“If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success” (Ecclesiastes 10:10, NKJV).
Cutting edge in the secular world simply refers to the latest or most advanced stage in the development of something. Cutting edge institutions are those which are at the top of their game. Divine wisdom requires Christians not just to be celestially equipped and relevant but also to be terrestrially equipped and relevant. Evangelism becomes easier for the Christian as we attain to some worldly success. There is need for Christians to compete favorably in the marketplace, and to do that we have to continuously up our game and sharpen our tools. The following are some tools (edges) to sharpen:
Skill Set: “So he (David) shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands” (Psalm 78:72, KJV). The referenced scripture tells us that David was very effective as king over Israel because he had a good heart and many skills. He had musical skills, leadership skills, people’s skills, poetic skills, literary skills, sling shooting skills, etc. He had character and was charismatic in displaying varied skills. Many patriarchs in the Bible like Joseph and Daniel excelled in their time because they had great skills. Skill is the know-how. It is to have the knowledge of some craft in an increasing measure. Skill, although, is a work of grace still has to be worked on and perfected. There is need to give diligence in discovering, developing and deploying our giftedness and skills. Those who do so are the ones who stand before the kings and presidents of the earth.
Creativity: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God; the skies display His craftsmanship” (Psalm 19:1, NLT). Our God is the Creator and the Master Craftsman. He is the brain behind the beautiful universe we live in. Because He is a generous God, He didn’t finish the work of creation but allow man, who is the zenith of His creation, to continue the work of creation. There are still many gaps in human societies, and creative people fill these gaps by producing what is needed. Human societies are also still evolving. It is creative people who introduce new things, replacing the old through refinement and innovation. Being made in the image and likeness of God makes us creative. To exhibit creativity, we have to believe in our God-given abilities and harness the power of the mind. Start from where you are today and begin to think of how to better your world.
Spirituality: Being able to access the Spirit realm and the mind of God is a plus for the believer and the world at large. There are certain worship songs we sing in our churches today that angels sing in heaven. This is so because someone was able to download from the heavenlies. The Bible says that one of the reasons we have the Holy Spirit is for us to know the wonderful things God has freely given to us (1 Corinthians 2:12). Sharpening our spiritual edge will make us more receptive to the Holy Spirit resident within us. Sharpening our spiritual edge entails deep fellowship with the Holy Spirit, more meditation in the Word and a heart of obedience. These are the days the wisdom of God will be displayed through the church of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:10).
CONCLUSION: Preparation time is never wasted time. The time the tree cutter is using to sharpen the edge of his equipment is never wasted. Being hasty and lacking preparation make people live mediocre lives. We increase capacity and enhance effectiveness as we create ample time for constructive thinking, honing our skills, and deepening our spirituality. Have a blessed month.
Where there is no vision [no revelation of God and His word], the people are unrestrained; But happy and blessed is he who keeps the law [of God] – Proverbs 29:18 (AMP).
Vision, from the Christian perspective, is having the ability to grasp the mind of God and what He wants to do in the future. Vision is the bridge between present reality and future possibility. A God-given vision is very powerful; it focuses, it compels and it is a force that delivers the future. At the turn of a new year, it is very important for us to seek and articulate the mind of God for 2019. Below are some of the ways to catch a VISION:
Visualizing: Whatever one constantly beholds is what one becomes. Whatever one puts before his or her face continually magnifies in the heart. God instructed the Patriarch Jacob to mate his sheep before poplar stripped trees. White male sheep mating with white female sheep as they beheld poplar trees while mating produced speckled spotted sheep (Genesis 30:37-39). The Bible says as we behold the glory of God we are changed into His image. The principle of visualization is real and powerful. What are you constantly beholding?
Inspiration: The word “theopneustos” is the Greek word for inspiration. And it means God-breathed or divine influence. Inspiration from the scriptures is more than motivation. Martin Luther King Junior wrote and delivered a speech in August 1964 that inspired many people to seek equality and brotherhood in the polity of the USA. The ‘I Have A Dream’ speech fueled many other dreams that eventually became a reality. One can be influenced (inspired) to catch a vision through the dream of others. Dreams beget dreams. The Word of God which is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16) remains the greatest tool and influence of all times for spawning new visions.
Studying: The Patriarch Daniel learned from reading the scriptures that Jerusalem was going to be desolate and lie in ruins for 70 years. Armed with this information, Daniel began to pray and seek the Lord for the deliverance of Jerusalem (Daniel 9). He caught a vision by studying, and this vision led to further visions for him. Darkness is synonymous with ignorance, while light is synonymous with understanding. Learning enlightens and enlivens, whereas ignorance incapacitates and destroys. Visionaries are always studious researchers seeking to know the mind of God and what is ahead.
Insightfulness/Revelation: Stephen Covey, in his book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, wrote that all things are created twice. First, there is the mental creation, and then the physical creation. God ofttimes reveal what He wants to do to His own before doing them. The inner witness (Acts 27:10), the inner voice (Acts 13:2), audible voice (Acts 9:4-6), open visions (Acts 9:10-12), night visions (Acts 16:9), word of knowledge (Acts 21:10-11), etc are all workings and demonstrations of the Holy Spirit given to spiritual believers to enlighten and cast vision. These supernatural occurrences will be more in 2019 since we are in the last days.
Observation: A vision can easily be caught as one observes or understudies a visionary. Pastor E. A. Adeboye (the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God) on a visit to Seoul, South Korea in the 1980s saw how Paul Yongi Cho appealed to church members to skip church attendances because of space constraints. He saw hundreds of thousands of people worshipping God together. He said he instantly caught a new vision of multitudes worshipping God in his own church and ministry. That vision is being realized monthly as millions of people gather at the Holy Ghost services in Lagos, Nigeria. A vision can be replicated. It is a spiritual truth that what God has done for one, He is willing to do for another. And what God has done before He is able and willing to do again. Who or what are you observing in order to catch a vision?
Newness: Being born again is to be spiritually renewed. The spirit man of an erstwhile sinner is enlightened by the glory and brilliance of the Holy Spirit. The veil covering the mind of the sinner is ripped off as he or she surrenders to Jesus Christ. This new believer is now given the eyes of faith with which he or she becomes convinced of spiritual realities, and also comprehends as facts things that aren’t revealed to the physical senses. He is able to see the unseen and comprehends the incomprehensible. May we all regain the cutting edge of the new birth in Christ Jesus.
CONCLUSION: Vision makes us live life by design and not by happenstance or chance occurrences. Vision refers to a change for the better. Vision shapes the future. May you catch a new vision in this new year in Jesus’ name.
“But You are holy, O You who are enthroned in (the holy place where) the praises of Israel (are offered)” Psalm 22:3 (Amplified).
The Bible has a lot to say about praising God. It says praise is comely and appropriate for the upright (Psalm 33:1). Praise perfects miracles (Luke 17:11-19). Praise is a winning battle strategy (Psalm 149: 6-9). Praise is a debt the living owes God (Psalm 150:6). Praise brings great yield and increase (Psalm 67:5-7). Praise is God’s habitat (Psalm 22:3). Praise is therapeutic to the one who offers it (Proverbs 17:22). Praise renews the anointing (Psalm 84:4-7). Praise magnifies and refreshes God (Psalm 69:30). Praise is the highway to the throne of God (Psalm 100:4). Below are some truths about God and Praise:
God Expects Praise: Every creature of God is commanded (and designed) to praise God the Maker of all things. The great sea creatures, mountains and hills, the sun and moon, beasts and all cattle, etc. are all commanded to praise God in Psalm 148. Living and non-living things alike are commanded to praise God because He expects their praises. When the tree sways, it is a way of praising and reflecting the beauty and glory of God. When the ocean roars, it is praising God. Out of all of God’s creatures, only human beings can choose not to praise Him. Ten lepers were healed by Jesus and only one of them returned to give thanks to God. And Jesus’ response to that one leper was, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? …… And He said to him, arise go your way, your faith has made you whole” (Luke 17:11-17). Jesus expected the other nine to return to thank Him for their healing. Not only does God expects praise all the time from us; He also expects special praise sessions after every victory, deliverance, breakthrough and major events. And regardless of what 2018 has offered us so far, God still expects our praise.
God Inspects Praise: Michael W. Smith, the Christian singer, wrote in his song, “the heart of worship” that what God seeks for is more than a mere song or lip service. He wrote that God is searching deeper looking into the heart of every man whether the praise being offered is genuine, heartfelt and intense. The Bible says God is seeking for true worshipers that will worship Him in Spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). David carried much weight before God, and was highly commended by Him because when God inspected his life, it was full of gratitude to God. David was adept in constructing adjectives for praising the only true God. He also combined his praise narratives with being a dexterous musician. Not only does God examines our hearts, He also inspects the words we use when eulogizing Him. Become adept today in praising and worshiping Him.
God Respects Praise: On two occasions in Judges chapter 1 and 20, the Israelites were going out to battle, and they enquired from God which tribe should lead them in the battle. On these two occasions, God responded Judah (which is Praise in Hebrew). And the Israelites on these occasions won the battle. Judah is the tribe from where Jesus was born. King David is also from the tribe of Judah. The regard of God towards the tribe of Judah is evident in the Bible. These are similitudes and symbols of the way God views and regards praise and the one who ardently offers it. God commended David and called him a man whose heart beats to my heart (Acts 13:22, Message). Through praise, David had access to God’s inner recesses. Though an old testament saint, he constantly had revelations of Jesus and the Grace Dispensation.
Conclusion: To finish strong in 2018, hike up your praises. You can’t go wrong praising God from a genuine heart purged by the blood of Jesus. Have a praise filled month in Jesus’ name.
“For he who would love life and see many good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit” (1 Peter 3:10, NKJV).
The tongue is a very unique and peculiar organ of the human body. It is an organ that is both internal and external. The dictionary defines it as the fleshy muscular organ in the mouth of a mammal used for tasting, swallowing and (in humans) articulating speech. The Bible has so much to say about the tongue. There is a proper and improper way of using the tongue. As Christians, God expects us to use our tongue well. Below are some proper ways to use the tongue:
GUARD: The Bible says he who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction (Proverbs 13:3). The wise man further says that whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from trouble (Proverbs 21:23). Using the tongue wisely will protect our integrity, reputation, relationships, dreams and aspirations, resources, health, life, etc. On the contrary, a misuse of the tongue will expose us to several attacks and much havoc. The Bible says the wise man (even in the face of provocation) guards his tongue and doesn’t spill it all out (Proverbs 29:11). Many have lost opportunities because they don’t guard their tongue.
GUIDE: The tongue is likened to the rudder in a ship. The rudder is a critical part of the steering system of a ship (James 4:3). It’s a very small part of a monstrous ship, and yet it directs, guides and navigates the big ship according to the will and wishes of the captain of the ship. Our tongue is the steering wheel of our lives. It determines the direction our life goes. The Amplified version of the Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words” (Proverbs 18:21). The gospel truth is that our words have consequences and shape the direction of our lives. We can steer and navigate our lives in the direction we want it to go by purposefully and deliberately utilizing our tongue. Being made in the image of God and having His Spirit in us make our words very powerful.
GIRD: The word gird is associated with the word girdle. A girdle is an article of dressing that women wear in order to look smart, trendy, fit and prepared. To gird means to prepare oneself for battle or for what is ahead. Our tongues must always be poised and prepared for action in the face of great opportunities and challenges. Blind Bartimaeus’ tongue was ready and prepared when Jesus was passing by. He used his tongue to stop Jesus in His tracks and to secure the healing of his eyes (Mark 10:46-52). The young David’s tongue was poised and ready for battle when he stood before Goliath at the valley of Elah. As Goliath cursed him (i.e. David) with his gods, David retorted and began to address Goliath in warfare rhetoric and in the name of the Lord. Our tongue is a weapon of warfare; we are to use it to neutralize every negative tongue rising against us (Isaiah 54:17).
GAUGE: A gauge is a measuring device or instrument. Our tongues also serve as the gauge of our lives. We are evaluated by the words we speak and we also evaluate people by the words they speak. We don’t know the intents and thoughts of people but we largely know people by what is coming out of their mouths. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Wise people set a guard upon their tongues, knowing they are judged by their words. Wise people also weigh people largely by the words they speak. Our words are to be seasoned with salt, ministering grace to our hearers.
CONCLUSION: The next member of the body God intends to capture after the heart is the tongue. No wonder the manifestation and expression of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was in the symbol of tongues of fire. The Holy Spirit descended on the disciples as tongues of fire. A yielded and sanctified tongue is a great asset to God Almighty. To live long and to see many good days, we are advised to refrain our tongues from evil and deceitful speaking.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
Apostle Paul, in the above scripture, made mention of all prayer and supplication. This presupposes that there are different kinds of prayers with different rules. Different games have their rules. For example, the rule applying in American football game is different from the rules guiding FIFA soccer game. If a striker in a soccer game suddenly picks the ball with his hands and shoots it in the goalpost, this act will be ruled as foul and he will be penalized for it. Whereas in American football game both the use of the legs and the hands are allowed. The same is true for prayers. Praying intelligently is knowing what manner of prayer one should be praying per time, and also applying the appropriate rule of engagement. Below are further truths to consider:
Praying after the order of the new covenant: The rules of prayer changed after Jesus went to the cross, died and resurrected. Jesus purchased everything needed for the born-again child of God. The Bible says, “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding Yes…” (2 Corinthians 1:20, NLT). We approach prayer under the new covenant with a guarantee of answered prayers because Jesus purchased the blessings for us. Revelation knowledge is basic requirement in the new covenant to access and receive what Jesus has purchased for us (Ephesians 1:18-20). We pray from a vantage position of victory and dominion because we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places far above principalities and powers. Praying with the understanding of our redemptive rights in Christ is praying intelligently.
Praying according to the will of God: “And we are confident that He hears us whenever WE ASK FOR ANYTHING THAT PLEASES HIM. And since we know that He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for” (1 John 5:14, NLT). King Solomon prayed intelligently when, rather than asking for long life, riches or the death of his enemies, he asked for a discerning and understanding heart to govern the Israelites. The Bible says his prayer pleased the Lord, and God gave him what he asked for and in addition He also gave Solomon what he didn’t ask for (1 Kings 3: 7-13). Whenever we pray according to His will, we are praying intelligently and our prayer becomes effective.
Praying with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: The Bible clearly says we don’t know how and what to pray for as we ought to (Romans 8:26). The Spirit of God in us channels our prayers accordingly. The Spirit (if allowed) will also help us to engage the proper rule for each prayer. For example, the tone in praying a prayer of faith is that of command vis a vis the prayer of supplication which is humility. Praying under the inspiration of the Spirit helps us to make the appropriate switches in the place of prayer. Praying in other tongues or praying articulately by the inspiration of the Spirit are also examples of praying intelligently.
CONCLUSION: Prayer is essential for the believer. Prayer is an intercourse of the soul. Prayer is spiritual respiratory. In prayer, we breathe out the flesh and inhale more of the Spirit. Prayer is earthly license for divine interference. Prayer is the believer’s umbilical cord; it is a channel of blessings. Prayer engenders divine activity. Prayer is a dialogue and not a monologue. Prayer is necessary. Prayer must be done right and appropriately. Receive grace to pray intelligently in Jesus’ name.