9. Being Focused
“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1c-2).
There are many things around you calling for your attention, but you must remain focused on your course or else you won’t finish what you started! In the parable of the sower, the seeds that fell among the thorns represented those who allowed the cares of this world among other things, to choke the Word, so THEY became unfruitful! (Matt. 13:22).
Abraham was able to become the father of many nations, because he focused on God’s promises and not on his body or Sarah’s. (Rom. 4:18c-21). The Psalmist said, “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm16:8 NIV).
10. Thanksgiving and Praise
“Seven times a day I praise You, Because of Your righteous judgments”. (Psalm 119:164).
The Bible says we should give thanks in all things and not just in good things. “Thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 MSG). This brings the mind the story of Paul and Silas in prison; they were in the most painful and uncomfortable situation yet they prayed and sang praises. And “suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.”
(Acts 16:22-26). God inhabits and reigns in our praises (Psalm 22:3). It seemed Jehoshaphat understood this when he appointed singers ahead of the army; and as they began to sing and give praise God caused their enemies to turn against themselves and they were defeated. (2 Chron. 20:21-23).
11. Being Spirit-led and Spirit-controlled
“But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit];” (Gal.5:16 AMP).
The desires or dictates of the Spirit are just the opposite of those of the carnal nature; and if we live only to satisfy our own sinful nature we will reap decay, deterioration, destruction and death in different areas of our lives. (Gal. 6:8)
Daily we are faced with decisions to either yield to the Spirit of God who lives in us or to our flesh; the more we yield to the leadings and prompting of the Spirit, the more we mature spiritually! (Rom. 8:14). This explains why many Christians, though having been long saved, have remained spiritual babes. Paul told the Corinthians, “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.” 1 Cor.3:1 NIV).
The Spirit of God will always lead us in line with God’s Word- not contrary to or away from it! He is the Spirit of Truth, and He will always guide us accordingly. He is also teaches us and helps us to do what the Word says.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith,” (1 Peter 5:8-9a). The devil is already on the loose but we must learn to stop him and hinder his operations in our own lives. He has been likened to a roaring lion. In addition to his strategy of sending fear into the heart of its prey, is also the surprise element to his attacks! Jesus told His disciples to watch and pray, so that they may not fall into temptation “without knowing it” because of the weakness of the flesh. (Mark 14:38 MSG).
The lifestyle of warfare is characterised by watchfulness and prayerfulness. In the parable of the Wheat and Tares Jesus said that while men slept, the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. (Matt. 13:24-25). Herod had killed the apostle James, and then took Peter to also kill him; Peter was therefore kept in prison, “but fervent prayer for him was persistently made to God by the church.” Their prayers made the difference in Peter’s case, as he was miraculously released from the prison!
We mustn’t leave to chance or to the devil; we are admonished to pray without ceasing, and to watch in prayers. (Eph. 6:18;1 Thessalonians 5:17).
13. Joy and Rejoicing
“Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always);” (1 Thessalonians 5:16 AMP). The MSG Bible says, “Be cheerful no matter what”. Jesus told His disciples to rejoice even when unjustly persecuted and falsely accused! (Matt. 5:11-12). And they did exactly that, after they were beaten for preaching in the name of Jesus they left, “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” (Acts 5:41c).
The secret to maintaining one’s joy- no matter what is to always recall the words of the Lord in the face of the challenges and circumstances. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11).
The enemy attacks our joy, because he knows that if he can’t steal our joy, he can’t keep our goods! He knows he can’t keep us sick, poor or down for long. The Amalekites raided David and his men, they went away with all their families and properties; but they were able to recover all; because David decided to encourage himself in the Lord His God.
The joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10c). Jesus for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame.
The devil also attacks our joy, because he knows that joy is a component of the Kingdom of God (Rom.14:17); and he will not be able to prevail against us, if we would maintain the joy of the Lord not matter what. The Kingdom of God rules over all (Psa.103:19); so one way to stay on top of your challenges and circumstances is to learn to maintain His joy in your life. Avoid murmuring and complaining, rather rejoice and be cheerful no matter what! I always say, ‘I have NOTHING to complain about, but EVERYTHING to be thankful about!’
14. Giving and Doing Good
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Gal. 6:9-10).
This isn’t what we do when we feel like, but what we commit to- whether it’s convenient or not! In the story of ‘The Good Samaritan’, the Priest and the Levite walked past the dying man; probably because it wasn’t a convenient time for them to stop and attend to him. That was an opportunity for them right there to do good; but they didn’t take it! The Bible says,
“Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” (Heb. 13:1-2).
We don’t do good to only to those we like or to those who can pay us back. Jesus said we wouldn’t be acting different to the unbelievers if we did that, and there will be no reward from God for that. (Matt. 5:43-48). We should do good as long as it’s within our power to do it, and be prompt about it! (Prov. 3:27-28).
The Bible gives us the ‘rules’ for giving in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: a, give bountifully not sparingly; b, give willingly not reluctantly or under pressure; and c, give cheerfully. Ananias must have come under the pressure to give like others but he didn’t have it in his heart to give everything so he decided to lie that he gave all the proceeds from the sale of his land. And Peter said to him, “The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” (Acts 5:4 NLT).
15. Diligence and Hard Work
Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men. (Prov. 22:29).
Being diligent is more than being hard working; but also being careful, putting in a lot of effort, paying attention to details, being persistent and persevering, and being determined to accomplish something. A diligent worker doesn’t t just bang away at the job; they earnestly try to do everything right!
The word comes from the Latin ‘diligere’, which means “to value highly, take delight in”.
Joseph was a classic example of a diligent person; and he literally ended up standing before a king- king Pharaoh! “Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Gen. 41:46a).
Joseph was diligent when his father sent him to go check on his brothers in Shechem. When he didn’t find them there, he kept lookout for them until he found them in Dothan. (Gen. 37:12-17).
Joseph was diligent as a slave in Potiphar’s house and was successful in all he did; and when his master saw that, he promoted Joseph to be overseer of his house and put him in charge of everything he had! (Gen.39:2-6). He was unjustly thrown in prison when Potiphar’s wife lied against him; but that didn’t break his spirit- Joseph remained diligent. Again in prison, he was put in charge of the prison and all the other prisoners! (Gen. 39:19-23). “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.” (Prov. 12:24 NLT). The life of Joseph also shows us the connection between diligence and favour; because he was diligent in his duties, God always gave him favour with his masters.
The Bible says, “A capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman- who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls.” (Prov. 31:10 AMP). No one can stop you or keep you down, nor can anyone take the credit for what you do, if you remain diligent in what you do. The Bible says God isn’t unjust to forget your labour of love. Remain diligent and keep working hard; it’s only going to be a matter of time and you shall be celebrated. “Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” (Prov.31:31 NIV).
16. Never Giving Up
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1 NIV).
Winners don’t quit, and quitters don’t win! Remember, Christ has already won the victory for you on the cross, and He is at the right hand of the Father interceding for you. You have the Helper- the Holy Spirit with you and in you and you have angels- ministering spirits, sent to serve you. You’re also surrounded by a cloud of witnesses cheering you on as you run the race set before you. You have the Word of God and you have the company of believers! The Syrophoenician woman didn’t give up; Blind Bartimaeus cried out louder when he was told to keep quiet; the woman with the issue of blood pressed through the crowd to touch the hem of His gown; Jairus believed, even after he was told her daughter was dead; and the friends of the paralytic didn’t give up when there was no room to come in through the door to where Jesus was. The list of the ‘crowd of witnesses’ is endless; so don’t ever give up!
God bless you
Rev. Funke Ewuosho