Can you give up EVERYTHING? Really?
As I was in my study time, I read and began to meditate on Luke 14:33 which says “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples”. Jesus tells us what it takes to be His disciple. It is not possible to gain entry into Harvard University without knowing the criteria for entry and once in, you will also need to know the criteria for success. So we come as we are. We all come as sinners. 1 Timothy 1:15-16 says “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life”.
Once we come as sinners, God begins to work in us if we are open to receive. God does not force us to come nor does he impose change and transformation on us. Whether we transition from being the sinner who came to a disciple is totally a choice we make. There are many of us who have come to Jesus and we hang around Him but we have not become disciples. We came and rather than make the transition, we connected with others who shared similar sins like us and felt too comfortable to want change. So I became a Christian and found Sally in the Church and Sally likes to go dancing on Saturdays just like me. Sally and I start to go clubbing every weekend and we convince ourselves that as long as we do not fornicate with the men we meet at the club we are fine. Some weeks we are too tired to go to church the next morning so we sleep in. When Pastor mentions he has not seen me at church for a while, I lie to cover up. I love the Lord and I have accepted Jesus as my savior but He is not yet my Lord. Now I am torn between my love for clubbing and making a sacrifice to fully commit to attending church and growing in character. After all if I lie a few times about why I missed church, I can repent and Jesus is patient to forgive me.
This is only a small example of how the love of the world can affect whether we remain a baby Christian or transition into a true disciple of Christ. In order to become a disciple, we need to make a choice. We need to make a sacrifice. We will need to give up many things if Christianity is going to be more than just belonging to a social club that meets on Sundays. Are you willing and ready to give up not just some things but everything? Luke 14:33 is as crystal clear as it gets; Jesus is asking for you and I to give up everything!
What does giving up everything mean? Does Jesus want you to suddenly go homeless, without a car, to give all your clothes to charity and stop going on lavish vacations? Is He asking for you to stop having any type of fun in your life? Not at all. Jesus’ prescription for being a disciple is referring to a condition of the heart. There will be times in your walk when you may need to give up your car or house in obedience. Will you do it? Jesus will test you as you grow in your walk with Him. He will ask you to place your Isaac on the altar. Will you obey like Abraham did or is there something in your life that you cannot give up for Jesus? If He took away your spouse, all your children, your business, your job and even your health, will you curse Him and die or will you like Job say “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, blessed be His name”? Can the Lord trust you to ask for anything from you and know you will give it up and not forsake the faith?
The process of giving up everything is the breaking process. It is the road to obedience, humility and true surrender. This is the place where God can really trust you. This is the place where your pride is killed and you begin to walk in supernatural power yet you do not boast in yourself. Now you have become a disciple and where He leads you follow regardless of the cost. This is where God is calling us to be. In this place, Jesus is our all and in Him we have our being. In this place, we have become a living sacrifice and live for Jesus. Will you give up everything to be His disciple?
Believers who keep taking from Ministers and never give back.
This will help many of you who may be trying your hardest to connect with a MOG or WOG that you admire. Maybe they flow in a powerful anointing and you desire to one day minister like them and so you want their time to disciple you. Maybe they pray and things happen, maybe they can do powerful spiritual warfare and cast out devils and you need their help in your life. Or maybe they can prophecy accurately and you really would like to be close to someone who can give you a prophetic word at any time.
Let me begin with this, if you follow my ministry you already know that I am not one who puts finances above the actual work of ministry neither do I take advantage of those who come to me for prayer just because they may be in a vulnerable place in their lives. Now that we have established this, let me share something very important about genuine servants of God who are truly working for the Kingdom. Even when a minister is sold out and makes many sacrifices to pray for you, counsel you and support you as much as they can, remember this:
⁃ The Minister may never ask you for money, they may not collect tithes and offerings from you but the ministry has needs and bills that must be paid. How do you think those bills are covered?
⁃ The minister has personal bills and likely has a home to take care of. If you keep taking the ministers time in prayer and counselling and never think of how to willfully support them, how do you think he or she manages to pay their personal bills?
⁃ If you keep calling and texting the minister, visiting them for prayer continuously, when do you think they have time to spend with their spouse and children. If you have been complaining about the minister not being accessible and attributed it to pride or their lack of care for you and other brethren, please repent now of your own selfishness. Do you want the minister’s family to be destroyed leading to divorce and wayward children due to an absentee mother or father who is out there busy pleasing others and meeting the demands of self centered believers?
⁃ If you keep taking prayers, deliverance, counseling and prophetic ministrations from the minister and you have never sowed financially into their ministry or Church and you do not volunteer to help with some ministry or church duties, how do you think it is possible to keep serving you and the community? Who should help to provide the same types of services you expect from the ministry or church?
⁃ If the minister cannot have quiet time to study, meditate and seek God because they must do part time jobs to pay their bills since you will not participate in supporting them, what type of anointing do you think the minister carries? This explains why many ministers are spiritually dry and therefore next time you show up, they will minister from their tired flesh and not from the Spirit of God.
⁃ When you continuously pester a minister for prophetic words, guess what? They will tell you what God had not said and then when it does not come to pass, you will be the first to gossip about the minister being a false prophet.
⁃ If a minister avoids you when you call or visit, could it be because you keep taking from them and never giving back? Is there any bank in the world from which you can keep making withdrawals and never making deposits? When the coffers become empty, what next?
Before you think a minister is proud, does not care, hard to reach, never answers calls, think about whether you have deposited anything into that ministry or church. Before you gossip about another genuine hardworking servant of God who is out there giving so much of themselves and getting very little sustenance from members like you, think again. There are many Pastors who are drained, penny less and discouraged because they are true servants of God who refuse to financially abuse the body of Christ but many members just keep taking from them without supporting them. Yes we cannot charge for the anointing, but a MOG or WOG needs to eat, wear clothes and pay bills in order to be available to serve you.
If you chase after false prophets who charge you for a prayer, deliverance or prophetic word, yet you cannot freely give to those true prophets who have been there for you, then check your heart. What are you truly after? You are contributing to the rise of charlatans in the body of Christ because some pastors have understood that unless they take advantage of you financially they may not have food on their tables or clothes on their backs. You are raising false prophets because many have understood that you keep putting pressure on them to Prophesy to you when they are tired and God has not spoken so they will lie to you to get an offering. Church of God, who has bewitched you? Wake up and take responsibility for the basic sustenance of those true MOG and WOG who care for you and watch over your souls. Do not push them to a place of desperation! Do not take from them until the reservoir runs dry and then abandon them. Do not expose ministers to the temptation of abusing their members financially just to survive. What makes you think that the minister must keep giving to you and keep loving you when you cannot love them also by being considerate of their time and needs?
1 Timothy 5:18
For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!”
One thing I have learnt in my many decades of life (too many to list) is that God made each human with a beautiful purpose no matter their current condition in life and therefore, if we stay connected to our Maker, follow His guidance and obey His word, we will get to our God ordained destination. It may be quick or it may take long but but you will sure get there if you follow God’s plan for you. When I was younger I wanted things to happen at my pace but now that I am older, I only want things to happen at God’s pace. it does not matter who goes ahead of me.
If I can pass some wisdom to those who may read this, trust God’s timing in your life, do not look left or right. Do not look at what others may be doing or failing to do. Everyone is in a different season of life. Do all you can to locate God’s blueprint for you and follow it. Some of us are meant to climb mountains while others are meant to navigate the seas, some will impact millions while others may impact a few. When all is said and done, God will judge you based on what He gave you and what you did with it. Notice it’s about what He gave you and not what He gave others. Life is not a competition! It is about commanding the space carved out for you by God. The space may be small just like it may be big. What matters is that you identify your own space.
God can suddenly raise someone who is humble to the top from nothing. God can also crush someone who was at the top with a big ego down to nothing. It is God alone who lifts man! I have learnt not to mock others no matter how low they may be today, tomorrow they may rise. I have learnt not to put down others no matter how blessed I may be today because we may exchange positions tomorrow. That person you judge as useless or beneath you may just be the angel God sent to take you to your next level. Hebrews 13:2 says Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
After you eat from a pot, do not scatter the remaining food and break the pot. The food may no longer taste good to you but that may be the only food that will nourish others coming behind you. The fact that your taste changed does not mean that the food is now bad.
Always build bridges. Without a bridge, you may never get to the other side alive. After you cross the bridge, be careful not to pull it down as you may one day come back that same way.
Honor those who walked that path before you. There are some things they know which may save your life. Their silence or what you may consider their weakness may actually be an act of wisdom and a strength. Learn from them even when what they are saying or doing does not make obvious sense. They know where all the traps are hidden on the road.
We all are messed up but for the transforming grace of God. I for one am nothing without God. Let humility, forgiveness and compassion reign in all our interactions with family and friends but even with these, godly wisdom is King!
Job 12:12 Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?
Authenticity and Transparency in Relationships
I believe that when God purposefully connects us to people who are meant to be destiny helpers, we will have to be intentional about how we steward these relationships. Learning how to weave the biblical values of authenticity and transparency into the complex matrix of interactions that will ensue is paramount to whether the connection survives.
Many are not authentic in their motives for being in relationship. We must always ask ourselves the big why! Why am I connected to this person? Do I understand why God brought this person into my life or do I have my own selfish reasons for being here? Are all my interactions with this person driven by God’s purpose for connecting us or are they based on my carnal desires. If our motives do not pass the test of authenticity, we will struggle with transparency.
When we are connected under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, our focus becomes how to serve the other person. We cease to allow our ambition and emotions determine what we do. In the body of Christ today, many are connecting because of what they can get from the other person. We join a Church because they have a program that can help us with a need. Maybe we are new in town and the Church has a financial aid or housing program for members. We attach to a leader because they have a platform we are coveting or because they are anointed and we want to tap from that anointing and receive impartation. Relationships that are selfishly motivated will not survive difficult times because the moment that motive is not being satisfied, the connection will no longer make sense. The moment we establish another connection that can better serve our selfish motives, we will switch destiny helpers. The moment the enemy throws offense in that relationship, we will use it as an excuse to disconnect. Regardless of the type of relationship we have, whether it be friendship, family, marriage or within the church, our motive must become God’s motive. It must be about how to give our best self in service to those that God has placed in our lives.
When we approach our relationships as God intended, we will be there to serve the other person and support them in becoming who God has destined them to become. Although I will benefit from the connection, it will not be about me and what I can get from that connection. This means that even when the devil brings offense, we will remember that we have an assignment in the life of that person and until we have completed our divine assignment, nothing will remove us.
There is a desperate need for transparent honest conversations with our divine connections. 2 Corinthians 1:12 says For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.These relationships will be tested but if our motives are authentic and we have learnt to have open discourse about why we are connected, we will be able to work through challenging times. Relationships that operate in the darkness and exhibit secrecy will not survive. Relationships in which we are unclear about why we are connected or those in which our true motives are hidden will not weather the storms. When offense is wrapped in gossip and backstabbing rather than in open discourse and vulnerability, we will be leaving a door open for the enemy to steal from us. We will be allowing our adversary to put asunder a connection that God put together for divine purpose.
Authenticity and transparency are key to sustaining our divine connections. God will bring people into our lives but we must must be able to go past the initial superficial interaction and bring this relationship to maturity. First we must understand God’s purpose for that connection and that should be what drives how we interact in that relationship. Next we must he honest about the motives in our heart as this will be the real driver of our actions. Finally, we must trust God’s decision to connect us and remain in a posture of humility and honesty in dealing with offense. In order to truly benefit from what God has for us in our relationships, we must take the risk and be our real selves allowing our vulnerability to show. This means that a safe space must be created in which honesty can thrive in love. Romans 12:9 says Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Prosperity Gospel: Prostituting the gospel?
Is the prosperity gospel a promise or a snare? I believe that God blesses his children with financial prosperity. We see this in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We see this in the lives of countless men and women of God that were elevated to enjoy affluence such as David, Solomon, Esther, Ruth and so on. I am however opposed to the modern extreme we see coming from our pulpits today where the unbalanced prosperity gospel is used as a bait to bring people to Christ. The balanced gospel is sufficient in itself to win souls for Christ without the help of a false illusion that draws people to Christ because they want to become prosperous. For every example of a prosperous child of God in the Bible, there are many examples of those who God allowed to go through tremendous suffering and lack. God’s decision to introduce baby Jesus to the world in extreme lowly conditions is testament to the fact that a believer will sometimes be left to walk in abject poverty even while carrying a mighty divine purpose for mankind. Job was rich but was not only stripped of all prosperity but also suffered in sickness. The partial truth of wealth and health as a must for believers as taught by many preachers today, especially while disregarding the more important aspects of intimacy with God and the development of godly character is a trap from hell! God’s will is not always for his children to be wealthy. On the contrary, God sometimes requires that we give up wealth because it can be a stumbling block in the life of a believer. Believers who come in expecting wealth and health will likely not stay with God in the absence of wealth and health. They will end up angry and bitter with God in their wilderness seasons. Like Job’s wife, they will curse God and die in their disappointment with his failure to deliver to their expectations.
Many preachers quote 3 John 2:1-3 as evidence that God wants His children to have wealth and health. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.’The Greek word for “prosper” is ‘eudow’ meaning to be successful on your journey. It does not refer to financial prosperity as many imply. John wishes that all things will go well for Gaius. Verse 3 shows that John was specifically addressing the report from others about how Gaius was walking in the truth of the Lord. This passage is not a get rich quick tool nor a ‘name it claim it’ wand to be applied with disregard to how healthy our relationship with Christ is. It was a blessing over a believer whose emphasis was not on financial prosperity but rather on growing and walking in the truth of the word.
Prosperity gospel preachers today have conveniently ignored those parts of the Bible that also caution us about the dangers of loving riches. Although we are taught that it is a believers right to claim prosperity, we see in the case of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 that even when you have kept all of God’s commandments, prosperity can be a snare. How many are willing to give up all they have acquired materially for the sake of Christ? Rather than use our status as obedient believers to claim a right to prosperity, Matthew 19:20-24 stands as a caution that even when we think we are believers in good standing, our attachment to riches can cause us to lose the Kingdom.
“The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”. Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. With God All Things Are Possible. Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Why are many charismatic believers so infatuated with the prosperity gospel being dished out of many pulpits today when Jesus clearly warns us about how hard it will be for a rich man to make it into heaven?
We are born to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). God is seeking for true worshippers, not those who want Him for what He can give them. True worship has nothing to do with what God has done for us but rather who he is regardless of whether we walk in financial prosperity and good health. Wealth and health are simply tools sometimes given to believers by God to enable the spread of the gospel. It is entrusted to us to facilitate kingdom purpose. When we place undue emphasis on prosperity and make it the main reason why people should give their lives to Jesus, we embark on a slippery slope that will only lead to the creation of a generation of self seeking and greedy believers who are only in Church for what they can get from God. No wonder our pews are filled with many who have been saved for years but do not know Christ nor carry the anointing to chase a fly. No wonder we have believers who are continuously being taken for a ride by Pastors and Prophets who require the sewing of a seed to receive the blessings that Christ has freely given us. No wonder many are driven into abject poverty in their pursuit of prosperity by expecting that by simply shouting amen to prophetic declarations, their day of affluence will come. If we believe Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:23, many of us on the prosperity band wagon may just be enriching ourselves on the way to hell. The rich young man was sad when Jesus asked him to give up his riches and went away sad. He chose to leave Jesus because of riches. How many of us will give up the pursuit of prosperity to follow Jesus? Jesus tells the rich man in verse 21 to give up his riches before he can follow Him. How many preachers teach believers today that we may need to give up prosperity in order to build treasure in heaven and follow Christ? It is high time we learn to place our eyes on Jesus and He alone as our raison d’etre for being a part of His church. As we pursue Christ alone and seek first the Kingdom, all other things will be added on to us (Matthew 6:33).
Is every promotion from God?
It is not every promotion that comes from God. Every Pastor or Prophet who rises is not from God. There are many who rise in our midst looking very blessed, be it at work, in the family or in ministry causing some to wonder why God is not blessing them in the same way, yet this ascension to the top may not be from God.
The lust of the eyes will cause many in these last days to reach for the top through ungodly means and compromises just so that they can quickly attain what they perceive God to be slow in delivering. For some, the pride of life will cause them to desire things out of God’s timing. Although God has a plan to bless each of His children, we sometimes go ahead of this plan because the process within Gods plan calls for much humility, patience, perseverance causing us to look like we are a failure compared to others. Comparison is a weapon fashioned by the enemy to push believers out of God’s perfect plan and timing. We seek certain achievements because of what we see that others have and our motives become corrupted as we are no longer driven by Godly purpose but by satanic desire to overtake others and be seen at the top. This was the same thing that Lucifer desired, where God planted him was not sufficient, he saw it as too small and acted on his desire to get to the top through unscrupulous means. He believed he could be like the most high God and was blinded to the truth of the beautiful plan God had for him. (Isaiah 14:14)
I have observed that many in the body of Christ get absorbed by this luciferian spirit and driven by the satanic desire to seize what may either be out of God’s timing or completely out of His plan for them. This spirit attacks the order that God has ordained for us to follow in reaching our divine purpose. It reveals the corruption in our hearts and while we may be the envy of many and appear to be attaining great blessings, the power behind this all may be the devil himself.
Everything that looks like a blessing is not a blessing. Everyone that appears to be blessed may not blessed. If the road to your “blessing” is riddled with ungodly methods, disobedience, pride, theft and other sinful acts, then it may be a sign that your promotion is not from God but rather from the devil. Yes, the devil promotes. He is looking for as many as possible to follow in his footsteps in disobedience to God’s divine plan. If you have the wrong desire in your heart (James 1:14), he will use it to lure you into ungodly promotion and if you fall for this, you would have just worshiped the devil. It is an old trick in his books which many believers don’t realize. He offered Eve the opportunity to be like God (Gen 3:5) and she fell for this bringing down all of mankind. He will offer you the world. He even tried to promote Jesus Christ. (Matthew 4:8-9) Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Many times, the challenges you face and the time it is taking to achieve your goals may be a sign that you are actually on God’s timetable. You are being processed in order to have the maturity needed to handle the blessing from God at the right time. The enemy will raise you up with less obstacles than what it sometimes takes to remain in the plan of God. His intention is to raise you quickly to that pinnacle from which he can bring you down to a fall. Let us watch against this subtle deception by the enemy to attain higher heights at all cost. Let us rather respond to this temptation like Jesus did in Matthew 4:10 by first of all recognizing where this desire is coming from and secondly by saying “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Keep serving God diligently and in His perfect time, He will raise you to a place of true blessing. (Eccl 3:11)In His time He makes all things beautiful!
The God who shuts doors
They shall cast out devils (A biographical account)
Some years ago, after battling many personal and family challenges, the Lord began to stir my heart in a new direction and rather than read the Bible simply as a story book or as a collection of wise words, I began to truly meditate on what I was reading. Prior to that, even as a Christian, my reading was very superficial and sometimes done out of habit. I was a gospel singer who was starting to gain recognition in the community I lived in and even internationally. Singing for Christ was cool and something bigger than my usual sense of direction had convinced me that I needed to stick to gospel music and not do other genres of music. Years later, it would become clear to me and those around me what God was starting to do in my life.
The Bible shows us that Jesus spent a lot of time casting out devils and healing the sick but I never thought much about what this meant for my own life as a Christian. Many believers will identify with me here. If I was to truly be a follower of Christ, would I be able to do the things Jesus did? Back then, with no spiritual power myself, it occurred to me that if a demon possessed person showed up in front of me, I would probably duck for cover. Something was wrong with this picture, after all Jesus himself said in Mark 16:17-18 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Wow! The very first thing Jesus said believers would be able to do was to cast out Devils and then He went on to list other miracles we would be able to do. So I began to ask myself why I did not see the miracles Jesus did in my own life and in the lives of most of my fellow Christians today. The Lord was starting to get my attention in a deep way but I still could not see how that would be possible in my own life.
Fast forward 10 or so years into the future, after some near death pregnancy experiences, the Lord brings some divine connections my way which started me on the spiritual journey of my life. Like an onion, the spiritual layers of my life began to uncover and deep levels of generational bondage were peeled away one layer at a time. Through out this escapade, I had to learn spiritual warfare for my own survival. I had to learn how to partner with the servants of God who had been divinely assigned to walk with me in a new season of self discovery and lead me into a new dawn were purpose was beckoning me to answer the call of my life. Was the same Jesus who had set free the man of the Gadarenes from legions calling my name? Could it possibly be true that as a believer, one of the signs that would follow me was going to be the grace to cast out devils? As I began to meditate more on Mark 16:17-18, I realized that every believer could cast out devils; I did not have to be a Pastor, I did not need to attend Bible College, I did not need to have special powers, I was not perfect but I was qualified to be used by God to cast out devils because in Jesus’ own words, I had already believed!
Today many spirit filled believers are living in bondage and not experiencing the abundant life that Jesus paid for. On the other hand, many unbelievers appear to be thriving and enjoying the good things of life. Many believers spend countless hours praying and believing God for the manifestation of the many promises in the Bible which never seem to materialize. If you are honest with yourself, you may recognize that there is a disconnect between your own life and the life God promises His children. Poverty, sickness, stagnation and many other demonic setbacks have stood as a mountain between you and your destiny. The church is paying a price for turning its back on the ministry of casting out devils. This is a missing piece in the puzzle of life that must regain its place in the line up of Mark 16:17-18 if the Church is to walk in freedom. For many, just like it was for me, the wake up call will come only after years of bondage causing their backs to be on the ground. At his juncture, spiritual warfare becomes a necessity for survival! When this sign follows you as a believer, not only will you tread on the serpents and scorpions in your own life, but you will be a true reflection of the love and power of Christ to others in a suffering world.