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.

Another look at grace

Grace is an attribute of God, part of his nature. It consists of His favor and power that is released to humanity because of the sacrifice of Jesus. To the world, it grants the opportunity to be saved through faith in Jesus, while to the Christian, upon salvation, it is the source of life. It is simply undeserved and is given solely because of the sacrifice of Jesus.

Grace, like glory and other attributes of God, has both substance and power. Substance, in the sense of a spiritual or heavenly materiality that can be experienced and felt. When Solomon’s temple was filled with the glory of God, the priests could not enter because the substance of the glory would not permit them to enter. It is as if they tried but walked into a spiritual substance that prevented them from entering. Glory, we see, had the capability to fill a physical place – in this instance, the temple of God.

We find two people in Scripture who were filled with grace – Jesus and Stephen. John declares that Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Luke declares that Stephen was a man full of grace and power (Acts 8:6). Grace then, can fill a person, fill his being and be recognized by others.

Grace can also be transmitted to others just as the power of the Holy Spirit can be transmitted to others, the Word tells us that we are ministers of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:6). The power of the Holy Spirit can be transmitted by means of words, the laying on of hands or through cloths, as we see in the book of Acts. With regards to grace, Paul encourages the Ephesians to ensure that their words would impart grace to the hearers (Eph 4:29).

Paul says that God has given grace to each one (Ephesians 4:7), meaning that grace has been imparted into our spirits, deposited into our beings. It is not just about God showing favor to us but about God giving us grace as a deposit. We need to understand this well – grace has been given to us as a deposit, it is in our spirits.

The grace of God that is given to us empowers us as we will see in the verses below –

  1. Titus 2:11,12 – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” The grace that is in our spirits empowers us to turn away from ungodly living and to live a godly life. The Christian who lives in sin is simply resisting or rejecting the grace of God.
  2. Ephesians 3:7,8 – “of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Galatians 2:9 – “and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.” 1 Corinthians 3:10 – “According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it.” Romans 15:15,16 – “Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” The grace of God given to Paul made him a minister of Jesus Christ, an apostle to the Gentiles, a builder of the foundation and a preacher of the gospel.
  3. Romans 12:6-8  – “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” The grace given enables the operation of spiritual gifts and we are encouraged to use them in proportion to our faith.
  4. 2 Corinthians 8:1,2,7 – “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.” The grace given to the Macedonian Christians enabled them to be generous despite their abject poverty.
  5. 1 Corinthians 15:10 – “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Paul speaks of grace as being the reason for making him who he was. Grace enabled him to work hard in the ministry. This is the reason why there can never be boasting in the Christian life – Christian living and ministry is nothing but the result or outworking of the grace of God.
  6. 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Grace would sustain Paul in his trial.

We also see in the Scriptures that one can refuse to permit the grace of God to work in his or her life. Paul pleads with the Corinthian Christians not to receive the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). Reverting back to works or trying to earn salvation would have been tantamount to receiving the grace of God in vain. So would living in sin, laziness in ministry, not exercising spiritual gifts and stinginess. They would simply be a rejection of the grace of God.

Receiving the grace of God and allowing it to have effect in our lives will cause us to reign in this life as kings. Romans 5:17 says “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” The recipient of grace can never be defeated, can never be a failure, can always triumph in this life. We find that grace is connected to Jesus Christ. Paul encourages Timothy to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:1). The greater the knowledge of Jesus, the greater the grace that is released into our lives. Thats why Paul’s chief, sole desire was to know Christ. A continual supply of grace is guaranteed to us through Jesus Christ as John says in John 1:16 – “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.”

Grace is associated with humility for the Word says in James 4:6 that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Acknowledging our need for salvation or inability to save ourselves and looking to God enables us to receive grace.

So then brethren, let us be partakers together of the grace of God (Phil 1:7) and let not that grace given be in vain but on the contrary, bear rich fruit.

 

 

 

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.

The New Covenant

God directed my focus to the term ” new covenant” the other day so I spent time meditating upon it and did receive revelation from the Lord, which I would like to share. I know that once your eyes are opened to receive this into your spirit, your relationship with God will drastically improve. Every Christian experience is preceded by revelation knowledge that we receive from the Holy Spirit individually through the Word of God. In our age we have spent many years receiving head knowledge but not revelation (heart) knowledge and thats why our experience has been shallow and does not match up with what we profess to believe.

The term “covenant” in the Scriptures is generally understood as a contract or agreement between God and man. I see, however, covenant as much more than just a contract or agreement, much more than just agreeing to a set of stipulations.

Covenant primarily involves a union, an inseparable union between God and man.

All of God’s being and all of man’s being is involved in covenant.

The covenant also involves agreement and stipulations but the primary focus of covenant is this union.

Malachi 2:14, 15 tells us that marriage is a covenant too – between a man a woman with God as witness. In the process of this covenant, God establishes a spiritual union between the man’s spirit and woman’s spirit and the two are then one in spirit. Thats why adultery or divorce does such damage – it tears at the very spiritual union between husband and wife that God established.

Lets look at the facts. While there will be some who will dissect this and list all that they disagree with or think is unbiblical and receive nothing in the process, my focus is on reaching the rest.

1. The New Covenant is one that has been established between God the Father and Jesus the Son.

Psalm 89 : 19-29 shows us that God makes a covenant with Jesus. Jesus’ part was coming to earth, taking on human flesh, living s sinless life, preaching, teaching and healing, destroying the works of Satan, going to the cross, bearing man’s sins, sicknesses and curse, shedding his blood and dying on the cross. The Father’s part was to be with Jesus all through his journey, to empower him with the Holy Spirit, to give grace to pass through suffering and death, not to leave him in Hell, not to allow his body to decay, to raise him from the dead and raise him to Heaven to the right hand of God, to give him all authority in heaven and earth and through him to provide for the salvation of man.

2. Since we are in Christ, we are part of this new covenant. This means that God has made a covenant with us too because we are in Christ.

Hebrews 8:8 shows us that God makes the new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah in the last days. The Bible tells us the following as to who comprises Israel –

Romans 9:6 – …”for they are not all Israel who are of Israel.

Romans 9:8 – “That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.”

Galatians 3:7 – “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are the sons of Abraham,”

Galatians 3:29 – “And if you are Christ’s, you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Philippians 3:3 – “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

Roman 2:28,29 – “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”

We can see that we who are in Christ are the Israel that God is speaking of here and this new covenant involves us too for we are in Christ.

What is the implication of us being a party to the new covenant in Christ?

In return for our belief in and surrender to the Lordship of Christ, we get to enjoy every provision of the new covenant. We have a union between our spirits and God. All of God’s being is involved in this covenant and all of ours too.

All that has been provided for us through Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension are available through this covenant – the forgiveness of sin, cleansing, deliverance from sin, sickness, curse and the devil, eternal life, assurance of Heaven, God’s indwelling, God working in us to satisfy his own demands of us, God working through us in signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Spirit, divine health, divine blessing, divine authority and power over all the power of the enemy, power to be witnesses of Jesus and many others.

Can you see the force of this covenant? Nothing can stand in its path, nothing can destroy it, nothing can break it, it is as if we are in the grip of a mighty force field, anything that comes in will be destroyed by the power thereof – it is an eternal covenant between God and Jesus and by extension, with us who are in Jesus Christ.

May we receive revelation as we meditate upon this. Believe and receive all the provision of this wonderful new covenant in the blood of Jesus. God be with you.

 

Salvation – man’s responsibility

The Bible teaches us that God himself is our salvation. Although I have no understanding of either Hebrew or Greek, I read that the name “Jesus” comes from the compound word, Jehovah-Sus, meaning “God is my salvation”. Indeed, glory to God, God Himself is our salvation; He came down to earth and took on flesh, lived a sinless life, died, was buried, was raised to life and ascended to Heaven. Through his life, death and resurrection, He has provided salvation for man. Man, by his own effort, can never earn salvation, it is a free gift from God.

Having said that, does man have a role to play in experiencing this salvation? Is there anything that man has to do? Or does he just sit back and let God do everything for him?

Lets look at what the Scriptures have to say about this. We will look at ten words and phrases that speak of man’s responsibility concerning salvation. While here, against each of the responsibilities, we will look at God’s role. Do note that I have not listed references here as I normally do; why don’t you look them up yourself?

1. Repent – “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

2. Believe – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”.

3. Work out your salvation – “….For it is God who works in you both to will and to do according to his good pleasure”.

4. Overcome – “They overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony and they loved not their lives unto death”. “You have overcome them, for greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world”.

5. Have faith in God – “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith”. The gift of faith is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

6. Deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, do not sow to the flesh – “If by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”. “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”.

7. Go into all the world and preach the gospel – .”….you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me……”

8. Works of ministry – “…….those things which Christ has accomplished through me, in word and deed……..in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God……”

9. Produce fruit – “He who abides in me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing”.

10. I laboured more abundantly than they all, always abounding in the work of the Lord – “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working, which works in me mightily”.

While we see these words or phrases that speak of man’s responsibility concerning salvation, we also see that in each of those, it is actually God who enables man to do what is required of him. Therefore, salvation is definitely of God, from beginning to end, so that no man can boast.

Do you remember God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac? When God prevented Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, but provided the ram for the sacrifice, Abraham saw God as Jehovah-Jireh or “the God who provides”. What does this show us? It shows us that God provides what He demands of us. He either provides what is required OR lives within us, empowering us to do what He requires of us.

Having said this, I must emphasize that we will never enter into and experience Christ’s salvation in its fulness unless we fulfill our responsibilities. Although God provided the ram for the sacrifice, Abraham had to get hold of the ram and sacrifice it just as you and I have the responsibility to put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit. The New testament has several references to this possibility of not experiencing all of Christ’s salvation unless we fulfill our responsibilities.

Why this seeming dichotomy? On the one hand, we see that it is God who enables man to do what is required of him. On the other hand, we see that we will not experience Christ’s salvation in its fulness unless we fulfill our responsibilities.

The reason for this seeming dichotomy is because of the fact that we have a free will – we can resist His promptings, quench His Spirit, rebel against His leading and feed the flesh, among others.

What should we do then?

We ought to simply be completely yielded to Christ so that He can live within us to do what He requires of us.

 

20/20 vision

20/20 vision indicates that we are able to see the same line of letters that a normal person can, at a distance of 20 feet. When a person is unable to see clearly, there is a need for a correction, often through the use of spectacles.

As Christians, we can easily get distracted from the main issues of life and focus on things or issues of interest to us and are unable to focus on things that are in God’s heart. There are many legitimate issues that vie for our attention and often succeed, sometimes to the detriment of our souls. 20/20 vision for the Christian is to see things as God sees them, to focus on things that he focuses on, to prioritise that which He prioritises.

I was drawn to three instances in the Word where we find a focus on things that are not in God’s heart and God’s gentle correction.

1. Mark 9:2-7 In this passage, Jesus takes three of his disciples and goes up a high mountain and was transfigured before them. Moses and Elijah appear and speak with Jesus. The disciples are in such awe at the sight that they propose to make three tabernacles – one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah and to stay there. Immediately, a cloud overshadowed them and God spoke to them saying “This is my beloved son, listen to him“. God gently helps them to see that his desire for them was not to build the tabernacles, but to listen to Jesus. Similarly, as Christians, we can have so many plans either for our own lives or for the church and desire to get into projects that seem right and often get bogged down by them, when all that God wants of us is to listen to Jesus. Listening to Jesus and doing as he directs is what God wants of you.

2. John 21:21,22 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me.” When Jesus met with some disciples at the seashore after his resurrection, he was speaking to Peter. During this conversation, Peter asks Jesus about John, saying “what about him?” Jesus then gently showed him that it was not necessary for him to be concerned about God’s plans for John, rather Peter was to focus on one thing – to follow Jesus. God’s plan for us is to follow Jesus – “to follow the lamb wherever he goes”. Following Jesus’ leading and plans for our lives will bring the greatest satisfaction. He has a plan for your life and will lead you to fulfill that plan. We need not worry about others and God’s plans for others, what is needed is for us to follow Jesus.  The path that God has ordained for us is unique, one that is designed just for us and it will do us immense good to be where God wants us to be.

3. Acts 1:6-8 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked him, saying, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And he said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in his own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” In our day, we find such interest with regard to the second coming of Christ and the signs and prophecy, often to the point of being plain silly – when every change in our natural or political environment becomes a sign that the world is going to end. Well, the disciples were concerned about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. Jesus corrected them, telling them to focus rather on what was absolutely critical – the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the receiving of spiritual power with the aim of being witnesses to Christ. Today, too the Lord wants you to focus on what is necessary, the power of the Holy Spirit.

Stop the unnecessary focus on things that are not necessary or sometimes detrimental to your growth. Do not get into projects that seem right or even into ministry that seems right because of the need, just listen to Jesus. Jesus was not driven by human need, he did what His Father told him to do. There were a multitude of sick people lying at the pool of Bethesda but Jesus healed only one – the paralytic. Make it a point to listen to Jesus. Learn to hear and obey.

You do not have to worry or be envious of God’s plan for someone else – you just follow Jesus. Don’t worry about whether other denominations or churches are as fundamental in doctrine as your church is. God has a wonderful plan for your life and He is committed to fulfill that plan. Be content to just follow Jesus. He is your role model, take his yoke upon you and follow him.

Turn your focus away from too much involvement in the future or in prophecy or in peripheral matters, you focus on being filled with all the fullness of God, on the power of the Holy Spirit. I am not saying that we should not study prophecy or the end times, just warning about an inordinate focus on them. 1 John2 says that if we abide in Him, we will have confidence when he appears and will not shrink back from him in shame. I have noticed that often, it is our lack of power that is such a misrepresentation of Jesus to unbelievers. Seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit and you will receive power to be a witness for Jesus.

20/20 vision. Let us see as God sees.