“But He answered, ‘You give them something to eat.'”Mark 6:37a
Has anyone ever asked you to do something that seems totally ridiculous? The very suggestion of their instruction may have brought laughter or even anger for proposing the idea.
I imagine that the disciples may have felt this way when Jesus responded with this comment when they asked him how they were going to feed the 5000, who had stayed around to hear him speak. The disciples suggested a logical answer to the problem, “Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat” (Mk 6:36).
That wasn’t the answer Jesus wanted. He saw the need of the people. He had compassion on them. He wanted to solve the problem with a Kingdom response, not logic. He asked them what they had in their hand.
So often what we already have in our hand is what Jesus wants us to use to solve our problems. We must add faith to what we already have in our hand. Then we will see the gospel of the Kingdom manifested to solve problems in a supernatural way. Jesus wanted to meet a need in which God would receive the glory. Sending the people away did not meet the need, nor did it bring glory to the Father.
Do not settle for the gospel of salvation only. Jesus came that we might experience the gospel of the Kingdom in its fullest sense. Our job is to look past our logical reasoning and see how God might want to solve our problem in a supernatural way.
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself'” (Matthew 22:37,38).
From 1994 to 2001, I went through what I call my “Joseph Pit” experience. It was during this time of great adversity and great growth that I wrote TGIF Today God Is First and also birthed many of the things I am doing today. During this season, I discovered a spiritual truth about how most believers experience three distinct phases of their growth toward obedience in their Christian walks.
When we first begin our spiritual journey we often make decisions from convenience. Often, we decide what the outcome is that we want and then make decisions based on the perceived outcome. If it is a positive outcome, then we will make an obedient decision. I call this outcome-based obedience.
However, God desires that each of us live an Obedience-based life. In order to transition us from an outcome-based process to an obedience-based process, he will bring a crisis into our lives. This crisis is designed to create pain which motivates us to seek Him to alleviate the pain. We have all heard of “fox-hole” Christianity. There is place of obedience for everyone! However, this is not where God desires us to remain.
Ultimately, God desires us to live a life of obedience and intimacy rooted in conviction. We obey His commands from a heart of love and devotion. During the crisis phase we discover the personal love of God in our lives which we had never experienced before. Most of us will get to this phase of our walk with God by first living a life of convenience, then we will go through the crisis that will then lead us into an intimate love relationship with God.
The Christian life can be summed up in one word-love. God’s desire for each of us is to know Him intimately and to love Him with all of our heart. Have you told your Heavenly Father you love Him today?
“Jesus gave them this answer: ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.'” – John 5:19
Have you ever thought about a typical day in Jesus’ life? Perhaps He might have had questions like these, “Who am I going to heal today? Who will I visit today? Which person will I deliver from demons this day?” etc. The demands on Jesus’ time were great. Yet we see that Jesus allocated His time very deliberately. We don’t get the idea that Jesus was flustered or stressed from the activity He was involved in. He often sought times of prayer and reflection away from the disciples. His life appeared to have a balance of quiet moments and active ministry into the lives He came in contact with.
How do we determine what we will be involved in each day of our lives? What keeps us in sync with the will of our heavenly Father for the daily tasks He calls us to? Jesus tells us that He was only involved in those things the Father was involved in. Nothing more, nothing less. So often we determine our participation in an activity based on whether we have the time to do it or whether we desire to participate. The real question we should ask is, “Does the Father want me to participate in this activity?”
“Lord, should I add this Bible study to my schedule? Should I spend an extra night out on this committee this week? Should I take on new business that will take me away from home more? Should my daughter be involved in music lessons?” These are the daily challenges for the world we now live in. We are an activity-based society that often encourages more and more activity, often in the name of Christian virtue.
Our lives will become less cluttered, less stressful, and more fulfilling when we follow the model Jesus provided. It may not always please everyone. Jesus never sought to please everyone. Ask the Lord each day this week how you and He are to spend your time. Yield your schedule to Him. Let Jesus direct your every activity. You may discover that He desires you to cut back some things in order to spend more time alone with Him. He will be faithful to show you. And you will become more fulfilled because you are centered in His will for you.
“My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (Mt 26:38).
Often the place of our greatest pain becomes the place of our greatest triumph. Gethsemane was the place of Jesus’ greatest trial. Three times He asked the Father to let this trial pass. It was not to be. The Father sent His Son to the cross to pay a debt owed by humanity.
Jesus was faced with His own temptation to quit, to not fulfill His destiny, to run from his assignment. It was a personal battle to persevere. Sometimes we face situations that cry out “I quit! I cannot endure anymore!” We want to throw in our towel of what little faith we have left. We conclude that this faith thing simply does not work.
“Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him” (Lk 22:43).
After Jesus asked the Father if this cup could pass, an angel was sent to Him to comfort Jesus. The Father’s answer to Jesus’ prayer was “No.” But, His compassion to His Son came in the form of an angel. Some temptations seem to be more than we can bare. However, God tells us: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”(1 Cor 10:13).
If we persevere we often realize later the place of our greatest battle becomes the place of our greatest victory. It would be here, on the Mount of Olives, near the Garden Gethsemane where Jesus ascended and would return triumphantly – not as a sorrowful soul – but as our triumphant Savior. The battle He won in Gethesmane would result in the triumphant entry as Lord of the universe.
God will use your greatest failure or greatest sorrow to be a powerful force in your life and the lives of others. Your Valley of Baca (weeping) becomes springs for you and others. You will go from strength to strength (Ps 84:6). It is in the dying that the new springs are allowed to come forth and a new strength emerges.
If you find yourself in your Garden of Gethsemane, lay yourself at the feet of the only one who can sustain you. Entrust yourself to your Heavenly Father. Let Him determine your fate. It will ultimately become a place of victory.
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” – 2 Corinthians 10:4
One of the great discoveries I made in later years in my walk with God has to do with living in victory over generational strongholds. The Bible speaks of punishing the children for the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generations. (See Exodus 20:5.) The only way out of living under the curses of generational strongholds is to acknowledge them before the Father and repent of their reign in our lives. This breaks the curse’s future effects.
A stronghold is a fortress of thoughts that controls and influences our attitudes. They color how we view certain situations, circumstances, or people. When these thoughts and activities become habitual, we allow a spiritual fortress to be built around us. We become so used to responding to the “voice” of that spirit, that its abode in us is secure. All of this happens on a subconscious level.
As a businessman, I discovered that I had been influenced by a generational stronghold of insecurity and fear that was manifested in control. This subconscious fear motivated me to become a workaholic, to seek recognition through activities, to control others’ behavior to avoid failure, and to have a relationship with God that was activity-based instead of relationally-based. One day God brought about a number of catastrophic events that forced me to look at what was behind these events. I found that the influence of these strongholds was at the core of these symptoms. The Bible speaks of this war on our souls.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete (2 Corinthians 10:3,5-6).
The steps to freedom for me came when someone shared that these were sins that I was harboring, and in order to walk free of their influence, I needed to repent of them. It was through the power of the cross that I no longer needed to be subjugated by their presence. Once I took this step, I began to walk free of their influences. Besides salvation, this became the most important discovery in my entire Christian walk. My relationship to Christ changed immediately. I began to hear God’s voice. I began to trust Christ in areas I never thought possible. I could truly experience the love of Christ for the first time.
This knowledge helped me in business as well. One day I was in the middle of a contract negotiation with another Christian businessman. A lawyer had jumped in the middle of the negotiation. My friend began to surface many old feelings that were a source of pain from his past. When I perceived that a stronghold of insecurity and fear was at the core of his response, I interrupted his argumentative discussion with me and said with a very forceful tone, “I am no longer going to listen to the spirit of insecurity that is speaking through you right now! If you don’t refrain from this, I am going to leave!” My friend was taken back. He looked at me quite startled. After a few moments, he agreed with my diagnosis. We talked through what he was feeling and completed our negotiation without further incident.
What are the true motivations of your heart? Have you ever looked deeply at these motivations? You might find that these subconscious motivations may be preventing you from experiencing the fullness of Christ in your life. Ask Him to reveal these and then repent of their influences.
Walk as Jesus Did TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2 by Os Hillman Tuesday, February 14 2012
“This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).
I have always found the above verse very intimidating. It says that if we are truly living in Christ, we must walk as Jesus did. How did Jesus walk? He healed the sick. He perceived the needs and situations of others supernaturally. He spoke boldly into the lives of the unsaved. He met the needs of people by leading them to the Kingdom of God. Jesus says we must walk as He did. So, I can only conclude from this verse that if we are each called to live this way, He will also equip us to live this way.
How did Jesus walk? He walked on earth as a human being, not as God, yet He was God. His miracles were done as a human being who tapped into the power of His Heavenly Father. This is why he can exhort us to live like He did not as deity, but as a human being who could appropriate all the Father had for him. This is what He means when He says “live as He lived.” We are to exercise obedience and faith just as He did.
I believe we live in a day that requires more than proclamation evangelism to break through in the workplace. We live and work in a skeptical society. It takes more than reasoning to see those in the workplace come to Christ. The workplace is trained to see past phonies. So, it will require the genuine love and power of Christ to be manifested to break through to a Muslim co-worker, a power-driven executive, or a foul-mouthed customer.
Jesus modeled a way of reaching the lost. He did not use reasoning to convince a person to follow him. He often operated in the supernatural revelation about a need in that person’s life. Such was the case of the Samaritan woman. This encounter not only led to a woman placing her faith in the Messiah, but it led to the transformation of a city.
Next time you have an encounter with an unsaved associate, find out about a need they have and ask God how you can meet it through His power.
“He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him.” – John 14:21b
We live in a day of 12-step programs for this, four points to success for that, and all forms of programmed means of becoming successful. Have you ever wondered how you can guarantee a greater revelation of Jesus in your life? Jesus tells us how this can be done. It is all tied to obedience. In John, He tells us the following: “Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him” (Jn. 14:21). The key here is in the last three words. He will show Himself to us because of our loving Him through our obedience. The more obedient we become, the more revelation of His presence we will feel in our life. Jeremiah tells us, “Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jer. 33:3).
Many Christians wonder why they cannot hear or sense God‘s presence in their life. It is because they do not seek Him with a whole heart, and they are not obedient to the things He has asked. God does not show us the next move until we are obedient to the first thing He has spoken to us. It is a progressive process. He entrusts the small things to us first, then moves us to the larger. I was like many today who are so focused on seeking the activity of God rather than seeking God Himself. Hebrews tells us that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. In the Old Testament we are told, “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 4:29).
I realized if I was going to hear God’s voice, I had to make time to seek Him and hear Him. I had to spend focused time alone reading, studying, and seeking His face only. Jesus set the model for this when He often left the crowds to be alone and seek His heavenly Father. I also had to tune my “radio” to His frequency. Static comes into that frequency when I am disobedient. My level of seeking determines the power of my “radio” to reach Him. The more I seek Him, the more I hear Him. Seek the Lord today so that you may be empowered by His presence.