Saturday, January 31, 2015

Know Your God_31 Reasons To Be Grateful

Thirty-one days of 2015 have flown past in a flash. January was very busy and challenging month. It was also a fulfilling and inspiring month in many ways. It was a month during which I experienced many instances where I had to consciously and consistently force my spirit, heart, emotions and body to align with the word of God. I am truly grateful to God for the way He used January to set the tone for my walk with Him in 2015.  I know without any iota of doubt that this is going to be an exciting year that will take me to a new level in my relationship with God and in the direction of fulfilling His call on my life.

I am glad and will testify on December 31st how blessed I am to know my God deeply, intimately, and truly.

“…but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”
Daniel 11:32b

Today's blog post is the outcome of my reflections on the many lessons I learnt in January. They were checkpoints where my knowledge of God was the anchor for my soul and the sole source of peace. They gave me more than thirty-one reasons to be grateful that I know my God. I will by the grace of God expand on some of them in future blog posts.

Deep Conversations With Self: I think one of the first set of lessons I learnt this year, was to reinforce the truth that I am significant and relevant first and foremost because of who I am in Christ Jesus. I am also significant and relevant in God's kingdom agenda. I have a specific role to play and God has assigned me a unique space to lead by influence and make an impact.

I grew deeper in the knowledge of God as I studied again the Book of Ruth guided by a book titled The Gospel of Ruth written by Carolyn James. The book placed Ruth in the context of her environment at her time. It made all the difference. I got to know God deeper through a deeper understanding of the lives of Naomi and Ruth. I will dedicate a post to this soon.

The Changing Phases of Motherhood:
In 2015, my first born son will turn 21. He is a man in his own right, who is developing significant relationships beyond our immediate family. I saw my once-a-baby making significant decisions and plans of his own. But above all, I saw him in a situation, where his knowledge of God and personal relationship with Him was illuminated brilliantly.

My second son will turn 18 this year, and will leave home for the university. I saw his deepening desire to grow in the knowledge of God. I saw him and his brother displaying strength and calmness in the face of disappointment and difficult situations, when things did not go the way they wanted.

These two young men gave me many reasons this month to be confident in God that He is able to keep them deeply rooted in Him whether they are at home or 8000km away from home. They gave me many more reasons to give praise and thanks to God.

Growing in this confidence is an on-going process enhanced by me having a deeper knowledge of God. Believe me, I went on several emotional roller coaster since December contemplating the change that is bound to take place in my family this year as my husband and I become empty-nesters.

State Of The Union:
I spent many hours seated on my wheelchair with arms folded over my chest staring at the snow-covered field beyond my house in contemplation. It got me reviewing the state of my union with my husband. I asked myself how ready we are for life together without our children at home. I learnt that in the busyness of life, it is easy drift to the mundane, to the things that do not have direct relevance for the growth of our marriage. As a couple we must make conscious effort to keep our relationship vibrant, vital, rich and thriving.

The deeper I grow in the knowledge of God the more I understand how important and significant my marriage is to God and His Kingdom. It is not just about me and my husband, there is so much more that's hinged to the success of my marriage. I learnt again that my husband and I have to work together to ensure that we don't take each other and our marriage for granted, and we make every effort not to let our marriage fall into a state of disrepair. We can accomplish this by having a shared focus on God and a shared goal of fulfilling His purpose for our marriage.

My husband always says that better must not be the enemy of good, meaning that we must not neglect to appreciate what we have while seeking for something better. So I learnt that I must be very grateful for where I am in my marriage but must continue to strive for the best God has for us. I discovered many more reasons to be grateful to God for my husband in this process. For as long as we have breath, there is always a deeper dimension and a higher level to attain in our relationship with our spouses and with God.

Refuting Arguments:
Studying the Gospel of Luke is a requirement for the Lifesprings School of Ministry training I embarked on last October—quite a journey indeed. More on that later. While studying again Luke, I saw quite vividly the way Jesus refuted all the arguments of the enemy and resisted devil's temptations with the word of God.

There were some times this month that all I wanted to do is just stay in my bed and not get up. My mind was assaulted with many suggestions and arguments by the devil. My body was discomfited and sometimes felt disjointed. And yet this is the same month that I have been learning so much about God. The enemy is very clever. I learnt through these experiences that it is not sufficient to have a head knowledge of God. It has to be an active knowledge where we use the word of God to refute the arguments and distractions of the enemy, and the dictates of our daily circumstances.

I learnt that I have to align my spirit, emotion and body to the word of God on a daily basis. This brings an indescribable peace.

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. – 2Peter 1:2

On National Issues:
There is so much going on in my country in view of the forthcoming elections. Following the discussions on the social media has been disheartening. The word of God has provided a solid anchor for my soul as I travail in prayer for the Almighty God to put His sovereign power on display in my nation. I know that God rules in the affairs of men. I know that He knows the deep intents of hearts of men. I know His understanding of the events of our lives as a nation is beyond that which we can perceive. He has the life of every living thing in His hands. He holds the power over every nation. All the intrigues of politics and power play are plain before His sight. Ultimately, men will only discern what is right to do only if they know their God and trust in Him for insight and guidance. And that is my prayer: that God will grant each of us a spirit of discernment and demonstrate His majesty and power in the affairs of our nations.

I got to know God in a deeper way:
It is amazing how much more I learnt about God this month and how deeper I have grown in Him through this in-depth study of what it means to know God. It has been a worthwhile investment of time. If you want to take the study of knowing God deeper, I strongly recommend the following books;

-          The Attributes of God by A. W. Tozer
-          Knowing God by J. I. Packer
-          Also take some time to study the sermons of Charles Spurgeon.

Today’s post is long. I switched off my self-edit button and simply poured out my heart on this page. I wanted you to know just how much I am so grateful that I know the Almighty, All-sufficient and Omnipotent God as my God every single day of January. I am grateful He knows me as His daughter.

Dear Friends, in the world we live in today, Know Your God is not optional. It is a deliberate choice every child of God has to make. It is not going to happen by wishful thinking, it will take your willingness and an investment of your time to dwell in God’s presence until you know Him as intimately as He wants you to.

Please take time to ponder on the following questions;
-          What difference has knowing the Lord God make in your life this year?
-          Can you think of something you did or something you said during January that showed someone else that you really know the Lord and that you are a child of God that you have something that changes men’s hearts, you have a gift and it changes the way they live?
-          How does the knowledge of God reflect in your life in times of adversity and challenges?

In what ways are you grateful that you Know Your God? What steps are you willing to take your relationship with God to a deeper level this year? Share in the comment box below and let’s keep encouraging one another.

May the grace and peace of God be multiplied to you in increasing measures as grow in the knowledge of God.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Know Your God_Part Two

In the first part of Know Your God posted last week, I shared why it is important to know God especially at the brink of the unknown and when we face trials and persecutions. I will continue on this subject in this blog post.

According to J.I. Packer, the author of Knowing God;

“The highest science, the loftiest speculation and the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, nature, work, doings and existence of the great God whom he calls Father.”

Therefore, the most fulfilling depth of understanding and height of knowledge that man can ever aim to attain is to know God.

Who is this great God that we need to know and have a personal revelation of?

We know from the scriptures that all the changes and events in our world today have been plainly and perfectly foreseen by God. Nothing catches God unawares. Nothing comes to Him as a surprise, not at the global level, or at the national level or personal level. He is the God of all knowing, Who knows the end from the beginning.

All power belongs to God (Ps 62:11). God is truly powerful. His power is amazing and beyond description. Who can understand the thunder of God's power? Who can count the evidences of His power?

“So inconceivable, so immense, so uncontrollable is the power of Deity (the Godhead) that the fearful convulsions which He works in nature conceal more than they reveal of His infinite might!”
– Arthur. W. Pink (The Power of God in “The Attributes of God”)

Even that which is displayed of His might to the visible creation is beyond what we can comprehend. There is infinitely more power logged in the nature than can be expressed by all His works. His splendour was like the sunrise; rays flashed from His hand, where His power was hidden (Habakkuk 3:4).

“He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; He makes the winds His messengers, Flaming fire His ministers.…” - Psalm 104:3.

If the wind that is the most impetuous of all the elements, having the ability to move forcefully and with almost inconceivable rapidity and can be tossed into utmost rage, is under God’s feet and beneath His perfect control. Then I am fully persuaded that there is no situation now or in the future that is beyond the power and control of God. Power is the name of God, that is, The Almighty. God and power are inseparable. God’s essence is ALMIGHTY so that it is not limited in regards to action.

“He is Himself the great central source and Originator of all power 
(C. H. Spurgeon).”

“God and power are so inseparable that they are reciprocated. As His essence is immense, not to be confined in place; as it is eternal, not to be measured in time; so it is almighty, not to be limited in regard of action (S. Charnock).”

This is the great and mighty God who wants to reveal Himself to us and who desires for us to know Him intimately. He is also the God that says “Fear not, for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God… (Is 41:10). He is consistently and continually with us. We are never alone.

He is also the God, Who out of nothing, made all things by His Word alone. Man needs tools and materials to work and create something, but God began creating with His Word. Not a single jot of His Word spoken concerning you will ever fall to the ground, but what He has designed, what He has declared, shall infallibly come to pass. WHAT AN AWESOME GOD! This great God is worthy of our implicit confidence and trust.

“But seeing that He is clothed with omnipotence, no prayer is too hard for Him to answer, no need too great for Him to supply, no passion too strong for Him to subdue; no temptation too powerful for Him to deliver from, no misery too deep for Him to relieve,” – Arthur. W. Pink

What does it mean to know God truly?

The only way we can truly know God is first to believe that God exists (Hebrews 11:6) and that He only is God, and there is no other (Deuteronomy 4:35).  We must also come to Him through Jesus Christ Who is the only way to God and a personal knowledge of God. There are no multiple ways to come to the true knowledge of God except through Jesus Christ.

Secondly we must acknowledge that God speaks to man, and the Bible is His word. It is in the Bible that God reveals Himself, His promises, and His will. The more we study the Bible for ourselves, the more of God is revealed to us and the more of Him we know. Know Your God means that you study the scriptures so that you can be certain of the truth and know beyond the shadow of doubt the reliability of everything you were taught. This is what Luke wrote to Theophilus in Luke 1:4.

Knowing God requires a commitment to being willing to accept and to obey His instructions, which we read from His Word. It is insufficient for us to study the Bible, but we must be willing to put what we read into action.

“If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land”
 – Isaiah 1:19

To come into the true knowledge of God, we must be prepared to dwell in His presence. But first we need to come to the realization that God is ever-present, and He is everywhere. This means that we are never alone. He is with us everywhere we are and in every situation we are. When we are praying, we are speaking right into the ears of God.

You can only get to know someone better and intimately when you spend time with the person. You get to know someone deeper and more intimately as you dwell in each other's presence, sharing your heart, your dreams, your hopes and aspirations. We can only do this when we talk with one another, and we give attention to listening to one another. Just as all relationships need to be kept vital and fresh, so is our relationship with God. It requires conscious and active effort. We know God intimately and personally when we carve out the time to dwell in His presence through prayer, studying His word, fellowshipping with Him in praise, worship and adoration. When we truly worship and praise Him, we are dwelling in His presence

The more we know of God, the more we will discover and see His glory on display in our everyday lives. The more we dwell in His presence, the more we will know that God speaks to us. As we dwell in God's presence, He speaks, expresses and reveals Himself to us. It is there that we hear the secrets He wants to make known to us. As you plunge yourself into the deepest sea of knowing God, you will come out refreshed and invigorated.

We are being transformed into the image of God as we contemplate the Lord’s glory when we dwell in His presence. God chose us in advance to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. God wants us to become more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image. Our lives gradually become brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives, and we become like Him.

Insight comes into our lives comes from knowing the Holy God. If we are to become like God in character and if we, by our life of service, are to reveal Him to the world then we need to know Him aright. We must know Him as He reveals Himself.

A knowledge of God is the foundation of all true education and all true service. It is the only real safeguard against temptation. It is this alone that can make us like God in character.

To disregard the study of God is to sentence ourselves to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds us. This is a sure way to waste our lives and lose our soul.

In the days we are living today, Know Your God is not a request.
 It is an instruction.

I sincerely believe that none of us can truly live the life God has called us to live, and fulfil our God-ordained destiny and purpose without knowing God intimately and having a personal revelation of Him. That is why I strongly recommend that we earnestly seek after God and make concerted effort to dwell in His presence without noisy distraction of the world.

Watch out for the concluding part of Know Your God in the next blog post.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Know Your God_Part 1

Although 2015 is now two weeks old, it is with great joy that I wish you a happy and prosperous year filled with God’s rich and abounding blessings for you and your precious ones.

There are still three hundred and fifty days left of 2015, and we are still standing at the brink of the unknown. The year is pretty much unknown to us because we do not know what lies ahead of us. However, knowing the One Who has already known the end from the beginning and Who has seen December 31st, 2015 right from January 1st, will be critically important for how we live our lives in 2015. It will determine how we will fulfil God’s purposes for our lives.

Let’s examine the lives of two persons recorded in the Bible who stood at the brink of the unknown and the uncertain. We will benefit from the study of their lives and how they respond at such a time when they did not know what laid ahead of them.

The first example is Abraham:

He knew God and was fully persuaded of the truth of God's word. In Genesis 12, we learnt that God instructed him to leave his country, his family and his father’s home to a land that He will show him. So Abram departed as the Lord had directed him (vs. 4). Abraham heard the voice of God. He recognised the voice God. He received God’s instructions. He acted promptly. He did not question God. He did not know what was ahead. He simply obeyed by leaving. He walked into the unknown and the uncertain solely on God’s instructions. He did as he was told because he had a knowledge of the One Who told him.

“By faith Abraham, when he was called, he obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance, although he did not know … where he was to go.” (AMP).
“By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left, he had no idea where he was going…. “(MSG)- Hebrews 11: 8-10

Another person, who took a step into the unknown on the basis of her knowledge of God, is Ruth:

She came from an idol worshiping culture. She got married into a household where they knew and served God. She was barren, and as if that was not bad enough, she became a childless widow within a household where they served God. She was a witness to the fierce storms that devastated Naomi’s whole life without any apparent intervention by God (Ruth 1).

“…No, my daughters; it is far more bitter for me than for you that the hand of God is gone out against me.” (AMP).
“Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord Himself has raised His fist against me.” (NLT). - Ruth 1: 13b

Yet Ruth chose God even when she didn’t know what laid ahead of her in Bethlehem. Her response to Naomi’s persistent plea for her to go back to her people was “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live; I will live. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.”

I strongly believe that she had come to know something about God that was strong, personal and true enough to override Naomi’s assessment of God as the One who had dealt her a bad hand. What kind of person would choose a God who her mentor in the faith declared has dealt badly with her but the person who has come to know that God differently and experienced Him in a way beyond what her current circumstances dictates.

She chose the true God to be her God and follow her mother-in-law into the unknown on the strength of what she had come to learn about God. Ruth showed me that we need to have a personal revelation of God to remain focussed on God when someone we look up to in the faith appear to give up on God or disappoints us.

There is something peculiar about people who know their God. This was illustrated in Daniel 11.

“And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.”
 - Daniel 11: 32b – 33a (KJV)

Antiochus IV Epiphanes nicknamed “the madman” vented his fury against the Israelites and the Holy Covenant, and he abolished daily sacrifices. He desecrated the temple in Jerusalem. His army killed many people in Jerusalem, took many women and children as slaves and plundered the land. He forbade the Jews to practice their religion. He persuaded them through flattery to worship false gods.
In the midst of all the turmoil, a handful remained faithful to God. This small remnant who knew their God refused to engage in the abominable practices. The Amplified Bible noted that they proved themselves strong and stood firm and did exploit for God. They instructed many more in the way of the Lord despite the fact that they were persecuted and martyred for the faith.

"But the testing will refine, cleanse and purify those who remain strong and true to the faith, that is, those who know their God."

It is important to note here that not only do those who know their God stand strong at the brink of the unknown, they also stand strong when faced with trials, persecutions, difficulties, and challenging situation. These people knew God as the true God and they acknowledge Him as such. They not only profess Him but they also served and worshiped Him. They held fast to the faith in the midst of opposition, deception and disappointments. They endured against all threatening.

In the midst of the chaos and problems in the world around us, God has obligated Himself to us by promising that 2015 shall be our year of divine establishment. We have the assurance that God will establish us in His counsel and in the fullness of His purpose for our lives. We will need to know this God Who made such great promises to us intimately.

Dear Friends, we need to have a personal revelation of God when we face the unknown. We need an intimate relationship with the Almighty God if we are going to have a victorious walk in 2015. Who is this great God that we need to know and have a personal revelation of? What does it mean to truly know Him? What are the benefits of having a growing knowledge of God? We will examine these questions in the next post.

May the grace of God abound to you richly as you walk with the Lord in this New Year.

This blogpost is adapted from the Sermon I preached in Church on Sunday, January 11th, 2015.