We know that there are spiritual laws that govern what happens in the universe. Let us discuss the law of confession and the power in the spoken word. Job said that when we decree or speak a word, then it will manifest. This explains the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy as words spoken over time will become true. Solomon also said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:21). It is easy to speak as we find or say things as they are. What if we speak what we want to see manifest and be intentional with our words? This takes discipline and a change in our attitude and mindset.
It takes constant practice and reinforcement to create good habits. More so, we need to have our minds renewed and submit our bodies to Jesus Christ. Only then can we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us in order to manifest the things of God. There are also things and situations that we have to avoid in order see what we want to materialise. “But avoid all empty (vain, useless, idle) talk, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:16). This also goes for constant complaining and negativity. I know that we sometimes need a space to talk about things that have caused us hurt. This can become a habit and constant complaining can be depressing.
We are created in the image of God and have authority like God to speak life into dead things and to call into existence things that do not exist (Romans 4:17). I know that when we become frustrated, we want to say it as it is. What if we start practicing the habit of speaking life into dead things? Do you believe that you have the power to call into existence things that do not exist? There is also the matter of spiritual authority concerning our relationships. Parents have the spiritual authority to speak into the lives of their children and can cast down any negative pronouncements spoken over them.
For example, a teacher can pronounce that a child cannot learn. As a parent, you have the legal right to denounce what the teacher said and declare that your child can and will learn. Whose words do you think carries more weight over your children? You have to decide whether or not to come in agreement with the teacher and repeat what they said, which reinforces the negative pronouncement. The alternative is to denounce it, cancel it and make a new declaration. You shall have whatever you say.
We know that the characteristics of God are love, joy, peace, grace, mercy, faithfulness, righteousness among many other traits. Among these traits include our God of justice and vengeance. There are many names of God which denotes some of his many characteristics. Jehovah Jireh refers to God being our provider. Jehovah Rapha speaks of our God who heals. Jehovah Elohim is the all powerful one who is the creator. Jehovah Nissi speaks of God being our banner. Throughout scripture the prophets would ascribe a name to God to represent what he had been to them.
In Exodus, the Israelites went into battle against the Amalekites. After they prevailed and defeated the army, God instructed Moses to write down the story as a memorial. In addition to writing about the victory, Moses built an altar and called it, The Lord is my banner. This was to demonstrate that forever, God would fight with the enemies of his people and prevail against them. We bear the mark of the Lord and every promise written in his word are covenant promises to us. As his children we call on him and acknowledge him as our banner, our Jehovah Nissi who never loses a battle.
We continue the contend in prayer like the woman in the parable of the persistent widow. Jesus told his disciples about a widow who continued to go to a judge to ask him to give her justice against her adversaries. The judge neither feared God nor man and initially refused to listen to the widow. “yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming”(Luke 18:5). Jesus told his disciples that in the same way an unjust judge could acknowledge the pleas of a widow, will not God hear the cries of his elect who cry to him day and night. God will not delay, but arise speedily to come to our defence.
There are many answers that God provides to prayers. To some prayers, God will ask us to wait and for prayers that will not benefit us, God will say no. I believe that on the matter of justice, God always avenges and his justice is swift. “Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.’ For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone and there is none remaining, bond or free” (Deuteronomy 32:35-36).
Peter’s exhortation included the call to be humble before God, so that we will be exalted at the proper time. Remember that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble and pride originates from the devil. Furthermore, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The devil is ‘like’ a lion but Jesus Christ is the conquering lion of the tribe of Judah and his spirit lives in us. The Holy Spirit in you is of the conquering lion so you are more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. Fear is a strategy of the kingdom of darkness, but if we truly know who we are and the power invested in us, then we know that we have nothing to fear.
Paul exhorts in Ephesians, “and give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27). Paul was saying that we should avoid attitudes and habits that lead us into sin. Recovering alcoholics are advised to avoid anywhere with alcohol because of the temptation to be lured back into alcoholism. Don’t allow the devil to deceive you into allowing yourself to enter into or remain in situations that are tempting. Run away if you need to, in order to resist and don’t consider yourself to be so strong that you feel that you cannot fall into sin. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you can be tempted but put safeguards around yourself and keep people in your circle who can hold you accountable.
“Therefore let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation]” (1 Corinthians 10:12). We have to be conscious about what we watch on TV, what we listen to on the radio and the people that we surround ourselves with. Remember that our physical senses are the entry way to the soul and can entice us into unwanted habits and behaviours. “Abstain from every form of evil [withdraw and keep away from it]” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
People have mistakenly assumed that God causes them to be tempted. This is erroneous thinking as James explained. “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14). Once the desire gives birth in the mind, then it can lead to sin. Most of our biggest challenges start with our thinking. Don’t think that because you are only thinking about it, that it is not sinful. We have to take every thought captive, demolish it and cast it down out of our minds. Thoughts that lead to sin do not originate from God and entertaining them means that you are entertaining the devil. This can only lead to sin.
James is very clear in his epistle about how we should respond to the devil. We don’t entertain the devil, we don’t debate or argue with him, we don’t cower in fear of him, but we resist him! To resist means to stand firm against him and the only way to stand firm is through our knowledge of the word and the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit who lives in us is greater that the devil who is in the world. We pray and stand in authority through the Holy Spirit with our knowledge of what the word says. Remember that the word is “quick and powerful, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Remember when Jesus was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness; he used the word to remind satan of what was written. The devil is the master of deception and too many Christians are being outsmarted by the devil who comes to steal, kill and destroy. “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs” (2 Corinthians 2:11). You are wasting your time if you are not dedicated to studying and understanding what the bible says. The word of God is a weapon against the enemy and our knowledge and understanding of the word helps us to grow. Stop using the excuse of not having enough time, when there are many activities that you devote time to daily that can be used for studying the word.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 4:6). A lack of knowledge and understanding of the word has caused many Christians to fall for the devil’s traps because they fail to recognise a lie dressed as truth. If the devil could use scripture to try to tempt Jesus, what makes you think that it will be hard for him to tempt you. The bible warns against false prophets, so you also cannot use the excuse of being led astray by religious leaders.
We need to wake up to the reality of what is happening around us. We are children of God and the devil does not like any of us that are created by God. The devil’s strategy is, to draw us as far away from the will and purpose of God as possible. We have to pray daily, stay in the word, continue to be fully armoured and do not allow the devil to gain an advantage over us. You have been given power and authority over the enemy, so act like someone with authority and stop allowing the devil to take advantage of you. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
We have been discussing this week the importance of bearing fruits of the spirit. Today we will look at those fruits or plants that don’t originate from God and discuss how we uproot them. Let us look again at what happened to the fig tree that Jesus cursed. “As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots” (Mark 11:20). I don’t believe that Jesus had any personal issues with the tree. Jesus wanted to demonstrate to his disciples the authority which they had to dispossess anything in their lives which did not serve a purpose.
Here was a tree that was drawing nutrients from the soil but was not producing anything in return for the nutrients it received. Similarly, there are many things that take up space in our lives and draw energy from us but does not necessarily edify us. ““All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up” (1 Corinthians 10:23). We have to constantly examine how we use our time and resources and assess the long term benefits. Many things feel good in the moment but do not yield fruits of righteousness.
There are other conditions and circumstances that may have been handed down from past generations. There are things that we have inherited and were told are family traits that we need to command to be uprooted. Whether these are bad habits, sickness or disease and infirmities, we curse them at the root and command them to dry up and die. There are dead circumstances in our lives that are pretending to flourish but they do not bear fruit. There are dead relationships that do not yield any substance. These dead situations simply drain us of our energy and need to be uprooted.
We cannot allow sentimentality to keep us bound to things that do not serve a purpose. We have to be ready to move when God says and sever ties that no longer come in alignment with God’s plan for us. We daily submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that he can show us those things that do not bring glory to God and be willing to get rid of them. “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom” (Song of Solomon 2:15).
Jesus spoke to his disciples about bearing good fruit and spoke of the importance of staying connected to God who is the true vine. It is the Holy Spirit living in us who gives us the ability to produce as we cannot produce good fruit on our own. The Holy Spirit prunes us and helps us to produce according to the will and purpose of God. David also made reference to the believer bearing fruit in Psalms. He spoke of the nature of a blessed man who delights in the law of the Lord. “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:3).
There is also a story in the bible where the saints are referred to as wheat and those who are serving the devil as tares or thorns. In this parable Jesus compared the kingdom of God being like a field where the master sowed good seed. While the master was asleep the enemy came and sowed tares along with the wheat. In this case the commandment was to allow the wheat and tares to grow together until the day of harvest. This was because uprooting the tares would jeopardise the wheat that was planted together with them. The wheat would produce grain for harvesting while the weeds would not produce any fruit or substance for nourishment.
At other times in the bible, Jesus spoke of God’s intention to uproot from the believer, any tree that he did not plant (Matthew 15:13). In this case it would have been the enemy planting seeds of doubt, fear, shame, guilt and other illegal seeds in our hearts and minds. When these seeds are planted, they hinder the production of good fruit. We have to continue to remain in God and stay connected to the vine to be called trees of righteousness, planted by the Lord, that he may be glorified (Isaiah 61:3). When we sow good seed, we will also reap the fruits of righteousness.
We also use the word to water our seeds so that they will grow. Jesus provides water so that we will never thirst and produce a spring welling up into everlasting life. Jesus also said that when we believe in him, that out of our bellies shall flow rivers of living water. (John 4:14; John 7:38). We will bear fruit in due season and we will continue to be fruitful in every area of our lives. Nothing will stunt our growth and development and we will continue to be nourished and enriched through the word in order to remain productive.
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
My father once said to me during a conversation about some people in church who pretend to be Christians but are really not living for God, “Buds and shoots aren’t fruits.” He meant that some people can produce what resemble fruits, like the buds or shoots of a plant. You have to be discerning to look closely enough to realise the difference between buds and shoots from fruits. Buds and shoots demonstrate the potential for trees and plants to bear fruit. This does not guarantee that a tree will produce the fruit and only time will determine the productivity of the tree.
Remember when Jesus came to the fig tree expecting to find fruit, because he was hungry and it was the season for figs. To Jesus’s disappointment, there were no figs on the tree. Jesus responds by cursing the tree. “And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it” (Mark 11:14). This may seem like a harsh response, but much of what Jesus did on earth was to demonstrate spiritual laws and was a type and shadow of things to come. In Matthew, Jesus taught his disciples about a tree and its fruits. He warned against false prophets and taught the importance of examining a person’s fruits. “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles”(Matthew 7:16)?
Jesus goes on to say that any tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and cast into a lake or fire. Jesus also made similar reference later in the same chapter. “He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up” (Matthew 15:13). In this scripture, Jesus was referring to the Pharisees who he referred to as blind guides. They were religious leaders who could not recognise the things of God or lead people to God. In other words, they were not operating in or demonstrating the fruits of the spirit.
The Holy Spirit lives inside of us and manifests himself through signs and wonders. More importantly, the evidence of the spirit is showing love to others, having the joy of the Lord and the peace of God which passes all understanding; being patient, kind and a good person; being gentle, faithful and having self-control. When a person is born again, they will start to demonstrate some fruits and for some people, these fruits will take some time to grow as they feed on the word. As we mature in God, our spirit man should grow and the fruits should be more evident in our lives. We have to submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit, do not quench the spirit and allow him to transform us into people of heavenly value.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).
Joshua and the Israelites marched around the walls of Jericho at the instructions of the Lord. Jericho had shut their gates and walls so that no one could enter and exit. They did this because they feared the people of God. This signalled a major resistance for the people of God who had no way to enter physically. I am thankful that we serve a God who is not limited by our physical circumstances. His response to victory was a supernatural one. March until your obedience has been perfected and then shout. Our shouts of praise sends confusion to the camp of the enemy and their shouts preceded the walls coming down.
David said in Psalm 24, that we should lift up our heads unto God so that he will come in to our circumstances. We lift up our praises to God as his chosen people and keep our eyes on him who fights our battles. David also said, “Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle” (Psalm 24:8).” David also said in Psalm 27, that after we worship God and lift him up, then “my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord” (Psalm 27:6). We are singing unto God and lifting a cry of worship unto him as we praise him for the victory.
We do not fight our battles in our own strength but we pray and remain submitted to God as he fights the battles on our behalf. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him (Isaiah 59:16). Our God is raising a standard of righteousness and pushing back the darkness from his people. We are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).
Saints we are contending against master spirits and the rulers of the prince of the power of this world. Our battle is against the prince of darkness who is the devil and he uses people as agents to try to harass and antagonise God’s people. We beat down the enemy and trample his powers under our feet. As we remain seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, principalities and powers are under our feet. Our comfort is that this is a fixed fight because with God on our side, we already win. “But thanks be to God who has given us the victory through Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
The term ‘ labour to rest’ sounds contradictory or counter productive if labour means to work hard and use great effort, while to rest is to cease from labour. What then did Paul mean by his statement or labouring to rest? Paul meant that we should give diligence or strive earnestly to be faithful to the things of God so that we may enter into his rest. Now there is a final resting place for the saints after the judgement which does not mean that we will be sitting around in heaven playing harps and sleeping on clouds. Some of this imagery relates to the fact that doing what we were created to do was never meant to be through painful toil or sorrow.
Hard labour was as a result of the fall of Adam and the curse which followed their disobedience. “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:17). This also followed with having to work hard and only gaining food through pain and sweat. So what was God’s original design for mankind? God created us to have dominion, to be fruitful, multiply and subdue. Despite Adam’s sin and the fall, this was not the end of the story for mankind. God had a plan for redemption through his son Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men” (Romans 5:18). Justification is declaring or making right in the sight of God. By our salvation through Jesus Christ, we are made the righteousness of God and are able to partake of his rest. We see Joshua declaring rest for God’s people when they entered Canaan and took possession of the land that God had promised them. They obeyed God, obeyed his servant Joshua and entered into their earthly promise of rest.
For every believer, there is a promise of rest both here on earth and into eternity. There are things that God has promised to us when we walk in obedience and fulfil our God given assignment. Once we take possession of our promise and stay in the will of God, we are able to be at peace and rest. “for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:10).
Solomon said that there is a time and season for everything under heaven. Paul spoke about a due season for reaping if we don’t give up. For those of us who have been doing good for others, the season has come for us to reap the harvest. Let’s consider the conception of a baby and the duration of the pregnancy until the time for delivery. Women go through trimesters until they reach the final term when their baby will push their way into the world. Outside of the physical birthing of a child is the birthing of dreams, goals, visions, projects and seeing ambitions come to reality. Most of us know what it feels like to be pregnant with a dream or desire for something good. Something that will change our lives and cause us to break into that desired reality.
Isaiah also made reference to the children of Israel being like a woman in labour. He wrote that before Israel was in labour, she gave birth. Before her pain came upon her, she delivered a son. Isaiah’s reference was to Zion not having to labour to give birth as her child came forth immediately when she went into labour. He goes on to say, “Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?” says the Lord; “shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?” says your God” (Isaiah 66:9). God is saying that he will not give us an idea or a dream and not allow us to bring it to fruition.
In other words God is saying that we will not go past our due season. Unfortunately, some women have gone over their due dates and have had to have labour induced in order to give birth. I declare that we will not go past our due date for the fulfilment and the manifestation of our dreams. We will give birth in this due season and bring to pass what God has promised.
We declare a due season is here for us to reap a harvest of blessings. This is our season of birthing of opportunities, companies, promotions, increase, favour and blessings. Tap into this due season and reap your harvest. We will also reap from places where we did not sow a harvest because God is faithful to allow everyone to benefit from the harvest. Many children reap a harvest from the seeds of righteousness sown by their parents. “I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor” (John 4:38).