Discernment

 

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Hello, my friends.

First post of 2016! We thank God for entering the new year safe and sound!

This topic has been on the heart for a while now, and I thought I should get it down on paper and discuss what discernment is, why it is very important and finally talk about how to be able to discern better.

As Christians, we all need to be in tune with the Holy Spirit; be in alignment with Jesus and consult the heavenly Father when making our day to day decisions. It could be anything; prospective relationships, choice of friends – the list goes on.

To begin, we’ll start off with a definition of the word:

DISCERNMENT

(taken from dictionary.com)

verb (used with object)

1. To perceive by the sight or some other sense or by the intellect; see, recognize, or apprehend:

They discerned a sail on the horizon.

2. To distinguish mentally; recognize as distinct or different; discriminate:

He is incapable of discerning right from wrong.
Now, after looking at the Open Bible website on  discernment, two points of scripture jumped out at me:
1 John 4:1 ESV – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Hebrews 5:14 ESV – But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

This is what discernment actually is; to be able to tell the difference between whether something is right or not. I would also like to include that we need to do this from the viewpoint of Jesus Christ. In other words, we need to be asking ourselves, “how would Jesus see it? How would He decide on this?”

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Maybe you had a fleeting thought of something that made you feel uncomfortable but decided to ignore it due to having total trust and faith in your decision only to be severely disappointed in the end.
This has left broken friendships and relationships and has often left people asking “Who was that person? Why didn’t I see this before?” or even “Why didn’t I act quickly when I had the chance?”
This is due to us being misinformed, impatient or totally ignorant of the signs shown.
As 1 John 4:1 points out, we need to be able to test the spirits to see whether it is from God Himself. We need to be able to draw the wisdom shown to us through scripture and apply it to our lives. It is in the application with the Holy Spirit’s guidance that will lead us towards making the right decision.
We need to know our Bibles. We need to know what it says, what it means and how to incorporate it into our daily living.

1 SAMUEL 16: 1- 13

Due to King Saul’s pride and disobedience, God had stripped him of his Kingship and sought one who was worthy of being King of Israel. He sent Samuel the priest to find him. Samuel went to Bethlehem to see Jesse for one of his sons was going to be anointed as king. Samuel met Eliab and saw what HE THOUGHT would be the next King. But the Lord God told Samuel something which we all must all pay attention to.

1 Samuel 16: 7 (emphasis added)

But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at outward appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart.

A GUIDE ON HOW TO DISCERN BETTER

First, one must guard their hearts, because everything one does flows from it (Proverbs 4: 23).

Second, as seen in 1 Samuel 16: 7, we must prepare ourselves to see people how God sees them, by looking at their hearts.

Now, I know you’re thinking: “How do we look into their hearts?”

Luke 6: 45 (NIV) (emphases added)

.A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

In other words, pay close attention to what has been said and refer it back to Scripture. When there is conformity, then that is a good indication. If there is no conformity, then that is something you must take into consideration.

Above all else, ask Jesus Christ to guide your decision making. He will never lead you astray.

Thank you for reading friend, and may God bless you.

Tunde T. Amao

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Reading The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck

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Greetings, my friends.

I’d just like to take this moment to thank all my readers for taking the time to read and follow up on this blog and I also will like to extend a warm, special welcome to any new readers! Thank you for joining us!

This book I want to talk about is an amazing read. I recommend to anyone I come across. In fact, it is a book of which I hold a very strong opinion that every person must read.

Entitled The Road Less Travelled, Dr M. Scott Peck had made a remarkable job using questioning, his experience as a Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist and in his Christian walk to produce this guide that if followed, will help you build a happier, fulfilled life, as a person, parent, partner and spouse respectively.

This is an exciting read and without revealing too much, the book explores the following themes:

1. Discipline

2. Love

3. Growth and Religion

4. Grace

Dr Peck also speaks about the importances of mental health. This may be a difficult topic for some and a topic that many would not want to talk about, but as human beings, we owe it to ourselves, our families and friends to ensure that we are totally healthy; physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.

When we are ill, we either take medicine or visit the doctors. When it is an emergency, we go to the hospital. When we are stressed or emotionally weary, we speak to our good friends and they give us a shoulder to cry on. The same when we are low in faith; we consult God through Jesus Christ for encouragement. On the point of mental health, how do we know whether we need help when we haven’t gone to check ourselves?

We need to be healthy in order to function. M. Scott Peck has used helpful case studies of patience he has seen and treated to highlight very important aspects of the human mind and emotions that we all should be aware of. He has also given us, what I call, a privileged look into his own mindset and thinking pattern through anecdotes about the existence of God and protection of His grace.

I have learnt so much from this book and have already started using the principles in my own life as well as taking the steps to be more aware of myself. I say this because, in order to truly improve ourselves and the way our life is set up, we need to be aware of the person we are and the place we are at right now.

For those who are looking for a healthy guide on discipline and how to love effectively and in the right way, then this is a book for you. Also, this is a special request to those who are parents, parents to be and those wishing to establish a family in the future: if you want to ensure the positive mental well-being of your children, establish a loving environment and to help your child grow up to be fulfilled, then you must read The Road Less Travelled. It will help your children and it will help you in turn.

Are there any books you would like to share that has helped you develop as a person? Please share it in the comment section below.

Thank you for reading friend, and all the best on your journey of self-discovery! God bless!

Tunde T. Amao

The Healer of the Heart

 

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Good evening, my brothers and sisters.

I want to encourage you all by saying that Jesus can meet all your needs. Jesus can heal all pain; physical, emotional, you name it. I myself can testify to this as He has touched me this very evening on a particular issue that has made me go through all the emotions under the emotional spectrum, mainly confusion, anger and sorrow.

Jehovah- Rapha = The Lord who heals

We all want to be strong. We all want to be immovable and unshakeable pillars but make no mistake. We will be faced with situations where we are hurt by those who are really close to us, bosom friends, a loved one, boyfriend/girlfriend, a potential partner even your spouse. The pain is so great that you seek for a relief, people who are ready to bear your grief and to offer strength and encouragement which leaves you feeling understood, for a while.

But the pain never goes away. Turning back the hands of time becomes the wish, wanting to go back to where smiles and joy and close togetherness abounds. Yet reality hits home and you are stuck with the only option; moving forward.

Despite the close friends and the encouragement, the pain is never totally understood. It’s never totally appreciated, and the person who caused the pain is living, probably unaware of how much emotional damage they have caused. Maybe they are aware, and it doesn’t faze them. Maybe it does. To put it bluntly, nothing can be done. Life continues and your left dealing with hurt you wished you never had.

My brothers and sisters, remember there is One who understands. There is One who sees all. There is One who sees what happened, whether it was your mistake or someone else’s, and is ever ready to comfort you; the Lord Jesus Christ, our saviour, our closest friend and the One who never disappoints.

1. Read The Bible.

The Word of God. His promises, His words, sharper than a double – edged sword (Hebrews 4: 12). The message from The loving Father to His child. He sees your pain and hurt. This is the first place to turn to. As you read, you are with Him.

2. Talk To Him.

Please, talk to Him. Be honest about how you feel. There is nothing better than having a conversation with someone who genuinely understands. Maybe you wanted to love someone like He loves or your efforts weren’t recognised or appreciated. Maybe you didn’t recognise or appreciate until it was too late. Maybe you served wholeheartedly expecting little in return and was bitterly disappointed. You may have done the right thing, maybe you didn’t. Ask for forgiveness and He will forgive you. But talk to Him.

3. Grieve The Wound.

No matter what happened, whatever was said and done, don’t tell yourself it doesn’t matter, it does matter. It matters to God. If you made a mistake, don’t take the pain as punishment or as something you deserve. Christ died and you are free from condemnation (Romans 8:1). Don’t carry or suppress it either as it will only affect your healing as well as your thoughts, actions and how you relate to other people. If you need to cry, then do so. Remember, it is not a sign of weakness, you are telling your inner soul and expressing to God that it matters.

It matters to you, so it matters to Him.

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4. Ask for Healing and Remain in Him.

This is very crucial. You cannot heal properly if you are at a distance from your wound. You will have to go inside that painful place and ask Jesus to meet you there, for that is where your healing will flow from. Right, where it matters. The epicentre, the pain point, whatever you call it. Fall in, own the pain and ask Jesus to heal and take it away.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

It may happen there and there and then. You may have to do this more than once. It may happen when you surround yourselves with those who offer encouragement, may happen when you’re by yourself. The Lord never disappoints. He will meet you and He will take the pain away.

I am amazed when this happened to myself, I actually felt God move in and cover that place of hurt. When it happens to you, and it definitely will hold your head high, walk in the strength that God has provided you, forgive the person who hurt you and walk forward with the confidence and the knowledge that you have been renewed and the pain cannot hinder and pull you down anymore. Remain connected to God, remain faithful and above all, Thank Him for what He has done to you because of who He is. The epitome of love, Jehovah Rapha.

Philippians 1: 6: being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

May God continue to protect us as we guard our hearts, learn from previous lessons and stride forward in victory, towards new grounds, new beginnings and new opportunities to smile and most importantly to display God’s glory to all those who are seeking Him. Let our testimonies draw others near to the Light of God so that they may receive what their inner hearts are searching for; Jesus Christ. This we pray in Jesus name. Amen.

Take a deep breath, smile and walk forwards. Victory is yours.

Tunde T. Amao

Never Give Up!

 

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Hello, my friends.

Two years ago, I fell and was stuck in a rough patch; a patch that many have fallen into, but not everyone breaks out of.

I wish to share the lessons that I have learnt whilst being “down in the dumps”.

1. MINDSET IS EVERYTHING.

My friends, please take note of this: Do not allow your circumstances to influence your thinking. You; yes, YOU have the power to change your circumstances. Life is difficult, but don’t let it bully you into submission. Don’t allow it to force you into a corner and you not do anything about it. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is bigger than our life circumstances, and not understanding, nor appreciating that God is in control will dampen your mood and make you question your self-worth.

Romans 12:2: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Please note: God wants us to test and to approve what His will is; He wants us to do this. We just have to choose to renew our minds. Again, we have to choose to do this.

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2. DO NOT LIMIT YOURSELF.

You are too special to do this yourself. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and everything God has placed in you is wonderful (Psalm 139: 14). A good friend had told me not to pigeonhole yourself in one place. Life is filled with many things that one can venture into. Yes, it may mean stepping out of your comfort zone, but it’s a small price to pay compared to staying there and having zero chance to make life more positive for yourself.

3. NEVER LOSE HOPE

Proverbs 16: 3: Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Proverbs 3: 5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.

Do not forget the God you serve. Do not forget the hope that Jesus had died, and rose again for. Do not place your hope in man; they will disappoint you. Do not place your hope in things, for they can be taken away. Remain steadfast in the teachings of God and ask Him to lead you. He is the ONLY one who can fulfil your heart’s desire. Only He can lead you out of the dumps either through His word or through people who he has appointed to encourage you.

Life will always go up and down. When you fall down, it doesn’t mean you should stay down. Don’t build your house on sinking sand, but on the solid rock of Christ. Stay close to God and He will never let you down. The way will be made and all have to do is summon the courage to walk through. You owe it to yourselves.

Isaiah 43: 18 -19: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

We will make it my brothers and sisters! Never give up!

Tunde T. Amao

 

Bible Study – Helpful Tools

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Hello, my friends.

I thought it would be nice to share some very helpful tools that help me out during Bible study or when I want to ask questions or gain extra information about biblical history.

1. GotQuestions?org

GotQuestions.org has to be my favourite research tool for Bible study. The organisation provides answers to any biblical, spiritual or religious questions that one may have. There are various categories that most questions fall under and you can search and read GQ’s answers to the questions many others have asked. I often use this to ask biblically related questions, and research on Philosophical and Theological concepts. It also enables you to ask questions directly to them, of which they will research and provide an answer within 2 – 3 days! GQ is also available as apps which you can download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for android devices respectively.

NB: I will be using this tool to provide background reading on particular issues that I will share in future posts. I really enjoy this tool and I’m sure that you would too!

2. Open Bible.

The Open Bible is useful for researching scriptures within particular topics. Want to know what the Bible says about love? Pop it in the search box, click “Find Out” and read, learn and study to your heart’s content!

NB: I will also use this tool to refer to a cluster of scripture within a topic raised in the upcoming blogs (Just like what I did above)!

3. Commentaries and the Interlinear/ Concordance function on the Blue Letter Bible app (Click here to download on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices).

This is a very useful tool for those who wish to dive deeper into God’s word (Everyone should want to do this in my opinion). The Interlinear/ Concordance function enables you to explore the Hebrew and Greek words themselves and to learn the meaning of the original word. For example, the name “Eden” means “pleasure”. Once you locate the root word, it also provides the terms luxury, dainty, delight, and finery. and the term “garden” in Hebrew is gan, which means “garden” (of course) and an “enclosure”. (An enclosure of luxury, dainty, delight, and finery. Sounds delightful!)

Biblical commentaries are written by Theologians and can help with what we can spend a lot of time seeking before actually reading the Word; context. They also offer a range of biblical analysis and cross biblical referencing, which I thoroughly enjoy. My personal favourite is the David Guzik commentaries but have a look at the others for your own personal taste.

Remember, these are tools to help Bible study to be systematic, fun and informative. However, none of these will be helpful if the reader/researcher is not spirit-led. Before you open your Bible and notepad, shoot a prayer from your heart asking God to open your eyes to His truth within the words. Have a receptive spirit and be expectant to hear from our Heavenly Father. His Word is to enable you to know Him better and to discover His plans for you as well as to enable you to live an effective lifestyle based on his Word.

Are there any Bible study tools that you would like to use? Please share it with us in the comment section below.

Thank you for reading my friends, and my the Lord richly bless you. Amen.

Tunde T. Amao

 

Why Is Bible Study Important?

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Do you remember the time when you wanted to read the Bible for the first time? You may have heard things like “the Bible is the book of life” or maybe heard someone say “I’ve learnt something from reading my Bible.”

Maybe you wanted to challenge yourself or see what the fuss is all about. You manage to pull out the huge dusty book and flick through the pages hoping that something might jump out and give you a sudden revelation that everyone talks about. Whilst spending a few minutes scanning the different books and passages in the Bible, you ask yourself: “Wait a minute, why am I doing this again?”

As most of you reading this post realise, there is a difference between reading the Bible and studying the Bible. It is important to have an action plan when preparing to study the Word of God. Let’s go and answer the question: What is Bible study and why is it important?

1. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17)

Bible study, in a nutshell,  is all about gaining an in-depth understanding of why the Bible says what it says and how and why it is important to utilise the teachings in our daily lives. As we can read, and discover, each writer of the respective books in the Bible have been inspired by God, all with a common goal, to give to those who have decided to give their lives to Christ a guide to walk the path of righteousness. The word of God records and shares the standards that all Christians should follow and live by.

2. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4: 12)

The scripture above is pretty much self-explanatory. The word of God allows us to make us become aware of the moral being that rests within us. We are being judged and will be judged not just by our external actions, but our internal intentions as well. They both have to match up.

3. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it- not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it- they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1: 22 – 25)

These scriptures (and a few more) outline the importance of reading, understanding and following what we have learnt from the Bible. Our spiritual growth is an active process; Jesus Christ has already set the standard for us to follow, and doing so will transform ourselves to be able, righteous servants for God. We can go forth into the world and be an active blessing to those we come across in our paths of life, which in turn God will bless us for our faithfulness to Him.

Another post for more practical points on studying the Bible effectively will be available in due course.

Thank you for reading and God bless you, my friend.

Tunde T. Amao

Bible Study – Practical Tips

 

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Greetings, my friend.

As you may have read from our first post, we will now focus on practical tips for effective Bible study.

1. Having little to no knowledge is fine.

Don’t feel bad because you don’t know much about what the Bible holds. That’s why you want to find out! All you need is to have time set aside and a willingness to learn. The more you familiarise with reading and studying the Bible, the easier it becomes.

2. Have (access to) TWO (or more) Bibles.

Now, now, don’t panic. There is a good reason for this.

Although there are many different translations of the Bible, there are various “types” of Bibles. (Not to say that one is better than the other, as the Word of God will always be the Word of God.)

a. The Word for Word: Simply put, it is the literal translation from the Hebrew/Greek Bibles (Also called the Interlinear Bible). As the name suggests, it captures the message from the Hebrew/Greek Bibles and puts it in English; word for word.

Examples: Interlinear, King James Version, New King James Version, English Standard Version.

b. Thought for Thought: These “types” of Bibles capture the thoughts and meanings behind the words used. Though some words have been changed extensive biblical research has made sure that the Spirit behind the words is still conveyed.

Examples: New Living Translation, New International Version, New Century Version, New American Bible.

Having two (or more) Bibles to study from is excellent as you tend to understand what you’re reading better. Having a Word for Word and a Thought for Thought can give you a good overall picture and a better context of what you are studying. As you saw from the first post, I personally use the New King James Version and the New International Version when studying.

Remember, before you do your research on which translation of the Bible you want to own and study from, don’t forget to read it before purchasing. It won’t be helpful if you pick up a translation and you can’t get much from it.

NB: Feeling excited? You can even go and look for a Bible concordance and study the Hebrew/Greek words themselves to get an even deeper understanding of the meaning of the word and the context it is used in. I recommend the “Blue Letter Bible” apps which you can download on your iPad, iPhone and Android devices for free.

3. Have an action plan

Remember you’re reading to learn, understand and apply the Word of God in your lives. So you need to develop your own reading plan or strategy that works well for you. If your bible has small sections where topics are often discussed, then that will be the best way to start. If not, then you can use the internet to search a point and find out Bible says about it. I recommend openbible.info/topics/ a quick reference point to find passages in the bible about your chosen topic quickly.

NB: It doesn’t have to be topics. You can decide to read whole books! For those who want to understand Christianity in a nutshell, the best starting point is the Book of Romans.

Want to learn more about Jesus? Start from the Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Seeking the wisdom of God to apply to your life? Then the Book of Proverbs is the way to go!

4. Ask for guidance and direction from God.

This is the most important point. Remember, we are not reading or studying for the sake of it. We’re seeking God’s face and asking for His input in our lives. We won’t be able to do this if we don’t know His word is in the situations we or others find ourselves in.

God has created every individual for a purpose. We need to ask Him to reveal to us what He has planned for us, and in one mind with Him so we can achieve what He wants us to achieve.

For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29: 11)

We need to humble our spirit and enter the Lord’s presence before reading His Word. Ask for wisdom and ask Him to direct you to what you need to know right now and to put it into practice. When preparing to read and study the Bible, have an expectant spirit, be sure to know that you will receive something from God Himself, that will benefit you and will give you peace of mind and life in the spirit. You may not understand it right now, but when the appointed time comes, you’ll definitely know and appreciate that God has your back always!

This post is not meant to portray as the most full-proof method of studying the Bible. Everyone has different strategies and different methods of Bible study. The intention is to give practical points on a method of study for beginners and to help stimulate your minds whilst creating or developing your own study pattern.

What methods do you use when studying the Bible? Please share your method in the comment section below.

Thank you for reading and may the Lord continue to bless you as you begin to dive deep into His Word.

Tunde T. Amao