Who's The Builder?

Bible Study: Psalm 127:1a

Unless the Lord builds a house, they that build it labour in vain.

If we broaden our perspective here, a house can represent your family, relationship, business or career, project, business idea, ministry or a church. For God to build, we must commit the 'house' to Him. Which means He must give direction regarding it and we must defer to Him. 

If we do things in our strength alone, then we do them in vain - we may get success at the end by worldly standards but they could be meaningless to God and His kingdom, which is a tragedy.

Some consequences of not getting direction from God are:
- Fruitlessness (The Israelites many times disobeyed and went with their own counsel. As a result, they never entered the promise Land except for Joshua and Caleb. Numbers 14:30)
- Division (As a result of Sarah taking things into her own hands, Ishmael was born and Abraham's family was divided forever re: Ishmael and Isaac. Genesis 21:8)
- Discontentment (The Israelites failed to trust God and began to look back on what their lives could have been in Egypt. Exodus 16:1-4)
- Confusion (The people decided on their own to build themselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens. Thus the Lord confused their language so they did not understand each other re: Tower of Babel. Genesis 11:1-9)
- Disaster (Saul partially obeyed God and was denounced as king for it. 1 Samuel 15:1-28)  
- Death (Samson's horrific death as a result of his marriage to Delilah and his alliance with the Philistines. Judges 14 - 16)

Here is the million-dollar question though:  Does that mean I should do nothing until I hear from God on a matter? 

While thinking about how to answer this question with some measure of wisdom, I found this online:

The Holy Spirit is not the patron of lazy and inert men; but he directs the minds of those who labour to the providence and power of God. --Wolfgang Musculus, 1497-1563.

God (through the Holy Spirit) will not work on our agendas all by Himself, He needs our cooperation but it is in our best interests to commit our ways to Him, then He will guide us on what to do as we move. His response may not come through an audible voice but rather a sign, testimony from someone else, a change in the environment or economy or an unusual happening that affirms His direction. We can only know if we patiently and faithfully listen out for Him as we go

There may be other times when we just cannot go because He has not said go. The truth is, it really is on a case-by-case basis but you can know what to do in your situation through God's wisdom, if you ask Him.

In 1787 Benjamin Franklin gave a speech at the Convention for forming a Constitution for the United States and some of it is culled here:
I have lived for a long time 81 years; and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings, that "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall proceed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel: we shall be divided by our little, partial, local interests; our prospects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, or conquest. I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers, imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business; and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service. 

Little wonder why almost 230 years later, the same Constitution still stands and is the point of reference for almost every decision made in the US. This is the very same constitution that, from what we read, God built.

Reflection: Is there something in your life that you need to commit to God? It is never too late. 

Mind Games

If only many people realised that Satan's primary target for attack is their mind, they would focus more on that and not on prayers for health, wealth, protection, etc. Of course the aforementioned prayers are very important, but if we ignore our hearts and minds, and healing prosperity and other blessings come, we will not be able to receive them because our hearts and minds are not right.

The devil attacks our minds daily, it is his easiest playground and we are most ignorant of it. He tried to attack Jesus Christ in the same way (Matthew 4:1-11) but Jesus had something many of us don't (which I will come to) and so He could very easily extinguish those thoughts.

The way the enemy attacks our minds is to plant all sorts of negative thinking in there. Let us look at some scenarios:

#1 You started the new year extremely motivated about all your goals, things you want to achieve, how much closer you want to be with God but then in Week 3, those funny thoughts started coming: 
"why should this year be any different from last year?" 
"better give up now you know you are never consistent"
"look at the economy, hmmm you really have high hopes", 
"you can write these things down like you normally do but you know they will never be possible, look at all the journals you have written in with no outcome, just forget it"

#2 You are in a job which at the start was fun but a lot of work! Along the way you have realised how stressful and hectic it is, you are never happy, no longer learning, have a non-existent prayer life and overall being treated unfairly by the organisation in terms of benefits, etc. You are being headhunted for another opportunity to have a more impactful position in a different industry, has an amazing work-life balance, great package and you will learn a lot, however you have only been in your current role for 9 months and moreover you have little experience for the new role you are considering. Then the funny thoughts come: 
"what makes you think they will take somebody like you with no experience?" 
"9 months in one job and then to another, your CV will make you look unserious and no one will hire you"
"what direction are you taking in life,  do you even know?"

#3 You have been waiting on God for a life partner, or at least a boyfriend/girlfriend, someone to date, but it has been a long dry spell with no one in the picture. You have received all kinds of prophecies from left to right about how your time for breakthrough has come, this is your year, bla bla but you have not seen anyone and are getting tired, then the funny thoughts come:
"Does God even love me?"
"Maybe I don't deserve to be happy after everything I've done"
"There must be something about me repelling people away"
"I will probably be single forever which is the scary truth"

If we look at all of these cases, one consistent thing you can find is that for every funny thought (Joyce Meyer calls this Stinking Thinking), there is a counter thought. Yes - you can counter all those arguments not just with a difference in your opinion but with The Word a.k.a The Bible. There are tried and tested scriptures and promises for every thought and situation you are going through. But I find that I cannot use The Word if I don't know the Word or have faith in the Word.

Jesus, when He was tempted in the wilderness, leveraged the same Word and fought off every evil thought. Apart from using the Word as a weapon, He had faith - He trusted in the Word He was using. Faith comes when you continually spend time in God's Word. From doing so, you become used to God, have an unusual kind of peace in any situation and are able to recount His promises even from heart, like Jesus Christ when the funny thoughts come.

Funny Thought: Maybe I don't deserve to be happy after everything I've done
Counter Thought (from The Word): There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)

Funny Thought: What direction are you taking in life?
Counter Thought (From The Word): For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Funny Thought: Look at the economy you really have high hopes
Counter Thought (From The Word): There was a famine in the land (Genesis 26:1) ....But Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold and the Lord blessed him (Genesis 26:12) 

I do not have counter-thoughts for all of my funny thoughts just yet, I am a work in progress, learning to know God more and spend more time in The Word. 
You Should defintely do the same and your thoughts will turnaround, you will begin to inspire others (yes, you!) and most importantly your life will never be the same.

To conclude, the way we can extinguish all the flaming arrows (different attacks but mainly, attacks to our mind) from the evil one is by taking up the shield of faith. But you cannot have faith if you do not know the Word. So each day, ask God for His help and to give you a Word. Study the Word and build up your faith.

Memory Verses:
As a man thinketh, so is He (Proverbs 23:7)
Guard your heart, for out of it flows the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23)

[Also check out Power Thoughts - Joyce Meyer on YouTube]

Read: Battlefield of the mind

Reflection: Build up your faith - Can you find a counter thought in the Word for any negative thought in your mind right now? 

Striving for Perfection

Bible Study: Galatians 5:25

If we live by the Spirit [if the Spirit of God is our source of life, having already given our lives to Him], let us also walk by the Spirit [let the Spirit help us navigate our lives].

This essentially means let Him dictate every area of our lives no matter how 'unspiritual' the area may seem e.g. an upcoming performance discussion with your boss at work or a day out with your girlfriends. 

Obviously He cannot do this without our co-operation, we need to invite Him to lead. Thus in doing anything, we must already be under the influence - not of alcohol but by His Spirit. This means we are exhibiting His fruits in everything we do.

Recall the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) are:

*Self Control

Being a Nigerian, in a crazy city like Lagos, it is very easy to throw all of these fruits out the window within minutes - either in traffic or at the bank! While I can perhaps 'try' with most of the other fruits on some days, personally I struggle with the 4 highlighted every single day. 

But the scripture admonishes us not to dictate or navigate our lives and then invite the Spirit afterwards. It should be the other way round. So you can indeed commit that performance discussion or girls day out to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead. And if a challenge or trying situation may come in those instances, you will by His grace, live by His fruits.

The scriptures also tell us to be Christ-like [Phil 2:5] . This also means, since Jesus Christ is perfect, then you and I can also be perfect with the help of the Spirit. If we keep our mentality in the "no one is perfect" mindset, we will never strive to live by all those fruits listed above each day. 

That being said, Christianity is not about beating yourself down when you fail or fall, God's grace is abundant and because Jesus Christ died on the cross, our sins are already forgiven, if we come to Him in true repentance, confess our sins and ask for forgiveness.

Listen to this awesome song when you get a chance: Background by Lecrae

Reflection: If your life were a stage play with you as the lead actor, however the only person in your audience was God, what would you do differently?

Burdens & Breaking Through With A Statement

Bible study: Exodus 12:32

Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.”

Remember the ten plagues of Egypt? Well, the verse above is the conversation which took place between Pharoah and Moses when the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt and after what some might call the very last straw - the death of all the Egyptian firstborns (animals included!)

Now imagine a burden you have had for some time [slavery in Egypt] and the enemy [Pharoah] has refused to let you have your breakthrough [leaving Egypt]

Let's break up this verse in our own interpretation, the enemy after experiencing God's wrath is saying:

"Also take/do what you want, I agree to ALL your terms (including the ones I said no to before) and I release you to the other side but also pray for me [pray for spiritual enemies]"

The enemy is so uncomfortable that he demands you to have the breakthrough almost as though he/it is now praying for you. What a turn of events! You are no longer begging or yearning to crossover, you are now commanded to. 

What this means to me is that God's word will indeed stand albeit in His time and through His method (His ways are not our ways).

I always wondered why He couldn't just release the Israelites on Day 1, did he really need to kill half a nation to do this? However God being God needed to show the magnitude of His glory to the Egyptians [unbelievers] and even to the Israelites [other believers waiting on Him for a similar burden]. 

God wants you and me to breakthrough but many times, when we experience delay in a particular thing, it is really to show His glory. It means He needs to make a bold statement with that testimony unless He is not God.

And then finally, the thing you thought had enslaved you, now becomes your own slave (asking you to bless/pray for it). That is God!

So hand your burdens over to Him and live joyfully today for soon your breakthrough will surely come, in a grandiose way!


BibleStudy: Psalm 126 

The lay-man/woman's interpretation:

Part 1 (Verses 1-3)
- When God brought back His people (you and me) to Zion i.e. where they should have been all along! It was like a dream, we LAUGHED from the inside out (shouts of laughter), there was no room for any other expression in our mouths, just laughter. We (His people) sang for JOY. Others (naysayers and unbelievers) looked and marveled that God has done great things for them (you and I) and through that they bore witness to the glory and authenticity of God.

Part 2 (Verses 4-6)
- Do it again oh Lord. This time not as a dream but in reality, restore my (our) good fortune to me (us). [Restore me to whom I was designed to be]
Like water emerging in a desert
Like spending my few pennies while crying but returning with wads and wads while laughing 
Really like a dream but it can happen if I trust God.

Trusting God is like trusting Google to never delete my documents in the cloud. Why? Because I know Google, I use at least one of its resources everyday.  Using at least one of God's resources (the bible) everyday would mean you and I would be so used to Him, we would know Him more and trust Him.

Knowing God cannot happen overnight, in two weeks or in a month. It is a CONSTANT walk, continual, gradual, daily, progressive.

Restoration comes when you accept Jesus and it is fully manifested when you follow Him.

The more I know God, the more I will be restored to whom I was meant to be. There is no formula.

Trust --> Restoration --> Joy

God bless!