“Christ Crucified”!

But we preach Christ crucified… 1 Cor. 1:23

I spent the whole of last week together with my pastor friend, Paul Dude, doing a follow-up seminar in one of our village churches. The village is called Matongo, situated some 40 or so kilometers to the south-east of the town of Singida. Throughout the duration of the entire week, the Lord laid it heavily on my heart to preach “Christ crucified”. Every day I would stand at the pulpit and I would open my Bible and descend on that scripture like my life depended on it (which it does, of course). On every occasion that I stood up to speak I couldn’t find anything else to speak about.

I was literally with the Apostle Paul, who declared:

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

But I clearly recall the reason I felt so compelled to speak on nothing else but “Christ crucified”. Once again, it was the Lord who laid this heavily on my heart. The very life, I realized, of this small congregation as a church depended solely on the singular revelation of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified”.

In other words, the guarantee for the security and spiritual welfare of the church in Matongo lay in a daily revelation of these simple words.

I spoke to them about how when the Corinthians left the revelation of “Christ crucified” all hell (literally) broke loose in that church. It was the same also with the Galatian church. But wherever the cross of Jesus reigned in the church, it crucified every aspect of the flesh in people’s lives; and the life of Christ reigned unbounded.

“Christ crucified”! They were the sweetest words this small congregation had ever heard. And every day, for a whole week, they woke up to those words.

At the end of the seminar, the tears were freely flowing down everyone’s face, including myself and Dude. We realized just how much we needed this revelation – daily – in our lives. We realized how much the flesh (our flesh) opposes the will of God when we fail to crucify our bodies!

When we left Matongo on Sunday afternoon, there couldn’t be a happier congregation in the world. And there couldn’t be a happier couple of small time preachers in the world!

“Christ crucified”! What a revelation! What power; and what wisdom of God in those two simple words.

“But we preach Christ crucified… unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

[Our visit in photos]

The small congregation of Matongo, shot to the brim with “Christ crucified”!

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The kids’ Sunday School church

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Portions of the local cuisine

The village of Matongo is situated on a hill

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Just beyond the village lies the great valley called “Mbuga Ntiga” (the valley of giraffes), so called because not too long ago, wild animals reigned supreme here and the giraffe was the most visible due to its height; hence the name, “Mbuga Ntiga”

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My best friend, Jessica

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The room where Dude and I spent the week. Being both great lovers of the outdoors, we were extremely pleased to be lodged in a house that lay at the very edge of the village, in a room that had a window overlooking the great “Mbuga Ntiga”

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Arriving home late on Sunday evening, I found waiting for me the best gift that my eyes could possibly lay sight of: my dear wife, Flo

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Pleasing God: Paul’s Body

One day my daughter came complaining to me, and she said, “Dad, someone has been using my bathing scrubber, and you know how sensitive my skin is.”

Unfortunately for her, I had just bee reading 2 Corinthians 11, and the anointing from those words was still buzzing all around and about and in me. So I said to her, “Oh, I am sorry. But you know our house is like a half way house, with many people coming and going, and you and I have no way of knowing who might have been using your scrubber. I think the only person you can report that problem to is God. Oh”, I finished her off, “you can also talk to the Apostle Paul about your sensitive skin.”

She smiled ruefully, because she knew exactly what I was about. I had warned my children long ago that we had to expect to live like pilgrims in our own house.

The words of the Apostle Paul.

“From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” (Gal. 6:17)

Notice the words, “my body”. This scripture is talking about Paul’s physical body. Here Paul says that he bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus. What were those marks?

I have had the misfortune of hearing American preachers who claim that they cannot fly economy because their bodies cannot cope with the stress of traveling bundled up! They claim they need more leg room and more ‘prayer room’ (and more refined cuisine, of course), and for this reason they can only travel first class. Or in private jets.

It is clear that such a person has never been called by God to preach the gospel. Otherwise how would they have preached in the days of the Early Church when the only thing to ride was a donkey. And if one wanted to fly (which so many modern preachers are dying for) they would have had to attach wings to that same donkey! And if for some miraculous reason that worked and one now needed to fly first class, they probably would have had to sit on the donkey’s head. First class.

Today’s preachers care more about their bodies than the gospel they claim they are called to preach.

I can assure you, right away, that God has never needed such people. God cannot use such people. Why? Because it is clear exactly what kind of person God uses.

“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him” (Is. 53:10)

Who is that whom the Lord is pleased to bruise? It is the Servant He loves using most. That scripture is talking of our Lord Jesus, the Person it pleased God to use.The Bible makes clear that the person that God uses He bruises. God will definitely allow some form of physical suffering or discomfort upon the person He wants to use. Some more than others, of course. But God will not allow us to serve Him on our (body’s) terms.

And hence it was so with the Apostle Paul also. Paul’s body partook of the sufferings of Christ. If you got unlucky (or lucky, can’t decide which) enough to look at Paul’s body, it was an undesirable mess. How do you think a body that has gone through the ordeals that Paul went through looked like?

Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.” (2 Cor. 11:24)

I don’t know how I arrived there (for I thought I knew the Bible well), but somehow, for a long time, I always thought this scripture said “one time” instead of “five times”. But here, it says clearly that Paul received forty stripes save one five times. In practical terms it means the Jews got hold of Paul, stripped him down to his waist, made him kneel down in public, and flogged him 39 times with a whip. And they did this not once, but five times!

Unless I am much mistaken, by the end of the “five times”, Paul’s skin must have looked like the hide of a wild animal. Were all the world’s perfumers to come and attend to Paul’s skin, it would not have responded to their massagings and panderings.

And yet, this was not the end of Paul’s physical suffering.

Thrice was I beaten with rods…” (v.25)

Now it was no longer whips, but rods. You can imagine the nerve and tissue damage that such beatings caused on Paul’s body. And I am pretty sure God was not miraculously ‘renewing’ Paul’s body, as He did Naaman’s (2 Ki. 5:14). God gave Paul only the necessary respite. On the contrary, this body was getting more knobby, twisted, mis-shapen, and bent.

“once was I stoned…”

They stoned Paul so severely that they left him for dead. Not until the disciples came and prayed over him, and the breath of the Holy Spirit passed over him, and he arose.

You might not know it, but this was the deadliest of them all. When stoning, they aim at the head. Apart from dying an agonizing death, the head becomes completely deformed. It was only by the grace of God that Paul would come out of such an ordeal alive. And God allowed this particular form of suffering only once; otherwise He might have lost His precious vessel.

After this ordeal, therefore, Paul’s head never looked the same. It was deformed in many different ways. The stoning robbed him of his peculiar facial features and it was no longer decipherable whether he had once been handsome or not. In his body, Paul was getting further and further from being human! But in the Spirit, God gave him the grace to soldier on. Paul – the suffering Paul – was God’s special vessel. This was the vessel that God was pleased to use!

And still the physical suffering would not end. Paul goes on:

“26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”

God relentlessly and mercilessly smashed and shattered Paul’s body – and will. At the end of it all, Paul’s body was extremely scarred and deformed. His body was not a sight that anyone would desire to see. He himself states:

“… for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” (1 Cor. 4:9)

Paul’s body was a spectacle. For this reason, false apostles and false brethren made fun of Paul’s body:

“For his letters, they say, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak and his speech contemptible.” (2 Cor. 10:10)

You wonder, What kind of man was the Apostle Paul? Who would accept such a life? The even more incredible fact was that Paul rejoiced in his sufferings (2 Cor. 12:10).

But – what a lesson for us! The Bible here teaches us that we cannot worry about our bodies and expect to please or do the will of God. It is impossible. It is written of our Lord Jesus Christ,

“5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepred me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.”

Notice the word “pleasure” there. It gives the Lord the greatest pleasure when we give our bodies to suffer for the gospel’s sake. Our bodies suffering on account of Christ is what pleases God most.

What a different outlook on life for us!

Unfortunately, this is a lesson that is alien to the general body of Christ today, thanks to all the teachings that have come to the church lately through your favorite apostles and prophets from down south. The teachers of the modern-era church teach only healing and the general prosperity of the body.

May God give us grace. May He give us grace to stop worrying about our bodies. Indeed, may we move on beyond there and give our bodies to suffer for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

[Our love for our bodies is God’s biggest headache]

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Where’s The Light?

… this present evil world Gal. 1:4

Have you ever looked out at night? What do you see? Darkness, of course. I am sure this is no news for anyone. What might be news is that the darkness you see out there at night signifies the spiritual condition of this present world. In the Bible, evil is equated to darkness. And the physical darkness that we see in the world is an metaphor or symbol of the spiritual condition of the world. The earth rotates on its axis and we see both light and darkness, signifying the two kingdoms of God and the devil. But in this present world that we live in, the sun has not risen yet. That is why the Bible talks of

the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Eph. 6:12)

In the spirit, the present world is under the rulership of the rulers of darkness. The world is under deep darkness. If you want to know just how evil this present world is, just look out into the night. You will see only darkness. In the spirit world, much, or all of that darkness resides in the heart of man.

But there is something else! At night you see the stars. Bless the Lord for the stars, for they are they that brighten the night (the moon does not). Have you ever gazed up at a starry sky? It is incredibly beautiful.

We are like the stars. We bring light to this present world. How? Through our works of righteousness. In the spirit, the church is the only light in this present world. The sun has not risen yet. When our Lord Jesus Christ comes the second time, then the sun will have risen. Then this present world will run from His presence. The light chases away the light.

At present, as I said, we are like the stars in the sky. We are the only light that shines in this darkness.

Unfortunately, the church today is not shining brightly. I know I will have my critics; but I have to say what needs to be said, namely, (and I need to write it in capital letters) THERE IS REALLY NO MORE CHURCH IN THE WORLD TODAY, JUST A GLIMMER.

How can we say there is a church when what is called “church” today is full of anything and everything (too much to enumerate here) other than the beautiful fruit of the Spirit that shines in darkness; the works of righteousness; fruit that can only be had through an identification with the denial of self, the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Christ; Christ living in us.

How can we say there is a church when the true gospel, the gospel of the cross of Jesus is not being preached in church? On the contrary, we find that the most popular gospel in the church today is that of which the Apostle Paul spoke:

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:22)

God’s people run after miracles, signs and wonders, while others seek after intellectual understandings of scripture rather than desiring the inner work of the cross. But what did Paul preach?

“But we preach Christ crucified… Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:24)

Christ crucified is the real power and wisdom of God.

Judge ye yourselves. Should the church preach any other gospel other than

“Christ crucified”?

Then there is neither power nor wisdom of God. If it preaches anything other than Christ crucified, the church ¬†will never shine like the stars in heaven. It will never bear the fruit of the Spirit – which is the true “light” of the world – without the cross working in her. Look at the Corinthian church. They had all the gifts of the Holy Spirit: so much so that they overlapped each other during ministry. But they had no fruit of the Spirit. They were carnal Christians, babes in Christ.

If we are to grow and become mature in Christ and reveal the glory of Christ in us, we must bend ourselves under the cross and allow it to do all it needs to do in us (breaking us) to the end that all the works of the flesh in us might be crucified and that Christ in all His glory might be seen in us!

[There is really no more church in the world today, just a glimmer]

The Greatest Promise Of All

11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him… (2 Tim. 2:11-12)

What powerful words! What an incredible promise! And right here, as an aside, let me say that I have heard both powerful and unpowerful preachers enumerate the promises that God has for us in the Bible, and I have never heard them mention this one. You wonder, What are Christians being taught in churches today? Aren’t Christians being taken for a ride by the very preachers they have entrusted their souls to? And it is a ride straight to hell.

But let us embark on our lesson today by looking at another incredibly powerful scripture.

“Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Acts 2:24

That’s talking of our Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture here plainly states that it was not possible that death could hold Jesus.

If language is anything to go by, the words “not possible” mean something, don’t they? Another word for “not possible” is “impossible”; and other words for “impossible are, “impracticable”, “unachievable”, “out of the question”.

It is clear, therefore, that there are some things that death can achieve; and there are others that it cannot. That’s interesting, because even the Bible makes clear the power of death, for in 1 Corinthians 15:25-26, we read:

“25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

Death is an incredibly powerful enemy. No man is free from the grip of death. Even the great partriarch David was held by death, as the Bible says in Acts 13:36,

“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption.”

But of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible states:

“But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.” (Acts 13:37)

Death had no power over Jesus simply because it was not possible for it to have power over Him!

“not possible”. What beautiful words! In the context they are in, they probably are the sweetest words in the Bible. But they are not just beautiful; they are also powerful. The power in those words is incomprehensible. And the stratospheric question here is, Why was it not possible that Jesus should be held by death?

The Bible says it is because God would not allow it.

“Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” (Acts 13:35)

God would not suffer, or allow Jesus to be held by the power of death. Again, that is awe-inspiring. How could that be so? Why?

You see, God is the determiner of everything. He is the I AM. All things exist in Him. All things and everything therefore is easily under the control of God. So when God says or does or even so much as wishes something (for He always does so according to His irrefutable wisdom), there is NOTHING that can rebuff Him. In fact, it is much more than that. When God was creating the universe, He just wished it, and it was so.

In the same manner, God did not wish Jesus to see corruption – and it was so.

So how come that every man since Adam has seen corruption but not Jesus? What made Jesus so special? Why would God wish and therefore not allow Jesus to be held by death? Was it on a whim?

Certainly not. The reason why God would not allow Jesus to see corruption is, simply, because Jesus obeyed God! It is that simple; and yet, again, it is not that simple. The price that Jesus paid to obey God is uncomprehendable. The Bible says in Isaiah 53:12 that

“because he hath poured out his soul unto death”.

Jesus poured out his soul unto death. The Bible is full of the sufferings and ultimate ignoble death of Jesus. Jesus lived the kind of life that we find practically impossible to live here on earth.

It is in this context therefore that the Apostle Paul makes clear the importance of our identification with Christ. He tells us that in order for us to achieve anything of value in the Spirit, we MUST identify our lives with the sufferings and death of Christ.

“11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…” (2 Tim. 2:11-12)

Notice the sequence of events here. If we die to self as Christ died to self, we shall have the life of Christ in us here on earth. As the Apostle Paul says,

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” (Gal. 2:20)

If we suffer with Christ here on earth, we shall reign with Him in heaven.

And pray, what, exactly, is suffering with Jesus?

The words of Jesus Himself explain this best.

“39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” (Mat. 5:39-41)

[God’s call to the church is to crucify self just as Christ did]

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It Is All Of God’s Grace

One time at a summer youth camp I was assigned to lead a group Bible quiz session. The minute I settled down in my seat I asked them to give me one of the names of the twenty four elders mentioned in Revelation chapter 4. The reaction I got from the young people was heavenly. It was as if I had asked them to tell me how many stars there are in the sky.

Many times, though, just like these young people, we fail to realize that heaven is about us. We think that heaven is a far-flung place that has nothing to do with us as humans!

So, who are the twenty four elders mentioned in Revelation 4? What are their names?

They are the men that we know of so well in the Bible. They are the twelve sons of Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin; and the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, namely, Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John, the sons of Zebedee; Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James Alphaeus, Simon Zelotes, Judas the brother of James, and Matthias (Genesis 29:32-30:24; 35:18; Luke 6:13-16; Acts 1:26).

These are the men of whom Jesus said,

“Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Mat. 19:28)

In all humility, I submit that in heaven these men might be having new names, different from the ones they had when they were down here on earth; but about who they are there is no question: the twenty four elders who constantly fall down and worship God in heaven with golden vials are the men whose lives the Bible is full of. The golden vials that they hold in heaven talk of perfection; and yet, when you look at the ‘honor roll’ of these men while they were here on earth, in some areas they were not the greatest examples of godliness.

Reuben slept with Bilhah, his father’s wife.

And then there is Simeon and Levi, whose anger is legendary. They went and killed the entire male population of the Shechemite tribe on account of their sister Dinah, who had been defiled.

Judah went in to his daughter-in-law mistaking her for a harlot.

Those are the ones we know of of the sons of Jacob. Except for Joseph and Benjamin, the rest were no better.

Of the apostles of Jesus, none could be more famous than Simon Peter, the man of whom Jesus said,

“17 Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail upon it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth hall be loosed in heaven.” (Mat. 16:24)

Peter was truly a great man according to the picture that Jesus painted of him here. He was a great symbol of the heavens. But this was the same man who would go on and cut off another man’s ear with a sword.

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Jesus called “The sons of thunder” (Mk. 3:17). They had a temper like Hitler’s, and equally great and dark designs. They are famously known to have asked Jesus to allow them to call fire from heaven to consume an entire village (Luke 9:54). They harbored grand thoughts of power and control.

About the rest, whom not much is written, we can only imagine the worst.

Even after Jesus had ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit had come and the power of God was being revealed through them, the apostles still exhibited streaks of imperfection especially with regard to their seeming unwillingness to part ways with the Law of Moses (Gal. 2:11-12; Acts 21:18-21).

But all these men, whose weaknesses we are so well acquainted with, these are the men whom God has chosen to first sit with Christ in heaven.

How about us? Who is the strong man among us? Who does not sin? Who can stand before God on his own merit?

The great Apostle Paul wrote:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am… I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Cor. 15:10)

Let’s all relax. Take a big breathe. Realize you are as mortal as these twenty four men whom God has elevated to behold His face. None are where they are by their own merit. They are all there by the grace of God. Thank God for His grace. And desire to know God’s grace rather than any strength or virtue you think you might possess.

Yes, we are to strive for perfection; but don’t think perfection is just around the bend. It is more about God’s grace than your striving. In fact, take more time to thank God for His grace above anything else that you do. God’s grace ALONE makes us who we are, and gives us any righteousness that we might have. There is NOTHING about us in all this. It is all of God’s grace, mercy and love to us.

No wonder Jesus said that when we kneel down to pray, the very first words that ought to come from our lips are words of praise and thanksgiving to God!!

“After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” (Mat. 6:9)

Take all the time in the world to thank and glorify God for His grace and mercy.

[Imperfect as life is, friends never say goodbye!]

About Worrying… And Judging

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. 1 Cor. 4:5

Oh, how we worry! How we worry about what people think about us. Some of us worry until we develop stomach ulcers.

(I guess that’s why I love President Donald Trump. He never seems to worry about anything!)

I love what the Apostle Paul says here:

“… it is A VERY SMALL THING that I should be judged by you.”

Can you imagine that? And yet here we are, believers, fretting about every little thing that is said about us and frying our hair on account of people’s attitudes towards us. But Paul says he does not worry in the least about what people think or say about him. In other words, Paul is saying that that was the least of his concerns. What a relief!

Of course, there are legitimate worries for the believer; and I am not talking about the stock market. Worrying about the stock market translates to worrying about your stomach, which is something that God is totally against. Actually, there is only one legitimate worry for the believer in the entire world, and that worry is sin in his/her life. That’s why the Apostle Paul talks of

“the hidden things of darkness…”

and

“the counsels of the hearts”.

Yep! That should really worry us. It should worry us if we have dark corners in our hearts. And it should worry us if the counsels of our hearts are not aligned with God’s will. That should really, really, really have us worried!! And we should not stop worrying until we have cleared every trace of darkness from our hearts. Let us strive to live a sinless life through living the crucified life; and we shall experience true freedom!

But there is another side to the coin. There is another side to this grace that we have been called to inherit. Right here the Apostle Paul tells us what that grace is. He talks about not judging things before that time.

“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”

Have you ever realized how quick we are at judging people? By judging, I believe the Apostle Paul meant both good and bad judgments. On the one hand we heap praises on people; and on the other we judge others harshly, largely based on… well, what we don’t know! We think we know people; but we can never really know a person’s heart perfectly. Probably the most difficult thing in this world is knowing absolutely what is in a man’s heart. In fact, it is impossible for mortal man to know what is in another man’s heart. Only God knows our hearts perfectly. We know only in part. So what does scripture tell us here?

Quit praising men; and quit judging men. We should take people at face value and leave the judging and praising to God. If someone lies to you, for example, that is your business only to the extent that, once you learn of his lie, you can have compassion on him and pray for him to repent. Beyond there, leave it to God.

The same goes for the praises. Actually, the only Person you can praise with a perfect heart is our Lord Jesus Christ. Go easy with the rest.

One of the things that I am absolutely sure of on judgment day is that there will be many surprises; and not small ones. Some will be very disturbing. Others, hopefully, beautiful ones. For this reason, the Apostle Paul is beseeching us to keep these things (praises and judgments) to the barest manageable minimum down here. According to the Bible, we don’t know anything yet; and for this reason there is no reason why we should even praise or judge men at all! Let’s leave that to God alone.

Ultimately, I love the fact that there is grace is Christ to live the kind of life that the Apostle Paul lived. That is what we should be truly grateful to God for. Paul lived that kind of life; why can’t we? I pray God therefore that He may enable me – and you – to keep the two important things in our lives in mind: firstly, to mind our own business, as it were; i.e. the business of keeping our hearts clear and sinless; and secondly, to take people at face value and leave the judging and praising to God.

[It is impossible for mortal man to know what is in another man’s heart]

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“I am Crucified With Christ”

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20

The former president of the United States, Barack Obama is famously reported to have stated that the sweetest sound he has ever heard is the Moslem call to prayer, or the “muezzin”. That call has been there since Mohamed; and the Moslems never tire of hearing it.

What about us? What is the sweetest sound that we have ever heard, and that we should never tire of hearing? What are the words that we should daily welcome enthusiastically into our hearts and lives until the end of time?

My vote goes to the words by the Apostle Paul,

“I am crucified with Christ.”

These are the sweetest words that could sincerely come out of the mouth of a Christian believer. After all the singing, after all the praying, after all the preaching, after all our service to God and man; our ultimate destination is to find ourselves crucified with Christ. If we did all of the above without crucifying our flesh, it would amount to nothing.

Indeed, the above words by the Apostle Paul ought to get sweeter and sweeter to the believer’s ear by the day. They ought to be a daily call in our lives, a call that we relish and eagerly look forward to every day of our lives: to absolutely lose self, that the life of Christ may be found in us.

Indeed, our Lord Jesus Christ said so Himself. In Luke 9:23 we read:

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

There is much ado in the church today. Unfortunately, a disproportionate amount is much ado about nothing, for the church has a singular calling, which is to crucify the flesh to the end that Christ may live in us.

[The beautiful land of central Tanzania]

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