Until you know

Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon describes a time in his life (Daniel 4) when he was “flourishing in his palace” and saw a dream that made him afraid. That dream was accompanied by many thoughts and imaginations that troubled him, hence he sought to find out the meaning of the dream by calling in all of his wise men and explaining it to them. They could not. Then he called for Daniel and asked him to explain the dream.

10 “These were the visions of my head while on my bed:

I was looking, and behold,
A tree in the midst of the earth,
And its height was great.
11 The tree grew and became strong;
Its height reached to the heavens,
And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth.
12 Its leaves were lovely,
Its fruit abundant,
And in it was food for all.
The beasts of the field found shade under it,
The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches,
And all flesh was fed from it.

13 “I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven. 14 He cried aloud and said thus:

‘Chop down the tree and cut off its branches,
Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit.
Let the beasts get out from under it,
And the birds from its branches.
15 Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth,
Bound with a band of iron and bronze,
In the tender grass of the field.
Let it be wet with the dew of heaven,
And let him graze with the beasts
On the grass of the earth.
16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man,
Let him be given the heart of a beast,
And let seven times pass over him.

17 ‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers,
And the sentence by the word of the holy ones,
In order that the living may know
That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men,
Gives it to whomever He will,
And sets over it the lowest of men.’

 

Daniel explains that Nebuchadnezzar would be the tree that would be chopped down. He says that the decision to cut down the tree was taken by the “watchers” – apparently significant inhabitants of heaven. While the dream portrays the message to be the outcome of a decree of the watchers (vs17), Daniel shows it to be a decree of the Most High (vs24). The watchers who sat together in the court of heaven had pronounced a sentence upon Nebuchadnezzar. This sentence was actually God’s sentence upon Nebuchadnezzar that was pronounced by the watchers.

This sentence upon Nebuchadnezzar came to pass at the end of 12 months as he looked out around him and ascribed his success and prosperity to his own abilities.

“While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! 32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.””

Nebuchadnezzar was driven from his palace. “he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.”  Something happened to him that caused his understanding and reason to be taken away (vs 34 and 36). He had lost his sanity. He lived out in the open among the beasts of the field, ate grass like oxen and was ungroomed. The Word tells us that this state continued for 7 years until he understood that he was just a man and that God was in control of the kingdom of men. At the end of 7 years, his sanity was restored and so was his kingdom. He had learnt his lesson.

The key phrase here is in verse 32 – “until you know”. Until you know your own frailty, your own mortality, your own helplessness, your own inability, your total dependence on God. Until you know that God is God.

It took Nebuchadnezzar 7 years. It takes many of us much longer.

In fact, many of us wander in the wilderness of independence for years, refusing to face our own inadequacies or ugliness of self-effort, refusing to be brought to the place of surrender, battling with many giants some of whom simply receive stature and power from our own self-centredness.

Let me repeat that. We empower some of the giants we battle by our own refusal to die to self.

The greatest battle of all is not with the devil nor with the world nor with the flesh, but with the Holy Spirit. He seeks to bring us to the place of deliberate surrender and dependence upon God while we fight Him tooth and nail every step of the way, refusing to give up the ghost.

There are struggles that we face, storms that we pass through, problems that we grapple with, issues beyond our control that wreck the peace, repeated failures that occur “until we know”. No amount of praying will calm the storm. Fasting will do little to help. Throwing out the cargo won’t help. God will seem far away. He is waiting.

He is waiting for us to know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men. He is waiting for us to come to an end of ourselves, to an end of our strength, to an end of our wisdom, to an end of our dependence upon our capabilities. He is waiting for us to count our qualifications and accomplishments  as rubbish.  He is waiting for us to come to the place where we seek to gain Christ and to know Him above all else. He is waiting for our vision to die, our striving to cease, our power to fail, for the grain of wheat to fall to the ground and die, for our frailty to be exposed, for us to see ourselves for who we are and to see God for who He is. He is waiting for the soul to completely cease from self-effort and to be fully surrendered to the Saviour.

I like the word “brokenness”. It is the place that the Spirit leads every Christian to, a Peniel designed just for us. It is the place where the wretchedness and inadequacy of self is displayed for personal viewing, seen and put to death, the place where the alabaster box is broken, the place where the Spirit has prevailed. It is the place where the Lordship of Christ has been consciously applied to every part of our beings. Then the countenance lights up with radiance, a radiance that proceeds only from the one who is truly surrendered to the Lordship of Christ, a radiance that the unbroken can never possess. From the broken there emanates the fragrance of Christ, not the nauseating stench of a mixture between self and the Spirit. Here, dead flies do not putrefy the perfumer’s ointment causing it to give off a foul odour. The aroma of Christ freely dissipates from such a one, the unadulterated perfume of Christ.

He is waiting for us to see Him as He is; to see the Jesus as revealed at Patmos instead of the Jesus at Bethlehem or the Jesus at Calvary. We have always been fixated with the Jesus at Bethlehem and the Jesus at Calvary but have’nt been so with the resurrected and ascended Jesus, who dies no more for death has no dominion over him. He is waiting for us to move camp from Bethlehem to Calvary, to the Mount of Olives, to the upper room and to Patmos. He is waiting for us to be as the Greeks who simply said to Philip, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus”.

Until we have come to an end of ourselves and have seen Jesus for who He is.

To see Jesus as the visible image of the invisible God, the eternal Word by whom all things were created and who sustains all things by the Word of His power. To see Him as the one who has all authority in heaven and on earth, at whose name every knee bows in heaven, earth and under the earth. The excellence of the knowledge of Christ, the spirit to spirit communion, the apprehension of His salvation, the union with Him is sufficient to count all things as loss and to suffer the loss of all things.

A fresh vision of Jesus is sufficient to change your Christianity and give it fresh impetus and meaning. Time spent looking for Jesus in the gospel of John, Colossians, Hebrews, Ephesians and Revelation with the NLT will do more for your soul than the reading of many books, the listening of many sermons or the scramble from one meeting to another. Climb that sycamore tree, press in through the crowds, open that roof and get in, leave all, come at night, speak to Him from your cross, cry out like Bartimaeus, throw away your cloak, reach for the hem of his garment, walk on the water, beat your body and make it your slave, take up your cross and go after him, be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day! It is worth it.

God wants to bring us to the place of brokenness, that place of yieldedness, surrender and “knowing” of both ourselves and Himself. This is the place where the Spirit of God has prevailed over self, where the spirit has been forever severed from the restraints of the soul, where we have entered into true rest, a ceasing of self-effort and the place of simple reception of the salvation offered by Jesus. This place can be reached either by being taught by the Lord or by simply following Nebuchadnezzar’s footsteps.

There is a Nebuchadnezzar in each of us that has to come to the place of knowing. May it be sooner rather than later. That will benefit us, the church, the world and God. That alone will enable us to bear lasting fruit.

 

 

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Musings on divine health

1 Corinthians 6: 15-20 :

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,”He says, “shall become one flesh.”17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

I would like to list some key points from this passage for your edification –

  1. vs 15 – Our physical bodies are members of Christ. Our physical bodies are plugged in to the spiritual body of Jesus. Therefore his life must flow into our physical bodies. What is the implication of this fact? Should we expect to be in divine health because of the fact that the life of Jesus saturates our physical bodies?
  2. vs 17 – He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Upon salvation, we are joined to the Lord and become one spirit with Him. My spirit is “dissolved” in Christ’s spirit and we are indistinguishably, inseparably united. John Sandford says that our spirit fills the body as water does a sponge not as water fills a glass container. Therefore, should I expect to live in divine health because the sprit of Jesus fills my body as water does a sponge?
  3. vs 19 – Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. In the light of the explanation in point number 2 above, our bodies are saturated with the Holy Spirit, every fibre, organ, muscle, ligament, tissue and cell is saturated with the Holy Spirit. Should I expect to be healed of every sickness and live in divine health as a result?
  4. vs 20 – For you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. Our bodies were bought with a price, the blood of Jesus. It is not just our spirits that were bought with the blood of Jesus, our bodies were too. Jesus’ life was given up so that our bodies could be purchased by God, that God might own our bodies and make them His dwelling place. Should’nt every cell come alive as a result? The Word asks me to glorify God with my body. Was’nt it the healing of the blind man in John 9 and not his blindness that glorified God? Would a sick body glorify God? Certainly not. It is only an undefiled body and a  sickness free body that will glorify God. Hence, should’nt I expect to live in divine health?

Look at God’s purpose for our bodies – he bought them at the price of the blood of Jesus, made them His dwelling place, saturated them with His Holy Spirit, made them part of Christs’ body and desires that our bodies glorify Him through holy living and sickness free living.

Think about it.

Use the name of Jesus to repeatedly command healing to the members of your body that “did’nt get the message” of Christ’s salvation.

 

Some thoughts about the name of Jesus

Jesus is able to grant salvation to those who believe, have repented of sin and have received him as Lord just because He won a decisive victory through his death and resurrection. This salvation includes the forgiveness of sin, breaking of sin’s power over the believer, deliverance from Satan’s dominion, freedom from the bondage of death, healing from sickness, freedom from the curse, blessing, eternal life, empowerment to be witnesses, power and authority over the kingdom of darkness, over sickness, over the curse, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and an impartation of the nature of Jesus.

The overwhelming victory of Jesus over sin, Satan, sickness, the curse and death and his authority in Heaven and earth is both contained in His person and contained in his name. His name contains his salvation. That is why at his name every knee in heaven and on earth bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord. Satan bows at the mention of the name of Jesus. So does every sickness, every disease, every pain, every curse, nature itself and even death. The use of his name must produce the same results as when He himself were present.

When the disciples returned from an assignment Jesus had given them in Luke 10, they were so glad that “even the demons submit to us in your name”. The use of the name of Jesus brought demons under submission to the disciples. The demons recognised both Jesus and the fact that his name contained authority.

Similarly now, the use of the name of Jesus bring demons, sickness, disease, pain, curses and nature under submission to the believer. The centurion who sought the healing of his servant saw sickness as being under the authority of Jesus. He had no doubt that sickness had no choice but to obey Jesus.

There is power in the name of Jesus when it is used by those who believe and are submitted to his Lordship. Every kind of sickness must submit to me when I use the name of Jesus for his name releases his victory over sickness. Peter and John, when explaining the healing of the lame man at the gate “Beautiful” (Acts 3:16) said that it was the name of Jesus that enabled the lame man to be healed – “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know.” The name had released healing virtue. Similarly the name releases deliverance, blessing and freedom from sin. Jesus said in Mark 16:17,18 – “And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;  they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” The name would release such supernatural power. A lump of incense, when heated, releases such a powerful fragrance. That which is contained within the incense is released. Similarly, salvation, which is contained within the name of Jesus is released when his name is spoken in faith.

The disciples of Jesus have been authorised to use his name in prayer, in dealing with sickness, demons, curses, nature and death. The next time you are confronted by an obstacle of any kind (not caused by your own sin, of course!) or a need or in the preaching of the gospel, use the name of Jesus with boldness; it is guaranteed to produce results.

 

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

My daughter leaves today to get back to University thousands of miles away. I vividly remember this time last year when I was struggling with the decision of whether to send her to University that far away. I needed to hear God. I was not going to send her anywhere away from me without hearing from Him, without an assurance from Him. I did not believe then, and I do not believe now in doing things “by faith” concerning major decisions. Faith only comes into play when you have heard from God. Once you have heard, you believe, speak it and act on it. That is faith. Hence my predicament – I had not heard God. I was keenly aware of many Christians who “drowned” as they attempted to walk on water without hearing the instruction to do so. All because they were taught to do it “by faith”. They had not heard God, therefore He was not bound to take care of them, period.

I agonized over the decision for a long time and delayed it for as long as I could – I did’nt want her to go away from home and yet I wanted her to get a good education. This until God spoke to me from Mark 12:26 – “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” As I meditated on this verse of Scripture, I suddenly realised that the same God who was God to me over the length of my life had just promised me that He would be God to my daughters and to their children after them. While Abraham lived and even after his passing, the God of Abraham was God to Isaac. While Isaac lived and even after his passing, the God of Isaac was God to Jacob. In similar manner, the God who watched over me, protected me, taught me, helped me, healed me, saved me, delivered me, strengthened me, built me, empowered me and worked through me, would do the same for my children. The God who was my provider, healer, shepherd, ever present help, refuge, strength, Saviour, Lord, Master, deliverer, Father, Comforter and Teacher would manifest Himself in similar manner to my children.

That was all I needed to hear. We paid her fees and sent her away to University. This was last year. God took good care of her the whole of last year; He looked after her as the apple of His eye.

That is all you need to hear too. The same God, who has been your God, will be God to your children and their children after them. Seek to hear God in your situation; one Word from Him can change the way you handle your present and your future.

Well, she leaves tonight after spending 2 months with us on her summer break. I awoke from a good night’s sleep this morning with the phrase of this song playing in my mind – “Let go, my soul and trust in Him; the waves and wind still know his name”.  It is from the song “It is well”. I knew immediately that God was preparing me to release her once again. The wind and waves STILL know His name. Every wind and wave that may come my daughter’s way will STILL be calmed at the name of Jesus. John says ” the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Before darkness could comprehend what was happening, it was swallowed up by light. As I spent time in His presence, He was speaking to me and showing me specific verses of Scripture that speak of how He would take care of my children. I would like to share them with you today for I know in my spirit that this will enable you to enter into a place of rest in God concerning your children. Many are worried about their children and specifically about how they will fare in this wicked world; some are worried about their future, their studies, their marriages and the choices they will make. Some have children who are handicapped intellectually or are handicapped physically and are worried about who will take care of their children in the future.

Well, this message is specifically for you.

God, who has been God to you, is perfectly able to be God to your children and to their children after them. He never changes, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Let these verses of Scripture get deep into your spirit as you meditate on them so that you will forever be at rest concerning your children.

  1. Genesis 17:7 – “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.
  2. Deuteronomy 1:39 – “‘Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.
  3. Isaiah 54:13 – “All your children shall be taught by the LordAnd great shall be the peace of your children.
  4. Isaiah 59:21 – ““As for Me,” says the Lord, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the Lord, “from this time and forevermore.””
  5. Isaiah 44:3-5 – “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendantsAnd My blessing on your offspringThey will spring up among the grass Like willows by the watercourses.’ One will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’; Another will call himself by the name of Jacob; Another will write with his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ And name himself by the name of Israel.
  6. Mark 12:26 – “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”
  7. Hebrews 8:10,11 – “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.

You will be able to find more verses of Scripture that speak of the blessing that your children will receive. Look them up and meditate on them until they enter your spirit.

So we will go to the airport to send her off this evening. While the world seems hell-bent on creating more and more conflict and hurtling towards self-destruction and I see my daughter pass out of sight beyond the Immigration counter and walk out into that wicked world, I have the peace that surpasses understanding, the peace of Jesus who said “My peace I give unto you”, knowing that my daughter will face this world and overcome it for greater is He that is in her, than He that is in the world. She will be a champion, for my God is her God and the Spirit of God is upon her. 

All this, simply because I heard God.

Your children too, will make it, they will enter their promised land, His Spirit will be upon them, they will be taught by the Lord, His word will be in their mouths, they will be blessed, they will know God and will overcome the world, for your God is their God too.

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is our God.

 

The paths of the destroyer

“Concerning the works of men, By the word of your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.” Psalm 17:4

The devil has set paths upon which he trods, fixed routes he traverses and dark habitations where he is most at ease. He exercises dominion in darkness, places devoid of the light of God. He loves darkness for darkness allows him to remain hidden and does not reveal his nature. Similarly, people whose deeds are evil love darkness, hate the light and do not want to come to the light lest their deeds be exposed (John 3:19,20).

The Word speaks of acts of darkness (1 John 1:6), the love of darkness (John 3:19), walking in darkness (John 8:12), darkening of understanding (Ephesians 4:18), the works of darkness (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:8-14), the things of darkness (1 Corinthians 4:5), sitting in darkness (Matthew 4:16), being in darkness (1 Thess 5:4,5), darkness in the body and spirit (Matthew 6:22,23), the power of darkness (Col 1:13), the rulers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12) and the acts of darkness (1 John 1:6). Darkness is essentially the atmosphere or environment created by sin. Thats what the devil and his demons love – the atmosphere of sin.

The devil can only access what is in darkness, wherever that darkness may be found, even if it is within the child of God. (Francis Frangipane) We will do well to understand this statement. The devil can only access that which has not been brought out into the light, that which is kept hidden, that which has not yet been yielded to Christ Jesus. In fact the Word tells us that he who is in darkness and walks in darkness does not know where he is going, for the darkness has blinded his eyes (1John 2:11). Every work of the flesh that has not been confessed, repented of and put to death by the Spirit is an area of darkness, a seed of failure, a seed of self-destruction that will be accessed by the devil at some point in time. Take for example, the disciple of Jesus who is indulging in pornography or has bitterness or has an issue with anger or pride or envy or any other work of the flesh. After some effort to stop sinning in these areas and repeated failure, the disciple accepts this living as the norm and is content to live a defeated life assuming that every Christian has problems in some area of morality. This thinking is compounded by the unwillingness or failure of the man behind the pulpit to address defeated living and periodic stories of larger than life pastors succumbing to moral failures. All of these issues are potential failures, just setting up the believer for a fall, sooner or later.

Conflicts between husband and wife that are not brought out into the light, discussed and repented of are seeds of marital destruction. Be sure that the devil will seek these areas of darkness and will access it in “the evil day”. Thats his job, his life’s purpose and what comes naturally to him.

Take the issue of drinking alcohol. Having spent my youth exposed to strict Indian Pentecostalism, I was appalled to see the lax attitude of some churches in Malaysia when it came to the issues of drinking wine and alcohol, which are simply intoxicants. I cannot fathom why the teaching of King Lemuel’s mother in Proverbs 31 is taken so lightly. We crow about the virtuous wife depicted in the same passage but never seem to consider the first part of the passage – “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink.” “Give strong drink to him who is perishing and wine to those who are bitter of heart.” Proverbs 31:4-6 I tell you, this is an area of darkness; bring it out into the light of Christ, lest it become your downfall. The body is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

I am at times, surprised to see how some believers squirm when someone needs to use their mobile phones or computers. Strange, is’nt it? Why should I need to hide anything, apart from some things personal that are only relevant to the family? Hide something from my wife? Does your spouse have access to your phone? To your computer?

Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, not hidden that will not be made known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” Luke 12:1-3.  From here, we see that the hypocrite has things to cover, things to hide, things that he speaks in the dark and things that are spoken in the ear in inner rooms. May the Lord protect us from hypocrisy!

The Psalmist says that it is only by living according to God’s word that we can keep ourselves from the paths of the destroyer. The destroyer cannot access the light. If we walk in the light, we are superior to darkness, the destroyer cannot afflict us in any manner. We will always have authority over darkness, for “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not (cannot) overcome it.” (John 1:5). Our God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. We are the light of the world, our presence will cause darkness to flee.

Jesus said “The prince of this world cometh and he has nothing in me.” (John 14:30) Jesus lived in the light. There was nothing dark in his life, the devil had nothing in him.

Permit the Word of God to determine the boundaries within which you live. Its instruction will be the “hedge” that protects us from the devil, the “wall” that protects us from being bitten by a snake. Let the Word determine the boundaries within which we remain while dealing with the opposite sex, when relating with fellow believers, when dealing with people of the world, when dealing with our families, when dealing with our money, when it comes to our attitudes and every other aspect of life. God wants the very best for us; He is not keeping something good from us. The devil convinced Eve that God was keeping something good from her and we all know what she did next.

We have a God who is willing to receive us and forgive our sins and bring us into the light, His light. The light is the only place that is safe. It is the only place where the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us, even of unconscious or sub-conscious sins. The light is the only place where fellowship is possible; if one is walking in darkness, then we end up only have a meeting or a social gathering at best. Both must walk in the light for true fellowship to take place.

So, saint of God, bring your whole life into the light. Set boundaries within which you live. This simple act will keep you from straying into the paths of the destroyer.

The life of God

God’s purpose for our lives can be found in one verse of Scripture – Romans 8:29 “For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Thats God’s purpose for your life – to be conformed to the image of Jesus. It is not just to use you in ministry, or to bless you, or to heal you, or to restore your dominion, or to deliver you from your difficulties or from sin or Satan. His ultimate purpose is to make us like Jesus – full of His nature and life.

Seen another way, it is to fill us with His life and express himself through us in character and power, so that we can be like Jesus.

Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 b”. The Greek word for life used in this verse is “zoe” which means “the life of God”. Why don’t we read that verse again using the actual meaning of “zoe”.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have the life of God, and that they may have the life of God more abundantly.” So, we see that Jesus came to make available to us the life of God. This verse also suggests that we can have this life of God in increasing abundance. Marvellous! What amazing possibilities to the one who believes! The life of God – the eternal, omnipotent, indestructible, sin destroying, disease destroying, unconquerable, holy life of God in the disciple of Jesus. That would make the man who carries this life a master, with dominion over the world, over Satan, over sin and over sickness and disease.

Lets look at some verses of Scripture along these lines and as we do, I would urge you to recognise the infinite possibilities laid before the disciple of Jesus, who chooses to believe  –

  1. John 1:4 – “In him was life and that life was the light of men.” The life of Jesus, when received, becomes light within us. Thats why Jesus said that we are the light of the world – because his life is the light within us. Jesus also said that the eye is the lamp of the body. If the eye is sound, the whole body is full of light. The eye here speaks of the human spirit. If the spirit is sound, the whole body is full of light (the darkness of sin or disease cannot enter the body). The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord (Proverbs 20:27) and, as in the verse above, the lamp of the body. When the life of Jesus comes in, the spirit is made alive or sound or is full of light. When the spirit of man is sound (full of the life of God), then the body is full of light. That means that as long as our spirits are filled with the life of God, disease cannot come near us. It also makes clear that as long as we are filled with the life of God, the darkness of sin cannot come in. Do you see these wonderful possibilities….if only we can believe?
  2. 1 John 5:11, 12 – “God has given us eternal life and this life is in his son. He who has the Son, has life; he who does not have the son does not have life.” There is only one way to receive the life of God – by receiving Jesus. For, this life of God is only found in Jesus. As we have received Jesus, we have received the life of God – the eternal, all conquering, omnipotent life of God. Can you believe that? Can you regularly remind yourself of this amazing truth?
  3. 1 John 5:13 – These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,…..” This is vital – that you may know that you have eternal life, that you may know that you have the life of God within you, that you may know beyond a shadow of doubt. Do you? There is the life of God pulsating in each cell of your body, in your soul and in your spirit and it is God’s will that you enjoy this life in an increasing measure. It is God’s will for the Holy Spirit to provide life to your mortal body to sustain you through life’s journey until it is time to make the transition to your eternal home. (Romans 8:11).
  4. 1 Corinthians 6:15 – “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” Hey….hold on; I thought that I am part of the body of Christ because I am connected to Christ in my spirit. What does this verse say? This verse shows us that our BODIES are members of Christ. That means our bodies are part of Christ’s body. That means our bodies are recipients of the life of Jesus. That means our bodies – every cell and every organ and every blood vessel are continually vitalized and rejuvenated and made alive by the life of God. Sickness, disease and pain cannot come in. The “head and the body” and the “vine and branch” are two pictures of Christ’s relationship to us. In both these pictures, the same life passes through the body and the branch. For the body and the branch to be alive, life must flow. That life is what Jesus came to give.
  5. John 7:38 – “he who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” God’s plan is not just to make us a recipient of the life of God, but to make us “dispensers” or “ministers” of the life of God. This life of God can flow out of our spirits and souls and our bodies to impact others, dispelling death from their lives in the process. Wherever we go, the spiritual atmosphere is bound to change because of this life that we carry.

I would like to encourage you, saint of God, to seek to be filled with this life of God, which is found in Jesus, in an ever increasing measure until His life is freely expressed through you in character and power.

Thus God will cause us to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

God’s masterpiece

The Bible tells us that we are God’s masterpiece, his handiwork (Eph 2:10, NLT). We are God’s showpiece, the demonstration of what God’s salvation does in an individual, the picture of God’s plan for the one who believes in Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, we find that our experience does not match up with that and I would like to invite you to see why.

We have not experienced salvation as God meant it to be mainly because we have not understood it correctly. An incorrect understanding has limited our ability to receive from the Lord. We have taken God’s salvation, shrunk it to suit the size of our intellects and keep shrinking it further to fit within our ever diminishing experience. If our lives are the true picture of what Christ’s salvation can accomplish, then salvation has surely accomplished very, very little. No wonder then, that the unbeliever does not want what we have or claim to possess. We have pompously declared that Christ’s death can only provide for the forgiveness of sin and the assurance of heaven. In doing so, we have yelled, without saying so, that his death is not deemed sufficient to heal sickness or to free men from the devil’s power or to transform men to be like Christ in character and power. In our conceit, we have repackaged Christianity and portrayed it to be a faith that can only save the soul but is powerless to save the body. Then we live, rejoicing in the limited salvation we enjoy, not even wondering whether God would have taken the trouble to come to earth and return, offering a partial salvation. And so our lives are pathetic, a reflection of what we believe to be true.

God’s masterpiece? No way, not by a long shot!

Can you imagine God saying, “this is my masterpiece indeed……I can save his soul, but I really can’t heal his body or deliver him or provide for him. He will have to trudge through life trusting me. And if he makes it, I will take him to heaven.” That would be a cruel joke. And, praise God, it is not true.

The salvation that Christ provides is much more than the forgiveness of sin and the assurance of heaven after we die. God’s ultimate purpose for us in this life is to make us like Jesus, to dwell in us and manifest himself through us in supernatural power.

Mankind, throughout history, has been plagued by several ills, which are sin, sickness, curses, the devil and death. Since man cannot save himself from these ills, God showed up in human form, lived a sinless life, went to the cross, gave up his life as a sacrifice for sin, died, was buried, destroyed Satan, rose from the dead as death could not hold him down and ascended to heaven. God had only one plan for salvation, only one solution for all of the ills of man – Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us in Colossians 2:2 that God’s plan is Christ himself (NLT). The sacrifice of Jesus life on the cross and the shedding of his blood is the solution for sin, it is the solution for sickness, it is the solution for the curse, it is the solution for satanic oppression and it is the solution for death. The salvation that God provides through Jesus Christ includes all of the following –

  1. Forgiveness of sin
  2. Freedom from sin’s power
  3. Certainty of going to heaven after physical death
  4. Certainty of a future resurrection of the body
  5. Healing of sicknesses, diseases and pains
  6. Divine health
  7. Freedom from the curse
  8. Freedom from the dominion of Satan
  9. Every spiritual blessing
  10. The righteousness of Christ imparted to us permanently
  11. The life of Christ/eternal life in us; we become the dwelling place of God
  12. Supernatural, resurrection power in us, flowing out from us

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, God takes the individual, forgives his sin, reconciles the individual to Himself, makes him free from sin’s power, heals his sicknesses, frees him from Satan’s dominion, frees him from the curses over his life, imparts Christ’s righteousness to him, blesses him and comes to live inside him with supernatural power. The Christian is one who is full of the life of God. He cannot be defeated, sickness cannot invade his body, the devil cannot overcome him. He is a master – over the devil, over the world and over every circumstance. He walks in triumph and is the aroma of Christ in this world. He carries the character and power of Christ and is full of resurrection power and life. Every part of his spirit, soul and body is filled with the life of God. He is united with Christ and as a result, God dwells in him. Now the Christian is God’s masterpiece; God shows him off as the wonder of His creation and the crown of His salvation.

How do we know we are saved?

  1. The Bible, the Word of God, says so. Do read the letters of Paul in the New Testament.
  2. God has given us the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13,14 NLT).The presence of the Holy Spirit is the assurance. By the way, before anyone cries foul and say that we should not trust solely in an experience, I’d like to state that Christianity is an experience – repentance is an experience, receiving Christ is an experience, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is an experience, worshipping God is an experience. Peace is an experience, joy is an experience, love is an experience; why, even death is an experience. I, for one, like to experience God’s presence and power; to be conscious of His presence within me all through the day.
  3. A changed life. We experience all that Christ died to provide. Peace, joy, love, a sense of righteousness, a growing desire for God, a desire to live righteously and love for the brethren are evidence of salvation. You simply begin to bear fruit.

We are God’s masterpiece, his handiwork.The ultimate purpose of Christ’s sacrifice is not just to take us to heaven when we die, but to make us clean and pure like himself, dwell within us and then cause His Spirit to flow through us to impact the world.

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.