Who you are matters to God

It’s easy for us to define ourselves based on what we do. What we study in college, our job and our role in society are what we see as defining factors that make us who we are. The saying “You are what you do” is pretty popular. I have yet to find a scripture in the Bible that confirms that statement. According to God, we are who we are and who we are is children of God. Our identity should be found in Him and not in what we do.

What we do is or should be a result of who we are. As children of God, we have the spiritual makeup of an overcomer that finds meaning in the Cross. Salvation is our inheritance and communion with the Lord should be a characteristic of our daily lives. Yet we have identity issues and vacillate between who the world says we are and who God says we are. As this new week is starting, I want to remind you that you are indeed who God says you are and you will make it through this week triumphantly.

1. Our true identity

I wish we could carry a reminder that would show us who we are in God’s eyes. I wish we had some sort of I.D that would bear witness to who we are. We have to get a clearer picture of who we are and keep that imagine alive in our mind and in our heart. The mind is where most of the battle happens and it is where we need to keep reminders of our true identity. As children of God, we have the right to enjoy eternal life and salvation. Salvation has already started. It is not reserved for when we go home to be with the Lord. The Kingdom is here and we should take it by force, by the force of our confession. Jesus is our Savior, God the Father is our dad and the Holy Spirit is our counselor. That’s exactly what our spiritual I.D reads and we should proclaim it every day.

2. Making it through the day with the God who is more than enough

Today is going to be an awesome day. This week is going to an an awesome week. Why? Because Jesus promised that He won’t leave your side. He didn’t promise that everything will be as smooth as butter (more like crunchy peanut butter) but He promised that He will get you out of any difficulty that might come your way. Your job is to stick to your true identity and to remain in faith knowing that the Lord won’t abandon you and He won’t desert you. He is right there when you are laughing and He is right there when you have tears in your eyes. He will wipe away the tears and put a spring back in your step . He is more than enough. He can provide for any and all situations!

3. Make the most of this week as a child of God

My advice is that you make the most of every moment of this week. Keep the joy and stay in peace. Spread the love and give generously. Stay in the Lord. Seek His face. Spend time with Him and talk to Him. Maximize this week by embracing what the Lord has to offer. Stay grateful and praise away. You are going to make it through this week beautifully. As you keep your eyes on Jesus, you will see what a great week you are having despite the daily headaches. Remember that God is for you. Remember who you are in Him. Who you are is what defines you, not what you do! Stay encouraged!

Suggested reading: John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:6

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What fasting can do for you

Fasting is described in the Bible as abstinence from food or drink in order to focus on prayer and seeking God’s will and God’s face. People receive revelation, knowledge, wisdom or spiritual breakthroughs through the practice of fasting. Fasting allows us to get more intimate with God. If fasting dictates refraining from food to get to a higher level of spirituality, it implies that food at times can be an hindrance to hearing from God. The act of not having food or drink enables us to become more receptive to God. I have fasted food a few times. However, I have been led to fast other things in an effort to hear from God. I will talk about the way I fast but first let’s look at fasting in the Bible.

1. How can we fast and what should we expect while fasting?

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2) Note here that the Christians were fasting and worshipping at the same time. Fasting should be accompanied by worship, praise and focused prayer. It is not a dieting method. It is an empowering method that ushers us into a deeper relationship with God. Then we can expect to hear from the Holy Spirit. Hearing from God is the goal. When Moses fasted for forty days and forty nights, he received revelation and wrote the Ten Commandments. I am not saying that we will be writing decrees on tablets while fasting but there will be some type of revelation from God. We can also get answers to questions or solutions to a dilemma.

2. Fasting redirects our priorities.

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” (Joel 2:12) When we feel disconnected from God, when we have lost our focus on Him, fasting brings us back to God. It makes us shut down the world and open up to the Lord. Fasting should therefore be more of an act done in isolation. Fasting should be done in a place where there is no distraction and away from people. Fasting is a way to get deeper into our heart and open our spirit up to God. It’s letting Him touch us in the heart of our spiritual being. It’s a heart-to-heart communication technique that happens through disciplining our bodies.

3. How I am led to fast.

Matthew 6:16-18 deals with fasting by indicating that fasting should be done in secret and that God who sees it will reward us. I have recently started fasting a whole day on the weekend. I don’t fast food although I don’t eat much. I fast the biggest distractions for me. I “fast” my phone, the internet, social media and people. I post my message early in the morning and then I shut my phone off until the next day. If I know I will be writing, I keep my phone on airplane mode. Friend, this fasting experience has revolutionized my spiritual life. The day after fasting, I feel high in the Spirit. It’s a refilling of the Spirit. The week following fasting is phenomenal. One time I wrote about 50 mini-messages on a fasting day in just a little over an hour. I pray, I praise, I read my Bible and I rest. Not interacting with anyone is powerful as well.

Fasting is a great practice that should be executed prayerfully. Just because others around you are fasting doesn’t necessarily mean that you should as well. Ask God to help you know when and how you should be fasting. Enjoy the beautiful experience that gets you closer to the Lord’s heart!

Suggested reading: Isaiah 58: 3-7; 2 Samuel 12: 15-17; Acts 14:23

A few thoughts on loving our neighbors

“Love your neighbor as yourself” is one of the verses of the Bible that has been the most twisted, the most challenged and that gets trumped by many people’s own agenda. Sometimes it looks like there is more love expressed outside of the church and it saddens me. The definition of Christianity has taken on meanings that ignore some of the fundamental principles of what it is like to be a follower of Christ. It makes me wonder if we are truly following Christ, following our own ideas and thoughts, following our made-up Christ or simply following man. I am not here to point the finger at anyone but I am here to redirect our focus towards the One who invented love. People are leaving the Church all the time because they only find substance in the Church that can’t sustain itself because it is man-based. People are not joining the Church because they find it to be a turn-off or a sanctuary for hypocrisy. We are the Church and we can polish the definition of Christianity and put love back where it belongs.

I think it’s beautiful that 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter is used during a wedding ceremony. It’s great but love is not meant to flourish only within the compound of a marriage. Love is to be directed towards God and towards others no matter who they are. Now this is where our own definition comes in. We define who “the others” are and we (unconsciously) create a list that excludes those we deem not worthy. We all have stereotypes and preconceived ideas. If we lean towards love more, we will start attacking the stereotypes and bringing down the preconceived notions. Could the problem be that some of us are not being led by love, not being led by the Holy Spirit?

“But look, this church is prospering and thousands of people are attending it on a regular basis” they say. Is that really the fruit we should be looking at? Isn’t love, compassion, getting people closer to God a more important fruit than the money that is collected? A church that amasses the fruit of the Spirit and that distributes it is more appealing to me than a church that brags on how many people are in attendance and when you interact with the people, you see that so many are broken, addicted, suffering but the church is not leading them into deliverance.

My point is that love is still what makes God God and not what man has added on top of it. Growing up, I had a Bible that used the word “charity” in many verses instead of the word “love.” Genuine charity is such a great expression of who God is. Charity gives to everyone equally. It’s not just directed to those in need. It’s for everyone under the roof of the world. “Love your neighbor as yourself “ is indeed a directive that is meant to cover the globe. It starts with loving ourselves and believing we are worthy of God’s love. Then we can help others embrace His love through our charity. I pray that the “love movement “ rises up in the Church and spreads its wings outside of the church so that it reaches the multitudes that have been burned by man’s definition of God!

Suggested reading: Song of Solomon 3:4; 1 John 4:11; 1 Corinthians 13

Hold on to hope

Every time I go through tumultuous times I see an anchor that keeps me strong and that stabilizes me when the waves are too rocky. The anchor is hope. Hope is what the Lord reminds me to hold on to in difficult times. It’s a beautiful and strong anchor that can’t be moved as long as I keep my eyes on Him. It is so easy to get distracted by the craziness of the world. We lose sight of the One who died for us. As soon as we take our eyes off of Him, the world can draw us in and swallow us up like moving sand. The anchor of hope, friend, is provided by God and it can weather any storm. Hope is a gift from God that keeps us in God and that keeps us on the right track. God is a God of hope. Where there is God, there is hope. There is always God somewhere and everywhere so there is always hope even when we can’t spot it in the seas of confusion.

If I put my hope in the Lord, I will renew my strength like Isaiah said. If I put my hope in the world, I will run into disappointment and I will be holding on to something with limited substance. Hope is a spiritual fruit. God is the ultimate incarnation of all the spiritual fruits so holding on to the hope of the Lord is holding on to God. There is no one better to rely on and depend on at all times. When we hold on to hope, the God of all hope fills us up with other spiritual fruits. Hope is the entry way for more of God. Hope is the mouthpiece of faith and it allows its siblings to come into our lives and strengthen us.

Another amazing aspect of hope is that as we let a little bit of it in, more of it can come. It’s like we give it permission to grow in us when we open the door to it. The Lord promised to give us overflowing hope through the Holy Spirit. Consider the anchor of hope to be a switch that turns on the light of more hope. If you hold on to it, it will increase and it will light the way for a path of blessings that will surpass your expectations. Hope never goes away. If we don’t see it around, it’s because we moved away from it. It doesn’t disappear.

I can’t hold on to the anchor of hope without holding on to the anchor of love at the same time. I could but it wouldn’t be as effective. When you look at faith, love and hope, love is the biggest one of the three. It is the operator that keeps everything functional. If you have lost sight of hope today, I pray that God enlightens you again and you can see that hope is here to stay. God is here to stay. If you are in a very trying time, know that you can still hold on tight to the anchor of hope and the anchor of love. Hold on to the anchor of His love. His love says that hope belongs to you. Go to the Lord if you are burdened today. His anchor of hope will get you where you need to be!

Suggested reading: Psalm 119:114; Hebrews 6:19; Hebrews 10:23

Your future starts now

I used to spend so much time wondering what tomorrow would bring. I used to lay in bed in the morning thinking about my day and worrying about what could happen. I had more faith in what could go wrong than in the good things that could happen. I didn’t have the right connection with God. I called myself a Christian and I did all the right things according to religion but I lacked the connection that showed me that my future was in good hands. I praised God on Sunday and I forgot all about Him by Monday morning. I just didn’t know what the future held and I definitely didn’t understand who held my future. I felt like I had to fend for myself when in reality God was on my side the whole time. Then I made a connection. Then I came in contact with the One that changes everything. He changed me and He changed my life. He taught me that my future was in His hands. That revelation revolutionized my life.

God holds you and me in the palm of His hand and He also holds our future. With that in mind I came to realize that there was a lot of good things coming in the future. I was made aware of the fact that God wants to bless and that He does bless indeed. At first I made the mistake to see my future as the only place for possible blessings. To me, things were going to be great eventually, in a distant future. There are many instances in the Bible where the Lord talks about blessing people in the present tense. If you take for example Psalm 23, you will see that the whole passage is in the present tense and it’s about the here and now. “The Lord is my Shepherd”, “He makes me lie down in green pastures”, “my cup overflows” are all verses in the present tense. The blessings are for today. The future of great breakthroughs is for today. Our future starts now!

I have had to wait for things to take place and I respect the notion of waiting and being patient. However, there is a lot to be said about expecting positive things today. Sometimes we overlook the blessings of today because we are looking for the goodness of tomorrow. The Lord’s goodness is here right now. His love is available right now. Peace of mind, joy, faith and wisdom are available right now. Let’s live in the now and let’s embrace the beauty of today. We don’t have to wait until tomorrow to walk in the light of the love of the Lord. He has an array of presents that are meant for now. The fruit of salvation can taste as delicious today as it will in the future. 2 Corinthians 9:8 points out that “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” Today is included in “at all times.” Your future starts now, friend. Enjoy today!

Suggested reading: Numbers 6:24-26; Psalm 23; Philippians 4:7

What to do when you have unwelcome guests

When I flew to France for the holidays, I enjoyed watching a couple of movies. The person sitting next to me also watched a few movies but at some point he stopped watching his screen and he started watching my movie. He even took off his headset and just stared at my screen for at least an hour. It felt strange. It felt like he had entered my living room and he was sitting on my couch, watching my tv. He was an uninvited guest and there was nothing I could do. Have you ever been in that situation? It made me think of how many times we have uninvited guests in our house and we just let them sit there. I am not talking about our physical house but our spiritual house. The Bible explains that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We need to host Him and let Him inhabit our domain. Eventually He should be the host and we become the guest. How many times do we let other unwelcome guests sit in the temple of the Holy Spirit? How often do we let in guests that just shouldn’t be there?

What does an uninvited guest look like in our spiritual house or in the temple of the Spirit? An uninvited guest is someone who barges in and settles in a place that is not his or her. It’s someone who is not on the guest list but yet finds his or her way in. In our spiritual house, an uninvited guest can be a negative agent that takes up residence in an area where it doesn’t belong. I use the pronoun “it” because I am not referring to a person here. Fear is probably the number one uninvited guest who will sit on your couch and refuse to move. Fear is rude and unruly and just comes in any chance it gets. Fear will sit there and stare at the screen of your life and try to find ways it can wreak havoc on a daily basis. Fear needs to get the boot and get out.

My suggestion is that you double check your guest list and you cross out any of the uninvited guests. Don’t pencil any of them in. Don’t accept them. Don’t hesitate to kick them out. There is no gain in having fear or worry around. Nothing good will come out of having sadness sit on our couch, sleep in our bed and eat at our table. Sadness is not a guest that the Lord wants us to entertain. Sadness is in the family of negativity and it has to be dealt with. Whatever list of uninvited guests you come up with should be taken seriously. Take the necessary measures to block them out. Use your authority in the Lord. Speak against them in faith. Show them who the boss is. Keep your domain free of negative agents. They are not the kind of guests you want to be hanging out in your house. Let God be the master of your domain and keep the enemy outside of your house!

Suggested reading: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Romans 12:1-2

What about miracles?

What about miracles? Someone asked me if I believed in miracles or if I thought they stopped when biblical times ended. Well, first of all I see today as part of biblical times since what was achieved by Jesus in the New Testament still holds true now. I can’t dissociate God from miracles. I have seen and experienced too many signs and wonders in correlation to God not to believe in miracles. I see God as bigger than anything and everything. I see Him as almighty and all-loving. I see Him as the master of miracles. There are many definitions of miracles out there. What I consider a miracle might be seen as a natural event for other people. The birth of a child is a miracle in my book but I also adhere to the classic definition of a miracle; a surprising event that is not explicable by natural and scientific laws.

The Bible recounts some epic miracles that are beyond what we see nowadays. There are miracles that change the course of nature in a powerful way. God parted the Red Sea for Moses, Abraham and his wife had a baby at a very old age, manna came from Heaven to feed the starving Israelites, the Immaculate conception was a miracle, Daniel survived the lions in their den, Jesus turned water into wine and fed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread and fish. Do I believe these events took place? I certainly do. Why don’t we see such miracles occur today then?

I have noticed that the proportion of some miracles depend on the faith and the beliefs of the people. People who believe in the supernatural have an easier time accepting the miracle aspect of God when they become Christians. Jesus Himself said that He couldn’t perform many miracles in His own town because of people’s lack of faith. There is a degree of faith that is necessary for signs and wonders to take place. God’s grace and mercy can cause miracles to happen as well but it’s our propensity to accept His signs and wonders that allow them to happen. If our capacity to accept miracles were represented by a container or a bucket we should try our best to get a bigger bucket. The bigger the bucket, the bigger the down pouring of miracles. Get your big bucket ready today if you want to see great things.

I am not saying that God will necessarily physically part the seas for you today. I understand that there is also a metaphorical aspect to the miracles described in the Bible. God can part the seas that are keeping you from getting to your destiny. God can turn your water into wine and change your simple situation into a blessed event. God can allow you to give birth to amazing projects and ideas through the influence of the Holy Spirit. These are projects and things you never thought could be birthed for multiple reasons. Educate yourself on what God can do and let your bucket get bigger and bigger every day. There are miracles with your name on them that are waiting to happen. Keep the faith. Stay encouraged. A surprising and inexplicable event could happen anytime!

Suggested reading: Mark 6:4-6; Matthew 15:36-37; John 2:7-9