Friday, April 11, 2014

Covenant with God Part 2



Covenants which have not been destroyed will hinder us from attaining our blessings. There are cultural covenants which were spoken and established over in our childhood, and which must be broken so that we can walk in the divine covenant of grace, where the precious blood of Jesus Christ speaks for the believers’ lives.

Nature hates a vacuum. Our lives must be attached to the glorious covenants of God or those of the dark evil world. We can never be in-between. Nature is influenced by covenants. Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) are agreements (covenants) made by nations to run and govern the world policies. Every country and government is led and controlled by established agreements.

People make agreements consciously while others engage the same unconsciously. These covenants eventually affect our overall way of life. Our great grand-parents may know of generational covenants made upon us which are unconsciously affecting our ways of life to a greater degree. These covenants claim over our lives and need to be broken for us to enjoy God’s blessings fully.

We are renewing our commitments to the Lord so that we can walk in excellence. We have to walk in God’s victory against covenantal demonic spirits which tend to control people and hinder them from being productive. We are the children who represent Christ down here on earth. We must claim the power over circumstances as bonafide children of God. When trials come we need to overcome them as children of God.

We are not the pioneers of covenants. God has been from the beginning a covenant maker and a covenant keeper. Thus we learn much from the covenants that God made with His people.


1. Noahic Covenant

Genesis 9:9  
And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you

The world was in wickedness and God became angry with the people.

Genesis 6:6   
And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart

Noah remained righteous amidst all the evil in his time. He revered God and got into a covenant with him since he stood out and was an exceptional person before the Lord. We thus learn that when we stand out in righteousness like Noah, God will establish a covenant with us and when destruction befalls mankind, we shall be spared.

Noah was a man who had found grace before God and this kept him from corruption hence spared from destruction. We too can make a choice to live in righteousness amidst an evil generation, like Noah, and be spared of judgment, or opt to get destroyed in sin. 


2. Abrahamic Covenant


Genesis 12:1-3 
Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

The above scripture teaches us factors God considered  while making His covenant with Abraham which are equally a lesson for us today.

  • Separation: In order to renew your covenant with God, you need to ask God about your acquaintances. Will the people surrounding you hinder you from attaining the blessings of God? The need for separation is necessary so that God can take the first place. We need to separate ourselves even from our local environment and positions of residence.
  • Obedience is key when it comes to establishing a covenant with God. We need to take stock of our acquaintances since we cannot enjoy the blessings of the covenants with God since they will be sucking the blessings of God upon our lives. Abraham had to obey and separated himself from these people and thus his blessings stretched to our generation.
  • Alignment: We need not align ourselves with the wrong people and wrong places. These will drain our spirit and anointing. Every wrong character should be checked out of our lives so that we can be able to enjoy the Lord’s blessings unhindered. It is necessary for believers to align themselves with the Lord by abiding in Him.
  •  Believe: We need to believe in our God. Abraham believed what the Lord said and he was rewarded.

    Genesis 15:1-6
      
    After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward." But Abram said, "Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" Then Abram said, "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!" And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir." Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be." And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
  •  Clarify: Clarify with God on what you are committing yourself with. Abraham went to the Lord for clarification. He wanted to get a clear picture of the facts regarding God’s covenant.
    Acts 7:1-44 distinctly elaborates on this issue.
    Everyone desires an assurance from our partners and spouses. We make marriage covenants and we need to stand and abide by them through assurance to our partners and children. We must learn to tell others how we love them in order for covenants to hold water.
 3. Mosaic Covenant
 
Exodus 19:4-6 
You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. 'Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."

Children of the covenant will never forget what the Lord has done to them. If we are to walk with the Lord, we need to obey even before He speaks.

What commitments are we making before our God? Hannah made a commitment before the Lord. When we commit ourselves before the Lord, we make the covenant binding. Whatever we ask for before the Lord, God honors since He respects commitments. We too have an obligation to fulfil.



4. Davidic Covenant
2 Samuel 7:12 
"When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.


This scripture implies the setting up of the Kingdom of God through the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are also able to learn and glean from this covenant too.

  • Attitude: David’s covenant with God teaches us that David had a positive attitude into building for God and thus God made a house for David through Jesus Christ.
    We need to commit and have a positive attitude to allow God rule over our lives. When we submit, He is able to give us more.
  • Thankfulness: Covenant people are always thankful.
     
5. New Covenant 

The Bible tells us about the establishment of a new covenant. We need to know the benefits of this new covenant established through the blood of Jesus Christ to all believers.


2 Corinthians 3:7-18 
But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech -- unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Jeremiah 31:31 
"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah - "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD."But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

Hebrews 8:7 
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.

Hebrews 8:13 
In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

We can only pick lessons from the old covenant. The new covenant is for the people who have accepted the Lord.


The Benefits of the New Covenant


a. The new covenant has made us children of God.

Romans 8:16 
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

John 1:12 
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
  
We should refuse anything which is contrary to the Word of God. We should never allow people to oppress us. Let us remind every voice that we are children of God. 

b. Heirs

The new covenant has made us heirs with Christ and thus we are able to enjoy birthright blessings and benefits.

Romans 8:17 
...and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Galatians 3:29 
And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

We deserve this inheritance as stated by James.

James 2:5
Listen, my beloved brethren: has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 


c. We are a chosen Generation

1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;


d. Bride of Christ

2 Corinthians 11:2
For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.


e. Body of Christ

1 Corinthians 12:12
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.


We will continue from there next week. 


Amen. 





-- Pastor Mary Mugo.


11/04/14 Sunday service sermon. 


Pastor Mary Mugo is the Administrative Pastor at Africa Transformation Mission, a ministry under Christ Harvesters Ministries. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Covenant with God

Today I want us to talk about making and renewing our covenant with our Maker. We have learnt quite a few things over the past few weeks, about trusting in God, and having a thankful attitude. As we do these, there are some things that may hold or keep us back from walking with God, things that many people tend to overlook or be ignorant about. They are the covenants they have entered in, keep entering in, or are contemplating on entering in. Many people tend to take covenants lightly, but they are more powerful than we think. 

Read 2 Chronicles 29-31. 

In the above chapters, King Hezekiah saw that the land had become desolate, unfruitful and troubled. He realized that it was because the children of Israel, who had started well with God, had come to a point of forgetting that they were children of a covenant with God, and started compromising through bowing down to other idols.

When God makes a covenant with you, He never breaks it. He is constant and faithful; we are the ones who depart from His covenant.

In 2 Chronicles 29-31, King Hezekiah called the people together to repentance, so that they may renounce their ways and get back to doing what the covenant required of them. The priests led the people in sacrificing, because blood had to be spilled for their return to the covenant. The result was the children of Israel being filled with true worship and praise, dancing to the Lord not for entertainment but to worship Him for who He is.

If we get back to our covenant with God, we will stop dancing to the Lord for entertainment and for our own selfish reasons, but get back to worshiping Him in truth and in Spirit.

Sometimes as human beings we forget that God had already drawn a plan for us to walk in, and charted out the course for us, and we start leading ourselves. The only thing that can get us back to being children of the covenant once again is if we repent and allow the blood of Jesus to cleanse us, to get back to the original plan with God.

Today I want us to get back to where some of us dropped the ball, where we stopped living as children of the covenant.

Read Hebrews 8-10

In the Old Testament, they used to be cleansed and return back to the covenant through the blood of animals; now we are cleansed and return back to the covenant with God through the blood of Jesus.

God is a covenant-keeping God. He is a God who makes covenants. His covenant makes Him keep the heavens open for us, if we remain in His covenant. His covenant is guided by His truth. The covenant of God works in our lives in proportion to how we know the truth. The truth you do not know can never help you, it can only destroy you. When you know the truth, it will set you free. When you see me walk and dance around, it is because I have known the truth, which has kept me in a covenant with God. Knowing this truth I can never fear, knowing that God is faithful. I can never be scared by what the devil thinks of me, I am following the great Warrior who is always fighting for me. In His covenant, I know that I should never fear. In His covenant, I also know that I am in Him, and Him in me, and He is greater than all who are in the world (1 John 4:4).

The day we will discover who we are and in Whom we are as the new covenant says, we will never walk in fear, nor be shaken by the world. When I am in a covenant with God, I know that there is nothing too hard for my God, and I will lack nothing. In this new covenant, I know that my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory (Phil. 4:19).

The truth you know is what will guide the covenant you have with God, and keep you going in the covenant. The lives we live in this universe, since we are in the world though not of the world, are under a lot of influence of covenants. We have to be in a covenant in this universe, either in the kingdom of darkness or that of light. There are covenants, and you will either be led by covenants of the world, or that of God. Choose for yourself. It is important to know in which covenant you are, and what the covenant is about.

People enter into covenants even without knowing, e.g. those who pour libations to the dead. They are entering covenants with the dead without knowing. Some undergo cuttings in their customs, while others tie things around their waists without knowing that those symbolize covenants. Others enter into covenants by swearing, putting marks on their bodies etc. As long as such covenants remain in our lives, they will keep drawing us back to where we were. We will never benefit from the word of God and in serving God, as these covenants will keep pulling us back and hinder us from moving forward. Such covenants are always demanding something from us, never being satisfied.

Parents sometimes get their children into covenants while not knowing what they are getting them into - a life of problems.

Covenants keep believers in sufferings, always wondering whether God neglected them. Today we must come to a realization that the new covenant was for you and for me, to set us free. Jesus died for us once and for all, and we have to realize this and what it means to be in the new covenant, what to expect. There is no need to enter into any other covenant, since we are in a new covenant, that Christ paid for with His own life and blood. We have to break off and separate ourselves from any covenants that are not of Christ, and keep declaring that we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus, that in Christ and in a new covenant. It is time we start ruling as kings and priests in this universe, walking in the new covenant, in Christ.

A time has come that we must denounce every covenant that is contrary to the will of God.

Hebrews 12:18-24
For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest,19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore.20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: "And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow."

21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.")
 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

Deuteronomy 9:9
When I went up into the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which the Lord made with you, then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water.

On this mountain that God used to meet with the children of Israel, they used to fear and tremble.

There are two types of covenants:

  • Covenant of works
  • Covenant of grace


In the covenant of works, we have to keep doing works, which are burdensome, for God to do something for us. In the covenant of grace, it is purely by favor. Whatever comes to a child in the covenant of grace meets favor and protection, and will never touch the child.

Whatever comes our way under the covenant of grace, is totally by favor, not by merit or works.

John 1:12-13
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Heb 12:24 (AMP)
…and to Jesus, the Mediator (Go-between, Agent) of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks [of mercy], a better and nobler and more gracious message than the blood of Abel [which cried out for vengeance].

As long as we are children of God, in Christ Jesus, we have come to mercy, to a better covenant where the blood of Jesus is speaking noble things, better things and more gracious message.

Genesis 4:10
And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground..."

While the blood of Abel is speaking vengeance, the blood of Jesus is speaking great things about us. We have no reason not to know that the blood of Jesus is speaking noble things about us. The blood that Jesus shed has saved us, given us victory, and joined us to a better covenant than that in which the children of Israel were in. Jesus gave His best, His life and heart, for His blood to speak forgiveness. The blood of Jesus speaks cleansing of our sins and forgiveness, healing, death etc. If the blood was not speaking healing, then we’d have been destroyed by the sicknesses when they came our way. If the blood of Jesus was not speaking against death over our lives, then we’d have died in accidents and other things that were sent to take our lives. The blood of Jesus speaks great things over our lives, for our benefit.

Keep declaring and pleading the blood of Jesus over your life and things that come your way, and watch it work in your life. When you are conscious of the blood of Jesus, you will never fear, even when you sleep. Fear not. Many people fear accidents and many other things, even though they are believers, because of ignorance of what the blood represents and speaks over their lives.

Unlike in the Old Testament, we do not have to keep killing animals to be forgiven or get reconciliation with God, because Jesus paid the price once and for all. Those who do not know what the blood speaks miss out on what the blood is speaking over their lives. We will enjoy being Christians, when we know what the blood of Jesus represents, and what it is speaking over our lives.

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah-  32 "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. 33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

Luke 22:19-20
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

1 Corinthians 11:25
In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

The time for the new covenant is here. In this covenant, we do not need someone to keep teaching us, we have the Holy Spirit to teach us (1 John 2:27). Whenever we ask for a revelation from the Holy Spirit regarding the word of God, He will give to us, irrespective of who we are. We can take the word and hear from Him directly, not having to go through earthly mediators. God has already spoken, we do not need anyone to teach us or speak over our lives. We can take the bread of life that has been given, break it and partake it in our lives, in order to enjoy the new covenant.

As God says through Jeremiah, we have been forgiven sins. Forgiveness of sins is the best gift we could ever have received, as we are no longer indebted because of our sins, all the sins we made from birth. When Jesus came, He entered us into a new covenant, that gave us the forgiveness of sins. Christ Jesus paid a debt that we could have never paid. Now that we are in Him, He can rule our lives as He wants, being Lord over our lives, knowing that He has forgiven us and set us free from the debts we were in.

Hebrews 1:1-6
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man .3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer.4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law;  5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." 6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

This covenant we are in has better promises. The work of Jesus is to keep the covenant we have with Him, that directly affects us.

Hebrews 10:16-17
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Hebrews 7:22-25
...by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant. 23 Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. 24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

In the new covenant we have entered, there is gladness and joy. We do not have to feel helpless and defeated; we can enjoy life with gladness and joy, knowing we have better promises in the new covenant.

Remain in Him and Him in you, because you are a child of the covenant. Do not look for help from elsewhere; Jesus is all you need. Remain in the covenant; remain in Christ, and whatever demons or doors in your life will flee. Jesus is the only answer. The covenant with Christ will keep the enemy from having dominion over you, as you have authority over the enemy. Time has come for believers to know where they are standing, and on Whom.

Psalm 24:1
The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.

It is time we knew that all we need is in our God. We need no one and nothing to give us anything; all we need is God. Stay in Him, and let Him stay in you.

Ephesians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

Colossians 2:10
...and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

We are blessed with every blessing, complete and forgiven completely.

Colossians 2:13-14
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Jesus wiped away completely all that was entitled to us as a result of our sins, all that the enemy had said over us. Whatever was written about your life has been deleted, purged completely. We are new creatures.

Ephesians 2:1, 5, 6-9
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 

5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Galatians 3:29
And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

I am a new creature because of the new covenant.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

Jesus traded His place for yours, so that you can be rich, forgiven, made new, blessed etc., in the new covenant. He paid a dear price for us to be in this new and great covenant, and His blood keeps speaking better things over our lives, the things that He died and rose again for. He is sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for us, mediating for us, to ensure that we continue enjoying the benefits of the new covenant. 

For this reason, we should forever remain as children of the covenant, since we are in a new covenant. Whose are you? Do not allow the devil in your territories, that he has no authority or dominion over you, since you are in a new covenant.


You are a child of the new covenant. 


Amen. 



-- Pastor Mary Mugo.


30/03/14 Sunday service sermon.
Pastor Mary Mugo is the Administrative Pastor at Africa Transformation Mission, a ministry under Christ Harvesters Ministries.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Heart of Thanksgiving (...cont)

Causes of an ungrateful heart

Like we said last week, no one on earth has any reason to complain. If we sit down and bring to our remembrance all that God has done for us, we will find ourselves on our knees thanking Him, if not with teary eyes repenting for being ungrateful. Right from birth, our lives have been a miracle. Many children die before they are born; we lived through and had a successful birth. Many children lose their parents during birth, or are born with diseases or infirmities. Some die in their early years of infancy. Diseases have attacked some of us all through, being in and out of hospitals, but we are still here. Some have gone through abuse and neglect, some have grown up without parents, but God’s grace still ensured we are here. We have all rebelled against God at one point or another and deserved death, but even in our rebellion God still preserved us, and we came through. Many people die in their rebellion. The devil had a right to kill and destroy us when we were in sin, as we were his slaves and children (Romans 6:16); God kept and preserved us. Even in coming back to God, none of us did anything except believe and accept Christ, which was also by His help. All the while we were in sin, His goodness and mercy was following us (Psalm 23:6), and finally goodness led us to repentance!

Romans 2:4
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

In spite of all the mess we got ourselves in through rebellion, some addictions, bad habits, evil hearts etc., God still loved us and led us to Himself.

Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God forgave us, washed us clean, and has worked with us to bring us where we are spiritually. Even after being saved we still have not lived perfect lives, but hasn’t God been merciful? Who can stand and say that since they were saved they have not seen one mighty act of God, or have done all they could and all that is written in the scriptures, to deserve God’s goodness? Who has not seen God’s grace in action in their lives, not matching up to His standards of holiness in our actions and yet God has fed us, clothed us, forgiven us, answered our prayers, housed us, educated us, given us jobs and businesses etc.? Is it because we deserved it all? NO way! It is because He is simply good.

As I said last week, no one has any reason to be ungrateful, and at any point we have a reason to give thanks. If God does not do any single thing more for us, we still have more than enough reason to be thankful to Him, always. Our situations and circumstances do not negate or nullify what God has done, or Who He is, granting us a reason to be ungrateful and complain.

In summary, complaining is dangerous because:

  • It keeps us from receiving from God as it chokes our faith and introduces unbelief, and without faith we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6). With unbelief, we can never receive anything from God (James 1:6-8).
  • It opens the door to the enemy. As we saw in the story of the children of Israel from 1 Cor. 10:10, they complained and for that reason they were destroyed by the destroyer. When we complain, we open a door to the enemy, who can destroy us if we are not careful. E.g. if we complain about finances, that they are never enough, the destroyer will ensure that they will never be enough, and will bring up things that will ensure that we never have enough, e.g. sicknesses, crisis etc. Since we have already allowed complaining, that comes with unbelief, we can never walk in healing, and thus never come out of “not having enough.” The enemy will ensure that the cause of our complaining stays, so that we always give him a place, with our complaining. We are told not to give the devil a place in our lives (Eph. 4:27). Complaining is one way of giving place to the devil. If you want to keep the devil at bay out of your life, always abound in thanksgiving in everything, and you will never cross paths with the destroyer. This is why Paul says that he has learnt to be content in everything, whether he had or not, knowing that He could do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil 4:11-13). If you are always content with what you have, you will never find yourself complaining.
  • Complaining hardens our heart. Just like any sin, complaining hardens our heart towards God and keeps us from fellowship with Him (Heb. 3:12-13).
  • Complaining quenches the Spirit of God. In 1 Thess. 5:16-18, we are told to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God. The verse following this tells us not to quench the Spirit of God, indicating that when we fail to rejoice, pray without ceasing and give thanks in everything, we are prone to quench the Spirit of God. This means that if He wanted to do something for you or help you receive something, He can’t since you are already complaining, and giving a place to the devil. Always keep in mind that whenever you are complaining, you are quenching the Spirit of God.
  • Complaining is tempting Christ. As we have seen in 1 Cor. 10:9, the children of Israel, by complaining against the manna God gave them, tempted Christ, as the manna was a symbolism of Jesus, the bread of life. Whenever we have the word of God, which is Jesus Himself (John 1:1-3, 14), and yet complain, we are tempting Christ. We can never enjoy fellowship with Christ and receive from Him if we are always complaining against Him. We cut ourselves away from Him, as we have seen earlier through hardening of our hearts.
  • Complaining leads to idolatry. As we also saw in the story of the children of Israel, through complaining eventually they found themselves making carved images to worship (1 Cor. 10:6-7). If you are always complaining against God, how can you worship and trust Him? Eventually He will no longer be exalted in your eyes, and you will start finding alternatives to what He can provide for you. For example, if you are always complaining that your finances are never enough as compared to the rising economy, you cannot successfully have faith in God as your provider, so you will turn to other sources to provide for you, with time. This is where people start idolizing money and people, not having faith in God. It all started when they entertained the spirit of murmuring.


So, in general, complaining is harmful to us and our relationship with God.

What causes an ungrateful heart?

1.      Fear. Like we saw in the story of the children of Israel when they saw Pharaoh and the Egyptian army (Exodus 14:10-12), fear results when we focus on what is coming against us, instead of focusing on WHO is on our side. Fear does not come from God; it comes from the devil (2 Timothy 1:7). Fear is the opposite of faith, and is an indicator of absence of faith. When we lack faith in the love of God, fear creeps in. Fear and faith can never co-exist. One takes the place of another, interchangeably. Behind every complaint is fear.

2.      Unbelief. Still drawing lessons from the story of the children of Israel in Exodus 14:10-12, we see that they believed more on the ability of Pharaoh and the Egyptian army to destroy them than in the power of God to save them. Whenever we find ourselves complaining and ungrateful, then unbelief is right there by our side. If you believe in God, and in His faithfulness, then you will be thankful in every situation. Unbelief is manifest when you have faith in anything else other than God, and is a direct result of ignorance.

3.      Ignorance. In order to be ungrateful and complain, the children of Israel had to ignore everything God did and who He was to them, and focus on what was facing them. Whenever you find yourself ungrateful and complaining, wondering why you should thank God, know that you have ignored all that God has done for you and Who He is, and have chosen to believe in and focus more on what is facing you. Philemon 6 says that the communication of our faith becomes effective by the acknowledging of every good thing that is in us in Christ Jesus. When we ignore what is in us, what God has already done and Who He is, then the communication of our faith becomes ineffective, and the communication of fear becomes effective.

4.      Comparison. In order for the children of Israel to be ungrateful all through their walk through the wilderness, they had something and someone to compare themselves to, and it all had to do with where they were before, in Egypt. God took them out of Egypt, but could not get them to get Egypt out of them. This is why eventually all of the generation that came from Egypt had to perish in the wilderness, except Joshua and Caleb, for God to start dealing with a new people who did not have Egypt in them (Deuteronomy 1:35-40). Comparison gives birth to ungratefulness. If you start comparing yourself with who you were before you got saved in terms of what you had, or with other people, then you will be ungrateful and will start complaining. God created us uniquely, and every person has his/her own purpose on earth. God is dealing with us differently, and at all points we are at different levels of Him dealing with us. We cannot all be the same, have the same things, do the same thing, expect the same things etc. For that to happen, we’d all have to be the same, have the same past, present and future.

For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us--a sphere which especially includes you.2 Cor. 10:12-13.

5.      Forgetfulness. As we saw last week, if the children of Israel could have remembered all that God had done for them, Who He is, what He had said and what He could do, then they would not have complained. As a result of forgetfulness, they found themselves complaining and unthankful for what He had done for them. 
 

The remedy for ungratefulness

So, how can we avoid being like the children of Israel, and not end up perishing in our self-centeredness?

1. FaithPerfect love casts out fear:

1 John 4:17-18
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

When we have fear, we will always start complaining. When you hear fear ring your doorbell, know that that’s an alarm for you to check your faith in God. Check your faith in the love of God. John in the above verses starts by saying that we have known and believed the love God has for us. If you have not known and believed the love God has for you, then you will be shaken by whatever comes your way, always being moved by your circumstances. A child who is always afraid while at home, afraid of lacking, being harmed etc., is one who does not believe in the love of their parents. If a child is afraid at all times, then they would not even get an opportunity to experience what their parents are capable of doing, and would end up doing the things for themselves: looking after themselves, protecting themselves etc., and would end up having no reason to be grateful for having their parents. Such children live as if they do not have parents.

Whenever we fear, we indicate that we do not believe in the love of our Father. Because of fear, we will go to extreme measures to look after ourselves, therefore denying ourselves of an opportunity of seeing God as our Source of everything, and therefore end up with no reason to be grateful to God. In the process, we deny ourselves an opportunity to see what God can do. God has given you all the faith you need, as you have the faith of Christ (Gal. 2:16, 20, 5:22-23, Romans 12:3, 2 Pet. 1:1, all KJV). If you believe, all things are possible (Mark 9:23). Faith is the valve that turns on the power of God in your life. All the faith you need is in you, in your spirit. Your mind is the valve that regulates the amount of faith you see manifested in your life. If your mind sees anything as impossible, then you stifle the amount of faith you will release to your situation. If your mind sees all things as possible, having been renewed by the word of God, then you will release much faith from your spirit to your situation, and see God’s power at work. This is why we Paul says this:

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us… Eph. 3:20.

If it was up to God, we would be experiencing tremendous power from Him working in our lives, since the power working in us is the same that raised Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:19-20, Rom. 8:11). The problem is us. He cannot override our will and do things in our lives, which is why what He does is according to the power that works in us. If we allow this power to flow through faith, we will see God do much, and always have a reason to give thanks. If we hinder the power to flow through fear, then we will see God do much less, be overwhelmed by whatever is facing us, forget what He has done as we will focus more on what is facing us, and be ungrateful. When we have faith in the love of God, fear runs out of the door. Perfect love, as we have read, casts out fear. To cast is to pitch (as in a ball) or throw. Perfect love throws away fear. Faith works through love (Gal. 5:6). The more faith you have in the love of God, the less fear you will have in your life. God is love, so the more you know God the more you will believe in His love, and since the word of God is God Himself then the more you spend time in the word of God and fellowship with Him the more you will know, believe and experience His love. When this happens, thanksgiving will flow from you like an endless river, because even if God does nothing else, it is enough that He loves you, in spite of you!!

Have faith in God.

Mark 11:22-24.
"Have faith in God. 23 "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. 24 "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

1 John 5:14-15
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

If you believe that you have received, why complain? People do not complain because of what they have, they complain because of what they do not have. You have not because you ask not (James 4:2). If you ask, and do so according to His will, and have believed that you have received, why complain? If you have something, can you pray to get it again? No. You give thanks for it. So, if you do not have something, pray. When you pray, believe you have received it, and give thanks! If you wait till you see it to be thankful, you will wait a long while because that is not how the things of God works. For the world, it is seeing is believing. For God, believing is seeing. If we pray about everything we feel we need, and believe we have received, it, why would we complain in the first place?

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

All our prayer should be accompanied with thanksgiving. After we present all our requests to God with thanksgiving through prayer and supplication, Paul says this is when the peace of God works in our lives. So not only does thanksgiving help us receive what we need from God, but it also comes with a bonus of peace! Why do we need peace? Because everything God has given us is in spiritual form (Eph. 1:3), and so when we pray we believe that we have received, in the spiritual form. Before it manifests in the physical, it may take a few seconds, minutes, hours, days, months or even years. As it does, we are supposed to remain in thanksgiving, and we need peace while we wait, or else unbelief and unrest creeping in our hearts and minds will keep us from receiving the manifestation of whatever we have believed God for. Whenever you experience restlessness, abound in thanksgiving, believing that you have received, and the peace of God will guard you heart and mind. Our mind needs to be guarded because as we think so are we (Prov. 23:7), and out of our hearts spring the issues of life (Prov. 4:23). If unguarded, we will think negatively and so end up being negative, and produce out of our hearts all manner of evil (Matt. 12:33-37). Thanksgiving will help keep your heart and mind in good condition!

Ephesians 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…

Colossians 2:6-7
As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

We got saved through faith by grace, and we are required to keep walking through faith by grace. If you put growing in faith your goal, you will always abound in thanksgiving. Growth in faith is not automatic, it takes effort, as we know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 1:17). If you and when you stop growing in faith, then you will cease to be a thankful person.


2. Fighting unbelief. The more unbelief we have in our lives, the less thankful we will be, and the less we will see God’s power working in our lives. You may wonder why I’m talking about unbelief if I talked about faith above. Can you have faith and unbelief at the same time? Yes.

Mark 9:23-24
Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."  24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

We may believe, but that does not keep the devil from throwing in darts of unbelief in our lives. If we do not take care of these thoughts, they will creep in our hearts, and when they do then we cannot receive from God.

James 1:6-8
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Matthew 17:20-21
"Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 "However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."

We need to guard our thoughts against unbelief, coz if we don’t then it will creep in our hearts, and hinder us from receiving. Unbelief that has gotten to the heart can only come out through prayer and fasting, as Jesus said. It will require you to humble yourself and starve the flesh, for you to access the faith in your spirit and avail it in your heart once again, through prayer and fasting and spending time in the word of God, for you to function without unbelief again. If you have unbelief in your heart, do not ignore it, as it will definitely keep you unthankful, as you will never receive anything from God with unbelief. As you grow in faith, guard yourself against unbelief.

3. Fighting ignorance. The Bible says that God’s people perish because of lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Ignorance will not only keep us ungrateful, but also cause us to perish. They usually say that what you do not know does not hurt you, but they are wrong. What you do not know hurts you much. If you do not have knowledge of God and what He has said, or keep ignoring who He is and what He has done, then you will forever remain ungrateful, and perish. Purpose to grow in the knowledge of God. A complaining person either does not know who God is, what He has said and what He can do, or is simply ignoring these facts. 

We saw in a previous sermon that ignorance once cut us from the life of God, according to Ephesians 4:18, and will continue to do so. The more ignorant we are, the more we are cut off from the life that God has intended for us, and therefore remain ungrateful. If you always want to have a thankful heart, strive to grow in the knowledge of God. 

4. Do not compare yourself to anyone.
Romans 12:3 (KJV)
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Paul in the above verse says that thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought is not thinking soberly. God has dealt to each and every one of us the same measure of faith, meaning that in His eyes we are all equal. However, the grace He has given us is different, and is proportional to the amount of work that He has given us, and His gifting in our lives:

Ephesians 4:7
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

You can never be me, as God never created and wired you uniquely to do what I was created to do. Your biological, psychological, physical, and emotional composition, and your personality, heart, spiritual gifting, abilities and personality are all meant to help you achieve what God has called you to achieve. Before you strive to compare yourself with someone else, take time to dig into who you really are, what you have been through, what you have and where you are, and how God has intended to use all these to accomplish His purpose for you being in existence. If you do this, you will always be grateful. Every time you compare yourself to someone else, you are being unwise, as we saw in 2 Cor. 10:12-13.

5. Meditate on God’s faithfulness. As we have seen, according to Philemon 6, only when we acknowledge the good things in us in Christ Jesus will we be able to communicate our faith effectively. This basically means that the more you focus on who you are in Christ, and what He has done for you, the more you will abound in thanksgiving. This will cause you to always remember what Christ has done for you, where He brought you from and what He has done for you ever since, and therefore your faith will always be effective in helping you receive from Christ continuously. 

2 Peter 1:13
Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you...

We were given a memory for a reason, and when we use it we stir ourselves up. If you always remind yourself of who God is, what He has done for you before, what He can do and what He has said, you will never find yourself complaining.

6. Focusing on God’s word. God’s word will keep you spiritually minded. We have seen that when the children of Israel focused on what they saw, case study being when they saw Pharaoh and his army, they grew fearful. Being carnally minded, being moved by what you see always, always leads to death.

Romans 8:5-8
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

If you are always moved by what you see, you will always be ungrateful and have a complaining heart. If you are always moved by what you know, based on the word of God, you will always be grateful and have a heart of thanksgiving.

God’s will is His word, so if you abide in His word you will abide in His will. His will for us in every situation is to always give thanks:

Colossians 4:2
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving

Ephesians 5:17-20
Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,  20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Are you always rejoicing, praying without ceasing and giving thanks in everything? If no, then you are not doing the will of God. It is His will that we rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in everything. Notice, He uses always, ceasing and everything to show us that we should rejoice, pray and give thanks regardless of our circumstances.

Our circumstances should never change our heart of thanksgiving, as they do not change or negate who God is, what He has said or what He has done for us. If we are moved by our circumstances, we will always be ungrateful, go out of God’s will, and eventually end up being cut off from the life of God, as we have seen. If we are moved by the word of God only, then we will remain in His will, rejoicing always, praying without ceasing and always having a thankful heart.

If you are unthankful, and whenever you are, you deny God for getting the glory:

2 Cor. 4:15
For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

Like I said in an earlier sermon on Meditating on the Word, you will put yourself at a better position to act on the word if you meditate on it. If you want to abound in thanksgiving, meditate on thanksgiving, and fill your thoughts with thanksgiving. Since the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart, your mouth will be filled with thanksgiving. If you always complain in your mind, complaining will come out of your mind. All complaining starts with a suggested thought from the devil, just as it started with Eve in the Garden of Eden, suggesting that God is not as good as He says He is. If you entertain such thoughts, you start complaining in your thoughts and heart, and seeing everything in negativity, and so start complaining with the mouth. Every complainer is negative. You can never be positive and still complain. Positivity starts in the mind. The best positivity comes from the word of God.

So, in conclusion, thanksgiving is good for you and for me. It is not an option, it is necessary, and is a command from God, if we want to live a good life. God will never ask us for anything that we don’t have, being a good Father. He can never ask us to be thankful in all situations if He knows it’s impossible. He knows it is possible, and asks us to do so. Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10), but if we remain ignorant of what God has done, Who He is, what He has said and done, then we cut ourselves from the life that God has intended for us to have. Only if we abound in thanksgiving will we remain in the will of God, enjoying the life that He foreknew, predestined, called, justified and glorified us to live (Romans 8:28-30).
Col 3:17
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Heb. 13:15
Therefore by Him [Jesus] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

Amen.



-- Sam Gitonga. 



(23/03/14 Sunday Service Sermon, Africa Transformation Mission.)

Brother Sam Gitonga is a Youth Leader at Africa Transformation Mission.