A genuine fear provoked by debunking the rapture theory

 

portrait-1634421_640
No Rapture?/Pixabay free pics

It is usually unsettling when you make changes in your beliefs, especially major changes. No one chooses to believe a lie. Somebody may deliberately teach a lie for gainful purposes, but no one chooses to consciously believe a lie. It is usually a work of deception and manipulation or ignorance that has people holding unto beliefs that might not be true when scrutinized by Biblical truth. And the debunking of those beliefs by the light of God’s Words may sometimes provoke questions and fears that genuinely need answers.

I have witnessed several times where a preacher uses the imminence of the rapture to browbeat his audience into a weeping and repentance frenzy (which emotional repentance ironically doesn’t always last). Many Christians constantly are aware of sins, shortcomings, feelings of unworthiness, and as such, any message that questions their NOW rapture-readiness would always get the result of the altar full with repenting worshippers. In order words, it is one of the easiest things to do to get people hit the altar: just ask them, “if you know that you would be left behind if the rapture happens NOW, come to the altar and confess your sins.”

I don’t believe preachers who do that have wrong intentions in any way. If the pre-trib rapture were not false, that would be a genuine concern, to make sure church people are ready for the secret event. So I’m not in any way criticizing anyone who does that. I only see the fear being brought up of people getting careless with their commitment should they be taught there is no rapture BEFORE the tribulation, which means they shouldn’t be concerned about any rapture TODAY, as long as the today represents a day when the signs that must precede the Second Coming haven’t all been fulfilled.

It is understandable then how debunking the rapture theory and showing it to be a false teaching can raise the question, “what then would keep believers living holy lives? What would motivate them to live for God if there is no rapture, and if there is no imminence to the coming of the Lord (because we would have to watch first for the rise of the Antichrist and experience the great tribulation)? If there’s no surprise like a “thief in the night” would a Christian not sin blatantly NOW because they are being assured by post-tribulation gathering teachers that there’s no NOW or ANY MINUTE FROM NOW secret catching away?

Why live holy now? Why not sin now and confess later?

In this post I mentioned the fact that I once believed in a pre-trib before my eyes were opened to the truth of Scripture. Did the change in belief make me less committed to God NOW? No. More than ever before, I want to live for God. There are things I feel guilty about now that some Christians would think that is obsession with little things. Many times I regret the sins I indulged while ironically believing in a NOW or ANY SECOND FROM NOW rapture. Every fiber of my being wants to live for God, NOW.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (KJV)

14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

Fear doesn’t always work; it is not a good motivation.

The fear of being left behind when the rapture occurs is a motivation to holy living for some, but it SHOULD NOT be for someone genuinely born-again and in love with the Lord. Desiring to obey his commands and to honor him should be the motivation for holiness.

It is my opinion that the real state of our hearts is exposed when a fear motivation is removed. That should make anyone realize why they had been acting the way they had. It should even make one question the genuineness of their salvation experience. Was it just an emotional repentance, where hell was beaten out of you, and you had no option than to (un)willingly surrender your life to the Lord? And when the emotions wore off, as they always do, you remained unchanged, waiting for the next altar call on rapture-readiness. Or did you really experience a true change that causes you to want to live for God no matter the circumstances?

1 John 2:3-6 (KJV)

3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: HEREBY KNOW WE THAT WE ARE IN HIM (bold). 6 He that saith he abideth in him OUGHT HIMSELF ALSO SO TO WALK, EVEN AS HE WALKED.

The believer ought to always strive to live for God, to pursue righteous living, not out of fear of being left behind in the event of a secret rapture, but out of love for God and in conformity with the change of heart that happens at the new birth. A genuine Christian does not enjoy living in sin because sin is not enjoyable, even if there was no heaven and no hell.

The coming of the Lord will not surprise the believer in right fellowship with the Lord; it is those living in darkness that the day shall overtake like a thief in the night.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 KJV

1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

I do not believe the watchfulness encouraged here is the type motivated by fear of being left behind, nor is it a selfish aim towards self-preservation that has no desire to live for God in case of any contrary revelation. We respond to God’s love with love for him, not fear. Fear is an indication of not being perfected in love. The antidote to that kind of relationship with God is to know his love. It doesn’t glorify God if those professing to be his children will only (or be better) kept from sinning by a fear of not being raptured.

Why wait for a rapture-readiness altar call?

If you sin as a Christian, there is an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (see 1 John 2:1-2, 1 John 1:9). Immediately acknowledge your wrong doing and receive forgiveness. Don’t wait for a sermon on the rapture to beat you into repentance.

Knowing the love of God and the fellowship he calls us into takes away the fear motivation. That love cheers you to want to live for God. God did not sacrifice his Son just so we could escape the tribulation; the Lord Jesus died to set us free from the sin nature so we can enter into a spiritual relationship with our Heavenly Father. This relationship offers us many benefits, but those benefits are not the primary objective. God loves us and wants us to experience him. Eternal life is defined by our Lord in John 17:3 to mean an intimate knowledge of God. That is what the Lord Jesus brought to us.

We shouldn’t hold unto a teaching simply because throwing it away may have ‘disastrous’ consequences on peoples’ commitment to God’s standard. If commitment is not genuine in motive, it is not genuine in action.

The thought “God loves a cheerful giver” just came into my mind. That phrase is taken from 2 Corinthians chapter 9, a passage talking about finances. And I want to believe it is the same with our love, our commitment and services to God. He loves our willingness. Instead of keeping ourselves confessed up so that we remain rapturable, let’s seek to live lives that honor the Lord, in our motives and actions, under whatever circumstance. Let’s delve into intimacy with him, having our roots deep in the knowledge of God, building spiritual stamina through our daily walk with him, so that if the antichrist happens to come in our time, we would have the stamina to resist succumbing to his agenda, instead of panicking then, in bewilderment, because we had believed a lie that we would not be here when the monster comes to town.

N.B if you stumbled on this article and have not read the previous one, I’d still recommend Paul Benson’s Book A Bucket Full of Holes. It is an in-depth teaching that explains, with clear biblical backing what Scriptures teach about the rapture.

God bless,

Jane

Changing my beliefs about the pre-trib rapture teaching taught me a great lesson

 


2-thessalonians-2

One morning I was reading the Bible, precisely 2 Thessalonians 2, when I suddenly began to question the pre-tribulation rapture teaching I had always embraced. For the first time, I saw something in that passage that my firmly held beliefs have always blinded me to.

It was a bit unsettling (it always is, when you begin to discover you have believed a lie for such a long time).

Further study on the subject caused me to change camps and come to a position where I believe there is no rapture of the church before the visible second coming of the Lord. I now believe the dead saints are resurrected, and together with the changed living saints, are caught up to meet the Lord in the air at His coming.

My intention in this post is not to write on the subject of the rapture. Paul Benson has done a wonderful job on exposing the false rapture teaching and the dangers of believing lies in general. I highly recommend his book, A Bucket Full of Holes, to be freely downloaded from the site.

What I want to highlight here is the reason why professing Christians believe what they believe. The Pre-tribulation rapture continues to be the firmly held belief among Christians, though it is very lacking in Biblical backing. Why? I believe the reasons for its wide acceptance can be generalized to other doctrines, be they truth or falsehood.

  1. It is popular

Popular teachings usually pass for truth. The rationale is “if it were not true, not so many people would have believed it”.

But that is farther from the truth. I have heard it said that in every false teaching, there’s an aspect that is appealing to the flesh, to self. You can then understand how a false teaching could become very popular. Why? For the simple fact that people love it and want it so.

Who doesn’t want to leave in the first train before the monster comes to town? Doesn’t it feel good to know you can confess Jesus Christ as Savior and continue to live like the devil, and God would just be madly in love with you?

Or how about believing that the devil would finally be saved alongside those that lived for him here and there is no hell?
The appeal to the flesh contributes easily to the popularity of a teaching, but then, popularity or wide acceptance of a teaching doesn’t make it truth if it is not backed by Scriptures.

  1. It is an established teaching

It is now proven that the church has always believed in a ‘catching away’ of believers at the Second Coming of the Lord, until the nineteenth century when the pre-tribulation rapture was introduced into the Body of Christ and gained popularity. As such many Christians today get born-again and meet this belief as an established teaching in the Church.

In fact, I believed in a secret rapture before I believed in Jesus. Before I became a genuine Christian, I knew that should that secret event happen, I must stand strong and refuse to cave in to the demands of the antichrist, so that I could finally be saved.

It was an established teaching before I became born-again.

So when you come into the Body of Christ, and meet a popular established teaching, it is hard to not believe it. You would read the Bible and only see it through the lens of the established teaching. But when the scales begin to fall, you begin looking for support for the established teaching, but you find none.

As believers we need to let Scriptures speak for themselves. We need to search God’s word to confirm what we are being taught.

  1. My denomination, my pastor, Apostle, Prophet So-and-so teaches it

We live in a day and age where many believe preachers’ word than God’s. once their hearts are captured by man, they fail to continue heeding the biblical warning that says to prove all things, to test the spirits.

It therefore is natural to hold unto a teaching simply because that’s what our denomination teaches; that what my spiritual father teaches; that’s what the respectable so-and-so teaches.

There are sincere Bible teachers I respect who teach the pre-tribulation rapture (maybe because that’s also what they were taught in church or Bible School), but I refuse to believe it simply because they teach it. The authority of persons does not change a lie into truth. Man is fallible, God is not.

That is the more reason why we need to search Scriptures, and not only depend on another person telling us what God’s Word says. If they are deceived, if they are ignorant, we too become ignorantly deceived. And that kind of deception is not excusable from Scriptures. We must search the Bible to confirm or disprove what we are being taught.

Our denomination or church is not the final authority. While we may belong to denominations or churches, the Bible must be our standard, not our denominational dogma.

Denominational dogmas are only truth as long as they align with Scriptures.

  1. The alternative is horrible

This aligns with the saying that in every false teaching is an appeal to the flesh. The false teaching offers more good-feelings and hope than the truth presented in Scriptures. When coupled with a man’s perception of God’s love, the falsehood is embraced and taught as truth.

As such, false teachings are accepted while truth in suppressed, based entirely on human feelings and logic.

It is terrible to accept the church will go through the great tribulation. It is terrible to believe in a literal hell. It doesn’t feel totally good to believe holiness must be pursued in the life of believer as evidence of salvation.

No matter how well we may wish for the alternative not to be true, God’s Word stands firm. Man’s lies can never become divine truth.

  1. God revealed it to me (or my pastor, prophet, apostle) in a vision

God speaks in visions and dreams, but He doesn’t contradict His written word.

When opposing sides of a teaching both have visions and revelations, which of them is truly hearing from God?

I have heard and read testimonies from both sides of the tribulation issue of how “God revealed to me lalalalalal….”How can we tell who is right and who is wrong? Through the written word of God. Test the spirits, the Bible says.

We are warned not to base our beliefs on visions (Colossians 2:18). Therefore, a vision or a dream is insignificant in establishing truth and dogma, especially when Scriptures have clearly shown what is true.

  1. God’s Word says so

This is the ideal. We need to base our beliefs on what God says. If we can’t prove it from the Bible, either through a direct command, admonition or through a principle, we need to question that teaching, scrutinize it and reject it if there’s no biblical backing.

It is necessary to let God’s Word speak for itself. We must be careful about reading our ideas, hopes and beliefs into God’s Word. False teachings and false teachers have scriptural quotations, but which are usually twisted or taken out of context to say what the reader or teacher wants them to say.

I have used the example of the pre-tribulation rapture, but these points can apply to any teaching. The change made me realize that sometimes we believe a teaching not based on what God says, but because of different reasons. While we may still arrive at believing the truth with the first five points, it is dangerous holding unto beliefs without proper biblical scrutiny.

May we take every teaching up to the exposing light of God’s Word. May we learn to ask “what does the Bible really say?” May we learn to read and study the Bible without our denominational, sensual or wishful thinking lenses. Then we would be free and able to let God instruct us.

I will be doing another post about Fears Provoked by Debunking the Rapture Teaching. This is to address the issue of some who think the imminence of the rapture can be used to instill fear and the need for holy living in believers.

Several false teachings are causing havoc to the Christian world. There is widespread deception, lack of discernment and laziness in searching the Scriptures. We cannot dare continue to hold unto beliefs without having them backed by Scriptures. We shall not be inexcusable before God if we fail to study the Word to see what He, not man, teaches. He has given us warnings about false teachers. That is to call us to watchfulness.

Jane.

The offense of the Prosperity and Seed-sowing message

 

cash-1169650_640

I believe in prosperity if I am to define what it means to me. To have enough to fulfill God’s purpose for my life is prosperity. To have abundance so I can be a blessing to others is prosperity.
I have an aversion to poverty, lack and want, and I believe it is a basic human desire to have one’s needs met. Churches and Para-church organizations do good work when they try to alleviate sufferings by educating, clothing and feeding the poor.
Everyone accepts God knows no lack or want and since he is the one that supplies the needs of his children, Christians should not be destitute. Except in cases of persecution and in some situations when in stepping out to follow God lack and want can be some of the challenges, poverty and destitution are never truly godly lifelong circumstances.
If someone takes an oath of poverty, that’s their choice and decision, not God’s ordination for them.
Then why is the prosperity message so repulsive to many Christians?
I believe it is the extravagance, self-indulgence and manipulations that sometimes accompany the prosperity preaching. The fruit of the message in the life of its most outspoken proponents is most of the time not godly. The need to “prove” one’s prosperity through fashionable clothes, latest gadgets, a fat bank account, expensive cars is where the message very much draws to itself those who are motivated by lust, and at the same time pushes away those who believe the Bible is against greed and covetousness.

A look at some of the fruit of the extreme emphasis put on the concept of financial prosperity would tell anyone that there is a problem somewhere.

  • Vanity
  • Covetousness
  • Greed and competition
  • Material possession as “proof” of one’s spirituality

The story of George Muller is one of inspiration and a slap to some prosperity preachers today. George Muller never had a bank account, he did not organize fundraisers, and received no fixed salary, but he is famous for building large orphanages and sponsoring the distribution of bible tracts around the world and supporting schools and missions.

He believed God led him to do what he did and trusted him for the provisions. God did it through people’s willing donations, and never through twisting of scriptures, threats and deception

Some things are needs depending on the occasion, but when they are gotten just to gratify the flesh and to prove to others that we are prosperous, it becomes sinful.

The unscrupulous seed sowing motivation strategy

During a fundraiser for a program, Pastor asks people to give or pledge the sum of fifty thousand francs. Some people come out, but they are not enough to raise the needed amount.

Pastor then tells a touching story of a man somewhere who had given that amount some previous year and God blessed him for that giving so much so that the man is now paying tithes in millions.

When he says that, more people come out and pledge to give. Why? The motivation changes from simply giving to support the work of God, to “sowing” thousands so that millions can be harvested later on. Pastor knows well this method works, that is why he employs it.

There should be no mincing of words when calling this manipulation. Pastor does not care about the giver or whether the giver eventually gets the promised harvest. Pastor’s goal is to get the money out of the giver’s wallet. Period.

Many people today regret having fallen prey to such tactics before. The money they could have used to start up an income generating business was sowed as seed and the harvest never came, and the prosperity they were promised never materialized.

Even more painful are the many people who are still waiting and hoping that one day the harvest will come. They have been sowing for years and are being promised to be patient.

The shortcoming with this seed sowing motivation is the failure to see that people can still give willingly and bountifully, without threats and coercion. The giving springs out of appreciation for the goodness of God, out of a desire to see his work progress.

It is an indication of a faulty relationship with God when Christians have to be threatened or manipulated to give for the kingdom of God. People who have come in contact with the unconditional love and goodness of God cannot help but be bountiful givers. It flows out of a love relationship and a grateful heart, not out of a selfishness to have one’s money multiplied or to get God’s favor.
2 Corinthians 9:7-8 KJV

7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work

It doesn’t glorify God when people are manipulated to give to his work. God is not glorified in that kind of work. He knows how to provide for his kingdom work, and he has chosen to work through willing and cheerful hearts; that is the kind of giving that gets reward.

Finances are a blessing when they are used within biblical boundaries. Any teaching that encourages and promotes greed and covetousness is not of God.

The Bible calls us to keep ourselves free from the love of money. We are instructed to keep away from the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.

Jane

4 Benefits of spending ample time with the Lord

beach-1868772_1920
I’m a big campaigner for intimacy with God. That is the core of my message to every believer: know God on an intimate level, forsake a casual and from-a-distant relationship with the heavenly Father.

That shouldn’t be anything major to talk about, for it is, (or should be) a given that every believer pursues intimacy with the Lord. But as many people’s experiences often attest, that is not always the case. Therefore the need for encouragement to pursue intimacy with God comes in.

The Father calls us into relationship, into fellowship with him. Getting born-again is not an opportunity to merely escape the horrible fate of those who reject God. The experience sets you on the path of a life-long relationship with God that offers the possibility of ever-increasing intimacy and enjoyment of his wonderful presence.

Yes, it is possible to enjoy the presence of God. It is possible to get to that level where you fellowship with him and every other thing loses appeal when compared to those moments of being alone with God.

And that is not going to happen by accident; God will not force you to become intimate with him. That is not going to happen suddenly – in a day. It takes some conscious decision on your part, some resolve motivated and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, with your cooperation, and it takes consistency.

Our daily walk, our Christian witness, our service to the Lord must stem from our personal relationship with him, otherwise these aspects of our Christian lives become a work of our self-effort. The Lord, first and foremost, wants children to relate with, not laborers and servants who don’t care about private relationship.

If he gets the child intimate with him, labor and service become inevitable by-products of that relationship.

The greatest call the child of God should therefore give attention to is to develop an intimate relationship with the Father. Many times we want to serve, we want to be busy, we want to have some self-worth that comes from activity, and we lack time for, and neglect the moments we need to spend alone with the Lord. When we can, we threw up a few seconds or a few minutes prayer, read a 250 words devotional, and we are done. A little prayer when we awake in the morning, and a little prayer when we go to bed in the night.

That is scratching and ending at the surface. With that kind of routine, it is impossible to know God in ways that can be considered real intimacy. There is need to allocate ample time to spend alone with God.

We understand the word ample to be subjective. There is no set time. But we need to also understand that a few seconds, a few minutes is not ample time, especially in our today world of busyness and junk distractions, with so many things clamoring for our attention. The time allocated for personal relationship with God needs to be ample enough to set our minds on him and lessen the effect of the distractions around us.

Personal fellowship with God is not obligatory in the sense of it becoming a formality, something we do because we are required to, not because we necessarily value it. It is a time where we commune with God, because we want to give him first place, priority in our lives, because we understand it is vital to our spiritual well-being. When we get that mindset, we reap the benefits of that exercise.

  1. Our fervency is maintained by and in the closet

Without time spent alone with God, in prayers and study, our relationship becomes dry and lifeless. Our zeal is affected; the word becomes stale; our spirits become inhibited as the flesh gains dominance due to lack of discipline.

If the closet fire never quenches, this would prevent the occurrence where many get fired up during conventions, conferences, programs etc. only to lose the fire in a few days’ time. That has resulted in many attending one meeting after another, and yet never arriving at the place of relationship with God that their heart longs for.

While other believers and Christian programs may encourage and fire you up, you remain solely responsible for the kind of relationship you desire with the Lord. It remains your responsibility to discipline your flesh in order to cultivate and maintain consistency in your fellowship and walk with God. You don’t have to be up and down all the time, looking for someone to spur you up.

Start allocating time to worship and praise the Lord, to talk to him about everything, to read the Word, to offer up prayers of intercession etc. It’s a discipline. You shouldn’t let your flesh have its way in this area.

When you exercise discipline and maintain consistency, you find it easier, (even naturally) fulfilling the Scripture that says, “Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11, AMP).
Here it is difficult to experience burn-out, for as you wait upon the Lord, he renews your strength (Isaiah 40:28-31), affecting your zeal and consequently your service.

  1. The Word remains fresh

Do you find the Word dry and familiar? It happens. Yet also true is the fact that when you have spent time in praise and worship, in waiting upon the Lord, in setting your mind on the Lord, as your fleshly emotions are subdued, the once familiar and stale Word comes alive and fresh.

Where you had taken a biblical command for granted because of familiarity, your spirit clings to it; where you had never taken notice because of familiarity and negligence, you see the Word in the light shed by the Holy Spirit. The God-breathed words on the pages of the book come fresh to your spirit.

You want to keep the Word fresh and appealing? Spend ample time with God. At times, we go for tapes, CDs and books. These materials are great when the words are uttered by divine inspiration. Yet, they have a shortcoming to our personal relationship with the Lord if they remain our only source of Bible Study. Once we’ve sucked up on the revelation God has given through others, there remains a void that can only be filled through personal initiative to develop an intimate relationship with the Father.

You might have experienced the occurrence where you can’t stand another tape, another book, without reading and studying the Word for yourself. That is because no book or tape or whatever material can replace God speaking to you personally through his Word.

  1. The pull of Carnality is suppressed

Ample time spent alone with God is an opportunity for the Lord to exert holy influences upon our hearts. Sin becomes less appealing the more you spend time in prayer and study.

It’s an old true statement that overt sin is a sign of a neglected closet. Many times, this is applied to the gross sins such as sexual immorality, but the truth is it involves every sin, even the little ones we don’t usually think are deadly. For example, the mouth that learns to talk more with God sooner or later begins to loathe the sins of a loose mouth such as gossiping, filthy talking, clamoring and the like.

Holy influences cause sin and distractions to lose their pull over our lives. That is the point of emphasizing ample time, for a few seconds or minutes will not suffice.

A better way to overcome carnality and sin in your life is not by sheer determination or even having an accountability partner. Begin to be intentional about spending time with God. Worship the Lord in song and word. Talk to him. Practice the presence of the Lord wherever you are, and you will find that sin losing its grip and appeal over your life. Spend time with God until you are literally soaked in his presence.

  1. The voice of God becomes clearer

We live with lots of distractions which need most of the times to be pushed out before we can clearly hear and understand what the Lord is saying. What is said under point 2 applies here for God speaks to us through the written word. But we must know that’s not the only way the Lord speaks. He also speaks to us in our spirits, also through impressions and influences.

Disciplining ourselves to a life of consistent fellowship with him helps us fine tune our spiritual hearing. When we come away from the busyness and distractions around us and plunge our hearts into a moment of praise and worship, a time of prayer and study, our hearts are more inclined to hear God speak than in the noisiness of busy activity and distractions, except for those who have learned to keep their minds on God no matter the environment they find themselves in.

The presence of the Lord is the place to be. It’s a place of intimacy, a place of refreshing, renewal, strengthening and transformation.

While we can learn to practice the presence of the Lord (he’s always with us), there is need to allocate time to spend alone with him, away from activity and distraction. It honors the Lord because we give relationship with him priority, and it also benefits us and promotes spiritual growth and maturity. Let’s go for it!

May God bless and spur you up to desire to know him more.

Amen

Jane.

The Dancing Clay Vessel

 

pottery-3024519_640

 

One day, Huldah the Prophetess went down to the Potter’s house and found him busy at his wheel. He was remaking a vessel out of a lump of clay.

The vessel wouldn’t stay still on the wheel, but kept letting out deafening screams with agitations; and every now and then it would get spoiled in the hands of its maker.

The prophetess was curious to know why the workman wouldn’t just thrust the stubborn, ugly earthen material out through the window. She asked him why he was patient with a vessel that didn’t want to be made whole.

He replied, “Funny thing is it believes it is ready and should be joined to the finished vessels in the shop. If it stays quiet it would soon be made, but it wants to get over the process in no time, and that cannot be. I should give up on it but not so soon”.

Time passed and the woman of God happened to pass that way again. She went into the house of the Potter to offer her salutations.

There he was, at his wheel, working on a lump of clay. There was a beautiful vessel adjacent to the wheel,dancing intensely. Colors of the rainbow ran round its rim.

Huldah was amazed and impressed. “I didn’t know your vessels dance,” she said.

The potter with a smile on his face, looked at the dancing vessel, and replied, “O they do. Once they come out so beautiful’.

“But why is it not on the shelf in the shop?” Asked the prophetess.

“Ah!” replied the potter, ‘It has begged to stay a little longer at the workshop so it could tell the other vessels to stay still on the wheel and be made faster by the gentle hand of the Potter. You remember it, don’t you?”

The prophetess realized from the question that it should be the lump of clay she saw being worked on the last time. She was gob smacked.

Leaving the potter’s house she proclaimed throughout the streets:

“Behold, as the clay in the hands of the potter so are you in the hands of the Lord (Jeremiah 18:6)
Many times you think you are ready for use but the Master judges differently.
As the refiner knows when the silver is done (Malachi 3:3), so the Master knows when you are usable.

Would you stay on the wheel as he moulds you?
Would you stay in the refinery as he purges you?

Or would you complain, agitate and come out premature?

If you would stay still and let Him work on you,
If you’d not fuss and fume and agitate
You’d come out like the beautiful dancing clay vessel, purified, fit and ready for the Master’s use” (2 Timothy 2:21).

Author’s notes

We are like clay in the Potter’s hands. As we yield to his dealings in and with us, he moulds into the vessel he wants us to be.

Hebrews 12:11 KJV

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Psalm 119:73 KJV

Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.

Janet Bengan
Fiction for Teaching, Inspiration and Entertainment

7 Signs you are straining instead of abiding in God

sunset-401541_640 (1).jpg

I was straining, instead of abiding for many years as a Christian. I loved God and desired more than anything else to live for Him. But I had the impression that I had to do much to make my relationship with God to work.

Despite every effort I made to make it work, I just couldn’t. There was generalized joylessness, anxiety, unbelief; I battled discouragement and sometimes plain despair.

I knew somewhere deep within, that true Christianity is supposed to be enjoyable, not strenuous; I would read of others’ great experiences with God and beat myself up for not doing enough for God to be so real to me too. So I would think of more fasting, more praying, more resolve to study, more this and more that. Those were my days as a legalist.

I finally got worn-out and I just told the Lord I was tired of the kind of experience I was having with Him and if He didn’t show me what was wrong, “I will quit seeking you”. It was actually an ultimatum and I meant it.

I wasn’t arrogant but I was serious in my desire to see a change. I didn’t mean I will renounce Christ but I planned on only being a nominal Christian at best.

Few days after the “ultimatum”, I just had this phrase “striving, not abiding” lingering in my mind. So I read some about what it means to abide and it became clear to me God had replied. That night I decided not to go to bed until I had laid down all the striving, all the strenuous pursuit of God; I was going to experience “peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).

It wasn’t easy letting go. I could not easily see myself resting. But thank God, he came through and helped me.

It’s the lessons I learnt that I want to share here. I discover that many Christians are like I was: having the right desire for God but going about it the wrong way. I have been around many Christians and it is usually almost the same experience I was having with God.

The list I present may not be exhaustive; I give out of my own experience.

  1. Worry

Someone who is striving does not know how to be still. In fact, when you choose to start abiding, the first concern you will think of is how to overcome fretfulness.  This is the most common sign. Because of difficulty in being still, there is usually confusion on decision-making.

You may pray (sometimes more), but worry takes supremacy and incapacitates your faith, causing you to take decisions out of fear and not a resting faith.

  1. Unable to “be” without “doing”

A striver does not find his identity in Christ, he can’t easily enjoy God simply out of relationship; rather he feels important and pleasing to God only when he is doing something worthwhile.

He may intellectually know he is God’s child because of what the Lord Jesus accomplished, but still go about trying to be acceptable to God through his own doings.  When his day is filled with mundane activities, he finds it hard being excited about God. When he gets busy with spiritual matters, he may get excited because of the feeling of importance he derives from such activity.

  1. Unnecessary longer prayers

The Lord Jesus said it is not long praying that guarantees an answer. He assured His disciples that the Father knows what they need before they ask, and  so they can as well just make a request without repeating words (see Matthew 6:7).

A person who strives does not believe in short prayers. His faith does not rest in God’s faithfulness to His Word, rather he believes so much in prolonged prayers even if the same words have to be repeated over and over again. The truth is, long praying makes him feel good about the prayer and because he feels this way, he then can have confidence that God will answer.

  1. Fear of missing out on God

This was really a major with me. I constantly was afraid that I may miss out on what God had in stock for me. So I felt compelled to pray more just in case nothing went wrong that could hinder God’s agenda for me.

I have met people like this too. They believe that the longer the better, but that is not true. Prayer is relationship. And a good relationship with the Lord is founded on His love for us. A child who has learned to rest does not fear. He believes God’s love will guide and lead, and the fear of missing out on God simply evaporates.

  1. “Worship” before supplication

A striver can’t just in the middle of some activity, make a request to God. If He has a burden, a request to make to the Lord, it is almost sacrilegious for him to go straight to the point and cast that burden on the Lord or make the request. He feels permitted to supplicate only after “worshipping” and confessing sin. Instead of pouring out his heart to the Lord, a striver usually goes about eulogizing God (even when he doesn’t actually contemplate on those great words), just so he can feel permitted to make a demand on God. This picture doesn’t look like a good Father-child relationship.

  1. Not appreciating the growth process

For the striver, there is nothing like growth process. He never takes time to appreciate how far he’s come. It is usually about how far he still has to go. Constantly beating himself up for not being more committed, not doing enough, etc. the striver only helps to hamper his own growth and defeat his very desire to grow and mature in the Christian life

  1. Straining to make and keep resolutions

The striver, because he is not abiding in the Lord, undermines the ministry of the Holy Spirit by thinking he can manifest holiness in his own strength. So he makes rules and regulations, which he may find hard to keep, thereby bringing in false guilt, condemnation and discouragement. Even if the striver succeeds to be outwardly holy, there’s usually a lack of joy because of the struggle he goes through to produce the results.

I can’t tell how relieving it was to know I should rest, not struggle in relationship with the Lord. It took away a lot of pressure from me. It was during a period in my life that I was making a life changing decision, and I am grateful to the Lord He taught me how to rest, not fret.

That was not the end of the struggle; I would later find myself in moments of striving and not abiding. It seems our natural selves have the tendency to gravitate towards that direction. It is therefore important to constantly keep our relationship on God founded on His love for us, not on what we can do to impress Him.

Are you striving instead of resting in God? You can make a change and enjoy being a child of the Most High. Amen.

Make a decision today to stop striving. Seek to abide

God bless,

Jane