of Satan tempting Jesus. It was stated the devil retreated but was waiting for another opportunity. I know the battle for my mind may continue but the bible provides solution for me to overcome. I shall be alert and continue to live daily in God’s presence. My mind shall be renewed by saturating it with the word of God. If I guard my heart, victory is certain because that where life starts - thoughts become words/actions, actions become habits and habits become character.

Therefore, confessing our sins one to another is the beginning of our journey to victory. If you try to avoid the beginning of a journey and decide to start from the middle, you will continue to struggle with sins on the way and may never get to the finish line. 

Remember, the devil will continue to have his hold over you if you don’t seek help. Do not allow your flesh to hinder you. Go today and confess to your pastor, pastor’s wife, an elder in church or whoever you can be accountable to so that you can be made whole and be a true representative of Christ.  

I would appreciate your comments. How else can one benefit by confessing openly? 
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Image by Roman Milert @ dreamstime.com

September 19, 2010

If you know you sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, what will change?

God reminded me of his word in Ephesians 2:6; “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” (NIV)

And as I began to meditate upon this, it became clear that I am not acting like one who is sitting in heavenly realms with Christ. So I asked myself, “What should change in your life if you begin to appropriate what God has said in his word?”

As I thought about it, four distinct things that should change came to my heart and I want to share them with you.

You will gain authority

If you are sitting in the heavenly realms with Christ, it means you are reigning with him. You have gained authority not to gratify your flesh but to do exploits for God. God wants to work though you and I to achieve his purposes on earth. As one who sits with Christ, you ought not to be timid but bold exerting God’s influence in your environment. You become the leader people look up to. You will not be a leader that dictates, manipulates and threatens; you will be a servant-leader. Your authority is purpose and people-driven and not for any selfish interest. Remember, Christ is your role model. He led by example and he served his disciples.

You will not fear the powers of the dark world

By sitting with Christ in heavenly realms, you are above spiritual forces of the evil one. As long as you are in agreement with Christ and his word abides in you, evil forces cannot pull you down. You have power over them and so you do not need to fear them. You would not need to introduce yourself to them; rather they will tremble in your presence. Hence, you can break their hold over your life and the lives of people around you. You will step forward and begin to heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead and draw men to God.

Your lifestyle will show it

Anyone sitting with Christ will think like him. You cannot be sitting with Christ and have a different mindset and behaviour. You will not meddle in things God disapproves. If you are a partner in a company, you will desire the success of the company. You will not sell out to your competitor no matter how enticing. Remember, you are a partner, not an employee. You are in partnership with Christ which will necessitate your total devotion. Dining with the devil at intervals will expose you to his darts and slow down progress of the heavenly projects you are involved in. So your lifestyle should align with the word of God (Jesus). One way to help your lifestyle align with Christ is to spend time with him and he will reproduce his character in you.

You will be calm in crisis

In the scriptures, we never read that Jesus panicked. He slept through the storm. He knew Lazarus was sick but he took his time. It was not that he did not care but God had to be glorified through Lazarus’ resurrection. When there was no food to feed the people, he simply asked, ‘What do you have?” The day he was arrested, he did not worry about himself. Rather in the midst of his ‘danger’, he was busy restoring someone’s ear. Christ said there shall be trouble but we should take heart for he has overcome the world. We are sitting above our problems and as we abide in Christ, we have dominion over them. Worrying and panicking over our problems will not solve them. However, we can call forth peace and joy from our position in heavenly places.

You may be thinking, “I have been a Christian for a while but my mindset and attitudes have not changed much to indicate my position with Christ”. Well, in the words of George Eliot, “It's never too late to be who you might have been." You can set the motion for change today.

First, agree (believe and respond) with the word that says those in Christ are sitting with him in the heavenly places. Then, focus on Christ, your model because you are who you behold. As time progresses, with intentionality and focus on your part, you will notice you are operating from the heavenly places.

If you sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, whatelse will change? Please leave a comment.

September 12, 2010

Sit at my feet and learn from me




Lately, there has been a longing for more of God and at the same time, I pondered about my slow walk with God. Then a sentence dropped into my mind:
“Sit at my feet and learn from me.”
As I continued to ponder, I remembered the story of Mary and Martha.
38 -40As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. "Master, don't you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand."
   41-42The Master said, "Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it's the main course, and won't be taken from her." (Luke 10: 38-42. The Message)    
Then I began to have a grasp of why my walk with God was slow. I have allowed the pressures and pleasures of this world to distract me. Even being involved in the church has given one some form of deception. Like Martha, I have become busy with secondary things. I have allowed these secondary things to take the place of God in my life.
As I continued to meditate on ‘sit at my feet and learn from me,’ God began to throw more light on it:
When a child’s father comes home from work, the child will run to the father, sit on his lap and ask for a story. You will know that the child listened to the story when you hear, “Daddy said...”
Then I imagined, “Fine! I will sit on my rug daily and study the word” Then I sensed in my spirit, “It is not just the physical sitting but also the spiritual sitting”
How?                                                                                                                     
Make out time
Martha was busy running around to ensure every visitor in her house was fed and comfortable while Mary chose to shut out other things competing for her time and sit at Jesus’ feet. There are times when the first thing that occurs to me is to sit at my masters feet; then I remember the kitchen needs to be tidied up, I have a deadline to meet, I have work assignments that were overdue and the list would go on. I guess you know what I would do. You are clever! I would forget about Jesus and attend to these secondary things and would blame him when my day does not go well. But Jesus, ever so loving is encouraging me now to take Mary’s approach – seek God first. Make out time to spend with him daily.
Listen
As stated above in the scripture, Mary was hanging on every word Jesus said. I guess you would have experienced a situation whereby you are talking to someone about something important and after a while it becomes clear to you the person is not listening. Listening is not only hearing but also internalizing and comprehending what is being said. Listening requires full attention, keeping an open mind and good auditory memory (ability to listen and remember).  God is encouraging us to give him our full attention when we sit at his feet. He does not like approaches such as hit and run or for the record purposes. He wants us to come to him in all sincerity and patience to learn from him.
Meditate
Meditation is defined as continued or extended thought; reflecting or contemplating upon a thing, situation or word. Meditation means to churn the word over and over again. Musing over the word we have heard or read expands it and we receive more revelation making it much clearer for us to follow. Mediation helps to engrave the word in our hearts. So I understood that God expects me to meditate on his word after I have heard it or read it.
Apply
Having meditated upon his word, the next step is to apply it. God is not looking for hearers of his word but doers.
22 -24Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. (James 1: 22-24. The Message)
The more we act on what we hear, the closer we get to him and the more he reveals.
Repeat the steps daily
Imagine a child who usually runs daily to her father for stories; as she grows she begins to feel she knows enough stories to last her a lifetime. Then she declares her independence. I remember those days I would remind my father I was an adult so he should stop treating me like a child. I wanted to do my own thing when and how I chose. The same way our earthly parents keep seeing us as their children despite the fact we may have children of our own, we are children before God. If you declare your independence from God, you lose the essence of living. So the steps above: make out time, listen, meditate and apply should be enshrined in our lives till death.
Behold, ‘sit at my feet and learn from me’ has been expanded as above. And when this dawned on me, I worshiped God feeling honoured he has exposed his word to me.
Then I sensed him saying, “It is because you sat at my feet”

September 6, 2010

Why can't I trust him?

                 
                  
                     Hitches make me ponder
                     Is God still in this?
                     Obstacles make me shudder
                     Will I ever achieve this?
                     Why can’t I trust God?

                  
I worry so much that my head aches
Every move or attitude by someone is suspicious
I think so much that my heart aches
Every word by someone is suspicious
Dear Lord,
Why can’t I trust you?

Doubts fill my heart
Discomfort and anxiety dislodge my anchor
My aches and sadness beclouds my sight
Lord, in you shall I find succour
If only I can trust you

Worries help me not
Anxieties make me restless
Worries strengthen me not
Anxieties make me fruitless
Yet, why can’t I trust God?

O my father
Help my unbelief
O my Father
Grant me relief
Help me to trust you

Your promises are there
For me to hold onto
You are ever so near
I must draw near too
I must trust you

For you take no pleasure in they that do not trust you
But your delight is in they that rely wholly on you.