Oh, what God has done!

“But ye are a elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. 1 Peter 2:9, ASV”

Beloved, we are saved to show forth the multi-faceted excellencies of God in this world. Our lives are meant to be an advertisement for the excellencies of God; the manifestation of divine life in a human being, the demonstration of the life of God in man. We are meant to be the showcase for Christ’s salvation, the evidence of what God can do in one who is yielded to him.

The Christian life is meant to be supernatural from beginning to end. It is Jesus Christ living in us and manifesting his life through us. The fruit of the Spirit is simply that – the fruit that only the Holy Spirit can bring. It is supernatural love, supernatural joy, supernatural peace, supernatural patience, supernatural kindness, supernatural goodness, supernatural gentleness, supernatural faithfulness, supernatural self control and supernatural humility. We cannot produce the fruit, God does it when we are yielded to Christ. Paul encourages us in Galatians 5 to “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” These states of being “in the Spirit or in the flesh” are mutually exclusive – you can’t be in both states at the same time. Its like trying to be in the air and on the ground at the same time – its just impossible. Hence, our focus ought not to be trying to overcome the works of the flesh but to be “in the Spirit” for when we are in this state, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Is’nt it “by the Spirit” that we can put to death the deeds of the flesh?

Let me say that again – your life is meant to demonstrate the excellencies of God – to demonstrate his nature, his transforming power, his favour, his life, his salvation, his mercy, his grace, his love, his blessing, his healing, his care. Think about it.

Lets look at some other verses of Scripture on this topic.

  1. Paul – “However for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering as a pattern to those who are going to believe in Him for everlasting life. 1 Tim 1:16”. Paul’s life was a pattern, an example, a demonstration of the patience and mercy of God to those who would be saved. His life showed forth the mercy and patience of God. His life showed how God reached out to one who hated Christians, saved him and transformed his very nature.
  2. Lazarus – “Now a great many of the Jews knew that he was there; and they came, not for Jesus sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. John 12:9-11”. Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Jesus, demonstrated the fact that Jesus had power over death. His life showed that Jesus was indeed the resurrection and the life.
  3. The Christian – “Now thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ and through us diffuses the fragrance of his knowledge in every place. 2 Cor 2:14”. Our lives are meant to diffuse the fragrance of Christ – his nature and power. We are meant to show forth the fragrance of Christ to the people of this world.
  4. The church – “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Ephesians 3:10”. The church is meant to demonstrate God’s wonderful salvation to all the spiritual authorities in the heavenly realms.
  5. We see various examples of people who were healed or delivered or forgiven in the New testament. Their lives were an example of the power of God which could transform bound, sick, demonized and broken lives. The disciples of Jesus were perfect examples of what God could do with mostly uneducated people. The nature and power of God were evident in their lives.

He who has Christ, has life. The wonder of salvation that man can experience on earth is that God would take sinners and failures such as us, forgive us, cleanse us, reconcile us to himself, make us holy, righteous and blameless and live within us. The life of God expresses itself through us continually; whether we have just turned to Christ or whether we have been in Christ for years – what differs is the extent or measure of life that is manifested.

Lesson 101 in Christian living is simply this – you cannot live the Christian life in your strength. You need Jesus to live within you by His Spirit. It is about receiving God’s life, yielding to him and allowing his life to be expressed through you.

I like Balaam’s prophecy about Israel in Numbers 23, especially in verse 23 “There is no sorcery against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel. It now must be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘Oh, what God has done!'”. The KJV says it this way – “What hath God wrought!”

May it be said of us too – “Oh, what God has done.”

Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Hope

Its been a rough ride since this year began with the stock markets sliding, the price of crude oil moving south and a large number of lay offs in both the oil sector and banking. This, compounded by the state of affairs in the Middle East, the refugee crisis, the constant squabble between nations as they strive for supremacy, the North Korean issue and the depths of evil in men’s hearts leaves one with a dark foreboding of what the future has in store for the world.

Even so,  I am reminded of the passage in Isaiah 6 where, despite the events that were taking place on earth, the seraphim proclaimed that the whole earth was filled with God’s glory. I guess it is a matter of perspective and of hope.

As I was seeking God in December last year, the Lord impressed this one word in my spirit – “Hope”. I then began to read the Scriptures and compiled a study on hope, which I would like to share with you.

Hope is the earnest expectation of good; it is the confidence that good will come to pass; an optimistic view of the future. As a Christian, we have several reasons for hope; in fact, we are to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us (1 Pet 3:15).

The Bible says in Romans 15:13 – “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Our God is the God of hope. He expects us to abound with hope even in the darkest of situations – in the midst of sickness, hope for healing and health; in the midst of a loss of job, hope for a better job; in the midst of a marital conflict, hope for healing and restoration; in the midst of a financial crisis, hope for prosperity; in the midst of an impossible situation, hope for a miracle; in the midst of barrenness, hope for children; in the midst of bondage, hope for deliverance and freedom. He will empower us by the Holy Spirit that we may not only have hope, but overflow with hope. Our hope will not disappoint us; it will come to fruition (Rom 5:5). Hope is the anchor of the soul, is both sure and steadfast (Hebrews 6:19), and brings rest (Ps 16:9). It enables us to experience the glorious presence of the Lord (Heb 6:19).

As we examine this topic, we must be cautious that all our hope is not solely set on the things of this life. The Word says in 1 Cor 15:19 – “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” We understand from this that our hope in Christ will bear fruit both with regard to life in this world and life in the age to come. It is only when we lose sight of the life to come and solely focus on the things of this life that we become pitiable.

What then do we hope for ? Both for this life on earth and the life to come.

  1. For this life on earth – An excellent example is found in the life of Abraham in Romans 4. Verse 18 says “who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be’.” Abraham placed his hope in God’s promise that he would have a child through Sarah. He had every reason to be filled with despair especially since he was about 100 years old and Sarah was 90 and barren. Yet, he chose to place his hope in God’s promise to him. The situation required a miracle; Abraham could choose to either have hope or to despair. He chose to hope, believing that God would fulfill his promise. He was rewarded with a miraculous intervention and Isaac was born through Sarah.
    What is your situation? Is it sickness, a loss of job, a crisis in your marriage, insubordinate children, financial problems, barrenness, prison, persecution, trials ? Does the future seem bleak and threaten doom? Place your hope in God. David did the same. Read Psalm 42 and 43. In the midst of oppression by the enemy and deep distress, David spoke to his own soul saying in verse 5 and 11, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” Can you pause and speak to your soul in like manner, right now?
  2. For the life to come – Titus 3:7 speaks of the hope of eternal life. Our hope in God extends beyond this life to the life which is to come after death. The Word speaks in 2 Corinthians that when we are absent from this world, we will be present with the Lord. Paul speaks in Philippians of departing to be with Christ. There is a life for us after this life on earth – a life spent in the presence of God for eternity. Faith in Jesus Christ gives us this wonderful hope of spending eternity in God’s marvellous presence.
    In Romans 8:23-25, Paul speaks of eagerly waiting with perseverance in hope for the redemption of the body. Our bodies will one day be changed, when Jesus returns, and we will obtain glorious bodies.
    1 Peter 1:3,4 speaks of God placing within us the hope of an inheritance in heaven, with Him keeping us by his power while on earth so that we can inherit all things with Christ. In 1:13, he speaks of the grace that will be brought to us when Jesus is revealed from heaven at his coming – a grace that will transform us instantly to be like Jesus.
    We also have hope that Jesus will return for His church, that He will destroy the Anti Christ and bring in a new heavens and a new earth, that we will reign with Christ.
    Look beyond this life; your life to come is secure and assured because you are in Christ.

What is the basis for the Christian’s hope?

  1. Jeremiah 29:11 shows us that we have a God who thinks about us constantly, to do us good so that we may have hope and a future.
  2. Jeremiah 17:7 speaks blessing upon the man whose hope is the Lord. It is not just placing our hope in God, but our hope is God himself -in who He is.
  3. Hebrews 6:17-19 God’s word and promises are sufficient basis for hope.
  4. Romans 15:4 – “we through the patience and comfort of Scriptures might have hope.”
  5. Romans 4:17,18 – God’s promise to Abraham was the basis for his hope despite having every reason to despair.
  6. Colossians 1:27 – Christ in us is the hope of glory. Because Christ dwells in us, we can expect to experience and see His glory being revealed in our lives and in our situations. You can expect God Himself to show up in His glory, just as he did in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace.
  7. Christ’s life, death and resurrection – God the Father was with Jesus at every moment of his life on earth, He was with him in death in that He did not allow Jesus’ body to see corruption, He was with Jesus as He raised him from the dead and enabled him to ascend to heaven. Jesus’ life gives us a reason for hope. God will not abandon us but be with us every step of the way.

We find the Scriptures speaking of hope in our spirits – when the Holy Spirit fills us (Rom 15:13); hope in our souls – just as David spoke to his soul to hope in God (Psalm 42:11) and hope for our bodies – David says in Psalm 16:9,10 “Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will rest in hope, For you will not leave my soul in Sheol nor will you allow your Holy one to see corruption.”

Therefore, saint of God, don’t give up.

Abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Hope changes the atmosphere around you, it fills the atmosphere with expectation so that all who come in contact with you will be impacted and will want to know the reason for the hope that you have. Your best life may well be ahead of you.

God be with you.