Receiving The Inheritance – Part 2

5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him. Eph. 6:5-9

In this scripture, Paul addresses the “masters” also.  Unless Christ has worked in them, masters can be downright condescending, and even rude.

There is a story among the people I live with, the Wanyaturu, about a white missionary who found a group of people walking on the road and he decided to give them a “lift” in his pick-up truck. This was during the colonial era. In those days there were neither cars nor any form of motorized transportation, so a “lift” in an old beat-up truck was worth more then than a modern flight from the Sahara to New York City, NY.

And so this kind, benevolent elderly missionary happily drove for hours and hours until, at last, his passengers signalled that they had arrived at their destination. He stopped, and one by one his passengers dropped off the van and when they were all done, they turned and walked off into the bush without saying a word.

The missionary waited for a few minutes and, before they had gone out of earshot, he called them back. The villagers walked back to the truck, at which the missionary instructed them to get back in because, he explained, he had just realized their journey was not over yet.

The missionary turned his truck around and started back on the road he had just come by. Hour after hour he sped along the road as the villagers sat silently in the back. Finally, he arrived at the very spot he had picked them up earlier in the day. He stopped the truck and ordered everyone to step down.

The villagers submissively got out of the truck and silently looked at the missionary’s face, seeking for an answer. The man had an answer for them.

“It is because you did not thank me”, he said, at which he got into his truck and took off, leaving the unfortunate villagers in a cloud of dust. By then it was night, of course.

During colonial times, the white man was master and the black man his servant or slave. This missionary was exercising his rights as master.

But that’s the spirit of the world. You feel sadder for the missionary than even the stranded villagers! The man may have been a missionary all right, but in his heart he was a pagan. With God, there is no “respect of persons”. God does not make a difference between the rich and the poor; between the important and less important of this world; nor between the master and his slave. The only difference that God makes actually lies in our hearts. We can decide to be and to do what God asks of us. That is when God will regard us differently from those who do not.

It is true that work pertains basically to servants; therefore, it might appear as if the rest of us are free to do as we wish. But this is a big trap here. Many people who are not servants lose out on the “inheritance” promised in verse 24 simply because they do not carry the heart of a servant. Most people – especially people who feel they are entitled to some form of importance – do not “serve the Lord Christ” when it comes to relating to or doing things for other people because they have a bossy mind and a bossy attitude. That attitude will not give us Christ’s inheritance because basically such a person is not serving Christ, but their own selves.

Christ received His inheritance from the father by agreeing to become a servant Himself. Let us all, rather – both masters and servants – desire the mind of Christ. The Bible says of Jesus:

“6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:6-8)

At which we will receive Christ’s inheritance:

“9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:9-11)

[A young Nyaturu girl]

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Receiving The Inheritance – Part 1

5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;

7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him. Eph. 6:5-9

For almost two years ago now, one of the brothers in our church has been working as a bus conductor in a certain bus company. The people who own this company, who are Muslims, really mistreat the brother. When he is not on the road they get him to do the most menial jobs at the office: sweeping the office floor, and sometimes the entire compound; cleaning and dusting the tables, windows, doors and even the toilets. His employer treats him like trash simply because he is saved. It is not his job to do these menial tasks, but his employer makes him do them out of spite. He regularly says to him, “I will break you until you agree to become a Muslim.”

His employer’s special “punishment” initially was to make sure the brother would not attend Sunday church service. Even when he was not on the road, he had to ask for permission to attend church by messaging; and if his message was not acknowledged – none of his messages ever were – he had to report at the office.

One day, I told him, “Brother, whenever you are not on the road on Sunday, come to church. God will take care of everything.”

The man began coming to church, and his employer has never asked him a question since.

Initially, the mistreatment he received at the hands of his employer placed a heavy toll on our brother’s patience. He had thought of leaving the job; but jobs are hard to come by nowadays. So he persisted. But the gospel teaches that we are to serve our masters from the heart; how could one serve such masters from the heart?

The secret, as the Bible teaches, is to do things “as unto Christ”, and not to men. Colossians 3:23-24 says:

“23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Our “inheritance”, or reward, is not with men. It is with God, and therefore, it is God that we should serve, and not men. But that’s pretty tough when God commands us to serve Him by serving men!

But let us go back to our key scripture above, Ephesians 6:5-9.

Let us first begin by asking: what does the scripture mean by “neither is there respect of persons with him”?

Remember God is talking to the church here. This scripture therefore simply means that we are all equal in the sight of God. Due to our fallen nature, men have a tendency of categorising men in the natural. Having categorised them, we then handle them according to the categories that we have assigned them. When we encounter a rich or important person, for example, our demeanour changes all of a sudden. We bring out the best in us. Sometimes we can do things that can even surprise us.

Another example is when a person from the Third World meets a person from the West. I know this is tough to admit, but it is true. Under normal circumstances, such an encounter is quite a study in human psychology! But this state of affairs is of God because God said:

“25 … Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Gen. 9:25-26

Some people have a problem with this scripture, but why should you have a problem with something that God said in the natural?

But in the Spirit, praise God, we are all equal in God’s house!

That is why the Bible is quick to remind the church that with God there is no respect of persons, lest any believer consider their natural score as anything with God. God only distinguishes in the Spirit, and this is why we need to strive to serve God in the Spirit, i.e. with the fruit of the Spirit. For we who are called to be spiritual, everything is to be done from the heart, the heart of Christ. The Bible tells us that God is love. We are to do everything out of love. When in a position of servanthood (or slavehood), therefore, we will serve out of love – love for the person we are serving and love for Christ.

Love engages our hearts. With love, it does not matter whether men see our service or not. We will not work very hard when the master is around and throw our tools down the minute his car drives out of the gate. We will not smile at him but harbor a grudge against him.

No, we will smile at our master and serve him with all our strength because we love him. Love is something far more superior than the cheap menpleasing stuff we carry on with. We could say that love is the true servant. If we do not have love in us, our service is hollow, and futile.

Today, of course, this scripture applies mostly to contractual, paid servants. But in Roman times, when Paul penned these words, most “servants” were actually slaves. And we all know who a slave is. A slave has no freedom of his own and he is to do his master’s bidding by compulsion, if necessary. And yet these slaves were the very people that Paul was addressing here, telling them to work for their masters

“with good will doing service, as to the Lord”!

I believe in our time and generation we are privileged. We have many privileges and one of them is that we are privileged to be free. Let us not abuse this freedom. Let us rather benefit from it by using our freedom to serve both God and men from the heart, with an open heart, joyfully and with all our strength.

The Humility of Zacchaeus – Part 2

1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. Lk. 19:1-9

And now, finally, we get to Zacchaeus. Notice scripture tells us that Zacchaeus was “the chief among the publicans…” Now, there is a difference between the words “the” and “a”. The Bible does not say that Zacchaeus was a chief among the publicans; no, it says he was the chief. That tells us that he was the top executive among the publicans. In modern times, we would have referred to him as the chairman, the managing director, or the CEO.

You probably are wondering who the “publicans” were. These were the revenue guys. They were the tax collectors. In a sense, these guys control the economy of the land. They are therefore very powerful. Zacchaeus was the CEO of the Roman revenue machinery. By any standards, therefore, he was an extremely powerful man.

The Bible also says that Zacchaeus “was rich”. I certainly haven’t heard of a CEO who is not rich. It is a natural virtue of their position. I don’t know about other countries, but in our country, Tanzania, these revenue guys are the highest paid of any sector within the government. That does not mean that these people necessarily amass all their wealth in legitimate ways. Some don’t, as Zacchaeus owns up in verse 8. But, whether by hook or by crook, Zacchaeus was an extremely rich man.

And now – wonders! – we see this Zacchaeus running. I haven’t heard of a CEO running, unless it is a form of exercise prescribed to him by his personal physician. I very much doubt that even the president of the U.S.A. would cause any corporate executive to run for any reason whatsoever. Such a man or woman has people under him who will run if some running needs to be done. But Zacchaeus ran, and his running had even nothing to do with his occupation. Zacchaeus ran because he wanted to see Jesus!

Then, the Bible says, Zacchaeus found out he would not be able to see Jesus on account of the crowds and because he was short in stature, so he climbed atop a tree. The chief of the publicans climbed atop a tree to see Jesus!

The founding father of our nation, “Mwalimu” Julius Nyerere, was a great man by any standards. During his burial, the crowds were so huge that some people had to climb atop trees to see his casket passing by. Needless to say, and with all due respect both to the Word of God and to the men who climbed up the trees, as the Bible says, “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble” climbed up those trees.

But Zacchaeus did..

Now, lest we get carried away by the physical aspect of this story, let us realize that Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus for a completely different reason than a physical one. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus because something burned in his heart. He had a hunger and thirst in him that was not physical. There was something troubling him on the inside and he somehow knew – or hoped – that Jesus could meet his need.

And Jesus, when He had arrived at the place where Zacchaeus was, the Bible tells us that

“… he looked up, and saw him”.

When the Bible says that Jesus “saw him”, it is not talking in the natural. It is saying that Jesus saw Zacchaeus in the Spirit. He saw right into Zacchaeus’ heart and He saw the hunger there. And right away Jesus knew He had a work to do. How so wonderful! When God meets a willing and ready heart, He ceases all His programs and focuses all His attention on that particular heart. The Bible says:

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” (2 Chron. 16:9)

Jesus therefore looked up and told Zacchaeus,

Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.”

Some people thought that Jesus wanted to go and have a nice meal at rich Zacchaeus’ house. But Jesus had never had a food agenda. He was after Zacchaeus’ soul.

Upon meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus discovered he had found the one thing that could assuage the hunger in his heart. He had found true riches. So much so that he was ready to sacrifice all his earthly possessions. Having made up his mind, he stood up and declared:

Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.”

Some things are not written in the Bible, but I believe Jesus must have been wiping the tears from His eyes upon hearing this man’s words. Unlike the rich young ruler that we read of in Luke chapter 18, Zacchaeus had given up all his worldly possessions to the end that he might gain Christ, that he might gain life, and eternal riches.

At which Jesus declared:

This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”

By lowering himself and casting away his pride, rich and powerful Zacchaeus had “cast his bread upon the waters” and now he had finally found it (Eccl. 11:1). There is a price to pay for our salvation. The price begins with a humble heart. We cannot bribe God with any amount of money, or any amount of singing or ministry. God looks upon the heart, the humble heart. For the humble man or woman, God will stop everything and do a work in that man or woman.

And, pray, need we state the end product of a heart upon which the Lord Jesus Christ has worked?

The Humility of Zacchaeus -Part 1

1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. Lk. 19:1-9

I had set out to write about Zaccheaus, but things sort of got out of hand…

I am convinced in my heart that God has a special place for the man with a humble heart. Above all things, I am convinced, God hates a proud heart. And I believe it is the same with us. Consider the murderer who can say, “I am sorry” and mean it. Most of us would look at such a man with a different eye. Nearly every sin is forgivable if the perpetrator can show enough remorse.

With God, of course, it is much more so. Think about the case of David and Uriah in 2 Samuel 11. David did what no man ought ever to do – he slept with another man’s wife and, to cover up his crime, he had that man killed. Moreover, after Uriah was killed, David sent and had the man’s wife brought to him and David took her and made her his wife. I often wonder what any of us righteous people would have done to David had we been in God’s place. I will leave that to your imagination.

But God, who is infinitely more righteous than we, planned on doing worse than any of us could have conceived. He planned to kill David among a host of other things that He intended to punish him with.

But the Bible says that, upon hearing from the Prophet Nathan the sentence that God had passed upon him, David humbled himself before the Lord and declared,

“I have sinned against the LORD.” (2 Sam. 12:13)

The difference between God and us is that God is quick to let go of His anger. Upon hearing David’s humble reply, the Bible says:

“And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.”

It was that quick with God. God is not quick to anger as we are. On the contrary, He is quick to show mercy to a repentant heart.

The word “also” here means that God hearkened to David when He saw David’s humility. He regarded David with a merciful heart.

I am also reminded of another Israelite king. This king’s name was Manasseh. Let us see how totally evil this man was.

“1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: 2 But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. 3 For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. 4 Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever. 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 6 And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. 7 And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: 8 Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. 9 So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. 10 And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.”

2 Kings 21:16 adds:

Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.”

But on reading the account in 2 Chronicles further we find something else, something different about this king:

11 Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. 12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God. 14 Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah. 15 And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. 16 And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. 17 Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the LORD their God only. 18 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel. 19 His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sin, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers. 20 So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.” (2 Chron. 33:1-20)

I used to wonder why God would allow such an evil king to reign for 55 years. That’s way too long for such a horrible man!

But then I realized that Manasseh actually reigned two terms in Israel. During his first reign he did all that evil. Eventually, God caught up with him and He had him pay for his folly by banishing him into exile. While in exile, though, the Bible says of this king:

“12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.” (2 Chron. 33:12-13)

God heard Manasseh’s humble cry and, in spite of the fact that he had done so much wickedness against God, God reinstated him to the throne, and Manasseh reigned for another term where he restored nearly all the work of the Lord that he had torn down during his first reign.

Yes, God does indeed have a soft spot for the man with a humble heart.

[Below: God shows great mercy to the repentant in heart]

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The Basis For Our Peace

I remember once, many years ago, when we had just began to hear the gospel of the cross, that a man of God came to our church and preached a message in which I remember only the words, “Put down your weapons!”

He repeated this phrase over and over in the course of his sermon.

Over the years, I have come to discover just how much to the point this man was. We have so much weaponry in our hearts it makes a mockery of all the munitions in the entire world. And the enormity of our weaponry is not just in its sheer size and abundance but, more ominously, in its power of annihilation. We have weaponry in us that can devastate a soul, something which all the worldly artillery does not have the capacity to do.

Just imagine what a misplaced word can do to a brother or a sister. Or, more appropriately, a deliberately well-aimed barb, sent in not to edify, but to destroy… to destroy someone’s soul.

Imagine what can be born out of a heart that is not well: Jesus listed the things that can come out of such a heart:

“21 evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mk. 7:21-22).

Imagine the damage that a single God-less thought can do, even to yourself.

The things that come from our unregenerate hearts will nearly always manifest themselves in the natural, and sometimes they will flare out into verbal or even physical violence.

There is so much violence in the human heart, so much war and uproar!

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. “ (Gen. 6:11)

The way of peace they know not…” (!s. 59:8).

One of the names of our Saviour, Jesus Christ is, “The Prince of Peace.” (Is. 9:6) All the violence in our hearts is there on account of the King of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ, being denied His royal place in our hearts.

Somehow, we have got to make sure that our faith in Christ is just not in our words or in our minds. Our faith must have a tangible relationship to the lives we live. This can only come about when the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, is firmly enthroned in our hearts. And the Bible makes it clear that there is only one Christ: the crucified Christ, who also rose again (1 Cor. 1:23; 2:2).

That is why we must have a revelation of the cross in our hearts. This revelation is the only thing that has the power to make us put down our carnal weapons. And when we put down our carnal weapons, there will be true peace in our hearts, which is the basis for true victory in the Spirit.

[Below: Once in a while you stumble upon a great song, beautifully sang]

“… But God hath called us to peace”

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”

I often wonder about the man who wrote these words, Horatio Spafford. It is not so much the tragedy that moved him to pen these words that awes me; but the fact that a man – any man – could write such words, regardless of the circumstances he had faced in life. The misfortune that overtook Mr. Spafford was horrific in its own right; but the fact is, many of us can hardly show a fraction of the kind of inner peace that he demonstrated when we find ourselves undergoing the slightest discomfort. There are some of us, saints, for whom even an itch is enough to wipe away all the peace in their lives. We will utter every kind of selfish baloney simply because there probably is not enough hot water to wash away the sweat that is causing our itch!

The Bible talks a lot about peace. Let us consider a few scriptures in this regard.

In practically every epistle of his, except the letter to the Hebrews, the first sentence that the Apostle Paul invariably begins his letters with is:

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

In the Book of Hebrews, he ends by saying:

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus…”

Paul talks of “the God of peace”; how important this peace must be to us, then!

To the beloved sons – Timothy and Titus – that he had begotten in the Spirit, Paul added the word “mercy”. In his first epistle to Timothy, he writes:

“Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Tim. 1:2)

And in 2 Timothy he writes:

“To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2 Tim. 1:2)

To Titus he writes:

“To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Tit. 1:4).

Let us digress a little bit and ask, why “mercy” specifically to these two?

The word “mercy” talks of compassion. This word, therefore, reflects how dear Paul held these two disciples of his. They were his own “blood and flesh”, so to speak, in the Spirit.

And compassionate he had to be towards them, not just on account of having begotten them in the Spirit, but, more importantly, because he was aware that, as men who led others, they would of necessity have to walk the same road that he had walked for the gospel’s sake. He knew all too well how tough that road was, and His heart yearned for them; indeed, yearned for God’s mercy to be upon them as they would literally pass through the “valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4).

Paul uses the word “mercy” here in much the same way that Jesus used the word “lambs” to refer to his sheep, the church, when He addressed Peter in John 21:15. It is a sign of inexpressible love.

But… back to deliberating on the peace of God.

You will notice that the Apostle Paul ended up talking about grace and peace more than joy in his epistles. It therefore beats God the way we emphasize on joy rather than peace in our sermons. You invariably hear more in church about “the joy of the Lord” than “peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

It shows that we have fallen short in our understanding of God. Had the Apostle Paul understood God the way we do, he would have began his letters with “joy” rather than “peace”. Moreover, there are 51 references to “peace” in the Pauline epistles, compared to only 26 references to “joy”. That’s nearly double the number! Not that joy is less important. But this emphasis, coupled with Paul’s salutations of “grace and peace” to the churches, gives us an understanding of the foundational importance of both these Godly attributes in our lives. (Paul uses the word “grace” 99 times in his letters!)

Grace and peace are the basis of everything else that we can bear in the Spirit for the Kingdom of God. Grace is the tap root. Peace are the primary roots. Everything else in our lives depends on these two attributes in our lives.

If we do not have peace in our hearts, we cannot accomplish anything in the Spirit. Let us go on and notice further the strange way the Bible emphasizes the word “peace”:

“And the way of peace have they not known” (Rom. 3:17).

Is that not so much like many of us? Even though we have been saved by the Lord Jesus Christ, yet the peace of God seems to elude us on so many fronts. Much of the time we seem to have peace only when things are going our way.

How about:

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:7)

Notice, here, that life and peace are placed on an equal pedestal in the eyes of God.

And how about:

“but God hath called us to peace.” (1 Cor. 7:15)

And, finally,

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” (Rom. 14:17)

In other words, of the many things that the Kingdom of God consists of, peace is right there, among the top three. How important the peace of God is, then, to us as children of God; and how much we should make sure this peace is there always in our hearts for us to be effective in the Kingdom of God.

[“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7]

Our Hearts – God’s Husbandry

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 1 Cor. 3:9

It has been some time since I last posted on this blog. During the time that I was away, however, God was teaching me something valuable, which is what I want to share with you today. God has been teaching me that we are His “husbandry”, that we His building.

The word “husbandry” simply means garden or farm. We work our gardens, or our farms. In the same manner, God also works His garden, which is us.

And in the same manner that we painstakingly build our houses, God also builds His.

But exactly which part of us is God building? And which part, exactly, is He working as His garden? It is our hearts. God’s garden, God’s building, is the human heart, and especially the heart that is surrendered to Him. When we surrender our hearts to God, we become His husbandry and He begins to work in us.

The heart is God’s turf.

Now, if we want our gardens to be clean and orderly, how much more does our Lord want His garden to be clean and orderly? If we can consider and take care of our earthly abodes to such an extent, how much more the heavenly one? God therefore wants us to look after the cleanliness and orderliness of our hearts above all things.

That being the case, and considering that God has enemies – Satan and his fallen angels – there are so many things that will come to try and dirty or “rubbish” our hearts.

In the above scripture, Paul says that he and the team of ministers that was with him were “labourers together with God”. In other words, Paul was saying that he and God were working God’s people’s hearts. They were tilling them, manuring them, and caring for them in every sensee of the word. It also means that they were pruning them (which is not a very enjoyable experience for the plants!)

That is what a preacher ought to be doing. Every preacher ought to care about the condition of the hearts of his flock. Any other agenda is mere earthly, motivational speaking, which has absolutely nothing to do with God’s spiritual agenda for men. Why do you think the Apostle Paul would write:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you… I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:1-2)

The Apostle Paul could have preached so many things to these people. He could have preached the world to them. But he preached them nothing apart from how to take up their cross and follow Christ. That is how God takes care of His garden, which is our hearts.

Jesus never changes. We must strive to guard our hearts at all times in order to be found safe and sound in Him. We must at every opportunity refuse to allow into our hearts things that will dirty them. The things in question are, basically, the works of the flesh.

“19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like…” (Gal. 5:19-21)

These are the things that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we must never allow into our hearts. The Holy Spirit has been given to us for this very purpose.

We must not hearken to new age gospels that teach us that we must care for our bodies as much as we care for our spirits. There are people who teach that because the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, then it must be cared for to the same extent that our spirits are cared for.

But you would have a hard time convincing the poor, beggarly and sore-infested Lazarus that we read of in the Bible of such an outlook on life. The Bible actually states that Lazarus went to heaven while the rich man who fed himself sumptuously went to hell. Much food for thought there.

God is not bothered if you are dirty or poor or underfed. If God can allow us to live abundant earthly lives, praise the Lord! But God is infinitely more concerned about the condition of our hearts. It is our hearts, not our bodies, that will live with Him forever in heaven.