The Ostrich Theory (Uncovering The Errors Of Dispensationalism) PART III

I was VERY legalistic in the early years of my christian experience. After trying so hard to please God and failing woefully, I was ready to quit when God opened my eyes to the message of grace.

The revelation was electrifying and super liberating. I could never atone for my sins and I could never impress and appease God with my good deeds.

But along the line, I began to see that the message of grace today is going to extremes. Scriptures on sanctification are being explained away, and more and more the church is getting worldlier, and preaching on holiness is termed ‘legalism’.

What is the relationship between sanctification and ‘saved by grace’? Read this article by Paul Benson.

Let's Get It Right!

ostrich theory “ERRORS? WHAT ERRORS? DO YOU GUYS SEE ANY PROBLEMS WITH OUR THEOLOGY? I SURE DON’T!”

by Paul Benson

(This is Part III of a series of articles on the errors of Dispensational Theology. You can find Part I HERE and Part II HERE.)

Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.Paul – an apostle of Christ

If there ever was a man who had a revelation of the majesty and glory of God, and the richness of his grace, it was the Apostle Paul! His writings are quite full of profound expressions such as ‘his unspeakable gift’ or ‘ the unsearchable riches of Christ’.

And Paul fully recognized our need for the grace of God. He devoted his life to the quest of *dispensing the wonderful grace of God upon those who would repent and open their hearts to the…

View original post 3,636 more words

God can and will tell you who to marry

Mine

Does God show people their spouses? Will God tell you who to marry? What role does God play in your choice of mate?

In God told me he was going to be my husband I talked basically on the unfortunate circumstances that arise with the issue of “God told me they are the one for me.”

But I realized that there was a need for another article to counter another extreme.

Extremes exist in almost everything, and the solution to one extreme is not another extreme.

Because of the high frequency of failed “words from God” about marrying someone, some have adopted the stance on the issue which says God cannot and will never tell you who to marry. That it is all up to you to go about looking for a mate.

I believe that stance hurts the amazingly wonderful testimonies of those whom it is evident God spoke to them and led them to their spouses. And there are many of such testimonies.

Just because some experience failure doesn’t mean others do not register genuine success.

God is our Father. And his Fatherly heart will not be happy seeing us make fatal mistakes. He guides, he leads.

He tells us to ask for wisdom where we lack it, and he promises to give liberally, without grudging.

I believe you can and should expect God’s leading and guidance as you seek a wife or husband. As a Christian, you should not go into a relationship without seeking to know God’s mind concerning it.

Only, do not seek to have an exact experience with someone else. You are unique – the way God leads me may be different from the way he leads you.

You can and should ask God for guidance. You can pray God to expose the heart of that person to you as you get to know them more.

But remember that guidance in romantic relationships is usually clouded by our emotions, reason why it is unwise to be quick in concluding God has said this or that, or clinging to a supposed word from God in the face of roadblocks and red flags.

If you are in a relationship and your heart harbors reservations, for whatever reasons, do not ignore it. There’s high probability that’s the voice of God. If the person’s behavior causes serious concern, do not ignore it. God’s guidance is not some vague feeling, a thought or a voice that doesn’t align with the realities at hand.

Lastly, if you have waited and waited and waited, and the person you are waiting for is not coming to you, please move on with your life. This kind of scenario is recounted mostly by females. They ‘hear’ God tell them about a particular guy, but the guy is not coming around soon. So they keep waiting. And praying!

I do not recommend waiting, putting a part of your life on hold while waiting for someone God has revealed is yours. But in some cases, some have been made to wait, and the person finally came. I am not their judge. If God made them wait, that is very okay. It depends on where you are in your relationship with God.

But if you have waited long and the person has not come, stop rejecting the ones interested in you. I don’t know why God would make his child wait for five, seven or ten years, waiting for the other person to come to them.

It can be agonizing seeing the person ‘God has told you is the one for you’, and praying for them to make the first move or to reciprocate your love, yet they are not doing so.

I do not believe that when God created you, he also created your counterpart of the opposite sex, someone you were ordained to marry; someone you are inescapably bound to marry.

I have seen cases where someone believes their spouse is not the one God ordained for them, and they are ready to divorce and go marry the God-ordained one.

The increase in the cases of divorce and remarriage for unbiblical reasons among Christians today has made some not to take their marriage vows seriously. They can divorce and remarry for any reason, including ‘marrying the God-ordained one you had missed’.

Knowing the voice of God through intimacy with Him

For a Single seeking to hear God tell them who to marry, you must also seek to walk in closer intimacy with him so you can learn to hear and differentiate God’s voice from other voices.

Closer intimacy helps give you God’s perspective in life, it helps you understand the path God wants you to take in life and it also helps you understand the kind of mate you want. Two cannot walk together without agreement.

There should be in your heart, the kind of mate you desire. That’s what you should be concerned with, not who the particular person is.

So I’m saying God can tell you who to marry. Personally I believe it’s the best way of getting your spouse, as dangerous as some may consider it to be. It’s a thing of guidance, keeping you from making fatal mistakes, keeping you from experiencing painful breakups.

But I’m also saying, God’s leading is not a hallucination, a voice, a vision or revelation that you cling to while playing the ostrich, with your head buried in the sand.

I believed in God leading you to the right person, right from the time I got born again, but yes, I experienced failure. And I learnt.

You can ascertain the will of God, you can ‘examine’ what you are ‘hearing’ by looking at the present circumstances in your relationship, by not exalting a ‘conviction’ above the person’s character and attitude towards you.

Church responsibility

The churches need to do a better job in teaching singles to prioritize seeking God and seeking to do things the way he would want them to do. I can’t help but feel disappointed when I see in some circles today singlehood being treated as an inferior life and the single is pressured to get married – to whosoever. It doesn’t matter, as long as they are married.

It should be in church circles that singles are taught the values of dignity, integrity, healthy self-esteem and intimate relationship with God, instead of being made fun of or given the world’s methods of dating.

I remember an incident. It could have been my first, or one of my very first days in the youth meeting after my born-again experience. The lesson was on dating, and I remember asking a question: Can’t we just trust God to lead us to the right person?

In my mind, I didn’t mean just lazying around and hoping that no matter what we do, God is just going to lead us to that one we were ordained for. So don’t get me wrong. I just felt like there was something better than what was being taught.

The answer was nothing short from what a worldly person would give.

‘Seeking a mate is like going to buy a pair of shoes from a shoe shop. There are many shoes. How would you know the one that fits you if you don’t try them on? Try one, if it doesn’t fit, you try the next. Try and try until you get the one that fits’, as the guy in this other story does!

The difference is that human hearts are not inanimate shoes. Humans have emotions, and they get hurt when they are dumped for the next pair of human shoes. As such, you have pairs of shoes in churches who harbor resentment or who don’t talk to each other because of the hurt from those experiences.

God will tell you who to marry

He that is willing to be led of God will find his guidance available. The more you commit yourself to the Lord, the more he reveals his plan for you, including who to marry.

I wish I can give you a step by step approach. But the secret lies in your relationship with the Lord. It’s not a formula. Let him lead you.

A word about commitment to God

It is not uncommon to find single persons busy for God, because, they want a wife or husband. It becomes a bargain. You serve God, and then he rewards you with a spouse.

That is no commitment, for it has strings attached. If God doesn’t fulfill his part of the bargain on time, disappointment sets in. Some Singles then leave the church and start living in sin. They get married to people who are not Christians.

You can’t put God in a box.

Commitment to God is simply because He is God. When you decided to become a Christian, that was a decision to adhere to God’s standards and to live for him.

Dedication to him is about the whole of your life so committed to following him at any cost that you find your contentment in him alone.

Marriage comes, but not as a bargain with God. Commitment to God gives you an added advantage because in committing your life to godly principles, you avoid many unfortunate experiences common to Singles.

God can and will tell you who to marry. Seek him.

Additional reading

Fimba and the shoe shop (A parable)

Can you and should you trust God to write your love story?

The Dancing Clay Vessel

God told me he was going to be my husband

Mine

This post is Appendix One of a play I wrote titled, Mine!

“God told me John was going to be my husband. I was so happy, I incessantly prayed for John to come around.

Finally John asked me out. Few months later we got married and lived happily ever after.

How I wish that were the case. I had eagerly looked forward to the marriage and the ever after, but it never happened, because few months after we started dating, John walked away with another woman, leaving me heartbroken. And confused.

I did all I could to get him back. All in vain. I learned he later walked away from the other woman, before finally settling down with another woman.”

The example above is fiction, but one that does happen in real life.

I believe that until the Lord Jesus comes back, this issue of ‘God told me to marry them’ will remain among Christian Singles. It would be great if there are only success stories, but many times, they are not. Instead there usually is an abundance of regret, confusion and disillusion stories.

This has led some believers to conclude that God cannot and will not tell you who to marry. That is not true.

I counter that thought line in this other post God can and will tell you who to marry

I too had once been a victim of a failed ‘word from God’ about marrying someone. When the relationship crashed, I was devastated emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

I laugh now because I can’t believe I recovered; it was one of the darkest moments of my life and I didn’t believe that I can ever be normal again.

And it was not really because of the man, but because of the thought of having done something wrong to cause God’s will not to come to pass. I constantly wondered ‘But what about what the Lord told me’?

For a long time I blamed and hated myself. I had failed God. Since I got born-again I had believed and taught that we are supposed to trust God to lead us to the right person in order to avoid unfortunate relationships, but here was I with a negative testimony.

I hated myself and I believed God hated me too. I didn’t think he will ever use me again. I had become a useless and despised piece of nothing in his sight. I’ve really come a long way renewing my mind.

But after a long time, the scales began to fall off and I came to a place where I heartily appreciated God for deliverance, yes deliverance, for the path God wanted me to go in, the path he had always drawn my heart towards that direction, I would never have followed if he did not deliver me from that conviction!

I know several persons who have been victims as well; I know it is a perennial problem affecting Christian Singles.

The biggest problem that people who’ve ‘heard from God about marrying someone’ usually have is the ignoring of red flags. The ‘word from God’ trumps all logical reasoning and biblical principles. All the focus is on the ‘fact’ that God has spoken and the mistaken belief is that ‘all will be well; and we shall live happily ever after’.

It is true that sometimes what God tells us to do defies logic. For example, telling Moses and the Israelites to go forward while the Red Sea stared at them.

But in the case of relationships, that shouldn’t be the case.

To throw every piece of advice out the window while clinging to a ‘word from God’ about marrying someone whose actions are red flags and warning signs against such relationship, is not only stupid but dangerous. You are setting yourself up for regrets in the future, unless God’s mercies intervene.

That is not to say relationships and marriages don’t sometimes experience turmoil; that is not to say good relationships are perfect. But the case of someone constantly being abusive, constantly making life bitter for their partner, constantly giving you reason to regret the relationship, it’s just hard to believe God would give such a person to his son or daughter who is sincerely seeking to live for Him.

What Singles need to understand is that it is normal to have feelings for the opposite sex. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with admiring someone of the opposite sex and wishing they could be married to you.

They may possess qualities that you long for and that can cause you to want to have them. But there are things you can do to cause the admiration to either wane or intensify.

Unfortunately, many Singles only tend to intensify the feelings.

What is abnormal is to think those feelings as signifying something other than mere admiration or not considering it could be lust or infatuation.

This is especial consideration for the females, because they are usually on the receiving end, that is, they don’t usually make the first move.

Instead of thinking the desire for the guy normal (or lust to be resisted), she begins to entertain, nurture and intensify the desire, and sooner than later, she begins to ‘hear the Lord’ telling her he is going to be her husband.

She asks for confirmation to be sure God is really the one speaking to her; and she gets them (dreams, coincidences, even prophecies.).

Then begins the waiting period, waiting for the guy to make the first move. In some cases, the wait takes several years. Or she takes steps to make him notice her, and manipulates him into asking her out. Or she begins to pray what I call witchcraft prayers (see below), mentioning the guy’s name and asking God to make him desire her.

For the guy, the situation can be less burdensome. He can easily ascertain the ‘word from God’ by approaching the lady. If she turns him down, he can either dismiss the feeling or the ‘word from the Lord’ or he can persevere for some time in his ‘chase’.

Sadly, some choose to chase and chase and chase, rationalizing, dismissing and ignoring every red flag.

Pride keeps such from accepting the fact that God never spoke; that they were infatuated or probably the devil deluded them.

Many times the clinging to the ‘word from God’ even in the face of failure is usually because of the pain involved in accepting that the ‘voice’ that was heard was not God’s.

It was not easy for me when the relationship failed; I have spoken with others who also experienced failure, and it is not always easy accepting the reality. Tucked somewhere in a part of our mind is the belief that somehow we disrupted God’s plan; or that we were not prayerful enough and the devil outsmarted us; or that there was something we needed to do but didn’t do because we were ignorant of but didn’t take the effort to seek and receive wisdom and guidance from God.

All of that is grasping at illogical rationality aimed at protecting our ego, dignity and integrity, and avoiding the humiliation of self that comes with the realization that God never spoke to us; that we heard our emotions, desires or, the devil.

Experience is a teacher

But life experiences sometimes are a lesson for us to learn and be able to educate ourselves and others. When we fail to learn the lessons those experiences offer us, we continue to make the same mistakes.

A guy courts a girl claiming ‘God revealed…’, the relationship fails. He dates another, claiming the same thing. The second relationship also fails. He goes in for the third, still ‘hearing’ from God!

That makes God schizophrenic and unreliable – he says yes and no at the same time. He leads us into what he is not able to complete, he tells us they are our mate when he knows ahead of time they won’t come or they won’t accept us. That is not the God of the Bible.

What is important: Character or Confirmatory Sign?

Singles need to learn not to be overly concerned about whether God spoke or not as about the character of the person they are intending to marry. I know that doesn’t sound spiritual to some.

But if spiritual is what is responsible for so much heartbreak, confusion and a blurred image of God’s faithfulness, it’s high time to embrace the ‘less spiritual’ strategy.

The truth is if you are in a relationship that God doesn’t want you in, and you are in tune with God, willing to let go of emotions in order to listen to his voice in your spirit and the principles of his Word, God would make it known to you. So there shouldn’t be fear in the heart of any child of God as a result of not having ‘supernatural’ confirmations for their relationship.

About witchcraft prayers, I want to talk a little on it. It’s not just about relationships. The way some people teach prayer, it can lead one to engage in spiritual exercises that are synonymous with, if not actually, witchcraft – seeking to manipulate people’s mind against their will.

Unfortunately I don’t have a scientific method to prove it, but it’d sound more like something a witchdoctor would tell a client desiring a certain lover.

Consider a situation where two people are in a relationship, one partner wants it, the other is undecided, or may be having reservations and wanting to end the relationship.

But the person wanting the relationship (probably believing they are meant to be) is putting such a draw, such a pull, on the other person, spiritually through prayer, sometimes not actually directed to God, but more like the I-decree-and-declare type, that the undecided partner feels somehow ‘compelled’ to continue in the relationship even though his spirit may be vexed or grieved over the situation.

I’m struggling to explain this because it’s something I don’t know how to say, ‘this is how it works’. Maybe someone else understands the how, but I don’t. All I know is that it happens.

As a Single, you need to be careful. If you manipulate someone, whether knowingly or unknowingly, into marrying you, you’ll live to face the consequences tomorrow.

If you truly believe the ‘Lord has spoken to you’ please let be and let God do his work. Ascertain the will of God by allowing him to orchestrate circumstances to bring his will to pass. Desist from trying to make God’s will happen through your gymnastics.

You should never, never go into a relationship when your heart doesn’t agree, no matter the strong emotional drawings towards the person desiring your love.

One way God leads you is by putting peaceful desires in your heart. You may not like someone initially, but if you were meant to be, your heart would along the way desire (want) the person.

Don’t allow emotions to pressure you and drown out the voice of your spirit.

Don’t be quick to conclude, the Lord told you someone is your wife. Let the will of God unfold as you get to know the person more. Be open to the voice of God in your spirit, not through your emotions. Take red flags seriously.

Fimba and the shoe shop (A parable)

cowboy-boots-974937_640

A PARABLE FOR SINGLE GUYS AND LADIES.

Fimba, forsaken by sleep one Saturday night, searched for something to read for distraction. He stumbled on AMNON GETS MARRIED by Jane Aimee. He read the story right up to Amnon’s conversation with pastor Leonard in the church office, before passing out in sleep. And that’s all he read from the story.

The next morning during praise and worship in church, Fimba suddenly remembered the illustration in the novel about trying a pair of shoes before buying them, and if they don’t fit, keep them back on the shelf and keep trying others.

A cunning smile crossed his face. After service, he chose his first shoe to try out: her name was Linda. The shoe didn’t fit.

Every month for a year or more, Fimba tried a new shoe from the diversity of the congregational shoe shop: Juliet, Brenda, Janet, Cassandra etc. And in every circumstance there was always a reason why the shoe didn’t seem to fit. For example:

“I’m not really into her; she’s too short; she’s not well educated; we don’t look good together; her mother is fat! She doesn’t know how to cat-walk; she doesn’t feel my swag; she doesn’t have good fashion taste; Oh, look at that new shoe that just arrived!”

And he would tactfully return the “inconvenient” shoe to the shelf, or as in the case of Suzy, even propose it to another potential buyer.

Fimba’s luck ran out when he tried the clean, calm, dark, tall and slim, cat-walking shoe known as Rosalina.

Initially it was a heaven-made perfect fit. People admired him each time he wore the shoe to church and other public gatherings.

But then again… Fimba thought he could cook up some flimsy excuse to return the shoe to the shop and look for another fitting shoe. But unknown to him, on the sole of the shoe was written the inscription: ‘NO TRY-OUT. IF YOU TAKE ME, YOU MUST BUY ME’.

Every gymnastic to get the shoe off his feet and back to the shelf proved abortive. The shoe stuck to Fimba’s foot like Superglue Cent-Dix© on a surface of paper. If it must be returned to the shelf, it would do so at the cost of the leg.

The buyer was pathetic but the owner of the shoe readily packaged the parcel and handed it out.

Months later, Fimba came complaining to the sales boy at the shop.

‘Men, that shoe hurts like nothing I’ve ever experienced’. The sales boy replied ‘Patience, man. With just a little endurance and hard work it will finally fit. Don’t be too quick to complain or throw away your shoe.’

Fimba cried, ‘By the time the shoe can fit I will be walking on crutches or on a wheelchair, for right now my toenails have come out and the skin on my toes is blistering.’

‘Don’t worry’, the sales boy assured Fimba. ‘Endure for a little while. I think you’ll need copies of my Master’s books such as “DON’T THROW AWAY YOUR SHOE YET!” and “HOW TO GET HURTING SHOES TO FIT”. Try the techniques outlined therein. I wish you the best.’

With a sigh, Fimba paid and collected the books. He left the shop sad.

Let him that has ears hear!

Janet Bengan

Fiction for Teaching, Inspiration and Entertainment.

Going for her noble profession — Part I

self-love-3208894_640

Cynthia is unsatisfied being a nurse; she wishes to quit  her job and to do something she enjoys, but she’s scared of the possible outcome on her relationship with her boyfriend, Frank, the love of her life who always wanted a nurse for a wife.


 

The terrified mother watched with eager attention but somewhat soothed anxiety as the nurse, with the same dexterity that had broken the vial and sucked up the liquid drug into the syringe, carefully took off the luer lock plug and slowly pushed the drug into the child’s body, the lad being held down by his father.

In the twinkle of an eye, the status epilepticus attack was over as the boy sank into calm sleep.

After staying long enough to make sure he was completely calm, Cynthia took her tray and was heading back to the nurses’ station, when the relieved mother grabbed her arm and thanked her profusely for coming to her son’s aid.

“Ma’am,” Cynthia replied. “It’s my job. Rather thank God, he’s the one that spares lives.”
“Thank you, all the same,” the woman insisted. “You were careful. I have watched some other nurses and they are not as careful as you are.”

Cynthia returned to the nurses’ station, searched for the child’s file and documented what had happened and the intervention she had done.

The clock struck 2 a.m. She decided to go through the ward to see if every other child was calm. When nothing needed her attention, she returned to her seat.

Laughter came from the dressing room opposite the nurses’ station; Vera had been sitting there since 11 p.m., chatting with someone on the phone.

Cynthia refused to harbor resentment this time around – it was to no gainful use. She had objected to being paired with the negligent nurse – like many of her other colleagues – for the night shift, because instead of two nurses sharing the work, one usually took up most of the responsibility while the other spent the majority of the time locked up in the dressing room.

Her colleagues had complained and complained, but no one understood why the matron wouldn’t take drastic measures against Vera’s avoidance of duty, especially during the night shifts. During the day, when the supervisor’s eyes were on her, the lazy nurse was sure to be actively present on duty.

Cynthia sighed and leaned her head on the wall; it was time to give a little more attention to the pondering of her heart, thoughts which recently had become more and more audible.

She sighed for the second time, wishing that for once she could make a firm decision and follow it through. The mother who had just thanked her for saving her child’s life was one of those reasons the decision about her job was so hard to take.

How could she say she was not satisfied being a nurse when such commendation for her work and dedication abounded? For the four years of her working experience in the suburban health facility, the Nurse of the Year Award had alternated between her and one other male nurse, each receiving the award twice, and being a runner up twice.

What would she then say to her colleagues was the source of her wishing to make career path changes?

She sighed again. More disturbing than the opinion of her colleagues was that of her parents and…yes, Frank.

The day she had graduated from college, Daddy was the happiest man. He told one of his friends that he was very proud of his daughter because she had chosen as career a noble profession.

But Cynthia was aware that she had not really chosen, but had been rather counseled to choose that path, because it was a noble profession, and also much more importantly, because gainful employment after school was as sure as death after life on earth.

Being a Christian, she was meticulous in the discharge of her job description, reason why commendation was common place. But the commendations – and comfortable paycheck too – notwithstanding, she couldn’t fail to notice that all things being equal, her heart would love a change and her attention would be given to something else. Not even the prospect of more comfortable paychecks from beckoning opportunities in bigger facilities in the nearby city could satisfy the longings of her heart.

But her dream profession was very distant from her present field, so lacking in similarities, that sometimes she winced and felt ashamed at the thought that she could think of abandoning a noble profession for such a career.

She had tried to love Nursing, justifying to her heart that it was a noble profession; it also accorded her the opportunity to share the gospel – and she had seen a few people come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

How does one leave such a profession for one not so noble? She wondered. What would people think of me? Unspiritual? Crazy?

And what would Frank think? No, what would he do about their relationship should she muster enough courage to withstand her colleagues’ and parents’ criticisms and objections. At twenty three she was on her own – her parents may object, but as long as her sustenance didn’t come from them, their objection was not a very major obstacle.

Frank had told her he always desired his wife to work in the hospital milieu, whether as a medical doctor, a nurse or paramedic. He had confessed that each time he saw her in white, it was a wonderful pleasure – she looked more beautiful…and his love for her shot through the roof.

Cynthia had once asked him if that was the only reason why he was interested in her. His reply was in the negative, but she believed he gave the impression that her being a nurse scored greatly in his decision to date her.

Recently, he had begun making statements that said he would soon give her the engagement ring and the wedding would be around the corner. Cynthia was excited, but afraid. Excited because she loved him dearly, and afraid for a future where she might not be able to make a change because then she would have a husband’s opinion and decision to submit to.

She wished he could be of the type that wants stay-at-home wives; then she would happily quit her job and do nothing officially classified as a profession. How that sounded so appealing: staying at home and doing nothing was better than being forever stuck in a job she hated.

Frank was not of that type; he not only wanted a working wife, but had a choice in the kind of profession he wanted his would-be wife in: a medic or other healthcare professional

No one would understand the terrible dilemma Cynthia faced. A cursory look at her problem, if truly admitted to be a problem, could result in a casual solution, ‘just do what what makes you happy, to hell with Frank!‘ or ‘You’re not getting any younger, get married and be‘. But Cynthia wished to make changes to her career with the same intensity of desire that wanted to see Frank become her husband.

“Dear Lord, please help me,” she prayed.

At past 3 a.m., another mother came to the nurses’ station to inform Cynthia that her child’s infusion bag was empty and needed replacement. The nurse immediately took a full bag from the cupboard and followed the woman.

After replacing the infusion, she came back to the station. Vera was still giggling and laughing in the dressing room. Cynthia decided she had had enough; she confronted her colleague.

“Gee!” Vera shouted, with a a loud shallowness. “Is this how the time had flown? I’m so sorry, Cindy, I didn’t just take note. Marian is a great talker, we…”

“Go take up your responsibilities and save me the explanation,” Cynthia said.
“What is there to be done?” Vera asked, plugging the charger of her phone into a socket on the wall

Cynthia sighed. “Prepare for the 4 a.m medications.”
“But, Cindy, is that something you can’t do? Just how many children have medications for 4 a.m.?”

Vera then noticed Cynthia’s displeasure, and pleaded, “Please, let me just finish off this important message I was sending. Please. Just a sec.”

“I hope,” Cynthia said, “you won’t find fault with me when again I inform the Matron tomorrow about your conduct during working hours. For God’s sake, you’ve been on your phone for more than fours hours! A child could have died, and you wouldn’t know.”

Vera sighed and went out to the nurses’ station, followed by Cynthia.
“Vera, when you don’t do your job, you place a burden on others. It shouldn’t get you annoyed when they complain. Besides, you are being paid for the job.”

“Meager pay. Peanut money. If you call that  pay, I’d soon call the Matron an excellent administrator. My dear, that salary hardly goes for ten days after pay day.”

“But you accepted it, right? If you are unhappy with the remuneration here, go find a better place, and stop receiving payment for work not done. The city isn’t far.”
“It’s enough! What the…!”

The last exclamation with an expletive was not directed at Cynthia, but at the scene on Vera’s hand: one of her long fake fingernails had just torn the glove she was trying to put on.

Cynthia felt the urge irresistible: “If you kept your nails at the recommended length for nurses, you wouldn’t have had that happen.”
“To hell with all that nonsense. Think I should lose my taste of beauty just because I took some oath?”

“Vera, you can do your nails during vacation,” Cynthia refused to stay quiet. “You know the profession and the administration here frowns terribly at artificial and polished nails.”
“They can’t stop me from living my life,” Vera said, going for another glove.

Cynthia sighed and returned to her seat, from where she watched her colleague preparing the medication tray while muttering and getting angry with the tray and the medications.

It then struck Cynthia; the dissatisfied nurse realized she may one day reach a stage where she felt her job was taking away her true life from her; and then she might, like Vera, resent the rules and regulations of a profession and yet remain in it for the sake of a guaranteed paycheck at the end of the month.

She wanted change; she needed change. But what about Frank? What if he objected?

Janet Bengan
Fiction for Teaching, Inspiration and Entertainment

Story continues Going for her noble profession — part II

Extremes in conducting deliverance

The area of deliverance remains a controversial one. Many arguments surely arise. But a keen student of the Bible will undoubtedly agree that there are extremisms that more often than is realized, hurt their victims physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. People have died during deliverance. People have been wounded while undergoing deliverance. Others have succumbed to spiritual abuse in the search for deliverance. Embarrassing situations have been tolerated during deliverance that can make the average unbeliever wince at the thought that God’s people could think of such alternatives to biblical precedence.

also read Holy Ghost fire prayer is not biblical

Unless a strict adherence to Biblical precedence and the lead of the Holy Spirit that doesn’t contradict written Scriptures is encouraged, more harm will be incurred in this area. It is easier to copy formulas and methods than to search the Scriptures. It is easier to go with the physical than seek to be led of the Holy Spirit. It is easier to be moved by sight (manifestations) than by faith. But to please the Lord and bring honor to His name, His followers must endeavor to do things the way he intends for them to do.

It is my belief that the encouragement of right knowledge and practical right living will go a long way to deal with the rush in the quest for deliverance today. Many people seeking deliverance today do not in reality have demonic problems. It’s a mentality that has been programmed to associate every unfortunate happening or character flaw with demonic influence, but the Bible teaches us that there are works of the flesh (with consequences when indulged).

Galatians 6:7-8 KJV

7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting

The believer must fight against the works of the flesh, must put off the old man by renewing the mind with God’s word, and putting on the new nature which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Right living is not automatic for the born-again believer. It’s a conscious pursuit, a conscious submission to the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 4:22-24

22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

There is no deliverance from works of the flesh apart from walking in the spirit and putting to death what is earthly in us. You can’t cast out the flesh; you deny it dominance over the spirit. The Bible is very clear on this.

Yet it is common place for people to associate works of the flesh to demonic activity and have the ‘demon’ allegedly cast out.

Colossians 3:5

Mortify (put to death, deprive of power) therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: (brackets mine)

The list continues through verses 6-9 to include, malice, anger, obscene language, blasphemy and lies. These are all works of the flesh, characteristics of the sinful nature, which the new creature in Christ must seek to live above.

This practice of having works of the flesh allegedly cast out as ‘demons’ is not the only area of extremes and error in deliverance ‘ministries’ today. In some circles, anything goes. The Lord’s example and God’s word are basically kept aside in preference of new methods and formulas, some of which are all too popular but not only lack Scriptural backing, but in fact stand in stark contrast to God’s Word.

Did you know?

  • Neither the Lord Jesus nor the disciples ever asked demons to manifest. The demons usually manifested in the presence of the Higher Authority, and not because of obedience to a command. The Lord, as well as the early disciples, commanded devils to come out, to leave their victims; they were not interested in (and they did not enjoy watching) the victims of demonic influence manifesting.
  • Only once did the Lord ‘converse’ with demons. And that was a very short conversation. That instance cannot be used to commend the lengthy conversations with demon spirits in deliverance ministries today, sometimes accompanied with other activities such as dancing, testifying and prophesying (from demons!). That one time conversation did not include bargaining with the demon and asking it whether it would leave its victim or not.
  • Neither the Lord nor the disciples ever asked anyone to fill out questionnaires and go get “prepared” for deliverance. I’m not suggesting help doesn’t come from doing so, but I don’t see it in Scripture. In some ways, it helps empower the devil – he’s so powerful that days and days of preparation are needed to cast him out. Formulas replace the leading and inspiration of God’s Spirit.
  • The Lord and the disciples did not need to know the name, class and level of a demon before casting it out. Whether it’s the least among the demons or their master, Satan himself, it is the authority in the Name of Jesus that drives them out!
  • It may be possible that the Lord did not enjoy having a crowd ‘watching’ deliverance (? Mark 9:25). If he were today, would he take pictures of people rolling on the floor, etc. and post them on social media in exchange for likes, comments and shares? Would he use cameras and microphones to record and broadcast to the world? I am not saying those broadcasts are totally wrong, but some of what is broadcast shows there’s no consideration or compassion for the people involved. The people doing the broadcasts seek to promote themselves and their ‘work’. That is why in some circles, people who refuse to come on camera are denied prayer.
  • S/he is not a superhero minister who no longer argues with demons, who doesn’t release “fire and thunder”, who only gives a command in the name of Jesus and the devils obey. That is the Bible way, and should be seen as normal. Abnormal is any deliverance method that undermines faith in the powerful and effective Name of Jesus.
  • Apostle Paul would not receive commendation from an evil spirit. When the soothsaying spirit in Acts 16:16-18 announced to the public who the men of God were, Paul was vexed and rebuked it, setting its captive free.

Hearing God’s voice and being led by the Holy Spirit is indispensable in every Christian ministry. However, since hearing God is something subjective, staying with the clear instructions and principles of God’s written Word is very important in order to avoid accommodating error and weirdness. It is NOT the Spirit of God that orders for the unclothing of someone before deliverance can take place. It is NOT the Holy Spirit that inspires a male minister to kiss a female congregant for whatever reason. The strange and dangerous calisthenics being done and broadcast in the name of the Lord are not done under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is the work of false prophets and misled believers who haven’t taken time to search Scriptures, who have gone with man’s formulas, instead God’s Word.

Whether it is realized or not, extremes and errors hurt. God hates errors, false teachings and wrong practices. That is why he has given of his Word and his Spirit to guide us into all truth. And if we love God, we must hate what he hates and love what he loves; we must love truth and hate error. We cannot continue to see his Word relegated while man’s opinions take center stage, and yet we behave as if nothing serious is happening. We cannot remain indifferent in the face of what God is not indifferent about.

We must get so concerned that we go back to his Word and back to doing things the way he did and the way he wants us to do them.

We must encourage holy living, instead of promoting the dodging of responsibility by putting the blame of people’s actions on unseen demons.

This is not to say demons do not influence people to commit sin. They do. But if the many people seeking deliverance today will learn to submit to the Holy Spirit and the instructions of God’s Word, they would experience true and lasting deliverance and victory over sin. In the Bible we see that demons cast out are mostly those causing conditions such as epilepsy, deafness, speech impairment, soothsaying, sickness etc. I haven’t found an instance where a demon for fornication, drunkenness, stealing etc. was cast out. The Bible identifies these as works of the flesh and also gives a solution to them.

Galatians 5:16, 19-21

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest (clearly seen), which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

See benefits of spending time with God

The devil may influence and inspire people to sin, but the ultimate responsibility to act or not lies on the individual. The devil doesn’t make you do anything. You choose to succumb to his influence. In the same way, you can choose to succumb to the Holy Spirit’s influence.

Holy living is what we need, not the tagging demons and having them cast out.

Jane

Holy Ghost fire prayer is not biblical

 

One area in the church in which there are popular but wrong teachings and practices is the area of prayer. And when a wrong practice is popular, it becomes very hard to come against it. What people have been used to doing takes effort to let go. The tendency is to criticize any contrary view and to continue to hold unto what is wrong. It is my hope that someone reading this will keep aside feelings and opinions about this way of praying and  look to Scripture for enlightenment.

There are many teachings and practices in the Body of Christ that seek to undermine and subvert faith in the Name of Jesus and the power in that Name. Holy Ghost fire, by thunder by fire prayer, by fire by force prayer is one of them.

I personally don’t know where the phrases, “by thunder, by fire”, “by fire, by force”, “holy ghost fire”, “holy ghost machine gun” came from. It is my speculation that someone tried to cast out demons in the Name of Jesus, and it didn’t work. The results were not what was expected. More like the case of the disciples and the epileptic boy while the Lord was on the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:14-20). Then comes a difference in the reaction to the failure: while the disciples were confused with their results and sought the Lord for the reason for their failure, the by thunder by fire proponents believe the Name of Jesus alone is not enough to chase out a demon spirit. To the Name must be added fire, thunder, lightning, bullets, all spiritual, in order for devils to obey the command to leave their victim.

Another source of support for this kind of deliverance prayer is from testimonies and confessions. Someone confesses that they were experiencing heat or that they actually saw fire when they were being delivered, and that becomes a foundation for a teaching or practice that has virtually replaced the Name of Jesus with fire, thunder, lightning etc. “I command you by thunder by fire… to come out”.
I once told someone that this kind of prayer is not biblical; you can’t find any Scriptural example for this. They told me they don’t pray by thunder by fire; they pray by thunder by fire, in the Name of Jesus. I then said, why don’t you just scrape off the by thunder by fire phrase, and pray in the Name of Jesus as the Bible demands? They told me they cannot. That is to say the power of their prayer rests in the belief in the spiritual fire or thunder than in the Name of Jesus.

This same mentality is to be found in the adherents of anointed objects. They tell you their faith is in the Lord, not the object, but if you tell them to trust God without the mediation of their objects (usually bought at exorbitant prices) they would tell you they can’t. They don’t believe God will listen to a simple prayer made in faith in the Name of Jesus. They need to spray or drink anointed water, oil, “blood”; they need to touch the anointed picture of their favorite prophet; they just need something physical, before they can believe God. But that is not faith.

The Lord Jesus never did cast out demons by fire by thunder. His disciples never did. Paul never did. The questions that beg for an answer now is “has this generation encountered new demons and an advanced Satan that will not obey the authority in the name of Jesus of Nazareth?” “Has the name of Jesus over the years lost its power and authority so much so that fire, thunder, lightning must be added unto for the same results in the bible to be produced today?”

I honestly believe the devil not only loves this way of coming against him and his host, he actually encourages it: as long as it takes away the believer’s focus and authority from the powerful Name of Jesus, the forces of darkness are having a wonderful time. As long as the believer sweats and frets over one demon to see it leave, that’s just wonderful. And more wonderful, as long as some devils can be imagined and much effort used in releasing fire, earthquake etc. to kill them, that’ll be great.

The reason for the appeal and popularity

This way of praying is emotionally satisfying. As humans we are emotional beings and whatever we don’t feel satisfied about, it’s hard to believe in. Faith is faith and emotions are emotions. The two are deadly enemies. It is hard on the emotions and sight to simply give a command in the Name of Jesus and believe it is accomplished. We feel satisfied when we have shouted out our lungs, raining down spiritual fire, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, because in our minds we can give a picture to what is happening, which in turn affects the way we feel about the situation and our praying. I think it does something to the person commanding, when he sees the demonized person reeling under “fire”.  He feels more powerful.

Second, situations have been encountered where a command was given in the name of Jesus and the devils apparently did not obey. What should one do in such a case? We will talk more on that below.

Third, the make-believe world receives some credit here for the appeal and popularity of the by thunder by fire prayer. This is no indictment against Christian scriptwriters and film producers, but it’s a call for theologically-correct stories. Christian movies should be a medium for teaching and correction, not propagation of false teachings wrong practices.
But doesn’t it work?

I won’t be quick to say it doesn’t work at all. As I have heard said “even a blind squirrel can once in a while come up with a nut,” I believe there are some good results that do come from believers who have genuinely but ignorantly adopted that way of dealing with Satan and demons. But the results could be better, like the results of the Lord and the apostles, who only gave a word of command and it was done. Instantaneous results. No bargaining with evil spirits.
What should you do when demons refuse to leave?

In the instance where the disciples could not cast out the demon from the epileptic boy, the Lord rebuked them for their unbelief, not the method they had employed. Probably they didn’t use the name of the Lord in faith or perhaps when the demon manifested, the sight of the boy convulsing made them give in to unbelief that countered the faith they initially had when they gave the command for the demon to leave the boy; instead of standing in faith, they watched the scene in unbelief. The Lord told them how to deal with the unbelief; He didn’t introduce a new way of dealing with Satan, because it has always been about authority, and that authority will always be about Jesus, not some object.

What about the manifestations that take place when “holy ghost! Fire! Thunder!” is released?

The issue of manifestations is another deceptive area. Before God’s bar, I can confidently say that not all manifestations are genuine. Because it is being expected and sometimes even demanded, some people have manifested when there was nothing happening spiritually. Secondly, if you put someone in a kind of posture and shout on them, they will certainly manifest. Someone with hands lifted up and head tilted behind or stomach punched with a fist will manifest. It’s not any demon in them. It’s the effect of the posture, the punch and the shouts. Someone being commanded to manifest will in the long run ‘manifest’ if they keep opening their minds to the desire to obey the command. That is why there are manifestations upon manifestations, yet no lasting transformation in so many lives.

Manifestation is nothing in itself if nothing truly happens. Depending on a manifestation or lack of it to determine the presence or absence of evil spirits has caused deception and some consequent damages in the area of deliverance. As believers, we desperately need the gift of discerning of spirits, not physical manifestations.

Could this not be about semantics? Doesn’t the actual power lie in the name of Jesus?

As mentioned above, people believe the power lies in the fire, thunder or whatever, even if they refuse to admit it. If they can’t pray in the Name of Jesus alone, then it is evident they don’t believe the Name is powerful and effective enough. It is not about semantics! I wouldn’t waste my time writing this if I believe it’s all about semantics. I have seen the practice and how some Christians are willing to cling to it regardless of what examples the Scripture have to offer.br />
Devils fear nothing like the name of Jesus. The authority in that name signifies satan’s defeat. He can’t stand that Name when it is called in faith. He is obliged to obey the command. Lack of proper knowledge in that Name has given rise to situations where you see people arguing with demons, with the latter vehemently refusing to obey the command to leave the person they have demonized. Why? Because when it comes to by fire by thunder, by fire by force, by earthquake etc. even if the phrase “in the name of Jesus” is attached to those phrases, the devils can contend. These evil forces obey authority and they can tell when one doesn’t know their authority in Christ. They don’t just obey words; they obey words spoken with authority. The authority is not in the tone of voice, how much you can shout. It is faith in the power and the authority in the Name of Jesus.

If you meet a devil who is contending with you, don’t graduate from the Name of Jesus, to fire or force. Go back to the word and study the authority that is yours in the name of Jesus. The devil doesn’t obey you, he obeys the authority you carry, the Jesus you call upon

Let’s restore the glory of the wonderful Name of Jesus. We can do that by learning the power behind that Name and calling it in faith. And should we encounter failure like the disciples of the Lord, let us learn to ask Him, “Lord, why couldn’t we cast out this demon?” and He would enlighten us on what to do. Let’s not cling to methods that undermine the authority and power in the Name above all names, that Name to which every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that the bearer of the Name is Lord of lords. Hallelujah!

Panic Attack or the voice of God?

upset-534103_640

Before I understood what was going on, I was confused and exasperated. Very exasperated. Why would God always say ‘No’ to whatever I wanted to do? If I wanted to go to school, he would say no. If I wanted to learn a skill, he would say no. Everywhere I turned, I was sure to get a ‘no’ from him, sooner or later.

The bigger problem was that he seemed never to give another direction; he always waited until when I’d made a decision about something, then he would just come in and say, ‘no’, leaving me confused, and wishing he could just visibly appear to me and tell me CLEARLY all he wanted me to do, and not only wait for me to make a decision so he can come in and cancel it.

The ‘no’ was usually in the form of pangs in the gut when I thought of the thing I intended to do, weak limbs or a racing heart in the middle of the night that would wake me up. All the feelings could be present in one instance or there could be just one or two in another case. They always resulted in me becoming less enthusiastic about the project in question. And if I let go of the thing I intended to do, then I’d be okay, symptom-free.

I always took that to be the voice of God, until after so many times of this occurrence, spanning several years, I began to suspect it was not. God is a loving Father. His leading is clear and gentle, not the symptoms described above that left me confused and emotionally drained. God would not always say no, and never, yes.

But if this was not God’s voice, then what was it? I didn’t have a name for it. I didn’t know what it was.  I could describe the symptoms but I could not tell what I was suffering from.

One morning, I asked the Lord, forcefully, to help me understand what it was. It was hard even admitting that it was not his voice, but I had to ignore the feelings and by faith talk to my Father about the condition. I asked him to help me understand about the ‘pangs’ or ‘flutter’ in my stomach each time I made a decision about something.

The answer was instant, and it was this blog post. The author describes almost exactly what I was going through, even using the same word, exasperated. From the comments on the post, I realized it was somewhat of a common problem.

It was great knowing those feelings were not God saying no. Over the years, I have come to understand some about the condition called panic attack. It has something to do with the fear of man, the fear of man’s negative opinion and disapproval, and the fear of the unknown. Someone who has suffered from low self-esteem, much self-consciousness and a desire to have the approval of men in order of have any self-worth is a likely candidate. And a sometimes, it’s a pure demonic attack coming through condemnatory thoughts that make you begin to have some sort of misgiving about God’s leading.

I have mostly experienced the latter in my journey of trying to follow God’s plan for my life. Had I not discovered earlier that there is a difference between panic attack and God truly saying no through a check in my spirit, the devil would have succeeded to derail me from the path God wants me to walk in.

God sometimes says no to our plans and desires. Because he loves us and seeks to prevent us from making bad decisions and choices, he does intervene and stop us from proceeding in a wrong path. But his no is different from panic attacks. In cases where his Word does not clearly guide, he communicates his will in that particular case to our spirits. It could be a check in our hearts that makes us want to reconsider the intended plan, a ‘something’ within that makes us NO LONGER WANT to do what we intended to do before, or it could be a waning of the excitement we had initially. When we say yes to the check or the ‘something’ and let go of our plans, there is joy and peace in our spirits, not confusion and exasperation.

If you’ve experienced panic attacks and God’s leading through a no in your spirit, you know there’s a big difference between the lack of peace that comes from fearing the opinion of man or the unknown, and the lack of peace that results from your spirit grieving over a wrong decision or choice, or wrong course you about to take.

I don’t know if have articulated the explanation well. I just thought to bring to someone’s attention that there’s a difference between panic attack and the voice of God. To bring to someone’s attention that they might be entertaining as God’s voice something that is not. This is especially important when you have a sincere desire to walk in step with God, where you do not want to do something he does not sanction. Panic attacks and the devil can keep you grounded, confused and exasperated at what you consider God’s dealing, when it actually is not.

If you do not understand that there are conditions that can mimic the voice of God, which panic attack in decision making is an excellent example, you may experience frustration and exasperation like I did. God is a Father, and he does not exasperate his children. He guides us. He does so primarily through his written word, and in situations where his word doesn’t clearly show a path to follow, he still makes us understand what he would want of us in that particular situation. And when he does, we experience true peace within. Even in situation where he would say no, and keep you waiting without an immediate clearer option, you’d experience peace, if your mind is stayed on him.

If your heart loves the Lord, and your mind is stayed on him, any leading that leaves you exasperated is not from God. If you do not feel true relief, joy and peace when letting go of something you had planned to do, then doubt if the leading to let go is truly of God.

A word about overcoming panic attack.

I’m just talking here from my personal experience, what worked for me.

I decided to face the fear and the source of the attack. From adolescence, I suffered from the fear of man. I was so self-conscious that the thought of having someone have a negative opinion of me was unpleasant. I can’t say I have completely overcome; but I have witnessed tremendous improvement. But the thing that brought the victory, after I realized it was not God always saying no to my decisions, was a decision to face the source of the fear and to make a firm decision to damn the consequences, be it the displeasure of man or fear of the unknown, and just do what God wants me to do.

Facing fear or the source of fear is no pleasant job, but it helps to reveal that the greatest fear is fear itself, and not what is feared. To me that caused less and less ‘pangs’ in my stomach when I made a decision and stuck with it. As long I can differentiate the fear from a check in my spirit, I choose to face the fear.

About satan using condemnation to cause thoughts of fear and confusion, feelings which can sometimes cause you to doubt God, one of my friends recently gave me a strategy that works superbly. This year, out of the blues, I received an attack that was more than anything I’d experience in a long time. For several days I was under heavy condemnation and feelings of inadequacy. I knew it was not God speaking those thoughts into my mind. It was the devil.

It was so bad that I got panic attacks in the night. Thank God I knew better than to conclude God was saying anything to me through those feelings. I rebuked the devil, I countered the thoughts, but they just persisted. I then complained to some very dear friends, and they gave me a simple strategy. Just ignore the condemnation. And stand. Simple, isn’t it?

So I just ignored and stuck with what God had instructed me to do. That left the devil with nothing to successfully fight against me. He did all the talking, telling me what a jerk I was, and when I did not agree with his report, when I did not respond in fear or withdrawal from the path God wants me to go in, he got ashamed and began to shut up.

It may be ridiculous that anybody should consider a panic attack as the  voice of God, but I used to think so. Maybe someone out there  still does. That is the reason for this post. I pray God uses my example to explain it better to someone who might be experiencing what I went through.

God bless,

Jane

Intimacy with God is not given, it is pursued

beach-1868772_1920

I have always wanted from the time I became born-again to know God in an intimate way. From the moment I believed in Jesus, I always knew God was a living God and that it is possible to live in very close fellowship with Him, hearing His voice clearly and obeying Him fully.

Yet that dream eluded me for the most part of my Christian life. The hunger never seemed to be satisfied no matter how intense I desired to know God more. Now I’m not saying a Christian should and can come to a place where they don’t desire or see a need for more of God, but I’m talking about coming to a place where relationship with God is not shallow. Where it is not just about going to church, being busy with activities, or even having knowledge of Scriptures. I’m talking of the place where you know that you know that you know, “God is with me, He’s my Father, my Friend, I talk to him, and I hear him talk back to me. I actually enjoy him.”

From my personal experience and from interactions with others, I know it’s a genuine desire of many of God’s dear children, majority of whom never come to know God in ways that are satisfactory to his fatherly heart.

Why did it take me so long?

It is worth saying that intimacy with God is neither instantaneous nor automatic for anyone who gets born-again. Salvation opens the door for relationship with God, yet individual Christians experience various levels or degrees of fellowship with God. Why?

  • Intimacy is developed

Becoming more intimate with God is a process. You begin relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, and you start learning about God and His ways through His Word and through developing a prayer life (style). Somehow, it is right to say you can’t microwave this stage, but it would be right as well to say there are things you can do to slow the process or to never arrive at knowing God more intimately, which is where the next points come in.

  • Desire is not enough

Desiring to know God more will NOT make you know Him if the desire is not being matched with corresponding actions of fellowship with God and studying His Word. We must act on the desires springing up in our hearts in order to see the dreams realized.

  • Prayer is not the solution

By prayer here I mean petitioning God to make you know Him more as if intimacy will come as an answer to prayer, without responsibility on your part. That was a big one with me. For years I prayed, “O Lord, I want to know you more.” But honestly my study of the Word and my prayer life were neither consistent with nor commensurate to the desire in my heart. I read Christian books and listened to audio teachings, and though that helped greatly, it still fell short of my desire as I acquired a head full of knowledge. And I would sometimes pray, “Lord, I want the kind of intimacy that So-and-so had or has with you.” and finally the answer to my prayer was point  below.

  • Intimacy is not given. It is pursued

As your God and Father, the LORD is withholding nothing from you that he desires you to have. And the primary purpose of our creation and salvation in Christ Jesus is to have children can relate with in very intimate ways. Therefore it is not God that determines how intimate with him you can be. It’s your responsibility.

I know that can be a little hard for some to receive, but it’s the truth. It would be great if we could aimlessly browse the internet all day every day, watch all the movies we can, attend to everything that demands our attention, and somehow still arrive at being intimate with God. But that’s not how it works.

One of the heroes I was looking at his life and desiring such intimacy with God has an account of his life where his family rejected him and he lived some time as a homeless young man, sometimes outside in the winter snow, and during those moments, he just loved on God. If he was chatting with others and it was time to go talk with God, nothing would stop him from doing so. He would quietly withdraw from the company and make time for God.

The question I asked myself when I realized intimacy is pursued was whether this guy never had the same human limitations I do. Of course, if he was human, he did. Yet how many times had I excused not spending time with God for various reasons, “I am chatting on social media, I might miss out on something important if I now go talk with God”, “the morning is too cold, let me sleep a little longer,” “My body feels weak, let me rest awhile” (only to wake up hours later to do other business). “I feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray or study, but…er…” and yet desiring more of God! That doesn’t sound anyway closer to a pursuit. It’s called wishing, and it won’t get the job done!

  • Intimacy is a living relationship.

Busyness and service can never replace intimacy with God. Yesterday’s devotedness will never excuse today’s complacency, laziness and procrastination. Hearing God’s voice is imperative at all times. It’s not about having knowledge of God; it’s knowing him, becoming more intimately acquainted with him as we learn to recognize his voice more clearly. It is possible to have the right theological knowledge and yet not know God, therefore, while we need to have correct knowledge of God, we need to seek a daily living relationship with him. He is a living person, not some abstract force or power somewhere out there. We can know him. He wants us to.

  • A pursuit is a conscious adventure.

It’s been said so many times that the message has been drained out of the statement, “you need to make out time for God”, but the reality of that encouragement remains till the Lord comes again.

If we do not consciously and intentionally make out time for God, our relationship with Him suffers, and no amount of desire or prayer for more of God will make us know God more.

Choose today to make relationship with God a priority. Spend ample time with him, in praise and worship, in listening to his voice, in prayer taking even the tiniest concerns of your life to him. He is your Father.

Psalm 27:8 KJV

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

God bless,

Jane

4 Hindrances to developing an intimate relationship with the Lord

beach-1868772_1920

When I talk about intimacy with God, I simply mean knowing God better and walking in close fellowship with him through spending time in studying the word and in prayer, the result of such a relationship being a life of joy, peace and you becoming more and more sensitive and able to discern God’s voice and leading in your life

I believe every true child of God loves to know God more, to know His word more and to walk in obedience to His leading. That’s because it is God’s will for our lives. He forgave our sins so we could enter into a lifelong intimate relationship with Him; so every one who has received the gift of salvation has a desire to know God more.

But the truth is many of God’s children seem not to have that kind of relationship. Many of God’s dear children live in ignorance of His word and have an almost non-existent private prayer life.

Many people go to apostles, prophets, pastors or spiritual leaders to hear specific words from God for them because they can’t understand or hear God on their own. While God has endowed people in the Body of Christ with spiritual gifts and we have scriptural precedent to prove God did speak to people through others, God’s best is for every of His child to walk in close relationship with Him that they begin to hear His voice for themselves, not depending on an intermediary, with its potential dangerous outcomes. I think it is a comic picture to be a Christian but always depending on someone else to hear from God and tell you what God wants to tell you. That’s a faulty relationship. The Lord Jesus opened the way into the presence of God for every one of God’s children! We should not so depend on others that we become complacent and lazy in our personal relationship with the Lord.

Someone may however not be complacent, and yet, intimacy with God remains an elusive idea. The more they want to know God, the further He seems to be. And that is frustrating. I have been there. I loved God and wanted with every desire of my heart to know Him more and grow in my Christian life, but it always seemed so hard that there were times I concluded God didn’t care about me. It seemed to me I was pursuing a god who didn’t want me. That kind of situation that makes you begin to wonder whether you are among those considered the Elect.
Thanks to God I was able to recognize the hindrances for what there are, and be able to share them with someone in hope of encouraging them to take hold of the relationship which the Lord Jesus came to usher us into.

  1. Legalism

Legalism is a disease and should be avoided like the plague. It is deceptive because on the surface it passes for sanctification or holiness but the aim of legalism is to earn the favour and acceptance of God through your own efforts instead of receiving the free gift of God by faith alone. Instead of looking to Jesus, the legalist looks to themselves by keeping a set of self-imposed rules and regulations in order to be pleasing to God.

Tired
Legalism makes Christianity a stressful experience. It doesn’t make the presence of God a place to be.

Christianity is not outward, though the outward matters because it reflects what is on the inside, but as far as God is concerned, being is more important than doing. And one may truly be born again but still think they have to maintain their relationship with God through followings some strict rules. That is the mentality Paul warns against in Galatians 3.

Legalism cannot permit you to enjoy relationship with God because the focus is always on you and not Jesus, and usually on your sins and failures, resulting in guilt and condemnation.

The only cure for legalism is to know that God in Christ loves you unconditionally, and accepting the grace of God.
Take time to study about God’s love for you. It will liberate you from condemnation and cause you to love God so much in appreciation that you would love spending time in the word and prayer, no more to impress God with your Bible reading, but to know Him better!

2. Laziness, procrastination and complacency

These hindrances are grouped together because they usually go hand in glove and are mostly caused by an abundance of distractions.

tv-1015427_640
Much of what we watch on the screens (TV, tablet, phones) is not useful, yet in many cases, they are the reasons why there’s no time for the things of God.

There will always be a good reason not to have time for the things of the Lord. We live in a busy and high-pressure world.

Yet intimacy with God is pursued; it is not something that happenings automatically. Relationship with God must be prioritized before it can have a permanent place in our to-do list. We must therefore be purposeful about cutting off distractions, internal as well as external. They could be hobbies, television, friends, social media etc.

You see distractions are not necessary bad things. They only become distractions when they take all of our time or permit very little time for the things of God. They become distractions when spiritual things can wait and not vice versa.

If you withdraw yourself from unnecessary talking and idle running about, from listening to gossip and rumors, you will find enough time that is suitable for holy meditation

Thomas a Kempis: The Imitation of Christ.

3. Lack of self-discipline

When talking about relationship with God, it is important to know consistency in seeking God is very important. You won’t benefit much from the exercise if you go for days, weeks without spending time studying the Word or being alone with God, and then one or two days, you get serious only to let go again for the next couple of days or weeks.

The flesh hates to study, it hates to pray. But you can discipline it to the place where it is pliable and that only happens on a consistent basis. If you pray, study or fast only when your body agrees to, it would be difficult for you to maintain consistency in seeking God because your body doesn’t feel the same always. Put time for God and prioritize seeking God such that your flesh is not the umpire on how things go.

4. Misunderstanding the presence of God.

While I definitely encourage special times of aloneness with God, it is important to note that we can cultivate the habit of always being conscious about his ever-presence with us. The presence of God is not a place or an activity. It can become the atmosphere we live in because God is Omnipresent. Spending thirty or whatever number of minutes per day alone with God and then living the rest of the day as if God does not exist is not productive on your overall spiritual life.

And remember you don’t always have to go somewhere private. Depending on your circumstances, that might be hard to always do. So while at work, traveling, in the market etc. you can discipline your mind to stay focused on the things of God. His presence is everywhere. You can get alone with him or you can just tune in wherever we are.
I purposely didn’t include sin as one of the hindrances, but knowing someone might think about it as a hindrance, I want to say that it’s just the opposite. In saying this, I must quickly add a disclaimer: I do not condone sin. God’s word has standards and every genuine born-again believer must live according to those standards.

Intimate relationship with the Lord hinders sin. If I were to talk to someone struggling with a particular sin or habit, and thinking if only they could stop it then they would become intimate with God, I would tell them to get closer to God and see the power of that sin weakened. It is impossible to consistently and sincerely seek God with the right knowledge, and live in habitual sin.

Spending time with God, getting busy with the things of the Lord, does not mean you lose the ability to sin, neither does it mean temptations will cease. It means the ease with which you could sin with before is no longer the same. The effective presence of God weakens the power and influence of sinful habits, and it is also true that a neglected closet strengthens sin.

You can let the things of God so dominate you that you get “addicted”, and it would take you time to adapt to a sinful lifestyle if you stop seeking God.
Whatever be the hindrance to you developing an intimate relationship with the Lord, you can choose to overcome it. There’s nothing as sweet as walking in close fellowship with God.

God bless,

Jane