Jacob developed an intimate relationship with God. His story is found in
Genesis 28: 10-22. Jacob had done bad things in his life and now he was on the run. He camped in a certain place, fell asleep and dreamed of a ladder stretching between earth and heaven. The angels of God were ascending and descending on this ladder. God stood at the top of the ladder and spoke to Jacob promising him to always be with him and bring him back to the land he was sleeping on. Jacob had an intimate relationship with God from that day forward. This story serves as a powerful illustration on how someone could have an intmate relationship with God. The following are four steps to an intimate relationship with God.
Step #1: Connection
An intimate relationship with God cannot occur unless both parties connect. The ladder Jacob saw stretching between earth and heaven symbolizes God’s connection with man. God had a conection with Adam in the Garden of Eden. Adam had an intimate relationship with God. God walked and talked with God. God reached out to Jacob from heaven and God is reaching out to you the same way today. Jacob was on the run because bad things he did and he needed an intimate relationship with God, his only friend. God will do the same for you because he loves you. He wants to connect with you. Do you want to have an intimate relationship with God today? You can if you want to by committing your life to Him today.
Step #2: Accessibility
An intimate relationship with God cannot occur unless both parties are accessible to each other. The ladder itself represents the way each person can get to God. This ladder which stretches between earth and heaven represents Jesus Christ – the Son of God. Jesus came to this earth and lived among men for thirty three and one half years. He had the body of a man and he was definitely human, but also God. He was the God-Man. The way to have an intimate relationship with God is through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He represents the connection between God’s divinity and man’s humanity and He, Jesus is the only way man can access God(John 14:6). Jesus provided the way for you to have an intimate relationship with God.
Step #3 Perseverance
If you truly want to have an intimate relationship with God, you must persevere and not give up. God pursued Jacob although Jacob had done so many bad things in his life. Jacob was not worthy of God’s love but God gave it willingly and freely. No one truly deserves God’s love or to have an intimate relationship with God. However, God loves you inspite of everything that you have done contrary to His will. God is offering His love to you today and He is inviting you to have an intimate relationship with God. He does not matter what you have done in your life up to this point, God still says, come. But you must persevere and not give when the going gets tough. Jesus cares about you today. He presents himself to you because He wants you to have an intimate relationship with God today.
Step # 4 Commitment
An intimate relationship with God must be sustainable and the only way to do this is through commitment. You have to stick with it no matter what. An intimate relationship with God will not happen unless truly commit yourself to it. If you have been married a long time, you know that an intimate relationship with your spouse is absolutely necessary. An intimate relationship with God is like the relationship between a man and his wife. A man is expected to be committed to his wife. Likewise, it takes commitment to have an intimate relationship with God. Jacob committed himself to to having an intimate relationship with God after he awoke from his dream. Jacob was tired of his way of life and truly desire an intimate relationship with God. He was tired of running. The lord Jesus wants the same response from you today. He wants you to commit your life to Him and enter into an intimate relationship with God. What is your response to him today? Do you want to have an intimate relationship with God today? He has extended Himself to you but He won’t wait forever. You can pray the prayer of salvation and enter into a intimate relationship with God today!
One thing that believers in Jesus find very difficult to achieve is living a pure life according to God’s standards. Godly purity is living your life according to the word of God, the way God expects you to live. This is a tremendously high standard and many persons have concluded that it is impossible to live a pure life in this sinful world. But is it?
Firstly, Godly purity is not a choice but a command. The book of 1Timothy 5: 22 reads, ” …Keep thyself pure.” God expects each believer in Jesus to remain pure and live a pure life in this world. God is not pleased with believers who go to church to worship Him and then live like the devil the rest of the week. A believer should be recognized by their standard of living which is a pure life before God. A pure life in this world of sin and corruption brings glory to God and is a testimony a to others.
Secondly, Godly purity is attainable. God has provided a way for believers to a live a pure life before God. Anyone who accepts the Lord Jesus into their heart is cleansed by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7). It becomes as if the person had never sinned at all. It doesn’t matter if you were a killer, fornicator, drug user or abuser; you are completely forgiven by Jesus once you accept Him. You become a new creation. Your old nature is dead and you now have a pure life before God. Next the word of God is powerful. It will keep you pure if you do what it says. Obedience to God’ word is key to living a pure life every day.
Thirdly, the blood of Jesus cleanses you from all sin and makes you pure, the Word of God, the Bible, keeps you pure. The Word of God is a road map that anyone can follow to live a pure life. Psalm 119: 9 says ” How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word” (NIV). Jesus Christ lives now lives in you and He will help to live a pure life Godly purity is attainable in this life. Jesus has already provided the way and has made it possible to live a pure life. The key to living a pure life is being cleansed by the blood of Jesus and taking heed to God’s word. Do you want to live a pure life. Surrender your life to Jesus today and you can live a pure life.
The barren church is a phenomenon that is careful orchestrated by the enemy of our souls, Satan. Barrenness is perpetuated by the enemy to hamper the work of the ministry. A barren church cannot fulfill the great commission. A church can become barren for several reasons. We will discuss five factors or situations that can cause a church to become barren.
- Non Functioning Ministries
These are ministries or groups that were started within the church to handle a particular aspect of ministerial duty. The ministries were put in place to assist the pastor. However, the church becomes barren when these ministries cease to function in their assigned roles. There is no life, edification, inspiration or revelation coming forth in the barren church. The people suffer, firstly, because there is no life in the ministry, and secondly, because the leader or pastor may not be spiritually alert enough to minister to their needs and to abort the enemy,s or Satan’s wicked and evil plans. There is no giving birth to anything new; the ministry is essentially barren and dead. An example of this is a men’s ministry that is no longer ministering to the needs of the men. You will often find in cases like these, that attendance is poor because the members have either scattered or have lost interest. The Hebrew word for this type of barren situation is ‘Agar’, which means: destruction or removal of degenerative organs or non-functioning organs. A barren ministry is an open invitation for the enemy to come in to steal, kill and destroy. The enemy tries to destroy any ministry that is not doing what it is supposed to be doing. By doing so, the enemy tries to ensures that the barren ministry will remains barren and will not be able to make a great impact if it overcomes its barrenness in the future.
The church suffers abortions and is continually deprived of her children. People are coming to the Lord and accepting the Lord Jesus Christ into their hearts but they do not remain committed. They return to their previous unconverted lifestyles. The ministry becomes a revolving door; new converts or new people enter but they leave soon after. The church cannot sustain growth and membership either remains the same or decreases. The ‘Hebrew’ word ‘Shekol’ describes this type of barrenness; it means ‘to miscarry, to suffer abortions, to be deprived of children, to make childless. Jesus expects his church to make disciples and grow by sharing His Word with others, not to lose children by spiritual abortion and remain barren. The church is suppose to grow as members are added to it and not become a revolving door for new converts.
People receive the word and grow spiritually fat but do not share the word with others. Church members receive the salt of the word but refuse to put some of that salt in unsalted areas. This may be due to complacency or a lack of motivation to take the word beyond the four walls of the church. Consequently, the ministry becomes too salty and nothing grows where there is too much salt. The church becomes barren. The Hebrew word is ‘Malechah’ which means ‘a salted desert or barren land. It is very important to share the Word of God with others, then return to church for a refilling in order to go and share some more. Sometimes sharing one on one is the only way that some people will ever hear and listen to the gospel. Satan can use laziness and complacency to destroy a church and make it barren.
People in the ministry intentionally or willfully hold back from doing what they are capable of doing, do not assist others or do their best to see that the work of the ministry is carried out. This is a blatant refusal to cooperate with the pastor or leaders in the ministry. People like this contribute to the evolution of the barren ministry. Consequently, the work of the ministry suffers because the people who have been anointed in different areas, refuse to cooperate and refuse to do their best. This result is a barren ministry because the spirit of rebellion is being entertained. The Hebrew word that describes this type of barren situation is ‘otser’ meaning ‘to willfully or intentionally hold back’.
The tabernacle was a tent erected by the Israelites in the wilderness as a place where God’s presence would dwell among His people. The Ark of the Covenant, the actual dwelling place of God, was housed in the tabernacle and the tabernacle was situated in the middle of camp. The priests ministered in the tabernacle ,and would offer animal sacrifices and other types of sacrifices to God. It was the place designated by God where the Israelites were to worship.
The tabernacle was a symbol of what God wants to do in the lives of believers in Jesus Christ. God no longer dwells in a tabernacle but instead He dwells in the hearts of believers in Jesus. Every believer in Christ becomes God’s tabernacle and His presence dwells in you. The role of the priests has also changed. Jesus is the high priest and He offered to God the sacrifice of Himself in order to redeem man from sin and to offer salvation from sin as a free gift to everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. Every believer in Jesus is a priest and a part of the ‘royal priesthood.’ Every priest or believer in Jesus offers to God ‘sacrifices of praise’, magnifying and exalting the name of Jesus. This is exaltly what the aaronic priests did in the tabernacle in the wilderness.
God wants to tabernacle with you by living in your heart. Your heart is God’s tabernacle, His santuary. God will come in to your heart if you invite Him in. He will not force his way into your life, instead every person must invite Jesus in. This is a personal decision each and every person must make before they die and leave this world because no one can repent and turn to Jesus and repent of sin after they are dead. After death, every person must stand before Jesus and be judged. If someone dies without inviting Jesus into the tabernacle of their heart, that person’s sin would not be forgiven and the person would face eternal punishment and damnation. However, the person who accepts the Lord Jesus has eternal life and would tabernacle with Jesus for eternity.
Everyone, regardless of color, ethnic group, or past history can turn their life over to Jesus; invite Jesus into their heart and receive salvation. Jesus will come in and forgive all your sin and you will live eternally with Jesus. You cannot tabernacle with Jesus with sin in your life. Sin must be dealt with and Jesus dealt with sin by sacrificing his life to pay the penalty for sin, so that whoever will may have their sin forgiven by turning to Jesus. Jesus is the only way to God. The only way to God is through God’s son, Jesus Christ. Jesus wants to tabernacle with you today because He loves you. Turn your life over to Jesus today and you will be able to tabernacle with God.
The book of Proverbs 3: 5-6 says ” Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” The definition of the Hebrew word for ‘trust’ is ‘to be confident or sure.’ To trust in the Lord means to put total confidence in God who is invisible but real. This feat can only be accomplished by walking in the spirit and not in the flesh.
To walk in the spirit means to surrender your entire life to the Lord Jesus Christ and allow him to guide your every step and your decisions. If you surrender to Jesus and really trust Him, then you will never make another mistake or bad decision in your life. This may seem like a bold statement and you may think that you can prove me wrong, but allow me to explain.
God or the lord Jesus cannot make a mistake. He is all knowing. He knows everything about your life. He knew when you were born and he knows when your are going to die. Anyone who truly surrenders to an all knowing God, trusts Him, and follows His directions will never make a mistake. The problem is sometimes when people say they surrender to Jesus, there is still a part of their life that is not totally surrendered. If you are not totally surrendered to Jesus, you will not always hear the voice of the Holy Spirit guiding you. Consequently you fall into error and make mistakes. You must trust Jesus with all your heart.
The definition of ‘hindrances ‘according to the Collins Concise Dictionary is an “obstruction or impediment or snag.” Hindrances are detrimental to the Body of Christ. If hindrances exist in the Body of Christ, it means that the Body cannot advance, move forward, and take enemy’s territory. Hindrances breed disunity and disunity can destroy an army. The Body of Christ is the army of God and an entire army cannot advance in two directions at the same time and still be effective at conquering the enemy. In order for an army to be effective it must be unified, and the same principle applies to the Body of Christ, the Church. Hindrances, however nurture conflicts causing the Church to stagnate. The Holy Spirit becomes grieved and the anointing to lifts from the church. Then disunity and conflicts escalate and the church gradually pulls itself apart or splits. The enemy or Satan uses hindrances to destroy a church and you should not be “ignorant of his devices”(2 Corinthians 2:11). Hindrances can leave many broken and wounded children of God in the wake of a church split. Hindrances can cause the death of a church.
Hindrances become detrimental if allowed to continue. Hindrances that existed for a long time and are not dealth with become road blocks. A road block prevents a disciple of Jesus from growing or advancing in the kingdom of God. It can rob you of your relationship with Jesus and maybe even hinder your destiny in Christ. A hindrance becomes a road block if there is no forgiveness or reconciliation. Whenever a road block exists, the enemy will offer you an alternative called a detour. A detour is an alternate route which takes you away from the place where Jesus wants you to be and points you in a alternate direction. The thing about detours is that there are no hindrances in the detour because it is the Devil’s alternate road which contrary to the will of God. A detour in the natural is designed to take you around an accident or road works and put you back on the road again. However, a road block in the spiritual causes you to lose precious time, you could get lost, you could miss what God is saying and you could ultimately lose your way with God.
The bible talks about offenses in Matthew 18: 6-9. The greek word for ‘offense’ is ‘skandalen’ which means “Anything that arouses prejudice or becomes a hindrance to others, or causes them to fall by the way.” It is unfortunate that sometimes offenses are perpetrated by believers in Jesus against other believers in Jesus. Matthew 18:7 sums up the way Jesus feels about offenses ” Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come: but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh” (KJV). Offenses can cause a hindrances and hindrances can destroy a church and cause an individual to lose their way with God. Jesus treats offenses very seriously because offenses create hindrances. The body of Christ should be aware of the danger of offenses and the hindrances they cause.
It is very important not to allow hindrances to hinder you from serving the Lord Jesus Christ. I recall being told the story of a young woman who surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ and became a Christian, a disciple of Jesus. A father vehemently opposed her decision and made her life so miserable that she eventually stopped serving Jesus and returned to her old lifestyle. After some time the young lady became ill and was dying. She apparently had an experience of the eternal fire of Hell because she screamed and called to her daddy, “Hell me daddy, my feet are already in the fire of Hell!” Her father, who previously opposed her decision to accept the Lord Jesus Christ, now realized that only Jesus could save his daughter from an eternity in Hell. He screamed for his daughter to recommit her life to Jesus but she died and slipped into eternity without Jesus and without hope of salvation.
I don’t know if this story is truth or fiction but it illustrates a poignant point. Sometimes people allow hindrances from friends, family members, co-workers, acquaintances or even other christians to stop them from doing what is right. The young lady in the story, allowed her father to erect hindrances to prevent her from serving the Lord Jesus. Her father’s opposition became her hindrance with devastating consequences. The end result was a young lady whose possible final destination was an eternity in Hell.
The enemy or Satan uses hindrances to try and disrupt the work of the Body of Christ and to introduce chaos into the Body of Christ. The enemy knows he cannot stop the Church or Body of Christ so he uses hindrances to introduce chaos and confusion, rendering the Body of Christ ineffective in the execution of its mission. A church where chaos and confusion reigns is a church that cannot fulfill its mandate from the Lord Jesus to evangelize the world starting in your own ‘Jerusalem’ or your own town or city or nation. Hindrances stagnate growth in a church leaving it lifeless. Hindrances are more effective as strategies of the enemy when christians do not recognize the enemy’s tactics.
Hindrances stop the church from advancing. The church or the Body of Christ is a mighty army, the army of God in this world to continue the work Jesus began two thousand years ago. Hindrances within the Body of Christ can stop the progression of the army of god. Two qualities characterize an efficient army:
- An army must be obedient to its commanders (must follow orders)
- An army must be disciplined and unified
Satan uses hindrances to disrupt unity and stop obedience. This causes chaos an confusion to reign, rendering the church ineffective in its mission. The tactic of the enemy is not to stop the Body of Christ because he cannot, but to simply stop the Body from fulfilling its mission. He therefore introduces and perpetuates a sea aof hindrances to disrupt the efficient functioning of the the church. Hindrances are detrimental to the Body of Chist and can prevent it from fulfilling the great commission. Therefore each member of the Body of Christ should strive to eliminate hindrances at all cost.
” Focus on God and allow Him to lead you” bellowed the preacher from the pulpit. His voice echoed through the tiny church building are good advice for each person to follow. Do you allow yourself to become distracted with so many conflicting ideas and ideologies that you forget to focus on God. God created man in his image and God expects to focus on Him and worship Him. The way to God is through God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said “… I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6,KJV). Trying to get to God by any other way is a tremendous waste of time.
Yet, many will tell you that there are many ways to God or that all religions point one to the same god. If that was true, then all religions will have to focus on and preach the same things, because God is consistent and unchangeable. If He was not, He would not be God. The God of the bible qualifies as God because he does not change. The bible says, “For I am the LORD, I change not… (Malachi 3:6 KJV). The focus of the entire world should be on the God of the bible because He is the only one who can forgive sins.
Yet all religions do not focus on the God of the bible.. This means that all religions do not point to the same God. Different religious that preach conflicting messages are not talking about the same god, but many different gods. Their focus is not on the God of the bible but a myriad of different gods. The one and only God must be consistent because He has an unchangeable nature. I don’t believe anyone would want to focus on and serve a god that was inconsistent. I do not believe that anyone would want to focus on and serve a God who was inconsistent in his messages. A god like that would be unstable and capable of doing anything at any time and maybe even act contrary to his word. That is scary! Would you place your life and your eternal future in the hands of a god who could change his mind at any time, and perhaps decide, on a whim, to destroy this world simply because he was having a bad day? No, I do not believe that you would want to focus on such a god. You focus should therefore on Jesus Christ, the God of the bible, the one and only true God because He loves you.
The Lord Jesus, the God of the bible, will judge this world because of sin, and He warns us about it in His Word, the bible. He gives everyone a change to repent of their sins, turn their lives over to Him and focus on Him. He wants everyone to focus on Him because He is the only God. Your focus on Jesus as your savior is the only way to escape Hell, a place of eternal punishment. He will forgive you of your sin and save you from eternal damnation in Hell. Hell was created for the devil and his angels and all who focus on Jesus as savior will escape hell and live eternally in heaven. However, in order to focus on Jesus you must first accept Jesus into your heart as your Lord and savior. If you want to receive the Lord Jesus as your personal Lord and savior and focus your life on Him , just pray the Prayer of confession to receive salvation and invite the Lord Jesus into your heart this minute! He will come into your heart and forgive you of all your sin. Then you will focus on Him and experience the joy of having your sins forgiven and communion with God. Focus on the only true God, Jesus Christ, the God of the bible, the one who does not change. Put your life and your future in his hands today and focus on God.
Jesus comforted His disciples by admonishing them not to fear many times throughout the gospels during His ministry here on earth. “Arise and be not afraid” (Matthew 17:7 KJV). What is so important about being afraid. What is so important or so terrible about fear.
Fear is torment
The bible says,”There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1John 4:18 KJV). The definition of torment according to the Collins Concise Dictionary is “to afflict with great pain,suffering or anguish:torture” Anyone who lives or operates in a state of perpetual fear is not happy. Being fearful is like being locked up in a prison where you are tormented everyday; physically, mentally and emotionally. Fear is like being in Hell, a place of torment, “And in Hell he lifted up his eyes being in torments…” (Luke 16:23 KJV). Jesus does not want His church, His disciples, to be afraid of anything. Instead, Jesus wants you to have His peace, ” Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you I unto you. Let not your hearts be troubled neither let it be afraid” ( John 14: 27 KJV). A heart filled with fear is a troubled heart devoid of peace.
Fear is an evil spirit
” For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). To operate in fear is not of God and it does not originate with God. It is an evil spirit sent out by the devil to bring torment in the lives of anyone who would entertain it. But as believers in Jesus, you should bind the spirit of and prevent it from operating in your lives. There is no excuse why a child of God should be living in fear because Jesus has given you power over the enemy,Satan. ” Behold, I give unto you power to trample on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” ( Luke 10:19 KJV). You do not have to live in fear and be tormented as a prisoner. You need to bind the spirit of fear and prevent from operating and wreaking havoc in your life and the lives of your family.
Bind the spirit of fear
“…Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” Matthew 18:18 KJV). The spirit of fear is subject to the authority of the Name of Jesus. All the child of God needs to do is to bind the spirit of fear and command it to go into dry and uninhabited places. The reason for uninhabited place is that you need to send the spirit away from people. You must use the authority of the Name of Jesus because everyone, and everything must bow to the name of Jesus. This also includes all demons or evil spirits and also the Devil himself. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name that is above every name: that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus christ is Lord, to the Glory of god the father” (Philippians 2:9-11,KJV). Command the spirit of fear to leave by saying these words, ‘ spirit of fear, I bind you in the Name of Jesus and I command you to leave my life and the life of my family and go into dry and uninhabited places.’ The spirit of fear has no choice but to leave you. If you are not a born again believer, please invite the Lord Jesus into your heart today and do not walk in fear.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to thrown out and trampled by men” Matthew 5:13,NIV). Jesus used the illustration of salt, something that everybody knew, to communicate a spiritual principle to His disciples.
Salt is a compound with several noticeable and distinctive properties. It has a very distinctive taste and it makes food more palatable. The addition of salt to food changes the flavor of the food and improves taste. It is essential in the diet and can be added to food to preserve it. Salt does not change. It remains the same just like disciples of Jesus should be. Jesus was expressing a quality that he expected his disciples to have. He expected His disciples to change the world without being changed by the world. This is the property or characteristic of salt. The first century disciples did just that. They changed the world by preaching the gospel and remained unchanged by the world. Jesus’ continue the practice of being world changers, and neighbourhood by touching lives for the kingdom of God.
What does being the salt of the earth mean? The disciples of Jesus are people who have had their sins forgiven and washed away with the blood of Jesus. The disciples of Jesus are in this world to continue the work Jesus started over two thousand years ago. The disciples are supposed to be a positive influence in this world by preaching and sharing the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ while living righteous lives demonstrating that they are truly Jesus’ disciples. Also just like salt does not change, the disciples should not allow the negative and sinful practices in the world to corrupt and change them. They should remain pure while influencing the world for Jesus. This what Jesus meant by the salt of the earth. The work of Jesus’ disciples as the salt of the world brings glory and honor to the lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus continued continued to say that if the salt loses its saltiness, it becomes useless. Likewise, If the disciples are no longer obedient to Jesus, preaching and reaching lost souls, and living holy and righteous lives, then they become a negative influence in this world. In other words they are no longer effective as the salt of the earth. If people cannot see righteousness in the lives of the disciples, then people would not want to become disciples of Jesus themselves. The unrighteous lives of disciples would be a deterrent rather than a positive influence. This is what Jesus meant by salt losing its saltiness. Disciples of Jesus cannot expect to engage in sinful practices, refuse to repent and still win the lost to Jesus. The disciples must be pure and holy, they must be the salt of the earth in order to win their communities, nations and the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.