Decrease to Increase

“He must increase, but I must decrease”(John 3:30).

John the Baptist was the cousin of Jesus Christ and he was born about six months before Jesus. His birth was a miracle as his parents were advanced in age at the time of his conception. John’s assignment was to prepare the way of the Lord. “He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said”” (John 1:23). John also testified about Jesus declaring, ‘behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).

After Jesus’s baptism, some of John’s disciples followed him and people also went to Jesus to be baptised. John’s disciples were perturbed as it seemed that the people were now going to be baptised by Jesus. “John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven” (John 3:27). John reminded his disciples that he was sent ahead to prepare the way for Jesus. John knew that the time had come when his ministry would decrease and Jesus’s could increase. Perhaps John knew of his upcoming arrest and execution.

Either way, John did not feel threatened that Jesus was gaining more popularity from the crowd. He understood his assignment and knew of his purpose in helping to fulfil Jesus’s mission. It takes great humility to live in a way which prepares the way for someone else to follow after you. Many people struggle when it comes to succession planning because they feel threatened by others. The reality is that at times you may start a project or a programme and the time will come for you to hand this over to someone else. Some of us are starters and some are finishers.

Holding unto a position long after you have lost relevance can cause tension and stagnation. Many leaders struggle to identify someone to succeed them. The reality is that if an organisation can only exist when you are around, then that company is in trouble. The true success of any invention is its ability to continue to exist long after the inventor has moved on. One way to guarantee the longevity of anything is to train someone to continue the process. This can sometimes mean a change of jobs or companies. Selfishness causes some people to not want to share ideas or to transfer skills to others. We are called to equip others for the establishment of the kingdom of God.

“to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).

A.P.-Y.

A Powerful Christian

“but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

In this scripture Isaiah shared that even young men become exhausted and weary. Youth is associated with strength, so Isaiah makes the comparison between the physical strength of youth and those who wait on the Lord. Our waiting on God is having hope, trust and confidence in Him to meet our needs and to fight our battles. Our strength is renewed like the eagles because we can release the worry and stress associated with trying to solve our own problems. We run without becoming weary and walk without fainting because we rely on the strength of the Lord.

“Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). We become weary and exhausted when we rely on our own strength. The Holy Spirit within us is power for service and working through the believer increases strength. A powerful Christian is someone who is fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit. We are spirit beings having a physical experience, so as we feed our inner man, we grow stronger. As food is for the physical body, the word of God is food for our spirits.

“But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’”” (Matthew 4:4). A bible deficient Christian is a nutrient deficient Christian. People become physically ill if they are malnourished and have a poor diet. A poor spiritual diet leads to spiritual malnutrition. In addition to reading the word is understanding and applying the word to work in our lives. This is exercising our faith muscle in order to increase in strength.

If you have ever done weight training at the gym, you know that regular exercise and strength training allows your muscles to grow and develop. It is the same thing with faith. Each person is given the same measure of faith, but some believers through regular exercise strengthen their faith muscles. Maintaining a workout routine takes discipline and consistency. Maintaining spiritual growth and maturity requires spiritual discipline and using the word mixed with faith to increase in strength.

“who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:5).

A.P.-Y.

Spiritual Laws

“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18).

The scripture above speaks to the delegated authority which we have as Christians in the earth. It means that whatever we allow to operate in our lives will continue and whatever we disallow will cease. This is difficult for most Christians to wrap their heads around. We spend most of our Christian lives begging and pleading with God to change things or make things happen for us. Do we fully understand the concept of spiritual authority? “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you” (Luke 10:19).

We read the above scripture in the New Testament many times, but most of us are not living like we believe it. Not when we live like the devil has power over us and we are waiting for God to come to our rescue. We have authority to bind the devil and his cohorts, to resist him and forbid his further advancement in our lives. What some people do often is remain half asleep and ignorant and blame God when the devil attacks. We can remain blissfully ignorant of the devices of the devil and year and year repeat some of the same cycles and patterns. How can a person walk in disobedience and blame God when they experience the consequences?

You have to do something different to gain different results. Get into the scripture to increase your understanding and arm yourself with spiritual weapons. There are things that we have done and continue to do which gives the devil legal right to operate in our lives. God respects and honours spiritual laws. When the devil has legal grounds on which to operate, we make the word of God of no effect. We also behave in ways that grieve and restrict the movement of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit operating fully in our lives, we remain powerless.

God will give wisdom to those who seek it and if you search for God, you will find Him. Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy. Ask God to show you the habits and behaviours which give room to the devil. Ask God to set you free from besetting sins so that you are free to approach his throne of grace and find mercy and pardon. Ask God to teach your hands to do war and your fingers to fight. Pray that the eyes of your understanding will be open to understanding the wisdom of God. Ask God to increase your knowledge and understanding of spiritual laws and help you to walk in divine power and authority.

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).

A.P.-Y.

Against Lukewarmness

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).

John the Revelator wrote in Revelations 3, to the church in Laodicea. God’s contention with the church was, they were neither hot or cold. God would rather if the church would determine to be either hot or cold, but their state or lukewarmness was intolerable. We enjoy cold beverages in hot weather and we like when we have ice to make it really cold. We also like hot drinks especially when the weather is cold to increase our body temperature and to stimulate circulation. If a cold drink sits around in the heat for too long or a hot drink is left for long before being consumed, it becomes lukewarm. We will add ice to cool it down or pop it in the microwave to add heat for hot drinks.

Babies enjoy lukewarm formula because their tastebuds are not fully developed. They cannot tolerate the extreme temperatures of a cold or hot drink. For those of us who are mature, we have our senses trained to distinguish between hot or cold. This is also true of spiritual things as mature Christians can distinguish good from evil. Lukewarmness represents spiritual stagnancy. Christians are required to grow into Christ like maturity through spiritual disciplines and the daily study of the word. A lukewarm person remains on the fence and is double minded.

James described a person who prays, yet remains doubtful. He described them as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. It is difficult for that person to receive anything from God because, “he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). Elijah also challenged the people of God on Mount Carmel. “And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word” (1 Kings 18:21). Elijah’s comments suggested that the people’s double mindedness was resulting in idolatry.

A lukewarm and double minded Christian is one who is not fully persuaded about serving God. If you are fully convinced that God is who he says he is, that He created the world and everything in it and He is all powerful, then this will reflect your walk with God. Unbelief, doubt, fear, guilt and double mindedness causes spiritual stagnation. Not many people will get away with admitting to being in love with two people. You will be challenged to choose one person to be with or risk losing both. God is jealous and he will not share our affection with the god of this world. Make up your mind whether or not you want to serve God and go after him with your whole heart.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

A.P.-Y.

Protect Your Anointing

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7:6).

The scripture above denotes the importance of us protecting what is near and dear to us. We have to be careful with our time and resources and ensure that we don’t end up feeling drained and used. Let us consider a story in the bible about the ten virgins. Five of them were wise and five of them were foolish and they took lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. The wise virgins took their lamps and took a flask of oil with them while the foolish virgins took their lamps but took no oil with them. The bridegroom was delayed and the virgins slept and at midnight there was a cry to meet the bridegroom. At this time the virgins arose to trim their lamps. The foolish virgins asked the wise virgins to share their oil because their lamps had gone out.

“But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves” (Matthew 25:9). The foolish virgins went to find oil to buy to trim their lamps. While they were out buying, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the marriage feast. The result is that they were left behind and missed out on entering the feast. The important point for me in the story relates to the request from the foolish virgins for the wise to share their oil with them. People could view the wise virgins as being selfish and uncaring.

You have to ask yourself why the foolish virgins didn’t prepare ahead of time. I believe that the oil represents their substance and spiritual maturity which flowed from time invested in serving God. There are some believers who remain on fire for God due to their diligence in sacrificing their time in the presence of God. There are believers who make the word of God their constant companion in order to increase in knowledge and wisdom. I am not saying that it is a bad thing to encourage and support other believers who are weak in the faith. The bible says that they who are strong are to bear the infirmities of the weak.

The reality is that some people are not inclined to do what it takes to grow spiritually, but wish to rely on the anointing of others to help carry them along. You have to be discerning to cut off those relationships that are draining your time and energy. You cannot share your oil with people who are foolish and never trying to gain wisdom from God. Don’t be guilted into constantly overextending yourself as you will end up experiencing burn out and eventually become resentful.

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

A.P.-Y.

Increase in Wisdom

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: And with all thy getting get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7).

A disciplined study of the bible will help us to increase in knowledge and understanding. I believe that Solomon’s teachings will offer a lot of wisdom for every day life and help anyone struggling to grasp wisdom. If we recall, after Solomon was appointed King, God gave him the option to ask for a blessing. Solomon asked God for wisdom, because he was young and wanted to know how to be a good king. “behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee” (1 Kings 3:12).

God was pleased with Solomon’s request because he didn’t ask for wealth, long life or to be a fierce warrior. Solomon wanted wisdom and discernment to know good from evil, so that he could lead the people in the way of God. God also added surplus to what Solomon asked for. “And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days” (1 Kings 3:13). I believe that having wisdom is useful to manage wealth and honour. A foolish person may not be able to maintain wealth for example, and may use it for the wrong reasons.

God knew that he could trust Solomon with riches and honour because he placed wisdom and understanding above all other things. We have to spend time in the word daily to increase in knowledge and understanding. So many people are missing out on having revelation knowledge and basic principles for everyday life. We know that God created the world and everything in it. He created us and wrote the bible as a manual for us.

Have you ever purchased a piece of furniture or an appliance and tried to set it up without using the manual? This is what we do when we ignore or don’t pay enough attention to the word of God. How do we think that we are going to navigate life successfully, without know what the creator has to say? There are so many promises in the word, that we are unable to tap into, because we don’t know what the word says. There are things that we allow to manifest and take root in our lives, because we don’t know the authority that we have for example. Increase in knowledge as you study the word and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the hidden things of God.

A.P.-Y.

Seeing in Part

“Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture” (1 Corinthians 13:9)!

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul exhorted the church concerning love being the greatest of all human virtues. Love is elevated above all the gifts of the spirit including anointed singing, speaking in tongues, being a good steward and even the gift of prophecy. Paul further expounds on the features of love being patient and kind. He also explained that love is not proud, boastful, rude, demanding, irritable or grudging. Paul explained that although spiritual gifts, like speaking in tongues and prophecy will pass away, love lasts forever. Love is eternal because God is love and his love for us is everlasting.

The gifts of the spirit are temporal and given to be used for the perfecting of the church. Speaking in tongues, prophecy and anointed singing are ministries assigned to help the church in preparation for the second coming of Jesus Christ. “But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless” (1 Corinthians 13:10). Once we are at home with Jesus, there will be no need for prophecy. Prophecy mainly tells of things to come and reveals information from God to the body of Christ. Once we are at home with God, nothing will be hidden from us and we will know all things.

It is useful and advantageous for believers to desire and cultivate the sincere gifts of the spirit. In doing so, the primary aim is to be perfected in love. “Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbour as you love yourself. Jesus also said that the entire law is centred around these two commandments. The greatest spiritual gifts will manifest through our love for God and our love for his people. It was God’s love for us which gave Jesus the power to die and be resurrected for the salvation of the world.

Even Prophets or those with the gift of prophecy, are limited in their revelations and knowledge of the things of God. I believe that God reveals some of his hidden mysteries and reveals what he believes is necessary for the church. Additionally, our capacity determines how much is revealed to us. Nevertheless, so that we don’t become arrogant, God will reveal different things to different people. This is so that the body of Christ will learn to rely on each other, as we need each other to come into the fullness of Christ.

“so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another”
‭‭(Romans‬ ‭12:5‬).

A.P.-Y.

Tearing Down to Rebuild

“See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10).

Yesterday we looked at Isaiah’s prophetic calling to set the captives free. Today we will look at Jeremiah’s anointing to pluck up and tear down, destroy and overthrow and to build and plant. The thoughts of plucking up, breaking down, destroying and overthrowing all sound counter productive. Let’s consider an old building which is faulty and derelict. A derelict building is one which is generally empty and in a bad state of repairs because it has not been used appropriately or occupied for a long time. While some buildings can be repaired, others will be deemed a safety hazard and need to be torn down and rebuilt.

During Jeremiah’s time, many of the Kings who sinned against God would build altars to other gods such as Baal. God would use Jeremiah to pull down and destroy any systems or structures, built to give glory to any other god but the one true God. Elijah was sent to confront the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Elijah rebuilt the altar of God which had been thrown down by Jezebel and her servants. He commanded God to send fire to consume the sacrifice, as a demonstration to the people that God was all powerful and mighty. God responded by fire and the people fell on their faces before God and declared him as Lord.

“And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there” (1 Kings 18:40). The slaughtering of the prophets seems harsh to us reading, but the context of the time required it as Jezebel had slaughtered the prophets of the Lord and set up her own prophets to offer idol worship. Jezebel and King Ahab build altars and a temple to sacrifice to Baal and erected an Asherah pole to worship Sidonian and the fertility goddess Asherah.

God is very clear that he will not share his glory with anyone and we have been instructed to worship no other gods or make sacrifices to them. Ahab and Jezebel led the people of God astray and caused them to serve Baal. Elijah was the only one bold enough to confront and challenge Jezebel and Ahab and put a stop to their worship of idolatry. There are systems of idolatry and satanic worship that God will use us to tear down and rebuild altars of true worship, prayer and praise unto God. We have to be bold in our conviction to discern systems that do not give glory to God and move when given the unction from God to destroy and to rebuild.

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).

A.P.-Y.

Who God Sends

“And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me”” (Isaiah 6:8).

Isaiah detailed a vision which he had of heaven, where he saw the Lord seated on his throne, high and lifted up. Isaiah saw Seraphims who cried out to each other about the glory of God and esteemed him as holy. Within the presence of God Isaiah acknowledge that his lips were unclean. An angel took a coal and touched Isaiah’s mouth and sanctified him and took his sins away. The question was then asked by God, “whom shall I send and who will go for us” (Isaiah 6:8)? Isaiah did not hesitate but called out, “here I am! send me.”

Where was Isaiah being sent and what was he being sent to do? Isaiah was sent to prophecy to the people and to convey the words of the Lord in their hearing. Prophets represent God’s mouthpiece and convey the voice of God to the church. The other five fold ministries also flow in the prophetic anointing and are also sent to convey messages to the church and the world at large. In fact, the great commission is to every Christian to go therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the father, the son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19).

Isaiah spoke further in chapter 61 about his specific calling which also prophesied of Jesus’s ministry on earth. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Isaiah 61:1). Isaiah had a message of good news to the poor which said that though they were poor, through a relationship with God, they can be made rich. His ministry would extend healing to the broken hearted, freedom to those who are being held captive by the devil. Finally, the releasing from prison those who are held bound.

Most of us turn our minds to a physical prison but many people are held hostage in mental and psychological prisons. There are people who are also in spiritual bondage through disobedience or ignorance. Like Isaiah, God will send believers who are available and equipped to help release those in bondage and to restore hope to the broken and wounded. When we are sure that God has sent us, we can rest assured that he has given us what we need for the assignment. He has also prepared us ahead of time and he will send reinforcement to assist us with carrying out the mandate.

“And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news”” (Romans 10:15)!

A.P.-Y.

God Set an Ambush

“And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed” (2 Chronicles 20:22).

We have discussed this story many times about the battle which Jehoshaphat and Israel fought against the armies who came up against them. There are many nuggets to be taken from this story so that it is difficult to exhaust the revelations from it. To summarise for anyone who may not be familiar; a few armies of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir teamed up against Israel when Jehoshaphat was King. The armies jointly made such a big troupe that Israel were physically outnumbered. Jehoshaphat’s prayer strategy was to remind God that the lands that they lived on were their own possession which God promised to Abraham.

God had used Joshua and Caleb to lead the people in driving out the inhabitants. The armies that had now teamed up against Israel were the people who Isreal spared and decided to allow to live alongside them. Jehoshaphat reminded God of the promise to his people after they built his sanctuary. “‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save’” (2 Chronicles 20:9). Jehoshaphat understood spiritual laws and covenants and he stood on the covenant promises of God.

Jehoshaphat then prayed for God’s vengeance and judgement. “O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12). Vengeance belongs to God and recompense and his people can cry out to God to execute judgement and vengeance. While Jehoshaphat prayed, the people also stood in prayer before God. God’s response was the battle strategy, “stand firm and hold your position and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf” (2 Chronicles 20:17).

God did not want his people wasting any of their energy on this army. Their position was one of rest, trust and confidence. They could rest in the eternal confidence of God which had given them their land of promise and rest. “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zachariah 4:6). Jehoshaphat went a bit further and added music and singing as a way to celebrate what God had already done. God set the ambush and the armies devoured each other so that his people were saved.

“I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: So shall I be saved from mine enemies” (Psalm 18:3).

A.P.-Y.