Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Short Message No. 30: Take Me to a Higher Level, O Lord!

“Lord, please take me to the next and higher level!”

I am acquainted with this prayer. I have heard it from various believers, and at various forums. It’s a a desire that so many Christians have. I too am ever dying for higher levels in my Christian life.

This is a noble request, truly. We ought to ever be yearning for, and walking towards, higher and higher levels in the Spirit. We need to grow; God expects it of us.

However, looking at it, one may conclude that some believers ask God to take them to higher levels without really knowing or taking time to understand either what this higher level is or what it would take or mean to get there.
I view ‘going to a higher level’ as a choice that one has to deliberately make for themselves.  It’s not just like “I want to go to a higher level.” It’s more than that.
Let us assume that you are the Head of a primary school. One morning you hear a light knock on your door, tap, tap, tap. “Come in!” you respond, and in comes a Grade Zero pupil and says, “Head, please take me from Grade Zero to Grade Five!” What would your reaction be?
As the Head, you surely would first want to understand the basis of such a petition. Depending on the reasons given by the pupil, you would proceed to make a decision. Let us assume that the pupil goes on to say, “Look Head, I am far above Grade Zero stuff. Not only that, but no Grade Four pupil can stand shoulder to shoulder with me on school work.”
Assume also that the pupil goes to demonstrate his claims by calculating all the Maths problems in a Grade Four textbook without any problem at all. “I get the point; your request is hereby granted,” I guess this would be your reply.
Now assume that you conclude that this pupil has not mastered even 40% of Grade Zero stuff. In that case, I suppose you would reply, “Look, you are not even ready for Grade One yet; how could you ask me to take you to an even higher grade?”
So it’s not just in the asking. God can take to a higher level only those who are ‘takable’, those who are ripe and ready for it. By our mouths we may express the desire to go, or to be taken to a higher level, but by our conduct, by our grade, by our quality, we may be saying the exact opposite. That’s my view.
A higher level is not like the present level. It means more responsibility. It means improved conduct. It means more polished interactions. It means being higher. Remember, to whom much is given, more will be required.
I think that one needs to meditate on these issues. One needs to ask themselves the question which says, “Have I fully exhausted what I should do and be in the level that I currently am?” This is why, I suppose, that one does not just get into university straight from home! One has to sit for an examination at Advanced Level, to prove that they are indeed worthy to get into university.
So my advice is that, before we talk about a higher level, let’s fully consider the present, because it is what happens in the present level that will determine our readiness for the next level. Seriously! This is exactly what I do. I know that it will be very easy for me to get to the next level if I excel in the current level...and as I contemplate the next level, I am not under any illusion at all.
Let me give you an example. Many believers, including me, ask God for more money. Somebody once said to me, “For a long time I have been asking God for more money, but I haven’t received it up to now. What do you think is the problem?”
If God gives you more money, He would have taken you to the next level in your finances. Essentially, the question was something like, “What does it take for me to get to the next level in my finances?”
To be honest with you, there are many factors that delay the next level in finances and as far as I am concerned, they all have to do with the individual. God is always ready...but are we? Are you?
I believe that one’s attitude towards money is the greatest factor that may delay one getting to the next level in finances. One needs to ask themselves why they seek more money, what kind of person they think they would turn out to be after they receive the money, the nature of their fellowship with God after they become rich, etc. Honest answers would help...and it is such answers that will give a true picture of why things might be turning out the way they are.
God wants us to ask from the standpoint of selflessness, not selfishness. God wants to give us more money so that we might be built up, not destroyed. He wants us rich so that we can fellowship better with Him, with us being rich not merely for ourselves, but primarily for the gospel and others. So God is asking you, “My child, what do you intend to use the money for?”
After considering these issues I concluded that God does not necessarily act in the manner that we want and ask Him to; He acts only in our best interest. He is our Father; He wants the best for you and me. As a child, you might not know whether it is honey or poison that you seek at any particular moment.  Over the years that I have worshiped God, I have seen some Christians getting into a sorry and sad state after getting a few more dollars. Some actually ran into the forest, never to be seen! It's called 'abandoning the faith.'
So, in all things, the Word of God has already been established. What God has planned for us is known and clear. So the question of why certain things might not be happening in your life has nothing to do with God. It is all to do with you. The same applies to me.
These are just observations. We may differ. We may agree. But even if we differ, we still come to a helpful conclusion, you and me together. So please share your views.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Short Message No. 29 Victory for the Christian Believer

"Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD? He is your shield and your helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their places" - (Deuteronomy 33:29, NIV). 

Wow! What more can I say? We are in the best of places...glory to God!


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Short Message No. 28: How to Overcome the Devil

[Based on NIV except where specified]

“The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you’” (Luke 10:17-19).

So we declare that the devil is a defeated foe. The question that begs an answer is: do we see the devil defeated in the life of every Christian? Don’t we see defeated Christians all around?

Indeed we see victory, total victory, in the lives of some Christians. On the other end we see Christians who are so defeated that they wish they were dead.

Before I got saved, I used to hang out with one young man who looked like he was on fire for God. Then he abandoned the way of the Lord.
“Why did you quit?” I asked him.
“I had realised that there was no God,” came the reply.

The reply satisfied me at the time, because it was consistent with what I believed. But looking back I now realize that Satan had thoroughly defeated the young man. The young man's is a destination we all need to avoid at all cost!

The devil is defeated. This however doesn't mean that the devil does not fight Christians. It doesn't necessarily mean that he just walks away. Neither does it mean that we should relax. What it really means is that if we put our focus on it, we will always emerge victorious over the devil. If we stay prepared, the devil will flee from us. The authority that we have in Christ Jesus is in actual fact potential or capacity, something that becomes useless unless put to use!

In the opening verse, we are told of our authority over the devil. We have to believe this; not only that, but we also need to exercise the authority. If we do not exercise our authority, then the devil will do as he pleases with us, to the extent that the words of Jesus would appear a lie.

An armed person could be defeated by an unarmed one if the armed does not appreciate his superior position. He could be apprehended using bare hands while holding a fully functional, state-of-the-art assault rifle, loaded with a thousand bullets!

The point is that we, as Christians, are superior to Satan. But we will not defeat Satan unless we exercise our superiority!

The question that I am going to address in this article is: How could one exercise superiority over Satan? How could they overcome the devil? I thank God, because His Word contains the answer(s) that we need.

I want you to picture a biblical warrior. Imagine him getting ready for battle. I am sure you have seen some drawings or films that attempt to capture the images of such warriors. The warriors used to dress in a certain way and carried a specific kind of weaponry. They would, for example, have a helmet on, a covering for the chest and legs in place, a shield and of course a sword in hand.

Below, I am going to give the outlook that you need if you are to overcome the devil each time he comes stooping at your doorstep.

First: “I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord's mighty power within you” (Eph 6:10, TLB). 

This is an important instruction. Your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you. There is a mighty power within you and that power should be the source of your strength! But what we see in some Christians is that once the devil attacks, they run almost everywhere for solutions.

The Word is telling you that the source of your strength is inside you. So if you've to run anywhere, then you ought to run inside. Some Christians still visit witch-doctors for solutions to their problems; such Christians take the witch-doctor to be the source of their strength. This is unfortunate. 

Years ago, a Christian woman said to me, “Mukuwasha, kana zviri zvekuti mwana arwara ini chero kun’anga ndinoenda,” meaning, “If it is about my child’s health, I will never hesitate to visit a witchdoctor. I will do whatever I can.” The question is: did the woman appreciate the ability that had been deposited in her?


Your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you!

Second: "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" (Eph 6:11). 

I have given you a picture of a warrior ready for battle, how the warrior should be dressed and how he should be equipped. Ephesians 6 v 11 is too important to underrate. The verse gives us the outlook that we should have if we are to overcome the devil.

Note that the verse does not instruct us to put on the armor of God; instead, it instructs us to put on the full armor of God. Only then would we be able to effectively stand against the devil’s schemes. Victory is not assured for somebody who puts on partial armor, for the devil will find in that person some weak points to exploit.

Why full armor? It’s because, for example, if the warrior does not have his helmet on, then his head will be exposed. Once Satan sees an exposed head, he goes for it! If the warrior does not have a shield in hand, then his entire body is exposed. If he doesn't have his shoes on then his mobility is limited, for his feet are exposed to thorns and other dangerous objects. If he doesn't have the sword in hand, then it becomes difficult to take him seriously! It has to be the full armor.

Third: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Eph 6:12-13).

For a Christian to overcome the enemy, he needs to first be clear in his mind as to who the enemy is. One shouldn't waste time fighting against an imaginary enemy; it must be the real enemy! 

If one fights against an imaginary enemy, all it means is that he is already defeated because he is doing nothing about the real enemy. He would be spending his ammunition on the wrong target.

People are never our enemies. Our enemies are never physical. Our battles are never physical. We are not physical beings, but spirit beings. So we have no business fighting in the physical.

Our battles are spiritual, because our enemies are spiritual. Every person who behaves like an enemy is actually being propelled by a spiritual force; so we target not the human being, but the force behind.

We will lose all our real battles if we think they are physical.

After defeating the devil, the Christian should be found standing. Glory to God! It’s only when you have the full armor of God that you will be able to achieve this. Some Christians achieve shaky victories because they lack certain pieces of the armor of God. At the end of the battle, although having succeeded to drive the evil one away, some Christians appear as though they have passed through a fire; some are badly bruised and some are found not standing, but leaning against trees and rocks. This happens when one exposes part of their territory to the devil.

After defeating the devil, you should be found standing.

Let us now look at the means to victory:

First: “With the belt of truth buckled around your waist” (Ephesians 6:14).


You need to keep the belt of truth buckled around your waist. You should never unbuckle. The moment you unbuckle, the ‘fasten your belt’ sign lights up. If you unbuckle, you expose yourself to the dangers of turbulence. As you travel, as you sleep, as you work, as you make merry, the belt of truth should always be around your waist!

But what is this ‘truth’ that Paul wrote about? Truth is what the Word of God says. Paul said if you are to defeat the devil, then you need the belt of truth. The devil might come in the manner of Goliath. You could see him towering over you, with you appearing like ‘just a boy’. But what is the truth? 

The truth is that Goliath is a defeated foe, glory to God! That’s what the Word of God says; that’s the truth. If you appreciate this, then you will defeat Goliath. He might even flee without a fight. But it only happens to those who keep the belt of truth around their waists.

If one does not keep the belt of truth in place, then you will find them defeated, lying down, in need of rescue. And if you ask them how the devil could have defeated them, they are likely to say, “I looked like a grasshopper against him.”

Second: “The breastplate of righteousness in place” (Ephesians 6:14). Paul was addressing the saints at Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus. So his message is as relevant to us as it was to the Ephesians. We should keep the breastplate of righteousness in place if we are to live victorious lives. The Living Bible uses ‘God’s approval’ in place of ‘righteousness’.

We are the righteous ones of God. But do all Christians keep their righteousness in place? I think it’s not every Christian who does. But what does it mean to keep one’s righteousness in place? First it means that one should always be conscious of this status that has been bestowed on them. They should also understand its importance.

Some Christians actually believe that they are not righteous, and Satan feasts on them because of this. Ignorance is a big disadvantage.

Second, it also means that the righteous should live lives that are consistent with their righteousness. Some of those who appreciate their righteousness actually live like they are not aware of it.

Imagine you bathing a three year old and dressing her nicely. Imagine that you then go on to instruct her to sit on mud. Would she heed your instruction?

“What!” she would exclaim, “You want me to get dirty? Don’t you see how smart I am?” This should be the attitude of the saints of God! At one leaders’ meeting we were taught that among the things that we teach the members of our groups, we also teach them language. Which language? The language of righteousness of course! The kind that is consistent with our righteous nature. I am sure there are things that you now avoid because due to your righteous nature; they have become repulsive to you.

“Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice” (Philippians 4:8-9).

Third: Your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15).

Paul is talking about the kind of shoes that you should wear. He says the readiness that comes from the gospel shall be your shoes. You go only because the gospel has prepared you for the journey. You overcome Satan only because the gospel has prepared you for it. You put on the readiness and run! The readiness is your shoes!

This demonstrates the importance of the gospel. Without the gospel we can never be ready for anything. Without the gospel Satan will find us unarmed.

How much time do you spend in the gospel, i.e. studying the Word? Remember the more time you spend in the gospel the more prepared you will be to face both the good and the bad.

Fourth: “Take up the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16). 

Faith is one’s response to the Word of God. If the Word tells you that you are the dominant one and you believe and act on it, then you have faith. If the Word tells you that Goliath is actually at your mercy, then you should believe and act on that. Whatever the Word says, believe and act on it. Paul says it is by your faith that you could extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. So you need faith; you also need to perpetually grow it and only through the Word could you do so.

Paul said “take up the shield of faith.” It’s within your means.

Fifth: “Take the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17). 

Salvation is a process. It does not end at the point of receiving Christ. We are saved over and over and on various issues pertaining to our lives.

Salvation is our helmet. Without it our heads could be destroyed by the enemy’s sword. Paul says “take the helmet”. He does not say “receive the helmet”.

We have come to a point at which we have matured enough to take. The ball is in our court. If one where to go before God and say, “Lord, please give me the helmet,” God would answer, “I actually have been wondering all along why the helmet is still here. It has been available to you for ages but you've not collected it. If you want the helmet then go ahead and take it.”

As we stay in and meditate on the Word, as we shut out the many worldly voices that clamor for our attention, we get to a point at which we take. Glory to God!

Sixth: “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). 

Good God! The sword that we use! Mighty through God! The Word of God is our sword. The Spirit of God is the sword that we use. This is why we do not fight in the physical. Our weapons are not physical, but spiritual. Just take a moment to reflect on what the Word of God could do in and for your life.

Seventh: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). 

This also is a piece of armor. Prayer; glory to God! We overcome the devil by our prayers. And we do not just pray; instead, we pray ‘in the Spirit”. And we do not pray for just one thing; we pray for various things, we make various requests. 

Neither do we pray just for ourselves, but we also pray for others, whether in our country or abroad, whether we know them or not, as long as there is a cause, we pray. 

As we achieve victory for others, we also achieve victory for ourselves. He truly is a defeated foe!

Eighth: "With this in mind, be alert" (Ephesians 6:18). 

As I walked through the plains one afternoon, a snake holed up nearby sensed danger. It raised its head so high that it could clearly see 360 degrees. It focused on me as I walked, making sure I kept my distance. The snake remained ready to strike, ready to destroy. I kept my distance. I appreciated the fact that the snake was on high alert. It was ready for the enemy; never to be found napping.

That’s how alert we always should be!

There is a lot of noise in the world, but never allow any of it to blur your focus, your alertness. When the evil day comes, the devil should find you ready and alert. Otherwise you will be bruised!

Stay victorious and God bless!