Friday, February 20, 2015

The Power And Authority Of God

In the past, I had a conviction because of my very first encounter with Jesus, that “anyone who has had an encounter with God will never be the same again.” I held steadfastly to this so strongly, and it was challenged as I saw different people having an undeniable encounter with God (eg. They cried, laughed, spoke in tongues, went on the floor, had visions - all due to the power and love of God), and yet, they weren't changed. My conviction was shaken previously, but never like today (due to my reflection), and I was determined to find the answer to my “why”.

I come to understand today, that experiencing the power of God doesn't make a person changed unless he allows God's authority to be exerted over his life. The 70 elders of Israel saw God together with Moses and Aaron (Exodus 24:9), and would have by right be captivated and convinced that YHWH is the true God, but yet a few days later they joined in with Israel to make a golden calf, an idol made out of impatience toward Moses' long period of encounter with God (Exodus 32). Pharaoh saw the power of God demonstrated umpteen times, but his heart was unwaveringly stubborn and hard, and he refused to submit under YHWH's authority and let Israel go. Saul experienced the anointing of God upon his life, but it did not take away his insecurities throughout the course as he served as the king of Israel. A man who had been an invalid for 38 years was healed by Jesus, and yet he was the very same man who told on Jesus to the Pharisees (John 5:1-14).

It is one thing to call Jesus “Savior” [the One who saves us from perishing in hell and eternal death, allowing us entry into heaven]; it is another thing to call Jesus “Lord” [the One whom we allow to take charge and presidency over our lives]. It is one thing to experience God's power because of His sovereignity, love and grace; it is another thing to experience His authority.

Jesus has the power to heal the sick, cast out demons. Simultaneously, he has the authority to command the sicknesses and demons to leave. While He is endued fully with the Holy Spirit's power to do the miraculous, he is also fully in submission to the Father's will. “Very truly I tell you, 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). Jesus has both power and authority.

The authority Jesus has from within comes from ultimate obedience and a deep relationship with the Father. He has such great authority that even “the winds and sea obey him” (Matthew 8:27), he commands every demon to come out (Mark 9:25-29), and all heaven and hell recognises his authority (Philppians 2:9-11; Acts 19:15). True authority ultimately triumphs over the power of darkness.

I pray for myself, and for you who are reading this today, that we will all grow to understand what it truly means to have the Father's authority over our lives, how good the Father's authority actually is, and allow Him to rightfully reign over us, with us depending on His grace [and the Holy Spirit] to walk in obedience (I do not claim to have fully understood what His authority is like, but I'm happy to be in this learning journey).

We are the ones in whom He dearly loves, the ones in whom He has carefully and wonderfully created. We are to be partners with God to advance His Kingdom here on earth, being a blessing to everyone around us. Never ever allow anyone (not insecurities, lies, popular belief, accustomed emotions, etc) to take dominance or speak into your life other than God and His Word, and the ones He has placed around to speak godly truth over you.

Friday, November 21, 2014

What Does It Mean To Be Free?

John 8:31-32 (AMP)

So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.

“And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” This is a verse commonly quoted by many Christians. What does it mean to be truly free? And how can we stay free?

1) True freedom comes when we hold fast to the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus has just spoken the truth about himself, stating that “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:23-24) He spoke that his Father has sent him to do His will here on earth (John 8:28-29). “Even as he spoke, many believed in him.” (John 8:31) Jesus then moves on to speak to those who just believed in what He said.

Many of us know the truth - we know Jesus as the Son of God; we know He wants to set us free - we know a lot about the truth, but surprisingly still live in bondage. Why is this so? The answer to true freedom lies in the condition by which Jesus has spoken about having true freedom,

If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.

When we hold to the teachings of Jesus, growing to become disciples in the process, living in accordance with His Word, then we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. True freedom and discipleship doesn't just come by having mere intellectual knowledge of His Word; it comes when we fully accept the teachings of Jesus and do what it says (James 2:17).

2) To be truly free, we need to have an understanding of what Jesus means when He says “the Truth will set you free

Zooming into the spiritual condition in Corinth, there were 2 great dangers that threatened to destroy the church and their spiritual life. One was legalism, making the Christian life a matter of obeying certain rules and regulations; even salvation was dependent on obeying them. The other was antinomianism, teaching that freedom in Christ made them free to so whatever they pleased without moral restraint. However, freedom defined in the bible doesn't mean we are able to do as we wish and however we want so that somehow God's grace may be seen even more in the forgiveness of sins.

When Jesus spoke to the new believers in John's day that “the truth will set you free”, he was speaking about spiritual freedom - the release from being a slave to sin (John 8:34). The Jews would have to understand that they could not hold their status of being a descendant of Abraham as a guarantee that they would remain in God's family and in His favour, because they were slaves to sin. Neither following the laws religiously or just knowing about freedom would grant them spiritual freedom. They would need to make a decision to be a disciple of Christ, know the truth of their spiritual condition and the truth about Christ, and let Jesus set them free.

3) Freedom brings back the believer to understand sacredness.

Holding fast to the teachings of Jesus seems hard. If we do not understand the reason for teachings Jesus gave, it will become a rule book, and we will fall into the trap of being legalistic.

The people in the past did not understand the reasons for the Law, and they have thought of the Lord as a bondage bringer without actually realising that God is a bondage breaker!The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the LORD and against his anointed one. “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” (Psalm 2:2-3). The 10 commandments seemed burdensome to follow up with, and the people would rather worship Baal because it was an easy way out - in one instance, they could gratify the desires of their flesh through having sexual 'worship' with the temple prositutes of Baal.

If we were to understand the reasons for 10 commandments and the teachings of Jesus, it all boils down to 1 word: Sacred. Your life and mine are sacred; worship is sacred; marriage, time and work are sacred, and it is in understanding the sacredness of who God has created us to be that we are able to live meaningful and wonderful lives, fulfilling the intended purpose of being a blessing to others, having a deep intimate relationship with a covenant keeping and loving God, and live in accordance with the teachings of Jesus joyfully.

What's next!

1) In a world where there are many voices and opinions, allow the Lord to be the authority over your life so that you will live in true freedom and not waver. Commit yourself to the Lord and hold fast [accepting and acting in accordance] to His Word.

2) Let the Lord be the bondage breaker over your life. If you can point which area in your life you are in bondage and you want to be truly free, bring your case before God and commit to stay free.

3) God uses community to walk with you in your journey to freedom. Everyone is walking their own journeys to freedom too, and you are not alone. It is my hope that you will find encouragement staying plugged in the family of God and holding fast to the Word together.

Psalm 34:8-10

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.