(How to…#8) have less Stress

January 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Proverbs 12:25 KJV

Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.

The word heaviness is a Hebrew feminine noun meaning anxiety, care, and worry.

Some other Scripture verses with the same word are Josh 22:24, Jer 49:23, and Ezek 4:16

A better version of Prov 12:25 would be from the God’s Word Translation, which reads,

A person’s anxiety will weigh him down, but an encouraging word makes him joyful.

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Other words for anxiety according to the Oxford Dictionary are worry and STRESS.

According to medical research, stress arises from when you view change, pressure, and circumstances as burdens and perceive the demands as threats. You feel a sense of frustration and helplessness.

Repeated or prolonged stress can trigger physiological reactions that may involve more than 1500 different chemical changes in the brain and body! This may lead to an exhaustion of mental and physical energies and increased susceptibility to disease.

In a Harvard study, people who coped poorly with stress became ill four times more often than those with good coping skills. Stress affects our immune system, heart function, hormone levels, nervous system, memory and thinking, and metabolic rate. It raises cholesterol, blood pressure, and uric acid levels. Furthermore, stress kills brain cells and appears to prematurely age the adult brain.

Not good!

In a paper entitled Spirituality and Immunity, Stephen Marini, Phd, lists studies that shows the following results of stress at the cellular level:

  • Wound healing takes nine days longer.
  • Intercellular communication is decreased.
  • The immune system is suppressed.
  • Increased bacterial infections.
  • Decreased ability to handle invading toxins.

“We don’t have pills for this”, says Moshe Frenkel, MD, medical doctor of the Place of Wellness at the M.D. Anderson cancer clinic in Houston, Texas.

Science is confirming what King Solomon knew more than two thousand five hundred years ago, a person’s anxiety will weigh him down!

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The answer?

There are many ways to cope with and learn to manage stress. A list of practical things we can do to nudge ourselves toward joy and happiness according to the book The Genie in your Genes are,

Positive beliefs, spirituality, prayers, positive images and visualizations, optimism, intention, energy psychology, positive attitude, gratitude, happy social networks, acts of kindness and meditation.

The wise Solomon said a good word maketh it (the heart) glad. The word good also means well-pleasing, fruitful, proper, kind, and that which is appealing and pleasant to the senses according to the Hebrew Dictionary.

Therefore, a pleasant, well-pleasing, and kind word, will make the heart joyful.

Many times when a person is under stressful circumstances, he or she withdraws from positive influences, happy social networks and forgets to be grateful for the many blessings they still have. They are only focused on what they don’t have or the worst thing that can happen under these circumstances. Fear is really the ability to imagine the worst. Fear is the underlying root of all stress.

When our prayers are filled with positive words that come from our hearts and we can still say thank you, our perception of the world changes and many times our situations as well.

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I am reminded of where Jesus had to feed five thousand people with only two fishes and five loaves of bread. He looked up to heaven with the two small fishes and five loaves of bread in his hands and thanked his Father. A situation, which would cause enough stress for you and I to have an anxiety attack. In today’s terms, we could say that there are suddenly some unexpected bills, for which there is no provision made. Stress, anxiety, worry, and fear.

With a sincere heart of gratitude for the little we have, we not only open heaven’s doors but also cause our heart and mind to experience joy and happiness.

Our attitude of gratitude, positive beliefs and prayers, precede the changes we so desperately need!

The ability to experience joy and happiness is not dependant on other people or favorable circumstances but really within our own hands, or rather, within our own hearts, minds and mouths.

Analysis of thirty studies by Dutch professor Ruud Veenhoven found that happiness adds between seven and ten years to your lifespan.

Not only is happiness healthy, it’s contagious. In a large scale study researchers found that having a friend who’s happy increases your chances of happiness by 15%.

Now, since our social networks are largely under our control, it is again up to you and I to socialize with those who add joy and peace and inspiration and love to our lives!

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Psalm 1:1-3 NLT

God blesses those people who refuse evil advice and won’t follow sinners or join in sneering at God.

Instead, the Law of the LORD makes them happy, and they think about it day and night.

They are like trees growing beside a stream, trees that produce fruit in season and always have leaves.

 Those people succeed in everything they do.

 

(How to…#7) have a breakthrough – part 3

December 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Apply new ideas and do not be afraid to challenge the status-quo.

In the book of one Samuel the nineteenth chapter, we find the story of how King Saul tried to kill the young David. (1 Samuel 19) David the newly anointed king over Israel had to wait until King Saul either stepped down or died before he could ascend the throne. The immature and inexperienced successor to the throne fled from the presence of King Saul, who tried to kill him, and took refuge at the old prophet’s house.

Prophet Samuel governed Israel for forty years before God appointed Saul the first king over the nation of Israel. After Saul’s disobedience and rebellion, God took the kingship away from him and let Samuel anoint a shepherd boy, called David. 1 Samuel 16:1

Samuel’s wisdom gave David the invaluable practical lessons in the ways and laws of God concerning the duties of the priests and of a king. What felt like a refugee camp for David, became his “spiritual laboratory” where his relationship with God was further shaped.

When David eventually mounted the throne, he did something only the High Priest was allowed to do. Until that time, the Ark of the Covenant resided in the most holy place of the Tent of Meeting. Here God met with the High Priest once a year, appeared on the mercy seat, pardoned the sins of the nation, and communed with him. The Bible states how David pitched a new Tent on Mt. Zion, placed the Ark of the Covenant therein, and worshiped before God in the tent on that mountain. (1 Chron 16:1 & 2 Chron 5:2) The answer to why God allowed someone who was not the High Priest to worship before the mercy seat may be found in the training he received from his mentor, the Prophet Samuel. David not only was a king but also thoroughly knew the ways of the priesthood and had a pure heart before God.

His challenge of the status-quo did not come from a proud and arrogant heart but from someone who was quick to ask forgiveness and always displayed a soft and humble heart of reliance on God. (Ps 34:18, Ps 51:17, Is 57:15) From this literal place of worship and figurative place of dependence, God gave David all the answers, victories, and breakthroughs he needed.

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When Dr. Jonas Salk accepted the invitation from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Virus Research Laboratory as an associated research professor, he encountered a laboratory, which had no experience in the basic research he was accustomed to. It took considerable effort to bring this laboratory up to standard. Not only did he spend a lot of time building a respectable laboratory but he also devoted his time to writing scientific articles. Through these papers, the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis got hold of Dr. Salk and became his research sponsor.

The status-quo for the research for vaccine of that day was the use of live-virus vaccine. Salk challenged it and believed it was essential to use a killed-poliovirus rather that a live-virus in the vaccine. His colleagues were skeptical and thought a killed-virus could not be effective. Taken into effect that Salk was new in polio vaccine research, this unorthodox idea caused a division in the field.

However, Dr. Jonas Salk continued with his experiments and in early 1952, he administered a type I vaccine to children who had already been infected with the poliovirus. He then measured their antibodies and the results were positive. Under the supervision of his mentor, Dr. Francis, and sponsored by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, over one million children took part in the largest medical experiment ever to be conducted by the United States of America in 1954. On 12 April 1955, the vaccine was officially pronounced affective and safe in almost 90% of cases.

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After Roger Bannister finished a disappointing fourth in the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, he said the following, “the important thing was not the winning but the taking part – not the conquering but the fighting well”. However, he nearly quitted from running after this event but eventually decided to continue with a new goal: to run the mile in under four minutes. Because of his tight time schedule due to his medical studies, he had only 30 to 45 minutes available for running each day. This called for something new, a fresh approach to training. The status-quo during the 1950’s was long hours and distances in training, which the other athletes of his day applied. Furthermore, some people believed it was God-ordained for man not to run the mile under four minutes. They used to say, “four quarter miles, four laps, and four minutes – it is how God planned it”.

Bannister however, decided to try the Swedish training concept of fartlek. Only one other well-known athlete successfully used that method in the 1940’s. Fartlek is a Swedish word for “speed play”. With only 45 minutes every day and an unfamiliar training program he not only was the first person to run a sub four-minute mile, he also won the 1954 Commonwealth Games and took the 1500m title.

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There are times when we believe things can never be done in another way – a different way. We even believe it is God’s will for things not to change. Somehow, we (or others) have convinced ourselves of the impossibility of a breakthrough. The answer may be in a fresh approach. We must seek the solution outside the well-known barriers of our own mind. Outside the “what do the others do or, what would others think”-mentality. We must be able to move beyond the limiting beliefs of those around us. Einstein said, “Insanity is when we are doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

King David moved “outside” the will of God for a king (to worship before the Ark of the Covenant) but God accepted David’s way because of the sincerity and attitude of his heart and mind. This new, fresh, and unorthodox way of King David, brought him numerous breakthroughs.

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How do we receive such unconventional, fresh, and against-the-status-quo ideas, which may lead to our breakthrough?

Well, whether through direct Divine inspiration or through the guidance of a mentor, an article read or the insight of a friend,you still have to:

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Keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking.

You will find your answer, the much sought after breakthrough will surely come and the door of opportunity will open for you.

Matthew 7:7-11

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(How to…#6) have a breakthrough – part 2.

December 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Every now and again, most people come to a place in their lives where a breakthrough is needed.

During the past year, my wife and I twice needed financial breakthroughs. Some people need a leap forward in their business and for others an improvement in marriage relationship is of paramount importance. Others must find a dramatic improvement in their health, while some is in a crisis about the way their children behave. It does not matter in which area of one’s life a breakthrough is needed; there is a systematic and proven way of ensuring such a sudden development.

The Oxford Dictionary gives that explanation to the word breakthrough, a sudden important development, or success.

The Webster’s says it is a decisive or dramatic advance, especially in research, knowledge, or understanding. In a military sense, it means an attack that penetrates an enemy’s defensive system into the rear area.

For the purpose of this topic, I want to use three people from different aspects of life who experienced great breakthroughs as proof for this structured, even scientific method of securing a breakthrough. They are King David from the Bible, Dr. Jonas Salk who invented the poliomyelitis vaccine, and Sir Roger Bannister, the first athlete who ran a sub 4-minute mile. We shall see the similarities in the methods employed by the three men, although each needed a breakthrough in a different area of life.

The similarities are:

  1. All three trained under excellent mentors. (previous article)
  2. All three, for a number of years, worked very hard prior to their breakthrough.
  3. They were unafraid to apply new ideas not previously tested and to disagree with the status-quo.
  4. They pushed the boundaries of what were previously thought to be impossible.

 

2. Hard work

The wise King Solomon once said (in Proverbs 12:11 and 14:23), Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense and, all hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. This man Solomon, the son of King David, wrote from personal experience as he followed in the ways and footsteps of his father.

King David established the kingdom of Israel through forty years of fighting on the battlefield until all his enemies were subdued. It was on one of those occasions that he needed a breakthrough – “an attack that penetrates an enemy’s defensive system into the rear area” – as the Webster’s dictionary defines the word breakthrough. In 2 Samuel 5:17-20, David inquired of God if he should attack or not. God gave permission to proceed but did not do some supernatural act in delivering Israel from the Philistines. King David had to take up the sword and go down to the theatre of war. There was work to be done!

 

Dr. Jonas Salk was born in New York in a family that was materially poor and uneducated. Nevertheless, his parents urged their children to study and work hard. After completing his medical studies, he accepted residency at the Medical School of the University of Pittsburgh. It was here that he worked for 8 years to develop the polio vaccine. Eight years of commitment, perseverance, and hard work before the breakthrough came.

 

The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win” and achievement was something which came by hard work” were the sayings of Sir Roger Bannister.

His methods in training differed from the other 1500m- and mile-training athletes. He used his scientific background – he was a medical student – to understand the stimulus responsible for improvements in fitness and performance. He used to say, Does it work? Does it not? You learn by your mistakes…” Not afraid to make mistakes, he pushed through one of the boundaries of athletics. A boundary which all thought was impossible to break.

 

Many people want their breakthrough on a golden plate. I know many people, good people, Christian people that are praying and believing for their breakthrough. They want the golden plate, the supernatural act, the divine intervention while they are doing nothing. I do not say you cannot have it that way. What I am saying, judging by the lives of some of the extraordinary people of the Bible and some of the great men who lived the past 100 years whom all experienced astonishing breakthroughs, is that none of them just prayed, and believed. They all did what the Apostle James wrote about 2000 years ago, “but do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” and “for as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:20, 26)

 

If you are hoping for a breakthrough in your marriage, what are you doing about it? If your financial position is looking very bleak, do you have a plan of action? Do you have a mentor who can give you the necessary advice? How many books or articles have you read about that specific area where you need a breakthrough? It is not likely to happen while watching a movie or lying on the beach.

Your breakthrough needs your effort, your time, and energy to start the momentum towards the breakthrough, the sudden improvement, or success.

 

After King David got his breakthrough against the enemy, he called the place Baal-Perazim, which means the God of the breakthrough. David did the fighting but gave God the honour and acknowledgement for the victory. (2 Samuel 5:20) He could take the credit for himself, calling attention to his fighting skills and strategic abilities. However, this characteristic of King David is one of the reasons he was called a man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22)

 

Keep on asking, keep on knocking, and keep on seeking.

You will find your answer, the door of opportunity will open, and the much sought after breakthrough will surely come.

(How to…#5) have a breakthrough – part 1.

December 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Every now and again, most people come to a place in their lives where a breakthrough is needed.

During the past year, my wife and I twice needed financial breakthroughs. Some people need a leap forward in their business and for others an improvement in marriage relationship is of paramount importance. Others must find a dramatic improvement in their health, while some is in a crisis about the way their children behave. It does not matter in which area of one’s life a breakthrough is needed; there is a systematic and proven way of ensuring such a sudden development.

The Oxford Dictionary gives that explanation to the word breakthrough, a sudden important development, or success.

The Webster’s says it is a decisive or dramatic advance, especially in research, knowledge, or understanding. In a military sense, it means an attack that penetrates an enemy’s defensive system into the rear area.

For the purpose of this topic, I want to use three people from different aspects of life who experienced great breakthroughs as proof for this structured, even scientific method of securing a breakthrough. They are King David from the Bible, Dr. Jonas Salk who invented the poliomyelitis vaccine, and Sir Roger Bannister, the first athlete who ran a sub 4-minute mile. We shall see the similarities in the methods employed by the three men, although each needed a breakthrough in a different area of life.

The similarities are:

  1. All three trained under excellent mentors.
  2. All three worked very hard prior to their breakthrough for a number of years.
  3. They were unafraid to apply new ideas not previously tested and to disagree with the status-quo.
  4. They pushed the boundaries of what were previously thought to be impossible.

 

1. Mentors

A mentor is an experienced person in a specific field who trains and advises new employees or students. Any guide, friend, teacher, or advisor who has more experiential knowledge in the area where you need help, insight, or a breakthrough, can be your mentor.

King David’s mentor was the prophet Samuel. Samuel reigned over Israel for 40 years and according to the Bible, God withheld the enemy form the nation because of the way Samuel lived and worshipped before God. See 1 Samuel 7:13. When David fled for his life from King Saul, he stayed with the prophet and learnt the ways of God. Although not known to him at that time, his mentor imparted practical wisdom, which came to his aid the day he was crowned over Israel and needed a breakthrough against the enemy lines.

Dr. Jonas Salk worked under Thomas Francis Jr. who was an outstanding virologist and epidemiologist. Thomas Francis Jr. was the first American to isolate the influenza virus and was professor of bacteriology and chair of the department of the New York University College of Medicine from 1938 to 1941. It was under this man that Dr. Jonas Salk learnt the methodology of vaccine development, which ultimately led to his polio vaccine.

Sir Roger Bannister did have a coach for a short time but had a fall out (his own words) with him. He trained on his own but did not succeed in the way he wanted to. He came fourth in the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games and nearly retired from athletics. Then the track and field coach Franz Stampfl developed a new training method and helped Bannister in his preparations for the sub-4-minute-mile attempt. The rest is history….

I know that not everyone can afford a mentor or know a person with the required knowledge, insight, or understanding. Nevertheless, nowadays the internet can take the role of a mentor where at the click of a button (or a mouse) we can have the latest news, reports, and even videos. Last year my 13-year-old daughter competed in the long jump event at her school’s athletics. This was her 3rd year of competing. The previous two years she got a 3rd place and so she asked me to coach her. Not knowing anything about long jump, I searched the internet and got hold of YouTube videos, techniques, and training tips. Armed with all this information we began our training sessions, which in the end, resulted in a 1st place for her and she progressed to the next round of the athletics championship.

Jesus said, Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Your breakthrough will not come with your current level of knowledge, methods, or expertise. You need a mentor! (To be continued…)

(How to…#4) be free from unclean spirits.

November 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

"And all the devils besought Him, saying, 'send us into the swine, that we may enter into them'".

 

Kingdoms at war

When one reads the Bible, there are many differences to be observed between the OT and the NT.

  • In the OT, we find many historical events with dates and the details surrounding important people’s lives as well as those of nations, which are not found in the NT.
  • The OT focuses mainly on Israel – God’s chosen nation for that time period[1] – while the NT’s writings concern the Church (the spiritual Jews[2]) or as the Apostle Paul also named her, the body of Christ[3], and the chosen people[4] for the current age.
  • The OT was the dispensation of the Law, from the calling of Moses and Israel until the time of Jesus Christ[5], while the NT is called the dispensation of grace[6].
  • There are many more comparisons that one can draw but it is not the focus of this writing.

 

The fundamental dissimilarity between the OT and the NT is that of the natural and spiritual realms.

While we see the working of angels in the OT, the operations of evils spirits and demons are not found in the passages of the OT except for two accounts[7].  The wars fought in the OT were all in the natural, physical realm of the senses.  We are still experiencing those wars today.

 

However, with the introduction of the kingdom of God[8] a new form of military action was also introduced – spiritual warfare.  A lot of attention and instruction is given in the Gospels as well as the Pauline Epistles relating to this subject.

 

The casting out of evil spirits (also called devils or demons in some passages) was a visible display of the clash between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light.  This truth is amplified through the words of Jesus, “But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you”.[9]

In the unseen realms of the spirit, we also find the same guerilla warfare, which we are so familiar with in the visible world we live in. 

The fact is that most people are oblivious to this truth.

The prize to be won in this invisible conflict is not oil, territory or costly minerals, but the hearts and souls of precious people.

 

Unclean spirits

The words unclean spirit(s) are found 21 times in the King James Version of the Bible[10].  Unclean spirits are also called evil spirits[11] or devils and take up their residence in people[12] or even animals[13]If we can understand the nature of unclean spirits, we will know their behaviour as well as where to find them.  The nature of animals or birds determines the location of their habitat.  It is senseless looking for the Albatross[14] bird in bushland areas or for Vultures in your backyard garden.

In His teachings and dealings with unclean/evil spirits, Jesus gave us definite clues as to the nature and whereabouts of unclean spirits.  We will briefly study four accounts:

 

  1. The prince/chief of the devils.
  • He is called Beelzebub, which was an OT idol called Baal-Zebub, the dung-god or Baal-of-the-Fly, also named Lord of the flies in the NT.
  • We are all familiar with the nature of flies.
  • Organic material such as garbage, animal droppings, and dead animals are the main attractants for flies.
  • They feed and breed on these kind of waste materials.
  • The colour and smell attracts flies within seconds.

 

We can also call these unclean spirits “spiritual flies”. They are attracted to spiritually dead and unclean people.

The question then follows; who are the spiritually dead and what does a spiritually unclean person look like?

 

Paul described the spiritually dead as follows:

  • Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.  You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.  He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature.  By our very nature, we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.  (Ephesians 2:1-3 NLT)
  • Whereas she who lives in pleasure and self-gratification [giving herself up to luxury and self-indulgence] is dead even while she [still] lives.  (1Timothy 5:6 AMP)

 

It is those who…

  1. Are not children of God and are still under the influence of the “prince of the power of the air”, living according to their sinful nature” and,
  2. Are children of God but have not crucified the sinful nature and are still living according to the carnal mind and worldly desires. (See Acts 24:16 AMP; Romans 6:6; 8:5-8; Galatians 2:20)

 

Jesus defined uncleanness in Mark 7:20-24.

“What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’  For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly.  All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’  “

 

  • Therefore, uncleanness are those things, which comes from the sinful nature.  (See also Galatians 5:16-21 NIV)
  • Thus we see that these spiritually dead and dirty people are to unclean (evil) spirits what garbage and rotten flesh are to flies.

 

2.    The Gadarene with unclean spirits.

 

The story of this man and his encounter with Jesus is found in Mark 5:1-20.  The significance of this case proves the abovementioned truths.

  • The man lived among the tombs – dead people.
  • He lived in an area where pigs – unclean animals according to the Law of Moses – roamed freely.  (The keeping of an herd of swine typified the spiritual condition of Israel at that time)
  • After their skirmish with Jesus, the evil/unclean spirits chose the unclean swine as an alternative residence.

 

3.    Any unclean/evil spirit will search for a new home once exorcised.

But when the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, it roams through dry [arid] places in search of rest, but it does not find any.  Then it says, I will go back to my house from which I came out. And when it arrives, it finds the place unoccupied, swept, put in order, and decorated. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and make their home there. And the last condition of that man becomes worse than the first. So also shall it be with this wicked generation. (Matthew 12:43-45 AMP)

According to these verses, the unclean spirit(s) needs a dwelling place and will continue to seek until one is found, even if it has to return to the first one.

In this portion of Scripture (Matt 12:25-45) as well as in the others, Jesus (and Paul) pointed out certain truths regarding the two spiritual kingdoms and their respective modus operandi[15].

  • Unclean/evil spirits work in and through people just as the Holy Spirit works in and through God’s children.
  • All people are houses/temples to spirits – their own as well as unclean spirits and/or the Holy Spirit.
  • Through the Spirit of God, the kingdom of God is advanced in the hearts and lives of people.  (Matt 12:28)
  • Satan’s kingdom is not divided, but will strive to cause division.  (See also James 3:16)

We know that when a housefly is swatted at, it will fly away seeking other garbage.  Not getting anything else it will return with its friends.

Therefore, getting rid of the unclean spirit is one thing, but removing the cause of the infestation is of greater importance.

 

4.    The return of the seventy disciples.

      

In Luke 9 Jesus sent his twelve disciples to go preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.  According to Luke 10 He commissioned another seventy do go before Him and likewise to preach and to heal.  After returning with joy they said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”[16]  Jesus responded with the following words; “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you”[17].

 

The fall of Satan like lightning from heaven here, is related to the disciples excitement of the devils submitting to them in the name of Jesus and not to some future event, as some claim.

 

For evil spirits to lose their control over a geographical area or a culture or group of people, our spiritual warfare is not directed to the heavenlies but instead, to the cleansing and changing of people’s hearts and natures.  If there is no available house, they have no place to stay.  There is no Scriptural basis for doing spiritual warfare directed to evil spirits in the air, for the Bible clearly states that the prince of the power of the air…worketh in the children of disobedience[18]!

 Once we are born again, baptized and decided to follow Jesus – like the disciples – He also gives us the right to use His name. (See Mark 16:16-18 and Luke 10:19)

 

To be free…

 

  • One must be born again and be baptized in water.  One of the many benefits of water baptism is the inward cleansing through the resurrection power of Christ Jesus.  (Read also “How to…#3 be baptized in water”)
  • One must not participate in the practices of the sinful nature.  There is no use in swatting the flies if the garbage remains.  Remove the garbage and the flies will stop coming.

All of us emanate a spiritual fragrance.  Some the odour of death and others the fragrance of Life (2Corinthians 2:14-16).  As the smell of putrefying flesh attracts flies, so the aroma of spiritual death invites unclean spirits!

Ask God to put to death and crucify the sinful nature in you through the power of His Spirit (Romans 8:13).  This cannot be accomplished through human striving, works or effort.

  • You must keep your mind on the things that are true, honest, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8)

 

  • If one has sinned, ask your heavenly Father forgiveness and to be cleansed with the blood of Jesus.  (1John 1:9) 

Being forgiven does not necessarily mean you are cleansed as well.

It involves two separate processes.

If my son goes and plays in the mud, forgetting my commandment of not playing in the mud with his school clothes on and then suddenly remembers my instructions, he will know that discipline awaits him.  Coming home, he asks for forgiveness, which he then receives from me.

The forgiveness sets him free from punishment but does not cleanse him.  He still needs to be washed or else the smell of dirt may attract some flies and even cause a sickness.

 Likewise, cleansing through the blood of Jesus is required after forgiveness is received!  (1John 1:7) (See “How to…#5, partake of the Lord’s supper)

 

  • Do not have fellowship with those who habitually practice and are living in sin (the sinful nature), as unholiness is infectious.  (Haggai 2:12-13 AMP; 1Corinthians 5:6-13)

 

  • Use your authority (the name of Jesus). If you know you are forgiven and cleansed and are still plagued with unclean thoughts or dreams use your God-given authority. Command them “in the name of Jesus Christ” to leave. It is through using/exercising our authority that we grow spiritually strong and later we can be used in helping others to be set free.

 


 

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[1] Deuteronomy 7:6-8; 14:2; 1Chronicles 17:21-22

[2] Romans 2:29

[3] Romans 12:5; 1Corinthians 12:12, 27; Ephesians 4:12;

[4] Ephesians 1:4; 2Thessalonians 2:13; 1Peter 2:9

[5] John 1:17

[6] Ephesians 3:2

[7] 1Samuel 16:14-15; 1Kings 22:22-23

[8] Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Luke 16:16

[9] Matthew 12:28 (NIV)

[10] Matthew 10:1; 12:43; Mark 1:23, 26, 27; 3:11, 30; 5:2, 8, 13; 6:7; 7:25; Luke 4:33, 36; 6:18; 8:29; 9:42; 11:24; Acts 5:16; 8:7; Revelations 16:13

[11] Luke 4:33 (KJV); Revelation 16:14

[12] Mark 1:23; 5:2 8; Acts 5:16; 8:7

[13] Matthew 8:31-32; Mark 5:12-13

[14] A large sea bird, which is found at the coastal areas.

[15] Manner of working

[16] Luke 10:17 (NIV)

[17] Luke 10:18-19 (NIV)

[18] Ephesians 2:2b (KJV)

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(How to…#3) be a disciple of Jesus Christ

November 6, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

This is the fifth part of “5 Groups of People Jesus Encountered“.

"Come ye after me..."

What most children of God don’t know is the fact that the twelve disciples were only chosen in the second year of Jesus’ ministry.

I was always under the impression that Jesus called His twelve disciples the moment He returned from His forty days of fasting.

However, in Luke chapter six where it indicates He spent the whole night in prayer before choosing the twelve Luke 6:12-13 disciples, Jesus had already been in His second year of ministry.

It is interesting to note in this passage of Scripture how He called all His disciples and then chose twelve.  We note from these verses as well as from others that He had more than twelve disciples Luke 10:1; John 6:66.

Therefore, the disciples were at first part of the crowd, maybe even an extended family member, or from those who had material or spiritual needs.  They followed Him for at least one year and began to adhere to His teachings. (Read 5 Groups of people…)

The word disciple in the Greek language (Mathētěs) means a learner and pupil.

  • *“Mathētěs means more in the NT than a mere pupil or learner.
  • It is an adherent who accepts the instructions given to him and makes it his rule of conduct, e.g., the disciples of John Matt 11:2; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33; 7:18; John 3:25 and the disciples of the Pharisees Matt 22:16; Mark 2:18.
  • In John 9:28, the Pharisees told the healed man, “Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciple”.
  • Jesus had disciples in the sense that they believed and made His teaching the basis of their conduct Matt 5:1; 9:19; 14:22; Luke 14:26, 27, 33; John 9:27; 15:8.
  • *(Zodhiates, S. Th.D. 1993. The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.)
  • According to Jesus a disciple can never be above his master, although he may be equal Luke 6:40.
  • From all the disciples who followed Him, He then chose twelve, whom also He named apostles Luke 6:13
  • The word apostle from the Greek language (Apóstolos); means sent forth and the verb (apostéllō) is to send forth.
  • Jesus said in John 13:16, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent (apóstolos) greater than he that sent him.”

You are first a disciple before you can be sent out to teach others.

The way you live life shows of whom or what you are a disciple of.  We may be a disciple of the  ways of this world, or of a political leader or an influential writer or orator.  The early Christians were first called disciples before they were named Christians, “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” Acts 11:26

When we look at the forming processes of the disciples of Jesus, we note three specific progressive experiences.

Firstly, we get the general information stage.

This is where they are being taught in the form of parables, stories, and lessons with the concomitant explanations of it.  In the Gospels we find the disciples being part of the crowds learning from Jesus as well as in the private sessions of expounding with Jesus.

Matthew 13:34-36 (HCSB) Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables, and He would not speak anything to them without a parable, so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: I will open My mouth in parables; I will declare things kept secret from the foundation of the world.  Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, “Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us.”

  • As we all know, information is no guarantee for anybody to change.
  • We are currently living in the Information Age where with the push of a button or the click of the mouse we have the latest news, weather reports, sport updates or any facts we require from databases all over the globe.
  • This however, does not necessarily promise a change in human behaviour.
  • For change to take place we need the accompanying actions, which instill and make the knowledge learnt part of our behaviour.

Secondly, Jesus knew to form and mould His disciples into genuine upright apostles, He had to send them out to go do what they have seen and heard.

We can know all the Scripture verses about healing, how to pray and lay hands on people and why the Lord will heal us.  But until you go out and do it, you will not have the practical experience of seeing the people healed and you being used by the Lord.

Mark 6:7-13 (NIV) Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.” They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

  • Being gradually changed from a disciple into an apostle – a sent out one – you have to act on what you have learnt.
  • Like the Apostle James says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26

The third and last developmental experience in the forging process of a disciple is his own moment of enlightenment.

  • While engaging in the commission of what had been taught, he or she has their moment of revelation.
  • This revelation received while doing the instruction from the Master has a permanent effect on the life of the disciple.

We have such an example in the Gospel of Luke.  In chapter nine Jesus sent out the twelve.  Then He commissioned another seventy (some translations write seventy two) in chapter ten to go out and preach the kingdom message and heal the sick.  When returning to Jesus we read how they had such a moment of revelation, “The seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!” Luke 10:17 AMP

  • The personal revelation received while doing the work, leads to the opportunity for further informative teaching, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are enrolled in heaven.” Luke 10:20 AMP

In the account of Matthew where Jesus sent out the twelve on their mission trip, He gave them also some instructions of where to go and what to do under certain circumstances. Coming to chapter ten and verses 38 and 39, He told them, “And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also] is not worthy of Me.  Whoever finds his [lower] life will lose it [the higher life], and whoever loses his [lower] life on My account will find it [the higher life].”

  • Discipleship is following Him with all of your heart and mind and strength.
  • It is a decision that each child of God  has to make one or another time.

We may be part of the crowd, or the needy, or maybe even have some Pharisaic moments in our lives, but at some moment in time you will hear the call for a closer walk with Him (Matt 4:19). It is the call to be His disciple – putting extra time into knowing Him, hearing from Him and obeying His commands.

It is a decision which should not be taken lightly for, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

  • To be a Believer – one who believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God, raised from the dead – does not imply the person is a disciple of Jesus Christ.
  • Many people believed Jesus was the Messiah, even wanted to crown Him King. John 6:15
  • But not all were willing to adhere to His teachings and follow Him as a disciple. John 6:66
  • As the Apostle James says; “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” James 2:19
  • Being made whole or delivered does not suggest you are a disciple.  You are only a healed/delivered child of God.
  • We do not find Jesus praying for His disciples but rather teaching them how to pray. Matt 6:5-15; Luke 11:1-4
  • He did not heal them but sent them to heal, cast out devils and raise the dead.
  • Being in close contact with Jesus gave them comfort, security and spiritual edification.
  • When we heed to this call, we are joining the group of servant-labourers in the kingdom of God. Matt 9:37; Luke 10:2; 1Cor 3:9
  • From being a disciple, some are then chosen to go and do greater work for God’s kingdom. Luke 6:13 KJV; Matt 22:14 KJV

In the words of Jesus, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2

Being a disciple means giving up your own ideas and way-of-doing things and learn the Master’s way in every area of one’s life. Matt 6:33; 10:38-39; John 6:68

Being a disciple means applying the lessons learnt, until it becomes a lifestyle. Mark 6:7-13; James 5:14-15; Acts 4:20; 22:15; Phil 4:9 1John 1:3

Being a disciple means not getting offended when corrected, reprimanded or even rebuked. Matt 16:23; Luke 9:55; 10:20

Being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ leads to Christ-likeness (a Christian). (cts 11:26; Gal 1:15-16


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(How to…#2) be baptized in water.

October 14, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

"Be baptized, everyone of you..."

Water baptism can be a point of contention among Christians.

Churches have split and even friendships were ruined because of the hotly debated subject of water baptism.

There are primarily four areas of differences:

  1. Babies or adults?
  2. Sprinkling or immersion?
  3. Once or three times?
  4. The name of the Lord or the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?

Before the “how to” can be answered,

the “why” must first be looked into.

John the Baptist first introduced baptism and his baptism followed the confession of sins – therefore called “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins”. (Matt 3:1-6; Mark 1:2-5; Luke 3:3; Acts 19:4)

The Apostle Paul proclaimed that the baptism of John was not the fullness of what water baptism is all about, but just the beginning.  (Acts 19:1-5)

In the Greek, the word baptise has the meaning of immerse, submerge for religious purpose, to overwhelm, saturate and to wash.

In Mark 7:3-4 we read, “For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.  And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not.  And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables.”

In this portion of scripture where the verb wash is used for the first time it is the Greek word níptō, which means to wash part of the body such as the hands. The 2nd and 3rd words wash and washing are the words baptízō and baptízōmai which indicate the washing of hands or cups using water (usually through immersion but also under running water).

Corresponding to the above is Hebrews 9:10 “Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation”.

Here too the word washings, is the Greek word for “to baptise”.

The essence of baptism is not the immersion or the sprinkling

but the washing and cleansing.

This is what John the Baptist understood when he called on the people to repent of their sins (under the Old Covenant) and be washed and cleansed (baptized) from the stain of sin.  It was an outward act, believing God for an inward work.

The baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ is a New Testament sacrament,

which does more than the baptism of John, but has the same foundation of washing and cleansing.  (Acts 8:37; 19:4)

7 Scriptural truths about water baptism.

  1. Jesus was baptized in water in order to be in right standing with the Father, “But Jesus replied to him (John the Baptist), Permit it just now; for this is the fitting way for [both of] us to fulfill all righteousness [that is, to perform completely whatever is right]. Then he permitted Him.” (Matt 3:15 AMP) The NLT puts it this way, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.”
  2. It is for the cleansing of sins. (Acts 2:38; 22:16)
  3. Baptism cleanses/washes our consciences from the guilt and shame of our past. (1Pet 3:20-21)
  4. As the Israelites followed Moses through the Red Sea, so we are following Jesus Christ through baptism and as the Israelites were cut off from Pharaoh and the slavery of Egypt, so we are saved from the stronghold of Satan and the bondages of sin. (1Cor 10:1-12; Eph 2:1-5)
  5. We are entering the kingdom of God through water baptism. It signifies the death of the old life and being birthed into a new life with Christ. (John 3:5; Rom 6:3-6)
  6. It replaces the OT covenant of circumcision – which was the removal of the flesh and the sign of being God’s chosen nation – and is the beginning of the removal of the sinful nature. (Col 2:11-13)
  7. You activate God’s purpose for your life through water baptism. (Luke 7:29-30)

All of the above you will experience, if you believe the Word with all your heart, trusting God to perform His word and promises concerning water baptism in your life. (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17b; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38 “the just shall live by faith”)

Water baptism follows the born again experience. (Acts 8:37-38)

I have personally seen how people were delivered from oppression, evil spirits and addiction through only water baptism.

I have witnessed how people after water baptism, began to understand the Bible and be freed from the guilt of their past deeds.

I have observed how Christians once baptized in water, had taken hold of God’s plan for their life and grown spiritually, ministering to many others.

Coming back to the four points of contention

among so many Christians.

1. Can babies believe for all of the above?

2,3. The issue is not immersion or sprinkling, once or thrice, but the washing and cleansing – the inner work performed by God. The outer work is only a demonstration and an act of obedience to what you are trusting God to do inwardly.

4. The Bible states that the fullness of God is within the Lord Jesus Christ. (Col 1:17-19; 2:9) Therefore, to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost (Matt 28: 19) or to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5) is actually the same.

Have you been baptized in water?

Did you trust the Lord to do the abovementioned things in your life through water baptism?

What is stopping you from being baptized?

Lastly, if I was baptized as a child or not knowing the truth about baptism, may I be baptized again?

YES!

Even Paul baptized people a second time, because with their first baptism they did not know and understand the Lord Jesus’ baptism. (Acts 19:3-5)


 

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(How to…#1) be born again.

October 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

GOD’S DNA

"You must be born again"

I’ve realised very few people know , or can explain to someone else, what happens when you are born again.

This is not a matter of concern when one is young in the Lord, for likewise a child does not know the process of conception and birth until (usually) teenage years.  But as you mature, you need to be rooted in the basic doctrines of Christ and be able to help/teach others. (Heb 5:12; 1 Tim 4:13-16)

Jesus said that in order to understand and enter the kingdom of God,

you need to be born again. (John 3:3-8)

Conception and birth.

1. Natural conception and birth

  • Under normal circumstances, before conception can take place, there has to be a mutual agreement between the man and woman.
  • Conception occurs when the sperm of a male and the egg of a female joins (through the act of intercourse) to form an embryo.
  • Cells keep multiplying and the fetus grows within the mother’s womb for 40 weeks until birth.
  • For the biological conception of a child the seed/DNA of the parents are essential.

2. The conception and birth of Jesus Christ.

(In everything, Jesus Christ was and is the example – the pattern.)

  • The angel (messenger) Gabriel brought a message to Mary of God’s plan.  (Luke 1:26-33)
  • Mary accepted his word and God’s plan for her life.  (Luke 1:38, 45)
  • The Spirit of God then came upon her; God’s power overshadowed her and impregnated her with the Father’s seed.  (Luke 1:35)
  • The Son of God grew in her womb until the proper time of birth.  (Luke 2:6; Gal 4:4-5)

Spiritual Conception

To be born again is a work of God done through His Spirit. (John 3:6; Titus 3:5, 1Cor 4:15b)

We need a messenger to bring the message of redemption, sanctification, and righteousness (God’s plan for humankind) to us. (Luke 24:47; Romans 10:14-15)

God prepares our hearts to receive this word of salvation. (Acts 16:14)

We have to accept this message and (1) believe God raised Christ from the dead and (2) confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Lord over our lives.  (Romans 10:9-11; Acts 2:21, 24, 32; 8:37; John 3:16)

The Spirit of God will come upon us; the power of the Most High will overshadow us (whether we feel anything or not) and impregnate us with the Divine seed.  (1 Pet 1:4, 23; 2 Pet 1:4; Titus 3:5)

The only sin we need to repent of, is that we did not acknowledge and believe Him to be the Son of God and Lord of all.  (John 16:8-9)

Through His blood, we are cleansed and the gift of eternal Life is received by grace.  (Acts 15:11; Rom 5:9-11; Eph 2:5,8)

As a child of God we now have His seed/DNA!  (This will over a period of time produce his nature, character and attributes in our lives.)

We will know in our hearts that we are His children – we just know!  (Rom 8:16)

The full manifestation of Christ’s nature, character, fruit, and attributes will be seen over time as the Divine seed is growing within us under the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 8:19; 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13-14; 4:30; Heb 2:10; 1 John 3:1)

Are you born again?

How do you know?

If you are, does the divine seed of God grow within you?

And, how do you suppose your life will change and look over time?

THANK YOU FOR READING THIS ARTICLE!

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