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31 October, 2012

Leaving Behind The Entitlement Type Of Christianity

Excerpt From The First Chapter Of  The Book "Apprehended & Apprehending"




LEAVING BEHIND THE ENTITLEMENT TYPE OF CHRISTIANITY
L
AYING hold of God simply means becoming aware of Him. This translates into learning to get to know Him intimately, practicing His presence, becoming familiar with His activities in our lives. It also means, falling into agreement with His plan for us, while submitting to Him in faith and obedience, and living daily in His righteousness. Therefore, if you have been saved and God feels it is necessary to keep you on this planet, you can be sure there is a good reason for it. Every one of us who calls ourselves Christians should be continually going forward with Him and getting hold of our portion of what He has planned for us. In short, we go on apprehending what God has planned for us through continual spiritual maturity with Him.

Several Christians have asked me what the title of my book means. Strangely, they are way more educated than I will ever be in this lifetime. While I understood the message of my title and can vividly see both worlds with the eyes of my heart, I took for granted that it was clear to everyone else too. Webster dictionary defines the word ‘apprehending’ as follows: “To take into custody; arrest by legal warrant or authority.” In my case, I was living in darkness, minding my own business and happy in my ignorance—much like the people of Noah’s time just before the flood. I had no idea that I was in darkness let alone needing Him. He came, took me into custody (captivated my heart) and changed my life. Hence, I have been apprehended by Him. The second meaning is: “To grasp with the understanding; to recognize the meaning of; to perceive.”
With no pretension, I offer this explanation that comes from the life of Job.  The best way to describe why I go on apprehending God is by showing you what happened to Job when his spiritual eyes finally opened. In chapter 42:1-6, Job replied to the Lord,
“I know that you can do all things;  no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. ‘You said, Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’  My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Job’s spiritual eyes were open as such his understanding of God was different now. When this happens to you, more than ever, you are captivated and there is nothing else to do except to follow hard after Him.  This is why Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:18. He knew, once our spiritual eyes opened, we would then have insight into the mystery of our Salvation in Christ. I make no excuse for my agenda and I am not ashamed of it. My goal is set and my path clear. As Paul urged us to imitate him, so my job is to go on, following hard after Him, so that I too may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.





He Chose Me Not The Other Way Around


PREFACE FROM MY BOOK 


WHEN Christ started dealing with me and I began to experience a spiritual growth that defied my imagination, I still endured a gamut of emotions. One of which was isolation from other Christians. I had no idea that growing in Christ was such a dynamic life. I was so ignorant of the fact that Christianity in the Bible is something that the Holy Spirit works within us—for real—so real, in fact, that the process of demolition and reconstruction caused a complete metamorphosis. When this happened, I no longer saw life as business as usual. I changed spiritually into something else that I had no control over nor was able to slow down. There was some confusion, a result of my ignorance of what true Christianity was all about. I didn’t know that the Holy Spirit could be so animated in us.

I sought for some kind of mentorship to help me understand what was taking place within me—all in vain. God is so good, even when I did not know where to turn for answers. Somehow, however, I came across a document from A. W. Tozer entitled “The Pursuit of God.” As I read this book, I had a ‘eureka’ moment. I realized I already knew about God in the Bible, I knew about Him loving me first, I knew about Him wanting me to be closer to Him, and so forth, but there was a deeper knowing I still needed to understand and live out. I understood, finally, why I was suddenly walking around as if I had another set of eyes on the inside. I understood that I was privileged to take a peek beyond the veil, and somehow to some extent, I knew I had to buckle up. From reading Tozer’s material, I understood that God was simply leading me to a place where I would understand what true and practical Christianity looks like on a daily basis. Later on, I understood as well that the need and obsession I had in wanting to understand what was going on with me was so that I would be able to cooperate better and join the Holy Spirit in the work that was taking place within me.

While we are blessed in North America to have countless Christian books and authors, what we lack are books that spell out this radical Christian life we are called to follow. While it is understandable that we cannot limit God and that the Holy Spirit works within us through different approaches, trials, intensities, and duration, we nevertheless go through the same preparation in the soul—the same narrow gate, the same kind of dark night of the soul, the same process to break our stiff necks and prepare us for intimacy with Him. So, while I found solace in reading the classics and Puritans books, I found my soul longing for fellowship—even if only through books—with people who were living this kind of life right here, right now, and in this century. I have no doubt that there are Christians in this century, very close by, who have experienced what I experienced. We lack twenty-first century Christian manuals from writers who are not afraid of being bold with a pen. Because they have been with Him, they are not afraid of being labeled, or criticized harshly due to the demands they put on their readers, or of being persecuted either. Let’s face it, most professing Christians today are not interested in hearing any message that goes beyond tickling their ears. As the Holy Spirit taught me, this kind of boldness is overdue in the times that we are living in now. We need to dismantle any excuses they might have. I personally have been through it, so I know with all my heart that a lot of Christians have no idea of the deeper Christian walk with God, largely because we are not being taught about it. If God had not gotten hold of me, then “I did not know” would have certainly been my excuse when I finally saw Him face to face. I can say with certainty that this book is not for the faint at heart and neither for those uninterested in changing their lives with God.

Thus, the wilderness series is exactly that…it fills up a gap. I have no intention of promoting the mystical side of Christianity. We have way too many people in the pews seeking for experiences in place of knowing God. My hope through writing this book is that the reader would come to understand that the only formula to this wonderful and adventurous Christian life is truly about seeking the Kingdom of Heaven. Only then will everything else that this life entails will be provided for us. It is about going on to claim the fullness of the life that He promised to us in the here and now. It is also about living our full potential as empty vessels in Him through complete surrender and utter trust. We go to Him in complete dependence, like a child trusting his daddy for the known and unknown needs of this life. It is yielding to the responsibilities God has given to us and to the future He is rising us up to meet. It is about living a life utterly abandoned to the Master for His use.
It's time that we stop denying true Christianity for what it really is and start living like people who have truly received Christ fully inside. Being a Christian is about becoming the same Christ that walked the earth in His humanity. So let’s forgo the excuses, the feel-good pat on the back Christianity that most of us have been living, and move forward in Him who died so that we might have life in abundance.


May the love of God finds your heart. May you be blessed with a burning passion that engulfs your heart so much so that the only step left is to go forward with no fear and no looking back straight into daddy’s arms.
With all my love to my brothers and sisters in Christ,
M.J. André



Go to Amazon to get the book



30 October, 2012

How Do We Forgive




It is hard to let go and forgive those who trespass against us but, it has to be done. The reason being is that when we do not forgive we are the one being imprisoned in our minds.  So by letting go of the pain and embrace forgiveness we find freedom to move forward and we can begin to heal. Forgiveness is not something that we are going to wake up one morning and find all is well, we no longer suffer the pain inflicted upon us. It is a process where we make up our mind to change our attitude toward the offender. Changing our mind does not mean we forget, it does not mean we have to let people walk all over us, nor that it means we have to be friend with the offender, even though Paul taught us in 2 Corinthians to go for reconciliation when it is possible.  But, if you keep feeling you have been wronged and you deserve to get vengeance then in essence what you are telling God is that you want Him to deal with you in the same way you are dealing with this person. As Christians, we are not allowed to cultivate pride, resentment, coldness anger in your heart. Christ can take away the hurt and the toxins and stress that come with cultivating a spirit of an unforgiving heart.  Nevertheless, a forgiving Spirit is a gift from God through His grace. As Christians we have been equipped by Him to exercise our will to forgive. Christ said so in Luke 17:4


Once you are ready to make the decision to move forward in forgiveness, understand that the process could take a while to get through. You have to change your perception of the situation, meaning stop focussing on the fact that you were wronged. Noticed that I did not say to deny the wrong that was done to you but instead you change your focus on God’s standard. Because as long as you insist on keeping the focus on you and how someone else hurt you, then, you put yourself in the same boat as the offender because you too you are wrong with God and you are sinning. The willingness to turn your heart toward God says that you are ready to trust His dealing of the matter instead of trusting your own judgement.

Once you begin the process to start looking at the situation with God in it and through Him, Admit that you have been hurt and your pride, your flesh, your ego are keeping you away from acting like a child of God. Admit to God your own sin and your willingness to move forward with His help. Usually, by the time I get to that step, I start praying for the offender. At the beginning it will hurt you because the pain is so fresh so your prayers will sound hollow and insincere. But while I am praying I usually beg God to teach me how to pray with all my heart for the offender because I know that is the only thing that would honour Him and bring Him Glory.  Changing your perception to see yourself not better than the other person, will always help you to want what is right in God’s sight.

If the offender is in your life and you have to deal with him or her, then it is important that you gently with the help of the Holy Spirit confronts this person and establish healthy boundaries. If you are dealing with someone who is mean-spirited, abusive, insensitive and has no willingness to change, then God never said you have to take the abuse, let the person off the hook for his or her actions or lack of actions, and to accept their lack of respect or ignoring the problem. It is not a godly way to handle the situation because sin is sin. God’s Word tells us to rebuke frankly so we will not share in his or her guilt (I paraphrase there). Honest rebukes every time, not only separate us for tolerating someone who is sinning over and over again, it also helps us to stop perpetuate an attitude where we offer ourselves as martyr so we can wallow in a pity party and play the victim. What you also need there, is to work on changing your own behaviour by taking a page from Christ who forgave while on the Cross. You need to think about Stephen who forgave those who stoned him. Christ also said to forgive as many times it is necessary. Even where there is no room for reconciliation, that is okay just as long as we make sure we keep an open heart willing to please Christ in the situation we are in. We do that by cultivating a Spirit not willing to maintain grudges and willing to obey God.

God has allowed me to thrive under these circumstances where I dealt with a lot of verbal abuse. There were circumstances in my life where I was judged, tried and sentenced all by the same people while they were wrong about my motives.  It is amazing to see how He sanctified me through those circumstances because I have learned to take them in His name and brought it all at His feet. God really means business when He said “vengeance is mine” He is truly your defense and will vindicate you too in His own time.


PRAYER: Father I pray hearts of stones would be softened and my brothers and sisters in Christ would be enlightened. They would learn to understand how important it is to forgive. Your Word does not offer an alternative to forgiveness, and no matter how cruel someone is to us, you expect us to forgive. So daddy, I pray that we would take forgiveness seriously to heart and in our walk with you. The Spirit of unforgiveness is destroying us and the Church, so I pray we would all get off our high horses, wake up and see Satan is having a feast on our account. Bring your holy repentance in our hearts. You taught us to forgive even as you hanged on the Cross. Father, teach us and help us make it a priority in our lives today my Lord!










29 October, 2012

Forgiveness



 “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” 

The Lord's prayer teaches us to pledge to forgive in the same way He forgives our trespasses against Him. Yet, to most of us Christians these are just vain words we say and we not only do not know the meaning of them, we are able to live our Christian life never examining those words, what they mean to God and also to us in our walk with Him. In essence we are telling God to deal with us in the same way we deal with other people who have sinned against us. The majority of Christians finds it difficult to forgive simply because forgiveness is not easy for most of us. We have a need to retreat and protect ourselves from those we know have the ability to hurt us. The more we have been hurt the more we need to protect ourselves. Some of us, we are so busy protecting ourselves, we project an emotional state of mind that lump everyone in the same batch. We have become so crippled emotionally that we are not capable of seeing the love around us and we cannot accept love of other people.  

When we do not forgive, we tend to think that harboring resentment and bitterness towards those who hurt us somewhat amount to something toward the offender. We feel more in control because we are holding power over them. Some of us do not forgive simply because of fear because we don’t want to find ourselves again in the same position. We dig ourselves deep into holding onto the pain, the hurt, the humiliation as well as the offender who caused our pain.  It is like having a cassette player in our mind playing things over and over again as a reminder that you were victimized.  We find some sort of strange satisfaction in rehearsing those sick feelings. It is like playing the cassette in our mind to make sure we keep our hatred for the offender alive and fresh. We do not want to forget. We hold onto everything because we feel we should be compensated, somehow there should be some punitive damages. Some part of us wants vengeance for what we lost because of someone else. We find it difficult to forgive because our pride and self esteem have been injured and we have been humiliated. Over the years we build up so much resentment in our hearts, so much bitterness that we are like people who have injected themselves with some kind of poison running through their bloodstream. By the time we get there, we have learned to live like a rat in a cage.  We are clueless of the fact that we have actually built our own mental cage, stepped into it and threw away the key.

When we do not want to forgive, we find it easy to find hundreds of reasons to justify our behavior. We internalize them, and we learn to believe in what we tell ourselves. We feel if we forgive, the other person would be let off the hook and this cannot be. In our ill informed mind, we think the offender is free to go on with life while we are still suffering the consequences of the pain and humiliation suffered from their actions. I find people with very low self-esteem always go on and on about the fact that they were hurt because they were not appreciated, not loved enough and that people hurt them on purpose etc. It is an amazing and sad thing to watch Christians holding on to grudges for decades just because someone made them feel unloved or unappreciated. They simply cannot get over the disappointments and are not willing to forgive.  

Please understand I am not talking about someone who has been raped or someone who has watched a loved one taken away by a bullet or something like that. I can imagine these tragedies are harder to forgive and they have nothing to do with our pride. While lack of forgiveness no matter what the situation in our live, how vile and deep someone violated us, it is a destroyer. It destroys our souls and relationships. Over the years we build up so much resistance to forgive the one who inflicted pain on us, that we allow the offender to have a hold on us even after decades.

The truth is, there is always freedom in Christ. The hurt inflicted on us does not have to overpower our lives. But, we cannot find this freedom unless we make the choice to forgive. Ultimately we have to make the choice to let go and allow ourselves to heal and be free. One of the sad things that I observed, it does not matter how well we know the Bible or how long we have been calling ourselves “Christians” but if we are not able to forgive, we cannot reach maturity in Christ either.

PRAYER:  Dear Lord, forgiveness is not easy, so I thank you for making a way for us to find freedom in you. I pray that we would choose forgiveness every time that we are hurt by someone else, knowing that your Word tells us not to seek for vengeance because vengeance is yours. I pray that you would soften the hearts of my brothers and sisters in bondage, they would learn to see their offenders in the same way you see them. Your grace would be flowing in their hearts they would not be discouraged but pursue forgiveness at any cost because it is your will daddy. May you be glorified in us my Lord Savior Redeemer!

Next Article will be on “How Do We Forgive”

Visit my Website Apprehended.ca

28 October, 2012

Review of Apprehended & Apprehending - A Christian book


This review on Amazon captured my vision, my goal, the attitude, the motive of my heart and all that the book embodied!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing "Must Read" Book Concerning The Christian Church October 27, 2012
Author M. J. Andre has just written this much needed commentary of the Christian church. It's also a loving contribution of self-help, that if followed, will apprehend the hearts of Christians to live their lives according to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross rather than the man-made doctrines floating about many of our churches.

Sadly, many Christians have been left on their own after salvation, not realizing that they've only taken the first step into God's will for their lives. They have yet to fulfill living the truth of God's Word and obeying the purpose for their lives that has been set for them by God since before the beginning of creation.

This very deep and sensitive information, written from the author's heart and His active knowledge of God's Word embraces the true doctrine of Jesus Christ, dispelling the idea that we can live Christianity by our own actions rather than identifying with Christ in order to achieve full confidence in who we are and what we can accomplish by the power of God.

So many Christians are left to take up their own cross by trying to achieve God's will through "self" instead of "denial of self" through Christ. As M. J. Andre so profoundly wrote in Apprehended and Apprehending, "we have to stop living as if Christ had never been resurrected and ascended to Heaven where He can see everything. Christ never meant for something as important as the foundation of our faith to be mere head knowledge. No wonder those that have assumed a position of growth without Christ have become so sinister when it comes to experiencing God.

I wish I could say that M. J. Andre was incorrect in stating that some Christians have become sinister. But I've seen it, I've been abused by it and I've made sure to stay in a position with Christ where I cannot be touched by it. We must remain close to Christ to avoid the influence of "ego" and "pride" and the damage they can do to the Christian church. However we learn through M. J. Andre's writing that with Christ we can walk with God through the power of humility by yielding to the complete truth of God's Word. This gives us the assurance that we'll be exalted in due time as told in 1 Peter 5:6 without having to go against God's will to move forward.

1 Peter 5:6
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.

Pride and ego can only lead us to our own conclusions for what path we'll take in life, but Apprehended and Apprehending gives us the antidote of humility that will take us from our own works to the power of the cross of Jesus Christ to insure that we follow God's will in it's entirety. We've been blessed with forgiveness, so we take it and then begin fresh with God this moment. This is not something we can intellectualize, but take only from a spiritual standpoint.

If you're questioning your salvation or your calling in life, I implore you to get more understanding from this powerful book that will help you approach the things of God not by your head, emotions or your body, but by your heart or spirit as you allow the living Word of God to transform and renew your life through Christ.




27 October, 2012

Emotional Affairs In "Christians" Homes



Emotional affairs may not be about sex, but it is certainly an extramarital affair and you’re definitely looking for something. An emotional affair is as powerful as a sexual affair and has the potential to destroy your marriage just as much. Some Christians are forced to live in marriages where emotional affairs on the part of the other spouse are as easy as breathing. As a result, there is a lack of emotional contact because the one who is doing the cheating finds it in their emotional affairs.  Some experts believe an emotional affair is more damaging than a physical one. 

As you spend more time thinking, anticipating. and fantasising about someone else, your partner suffers the consequences of you not being able to connect with him or she, and   the   intimacy between the two of you lessens considerably.  The need for an emotional affair indicates that the marriage is in trouble, for the more time you spend going from one emotional affair to the other, the situation between you and your spouse is not being worked on.  If you are having an emotional affair, you might kid yourself that there is no contact, but I have to ask, who exactly are you trying to convince? If you put it in the context of  Christians, we have contact and intimacy with God in our minds, our thoughts, and our hearts, so while your bodies might not be touching in an exchange, you certainly touch  the one of your fantasies with your senses and   violate him or her with your illusions. Let's not kid ourselves in thinking only men have emotional affairs because both sexes are likely to engage in it.

 If you call yourself a Christian, yet you find yourself living with what the Bible calls shameful lusts for years and years, then you belong to the group of people who probably have been living so much like a fool that God had to give you over to your desires. I know men and women who find that it is perfectly okay to be given to emotional affairs while thinking they are walking with God. Sadly, they find reasons to continue through reading the Bible. It is understandable if you are reading the Bible to make it fit your lifestyle, for I guarantee you that you will have no problem twisting God’s Word to make it suit your purposes. Nevertheless, there will be a time when He will call you on your lies and your illusions. Don’t be surprised if He asks you which Gospel where you living out? 

Living emotional affairs one after the other simply puts you in the category of someone with a depraved mind, it which is one of the things that God considers   wickedness, evil, greed, depravity, arrogant, boastful, and so on. It is evil because it is sin against God. It is arrogant because you are feeding your own ego. It is having a depraved mind because you have a deficiency when it comes to moral choices and a complete lack of integrity. You have no fear of God in your heart and no regards for your spouse or yourself for that matter. A depraved mind is perverted and corrupted. It shows greed because you are not content with the person God has placed in your care to look after with love, respect, and dignity, and it certainly means that righteousness is not in you.

 I know pastors and elders who give in to their basic instincts and allow themselves to live out this kind of deception. Then, instead of taking responsibility for their actions, they blame the women who have become the object of their affections. Often, they have something they exercise toward her that looks like hostility.  They really buy into the idea that it is not their fault but that the woman tempted them. I find strange that often, the woman in the church is not even aware that she is being violated by this so called minister. Remember how Adam tried that with God? "It was the woman’s fault." However, it didn't work with Adam, and it won't work with you. God who can see the heart, motive, and attitude knows better.  If you are in such situation, whatever your social standing in the church, I encourage you to stop blaming someone else and take responsibility for your own sin. As you do, ask God to take you out of this bondage to put holy repentance into your heart that will change your behaviour toward Him, your spouse, and your children.   

 If you have been practicing such deceptive behaviour for years while calling yourself a Christian, remember it is easy to say we are Christian, but that remains to be seen. If I were in your place, I would beg God to take me back and make me one of His so that He could deal with me in the same way that He deals with His children  who are given to sin.  




26 October, 2012

What Is Backsliding?


Read Jeremiah 3:22
"Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding." "Yes, we will come to you, for you are the LORD our God.

Backsliding comes in various degrees in the Christian faith. No one becomes a backslider over night and it is much more than being up and down in our Christian walk. It is rather a refusal to do God's will that causes us to backslide. It is a process that we go through as our spiritual life with Him decline because it remains unattended by us. Backsliding is brought on by a spirit of disobedience to Him and the effect of our refusal to obey His Word will always cause our conscience to start slipping away. Slowly, the Word of God has no effect on us anymore. Next to our conscience, our heart becomes harder and harder to remain devoted to Him. By then, you do not have the strength to bother and soon you feel as if you are enjoying the illusion of freedom not having to focus so much on your life with Him. It gets worse when you realize how much strength, focus and commitment it takes to live out the Christian life. In your mind you might even start rationalizing it that you are simply taking a break from it all. Oddly, your body starts feeling like you are on a mini vacation that you would not want to come to an end.

Through the process of backsliding, the Holy Spirit warns us and brings various opportunities for us to grab onto Him, to stop the sloppy slide path we are on and turn away from it. At first, when we start backsliding we can see it so clearly that we are leaving behind the life we used to know. The intimacy, the oneness that used to be so sweet to the soul, the learning process, the tenderness of the conscience, the joy and rest we used to have etc.  We feel almost helpless, anxious and sad as we watch it all slipping away like water escaping through our fingers. As this is happening, you start looking at God like a distant memory as your desire to be devoted to Him is also fading away. Not only the strength to go back is not there, but we get discouraged before we even start since we realize how much effort we are going to need to get out of the backsliding mode. Before long, it feels as if not only we do not have brakes to stop but we are helpless in the process because inside, it feels like there is nothing to grab on to stop the declining process. By the time we get there, we are way too far in the backsliding process. The Holy Spirit has stopped pursuing us.

While you are backsliding you might even enjoy going through the motion of Church and socializing with other Christians, like you would attend a social club. Some of us still go to Church because we care what other people think. Nevertheless, deep in your heart, you are aware that all your values, priorities characters and everything else the Holy Spirit has worked hard to accomplish in you inwardly, are shifting back. This is a scary and dangerous place to be and anyone who can see it coming should not stop begging the Holy Spirit for help to have the heart revive. God does not let backsliding unpunished because it is a state that put us in the same wavelength as the unbelievers as we learn to live in appreciation of our own wickedness. When we reject and forsake our God, the only next step we have is to turn our hearts to new idols, simply because the void has to be filled. If not filled with God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, then the next choice is obviously worldly things. In these days, idols for us Christians are no different from the unbelievers. We “walk” the Christian walk while being consumed by the needs and care of this world. One of the biggest barriers to coming back to God is that we are really good at making ourselves feel that God will understand even though we are unhappy inside.

Beloved, being in a backsliding mode is like being aboard a derailed train with no driver on board.

PRAYER: May God guard our hearts from ever backsliding. May we cherish the grace and precious love we have in Him and may we never want to walk away from it all. My Lord, Savior, Redeemer and Master, please revive the hearts of those who are dead inside.



25 October, 2012

Submitting To God’s Purpose


Oswald Chambers Devotional
I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some —1 Corinthians 9:22
A Christian worker has to learn how to be God’s man or woman of great worth and excellence in the midst of a multitude of meager and worthless things. Never protest by saying, “If only I were somewhere else!” All of God’s people are ordinary people who have been made extraordinary by the purpose He has given them. Unless we have the right purpose intellectually in our minds and lovingly in our hearts, we will very quickly be diverted from being useful to God. We are not workers for God by choice. Many people deliberately choose to be workers, but they have no purpose of God’s almighty grace or His mighty Word in them. Paul’s whole heart, mind, and soul were consumed with the great purpose of what Jesus Christ came to do, and he never lost sight of that one thing. We must continually confront ourselves with one central fact— “. . . Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
“I chose you . . .” (John 15:16). Keep these words as a wonderful reminder in your theology. It is not that you have gotten God, but that He has gotten you. God is at work bending, breaking, molding, and doing exactly as He chooses. And why is He doing it? He is doing it for only one purpose— that He may be able to say, “This is My man, and this is My woman.” We have to be in God’s hand so that He can place others on the Rock, Jesus Christ, just as He has placed us.
Never choose to be a worker, but once God has placed His call upon you, woe be to you if you “turn aside . . . to the right or the left . . .” (Deuteronomy 28:14). He will do with you what He never did before His call came to you, and He will do with you what He is notdoing with other people. Let Him have His way.



24 October, 2012

The Proper Perspective


The proper perspective of a servant of God must not simply be as near to the highest as he can get, but it must be the highest. Be careful that you vigorously maintain God’s perspective, and remember that it must be done every day, little by little. Don’t think on a finite level. No outside power can touch the proper perspective.
The proper perspective to maintain is that we are here for only one purpose— to be captives marching in the procession of Christ’s triumphs. We are not on display in God’s showcase— we are here to exhibit only one thing— the “captivity [of our lives] to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). How small all the other perspectives are! For example, the ones that say, “I am standing all alone, battling for Jesus,” or, “I have to maintain the cause of Christ and hold down this fort for Him.” But Paul said, in essence, “I am in the procession of a conqueror, and it doesn’t matter what the difficulties are, for I am always led in triumph.” Is this idea being worked out practically in us? Paul’s secret joy was that God took him as a blatant rebel against Jesus Christ, and made him a captive— and that became his purpose. It was Paul’s joy to be a captive of the Lord, and he had no other interest in heaven or on earth. It is a shameful thing for a Christian to talk about getting the victory. We should belong so completely to the Victor that it is always His victory, and “we are more than conquerors through Him . . .” (Romans 8:37).
“We are to God the fragrance of Christ . . .” (2 Corinthians 2:15). We are encompassed with the sweet aroma of Jesus, and wherever we go we are a wonderful refreshment to God.

23 October, 2012

Our Backsliding Breaks His Heart

Devotion



Jeremiah 2:2-3

“The word of the Lord came to me:  ‘Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: ‘This is what the Lord says: “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them,” declares the Lord.

Israel was His chosen one, His first family on earth. All He wanted in exchange was for them to be made Holy and demonstrate God’s holiness on earth so other nations might come to Him too. We see that God referred to them as His bride because He considered the covenant He made with them when He brought them out of Egypt was in the form of a marriage contract. He was exasperated when they violated His agreement with them. Yet if you look at those words He said to Jeremiah, they are also heart’s wrenching. I wonder if you can hear His broken heart through those words. Can you feel His pain of having been rejected? Even though they had rejected Him, they played the harlot with other gods; their hearts are filled with pretence toward Him as if He could not see they did not want Him. Yet, He was still pleading for them to return to Him.

Woe to anyone of us who do not cease the opportunity to make their lives right with Him. A time is coming where we will not be protected from His wrath which carries the same intensity as His love for us. Some of us might think this is will never be our case but several books in the Bible we are reminded that: “Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God's promises to be fulfilled” None of us are exempt to backsliding. We are always one step away from tragedies in our lives to stray from Him. When I say tragedies, I mean anything that causes us to take our eyes off of Him. It could be a man, a woman, and conflict in the family, low self esteem issues, financial problems, marriage breakdown, disappointments and so forth. Satan is always one foothold away from messing up with us. We have to learn to bear it all in His name. Learn to be obedient so that we can live this life in His will for us. Learn to live the holy life He commanded us to and learn to remain in His presence at all times.

PRAY: Father God I pray that we learn to focus on you alone, our passion and love for you would never extinguish. Be the fire in our hearts so that we can end well as we wait with bated breath for your return Lord.



22 October, 2012

His Wrath & His Love Are One In The Same!



Read Romans 1:19-23

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness, Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse; Because, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things."

This is such a deep passage that we could get dozens of sermons out of it. For today we will just talk about God’s wrath which is obviously justified in the above verses. When I was not a Christian I did not care much about God’s wrath because I rationalized it so nicely in my mind that it softens things for me. Mind you most people, Christians and unbelievers alike, have the wrong idea about God’s wrath to begin with. One of the reasons we do take our time in coming to come, that is if we come at all, is because we have brought the bar so low, we see God just a tad higher than us. So, with our human ability to think we reason that we can bargain our way through heaven or that God will be gracious and will overlook certain things. I find there is a percentage of Christian who see God’s wrath as something that should not be there. As if God should not be associated with wrath at all because it is such a terrible thing. In effect, what they are doing is comparing God’s wrath according to human’s wrath which is an awful thing. These are just a few of the theories out there about His wrath.

One of the beauties of knowing God is that you learn to appreciate His wrath because His wrath is as much part of who He is as His holiness and His love. His wrath is also as intense as His love and it’s also one of His attributes.  Those of you who are intimate with Him know that just because we no longer fear His wrath, does not touch your reverence for Him. If anything you have more reverence for Him because you know how much of His wrath you deserve, yet you are spared. Whether we talk about the New Testament or the Old Testament, the wrath of God is His indignation against all that is evil. I was talking to someone who reads the Bible all the time, but did not want to hear that in the heart of man there is evil. This person felt the word sin was more acceptable but not the word evil. But according to God’s standards sin is evil. Genesis 8:21 says: “… the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth”

Although God loves us, it is a mistake to think that because of His love we will be okay. If it was just for His love, there would not be a need for the Cross of Christ and everyone on earth would be saved.  Because His wrath is as intense as His love, He made provision through the Cross which is served as a propitiation to appease God’s demands in dealing with sin.  When Christ died on the Cross, He experienced the full wrath of God against sin. So it is not up to us to judge or make excuses for God’s wrath. At the moment of final judgement when all excuses are taken away, all pride, disobedience, need for power, greed, lust etc., and we stand there in front of Him, each one of us will know with no doubt whatsoever that we get exactly what we deserve.

PRAY: Lord God I thank you for who you are. I pray that those who profess to be Christians would get to know you with passion through intimacy. They would embrace all of you; they would learn not to make excuses for your wrath as if it was a flaw in you but they would glorify you instead as they realize how deep is the depth of your love through your divine wrath.



20 October, 2012

In Disappointment, Believe His Word and Rest In Him!


1 Thessalonians 2: 13 - "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe."

This morning I spent most of my time singing praises. God has been testing my hope in Him so much the past few weeks. I have been doing my best to remain at His feet no matter how difficult and unpredictable my life has been. It took great effort on my part to remind myself that my life was not about me. So, I renewed my pledge to follow no matter where He leads and even when my hopes are dashed I will not change my mind about His love for me, what He has done for me and who I am in Him. As I was praying, the Holy Spirit confirmed to me what I see in my life these days are the result of one of my prayers where I asked Him to make my hope in Him so strong that no disappointment in this life would run me down. Hence, why the past few weeks it has been one disappointment after another to the point where if something goes right I am the first one to be surprised.

I was reading 1 Thessalonians 2 and I admired Paul's courage and focus. Paul was following the Holy Spirit leading that led him and Silas in Philippi. There, they were treated so badly for their faith. They were flogged, thrown in jail with their feet shackled, they took their clothes away and so on. Yet while the message in this chapter was poignant but Paul's purpose and mission were his only focus. I was amazed to see that even after this beating he received from the Romans, he still felt the trip was a success. Strangely, he was right. No details escape God. So, through the letter he wrote to the Thessalonians you could see what his priority was and the joy and hope he found in being used by God. He knew he could boast in Christ for the Thessalonians receiving the Word of God, they believed in it and they were living testimonies of God using Paul for His glory.

Sometimes even when we follow God's leading all we end up with are: closed doors, deception, mistreatment, pain and persecution, but we should not despair. If we trust Him He will use it all for His glory. The way we respond to Him when we are afflicted makes a world of a difference. We ought to learn to give it all to Him and let Him carry the burden and the pain while we find rest in Him as we continue the path. But we can only respond this way if we truly trust Him. God does not expect us to enjoy the process, but He expects us to understand if we are truly His, then nothing in our lives is left to chance. Every step we take has been ordained by Him. If we learn to comply according to His Word, His will and His life in us, by His grace, we will be transformed day by day.

Father, I pray on behalf of all your children that are distressed and afflicted. May they find consolations and hope in you. May they remain strong and focus to the mandate you placed before them, and may they glorify you my Lord and Saviour!

In His Love & Service,
M. J. Andre






19 October, 2012

A Child-Lile Attitude



The Scriptures say in Matthew 11:25 & Luke 10:21: "At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.

 When I did not have intimacy with Christ yet, I assumed Jesus was referring to all of us His followers as those with child-like attitude. I assumed if you received Salvation, you automatically have a childlike attitude and those who make up the corporate Church could not be among the wise and prudent Christ was referring to. Knowing how a child-like attitude pleased God and even though I did not know what it meant to have a child-like attitude I set out to work on it, on my own. I recalled after the Holy Spirit asked me to surrender all that I am to Him, two major things happened to me inwardly. One was that He opened the eyes of my heart. The second one was the need to ask myself a very important question, something that was all of the sudden embedded in me. It was as if I knew what I was talking about yet I had no idea where this knowledge and wisdom came from. This nagging question was "why do I need to work out Salvation on my own, if He is the one who opened my eyes to see it when I was in pure darkness?" With a confidence, I knew the answer was, since you showed me when I was totally ignorant, then I can trust you to continue showing me more. But, make no mistake about that, it was hard to live out this revelation because when life sets in, you forget.

 It turns out that a childlike attitude is obtained through Him lavishing His grace on you. It is like you are watching yourself believing and walking with Him like a child. Not only you cannot stop yourself, but as time goes by, you get deeper and deeper into it. Through that, I learned the Church is filled with wise and prudent (it is almost like they are too smart for their own good). You see, the bigger is your God the more of a child you become.  The bigger is your God the more you are able to humble yourself before Him. You have no problem humbling yourself in front of man or God because you know there is a God and it is not you. 

When you acquire a child-like attitude, submission and obedience to God become natural to you because you have acquired an inner disposition that is not even yours. It is Christ's disposition toward the father that you are living out while abiding in your union with Him. There is no room for anything else in your life if it does not pertain to the light of God. Things have to be cleaned and nothing is hidden.

Of course this subject goes so much deeper than that, because God has to break you, cleanse you, teach you, you have to unlearn things you learned on your own, He has to take away your spiritual ignorance and so on. You can read more on the process in my book Apprehended & Apprehending". But, it is a process where you are learning to decrease while He increases, Through my surrender and complete submission to Him, I am amazed at how there is a Christianity that is completely automated and practical that we will miss out on if we insist on using only our intellect to provide people with explanations and definitions. The spiritual component is always reserved for the babes.

PRAY: Father I pray that you would teach us how to work out our salvation with fear and trembling without having to do it on our own, but through you in grace, faith, and dependence like babes. I pray that you would open the eyes of all those who have received your Salvation they can learn to see you, experience you and live for you alone my Lord, Savior Master & Redeemer! I love you daddy!

In His Agape Love & Service,

M. J. Andre



18 October, 2012

Ignorance of our Own Idols



DEVOTION



Read Jeremiah 2:5

 "This is what the LORD says: "What fault did your fathers find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves." 

God is grieving because over and over from generation to generation the Israelites have chosen their idols over Him. They replaced Him with empty and worthless things and they refused to get back to Him. They preferred their idols guidance over God's. They had even taken their idols' characters. Their rejection of Him and lack of gratefulness caused Him grief. 

 Most of us today exude idols in our lives. Often, we lack an understanding to see what we have substituted for today's idols. Sometimes sheer ignorance is the cause of not identifying the legion of idols we keep in our hearts and lives. Whatever reason we have for not recognizing idols in our lives the result is bondage to Satan. Understand something, the fact that we are busy serving God or that we ooze with zeal for Him does not mean we value God more than the idols in our lives. Often, it is difficult to talk to people who are over zealous for God, to make them understand they are running on empty and left God behind a long time ago. Often it starts so subtlety and before we know it we are driven by pride and satisfaction that we get from our ministry. Sometimes our idols come from the fame and admiration we get from the people we are serving. Other times it is the perks and prestige that comes with our ministry. the bottom line is that we get to the point where we forget that it is not about us but Him. So we move forward with our mission or ministry without God. 

For us that are lower in the food chain, idols could be as simple as our love for television, or our need to be constantly surrounded by our friends. While these things look simple and often I hear people say come on, how can my friends get in the way?  Sometimes they would conveniently list it under fellowship so they could ease their conscience. But think about it. If you choose to watch television and the next morning you cannot wake up early enough to be with God, then you are forced to rush out to work without your devotion time with God, it does not matter what you call it but by God's standards it is an idol. A one time deal is not a big deal but when this becomes a lifestyle then I assure you that you are in the same basket as the Israelites and their love for idols. If you find yourself constantly in need of spending time with friends just to pass time, or because you are bored with life, etc., you can call it fellowship this does not mean you fooled God with it. 

 The Word of God tells us that it is not enough to start well, but we have to finish well too, We finish well only through perseverance, endurance, faithfulness and dedication.

 Can you imagine at judgement time when God ask you to tell Him what exactly He did to you that caused you to walk away from Him? What would be your answer?

PRAY: Lord help us not to walk with iniquity in our hearts. May we learn to appreciate who you are, what you have done for us and who we are in you. Savior I pray we would be people after your heart instead of walking after vanity and vain gods!

In His Agape Love & Service, 
M. J. Andre










True Salvation

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17 October, 2012

Prayer is a Way of Life


DEVOTION

Read Jeremiah 14: 10-12
 "This is what the Lord says about this people:“They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So the Lord does not accept them; he will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.” Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”
 The Jews loved the fact that they were God's chosen ones but they treated Him as if He was the one who needed them. They never quite grasp the magnitude of being chosen by God. There was never an indication of being grateful for having been chosen. If they understood what they had in Him, they would have acted differently and stop doing things that were displeasing to Him. God had enough of their lack of reverence, their wickedness, their ungrateful hearts, and their love for new idols with no self-control. Jeremiah knew the only way to root out his people harden hearts and their callous consciences was through prayers, yet he was told by God to stop praying for them. There was nothing that God wanted from them anymore. This time was different He wanted to hold their sins against them. He wanted to remember how much they did not want Him.‒ Imagine the pain of our God's heart, His heart was grieving!
 Most of us do not realize God's attitude with the Jews has not changed with us Christians. We go on with God with our defiant attitude, we sin left, right and centre because we take Him for granted and expect Him to forgive us. A lot of us corner Him by taking our salvation for granted and thinking that God cannot lie so basically there is nothing He can do to us. We are so self-righteous, full of unbelief we ignore His Words and we are filled with hypocrisy. We entertain unforgiving spirits, we give more importance to the things of this world than we attached to God. We give Him lip service during worship time and we feel He should be satisfied with those bread crumbs we hand Him. Some of us would not even consider examining ourselves. We choose lifestyle pleasing to us, and as for idols we have them coming out of our ears. Most of these things that I mentioned are attitudes and motives of the heart. Yet, the Bible is full or verses where we are warned about hindrances to our prayers and verses that tells us who God listen to. Two of them on the top of my head would be Proverbs 28:9 it says: "one who turns away his ears from hearing the law, even his prayers is an abomination" and Proverbs 15:29 says: "The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous".
 My dear brothers and sisters, prayer is not something we do when all else fails. You see, prayer is a way of life. Would you consider asking God to teach you how to cultivate a righteous life with Him. A life where He is the Master and you walk according to His leading alone. A life where the pain of brokenness is of no importance if at the end of it you find His heart. Keep your heart open, get rid of all your reservations about Him because if you do not want all of Him by any means and any road He leads, it simply means you are not in love with Him enough and you are not desperate to find Him. Go to Him, know for sure that at the end of it, you will find the pearl of great price which is the heart of God the father. I have been through it, and it is painful, but I would do it all over again because of the treasure I found in the triune God.
  
PRAYER: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
In His Agape Love & Service, 
M. J. Andre