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Blessed and not Cursed

“and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed”(Genesis 12:3).

A story is told in Numbers 22-23 about the King of Moab named Baalam. During his time as King, the Israelites travelled from Egypt towards the promised land. When they came near Moab, Baalam became nervous because they had overthrown every Kingdom before them. Baalam was worried that now Isreal would overtake him and possess his kingdom. He sent to call Balak who was a Diviner (Medium) to pronounce a curse on the children of Isreal. Interestingly, the scripture says that Balak prayed unto the Lord for direction before going to meet the King. “God said to Balak, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed”” (Numbers 22:12).

The King did not take no for an answer but sent another company of men to summon Balak. This time, God appeared to him and told him to go with them. On the way to meet the King, Balak’s donkey saw an angel and refused to continue and eventually spoke to Balak when he struck her. The angel told Balak to go with the men but to only speak what the Lord allowed him to say. When Balak arrived, Baalam took him to a place where he could see the Israelites. On three separate occasions Balak asked for seven altars to be built to offer sacrifices to the Lord. On each occasion, Balak would listen to hear God speak and then declare what he had to say.

Three times Balak pronounced a blessing over the children of Isreal as the Lord gave him utterance. “How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced” (Numbers 23:8)? Balaam was angry with Balak because he did the opposite of what he asked. He blessed the people three times and did not curse them once. Balak reminded Balaam that he did make it clear to his men that no amount of money would cause him to speak contrary to what God had said. Balak had no power to pronounce a curse on those whom God had blessed.

We are the seed of Abraham and the blessings of God are conferred to us. “In thee all families of the earth will be blessed.” No one will be able to stand against us all the days of our lives. The blessings of God makes us rich and adds no sorrow. Every curse directed towards us returns to its sender double fold and only the blessings of the Lord rests upon us. The blessings of God nullifies the curse and anyone who tries to curse us, invokes a curse on themselves.

A.P.-Y.

A Mind Transplant

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).

Paul spoke many times in the New Testament about the mind and the importance of having a changed mind. This relates to having a mindset that is not conditioned to this world system, but transformed by the wisdom of God. From the time that we were born, our minds are being programmed to think like the world. Our education systems are designed to help us to think in physical and scientific terms. While these ways of thinking are useful, a complete reliance on the physical senses, leaves no room for faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

The enemy of this world is after our minds and his methods uses imaginations and lofty ideas that seek to discredit the things of God. We cannot serve God through our intellect and it is through our spirits that we connect with the things of God. We have to train our minds through the spirit and put thoughts contrary to God under subjection. “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Spending time in the word increases our faith and allows our spirit to grow. Our faith is matured as we listen and understand the word. We can train our minds to focus on the things of God in order to keep out the things of this world system. We have to be conscious and make wise decisions about what we take in on a daily basis. What we watch on television and follow on the internet will have a direct impact on our minds. Binge watching crime programmes, horror films and gore for example, can increase the spirit of anxiety and fear. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7).

We have to guard our hearts and minds and ensure that we keep our minds focused on the things of God. We set our minds and affections on the things of heaven and try not to be overly occupied with the things of the world. Prayer helps to reduce anxiety as we cast our cares on God knowing that he cares for us. A daily study of the word helps us to see ourselves the way that God see us. Knowing the truth of God’s word helps us to resist the lies of the Devil and stand firm in our faith.

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

A.P.-Y.

Don’t Stay in Lo-debar

“Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar” (2 Samuel 9:5).

Before David was made King of Judah, Saul and his sons were killed by the Philistines including Johnathan whom David loved. “Jonathan, the son of Saul, had a son who was crippled in his feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth” (2 Samuel 4:4). The nurse would have tried to escape with Mephibosheth because it was customary for a new King to kill any remaining relatives of the former King.

David’s intentions were different and he mourned when he heard about the death of Saul and Johnathan. Later on in chapter 9, David enquired whether there was anyone left from the family of Saul to whom he could pay kindness. He was told about Mephibosheth who was living in Lo-debar and David sent for him to come to the palace. David told Mephibosheth about his desire to show him kindness and restore to him all the land that belonged to his grandfather Saul. “And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I”” (2 Samuel 9:8)?

Mephibosheth’s response showed how he saw himself. David was not concerned about his disability or the fact that he lived in Lodebar. David saw him as royalty and desired to bless him. The word Lodebar means no place, no pasture or communication. In bible times this town was considered as a ghetto and not held in high regard. It’s interesting how Mephibosheth’s environment and physical condition caused him to look down on himself. Moreso he did not consider himself worthy to be in the company of a King.

The reality is that God did not see Mephibosheth in that way that he saw himself. God’s favour was on him and that transported him from Lo-debar to the palace. I imagine that Mephibosheth felt that he was better off around broken or wounded people who were hurt in the same way that he was. At times it is useful to connect with people who can relate to our struggles. Other times we have to consider if some relationships are helpful in our healing, or help to keep us in a place of brokenness. Let us examine our current condition and be intentional about our relationships. The people that we surround ourselves with have a major impact on our identity and sense of self.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch not the unclean thing; And I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:17).

A.P.-Y.

No Claims Protection

“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me” (John 14:30).

Jesus spoke to his disciples about his impending crucifixion and told them that he would soon leave to be with the father. He spoke of the ruler of the ‘world system’ who would work through Judas, the Pharisees and Romans to crucify him. He wanted them to know that although he was about to die, that he was surrendering himself. This was to do the will of the father who sent him. His death was not as a result of his loss of power or inability to fight back. “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:53)?

Jesus made the statement above to Peter after he drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the soldiers. He told Peter and the disciples that the events at the time needed to happen in order that the scriptures might be fulfilled. Later on in the scriptures Jesus faced Pilate who asked him many questions. When Jesus refused to respond, Pilate asked if he knew that he had the power to release him. “Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin”” (John 19:11).

Jesus spoke at other times in the New Testament about laying down his life to do the will of the father. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father””(John 10:18). And after his crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples that all authority was given unto him in heaven and in earth.

As believers, we share in that authority as we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, far above all principalities and powers. As such, the Prince of this world has no claim over us. The people in the highest positions of leadership, have authority over us only because it is given by God. We respect earthly authority and we honour the law of the land. That being said, our citizenship is not of this world and we come under a supreme authority which is divinely ordained by God.

A.P.-Y.

The Anointing Breaks the Yoke

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing” (Isaiah 10:27).

Isaiah prophesied of God’s restoration of a remnant of the Jews to Jerusalem. He shared that God’s anger would turn away from the people and the burden from their oppressors would be removed. In the Old Testament, leaders were anointed by having oil poured over their heads. Some of our Christian churches today still use consecrated olive oil to gently rub onto a persons forehead to confer a blessing for example. Within the New Testament context, the anointing is referred to as the power which the Holy Spirit has given to all believers.

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This power from the Holy Spirit is what Jesus promised to the disciples. The Holy Spirit has also been referred to as a comforter. “And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them” (Acts 2:3). The Holy Spirit provides power for service and equips us to fulfil our mandate of advancing the kingdom of God.

We saw where the disciples after they were filled with the Holy Spirit, would boldly declare the word of God without fear or reservation. Despite much persecution and harassment, they were not afraid to do what God commanded them to do. Anointing represents the power and conviction to do what God has called you to do. The anointing represents the grace to flow in the areas of your natural abilities. A gift surrendered to God and used for his service brings liberty to the oppressed.

Anyone fully surrendered to God and operating in their God given gifts of singing, playing music or preaching the word for example, are flowing in the anointing. Even our daily jobs and careers surrendered to God brings him glory and is full of anointed Holy Ghost power. This anointing will transform lives, bring healing and set the captives free.

A.P.-Y.

The Good Father

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

God loves us with an everlasting love and there is nothing that we can do or will ever do to remove his love from us. God is not unkind but is faithful and merciful. God wants what is best for us and he created us in his image and likeness in order to love us and to have relationship with us. God is not responsible when we suffer harm or evil. The Devil causes harm to people and we have to stay close to God in order to stay safe from harm and danger. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).

God is our refuge and strength and a present help when we are in trouble. David was well acquainted with the love of God and wrote many songs to testify about the character of God. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you” (Psalm 89:14). God takes joy in justice and is faithful to his people. We are his children and he has recorded so many promises in his word which outlines how he wants to take care of us.

In our relationship with God, there is comfort and healing. There is strength for the weary and he lifts the burdens of the oppressed. If we are struggling or failing, God wants to lift us up and help us to succeed. There is peace for those who are troubled in spirit. We gain the benefits in the word by surrendering our lives to God and living in relationship with him. God is not in need of us but we need him like the air we breathe. We were never made to exist without relationship and fellowship with God.

Like a good father, God cares for us and he longs to take care of his children. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1 John 3:1).

A.P.-Y.

Perfect Patience

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36).

Paul spoke in his letters in Hebrews about the need for patient endurance in trusting that God is faithful to keep his word. He made reference to Abraham who trusted in what God had promised concerning him. “saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:14-15). Paul wanted the saints to know that God is not an unjust God and he does not ignore our good deeds. “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do” (Hebrews 6:10).

It is easy to look at other people around you who are being blessed and wonder if God has forsaken you. Don’t compare your circumstances to anyone as God’s timing is different for each of us. God is not bias and he does not have favourites. “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Often we imagine that because we are Christians and are serving God, that this will come with material blessings. If that were the case then we could consider every wealthy person a saint.

Blessings don’t always come in the form that we expect them and we don’t see the many things that God spares us from in his mercy. There are many people who are wealthy but who don’t enjoy the peace of God. God is able to make his people wealthy and He will meet our needs when we ask him. There are seasons when our prayers are answered instantly and other times when we have to trust God while we wait.

God will keep his promise to us as we continue to trust and obey him. Don’t run ahead of God and try to make things happen in your own time. Don’t give God ultimatums to come through on your own time table with threats to stop serving him if he doesn’t. God does not respond to tantrums and we cannot push him to do anything before the time. Patience produces strength and endurance and strengthens our faith. We mature in God while we wait and develop greater wisdom into his character. The more we mature in God is the more that he can trust us to handle.

“so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12).

A.P.-Y.

Stay Above the Tide

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2).

Difficult seasons may cause us to feel like we are drowning amidst the wave of challenges and the difficult emotions that are associated with it. Jesus’s reflections in John was that we would be hated and at times overwhelmed by the world. “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15). He prayed for us about our time on this earth and made petitions to the father to keep us safe. The trials and difficulties are sure to come, but being in relationship with God means that he will keep us amidst the trials.

Isaiah’s writings were of God’s encouragement to Jacob to be of good courage. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” The waters will come but we serve a God that defies gravity and has walked upon the waters. Our hope is that if we keep our eyes fixed on him, that he will keep us afloat. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). When we serve God we do not simply cope or get by, but we will conquer. We are here to dominate and take territories for God.

Staying close to God helps us to stay on top of our battles and circumstances. The trials may seem many at times and we are not ignorant of the fact that we are hated by the prince of the world. We have been given weapons of war and strategies to overcome the evil one. “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14).

There are seasons of intensity when we have to seek God and stay in his presence. Some situations require us to increase our times of prayer and intercession. “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). No one shows up for a battle empty handed and we are deceiving ourselves if we have not yet acknowledged that we are in a battle.

Our time in prayer and intercession helps us to stay close to God as we approach him boldly to help us in times of need. Our worship is a weapon and we fight our battles through praise and thanksgiving. The darts maybe aimed at us but God is our shield. God is our present help in times of trouble. There are trials that we experience as believers that has strengthened our faith. Some of the same experiences have sent other people into depression and anxiety. It is the Lord’s grace why we have not been consumed.

“And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them” (Daniel‬ ‭3:27‬).

A.P.-Y.

Strategic Alignment

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Have you ever felt like you were at the right place, at the right time to meet the right people for a specific purpose? I remember many occasions when I was involved in something seemingly insignificant at the time. It was only at a much later date when an insignificant event may result in something of greater significance. That is when I generally realise what God was doing at the time. There have been times when you felt like making a small move. It did not make sense at the time but you went along with the inner witness. It was only later when these small acts produced something of greater significance when you realised what God was doing.

Let us consider the story of Ruth and Naomi. Naomi was widowed in the country of Moab and she also lost her two sons. Their wives survived them and when Naomi decided to return to her country, she told them to return to their families. One of the daughter in laws returned but Ruth insisted on staying with Naomi. Ruth returned with Naomi to her home town in Bethlehem. She served Naomi when she returned and collected grain from the field of Boaz who was a relative of Naomi (Ruth 1; 2).

Boaz was impressed by Ruth’s service to her mother in law and she found favour with him. In the end, Boaz married Ruth and she produced a son. Ruth’s son formed part of the genealogy of David from whose line Jesus was born. Ruth’s decision to follow her mother in law may have seemed whimsical at the time. Her desire may have been born out of a wish to serve Naomi and she did not want her to return home alone.

In the end, Ruth’s decision to go along with her mother in law to support her, strategically positioned her at the right place, at the right time to meet the man of her destiny. God is in control and when we trust him and follow his leading, he will order our steps. God will cause the right people, resources and opportunities to come to us at the right time. Stay in faith and follow his leading. Don’t rely on your own strength but trust in God to align your steps.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23).

A.P.-Y.

Zeal With Knowledge

“For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2).

Paul lamented the unbelief of Israel and their zeal to follow the law without the knowledge of the righteousness of salvation. The Jewish people were accustomed to observing cultural tranditions and religious rituals. When Jesus lived on earth, he sought to teach them about the freedom of grace through faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Many of the Jews rejected the message of Jesus Christ and carried on with their religious customs.

We live in the dispensation of grace which teaches us that salvation is available through belief. Our acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour and our renouncing of the world. Unfortunately, some religious institutions still continue with legalistic practices. Spiritual disciplines are important for growth. The question is how do we find the balance between loving God out of relationship rather than out of religious duty.

Duty looks like going to church every Sunday, not because you have a hunger for God and desire fellowship with the saints. Rather, church attendance is used to appease our conscience and to make us feel a bit better about ourselves. This is why some people will religiously attend church every Easter, Christmas and New Year’s Sunday.

Another feature of religion is when prayer is regimented and ritualistic and sometimes focuses on empty phrases rather than a conversation with God. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7). Similarly, bible reading focuses on getting through as many scriptures as possible without an understanding of the word. The result is that the word does not produce any real changes or lead to spiritual growth.

God wants us to do the things that pleases him. He wants us to serve him because we love him and want to be in relationship with him. Real love is demonstrated through desire and not duty. Doing anything mainly out of duty can become mechanical and regimented and takes the joy out of it. Our physical acts of service are not what pleases God the most, but a heart that longs for him. Being led by the spirit and walking in relationship and obedience to Christ. Hearing his voice and being able to respond because we are well acquainted with him.

“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way” (Proverbs 19:2).

A.P.-Y.