A Heavenly Recompense

12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. 13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Lk. 14:12-14

When was the last time that you made a dinner or a supper and invited in the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind to eat of your goods? If you have, blessed are you.

But notice specifically that Jesus is concerned here that we do not seek after worldly recompense in the good that we do. On the contrary, we are to have an eye for a heavenly recompense, at the resurrection of the just. On that day, God will reward those who did not seek to be repaid here on earth.

But, pray, can a Christian desire worldly recompense rather than the heavenly one? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. More times than I can count, I have done good to someone and, if they did not thank me or take notice of it, I felt bad about it. That was the flesh, demanding worldly recompense and leading me to forfeit my heavenly reward.

Walking in the will of God is not a matter of one simply believing in Christ; more importantly, it is about one denying self and taking up their cross and following Christ. The Bible tells us that the flesh wars against the Spirit, and that if we side with it we cannot do the will of God in our lives. And for this reason, therefore, the Bible tells us to walk in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16-17)

It tells us that if we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Have you noticed how we hunger for earthly recompense, including being thanked, noticed, praised and repaid back? The flesh demands worldly recompense. It demands to be paid in kind right here on earth. It has no heavenly agenda, for it is not of heaven.

But when the cross is at work in our lives, we “kill” these kinds of attitudes. We begin to care more about the only thing that really matters: the heavenly recompense. One day we will stand before God and be recompensed for the things that we did here on earth for which no man could repay us back.

It is in the light of this revelation that we can understand and appreciate Jesus’s other teachings.

“Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Mat. 5:42)

In Lk. 6:30, Jesus made that even clearer.

Give to every man that asketh of thee…”

Give to every man. I overheard one brother say that he does not give money to street beggars. He had a grudge against what he called their “laziness”. But, in this scriptures, street beggars fall right in the middle of “every man that asketh of thee”.

Jesus went on to qualify His statements:

“32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.” (Lk. 6:32-34)

Notice the word “thank” there. What was Jesus talking about here? He was referring to the heavenly recompense. One day, God will thank you in a way no man could.

The heavenly stakes are incredibly high. But, again, it can only be that one is truly fighting the good fight of faith that they can do these things. The spiritual man/woman does not need to be recompensed in the natural.


2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Jam. 1:2-4

The first thing I want to say is how attractive the two words “patience” and “perfect” appear to me. They fascinate me. From afar. They draw me to them with a great sense of wonderment.

Is it even possible to imagine that one could ever arrive at being “perfect and entire, wanting nothing” in the Spirit? The thought seems presumptuous. And yet the Apostle James coolly tells us here that it is possible; and he makes it appear so easy. In just a few steps, he makes it possible for us to arrive at Godly perfection.

But… You cannot just wake up one morning and say, “Abracadabra! I am perfect!” To arrive where the Apostle Paul arrived at – “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) – is an incredibly long and painful step process. But it is joyous and relieving in the Spirit.


Every believer loves dancing and rejoicing like David in the Bible. It is all good and acceptable before God to sing with joy when things are going in our favor. But have we ever stopped to think that the Bible specifically commands us to rejoice when things are going against us. Like when we are being opposed. Or when we are financially broke. Or, even, when we are sick.

The charismatic gospel teaches us that anything that comes contrary to our physical, material or financial welfare is of the devil, and that we should rebuke it. But such teachings could not be further from the truth. The true gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that these contrary things try our faith. Our faith is so precious it has to be tried by fire. It will be tried and tried until it stands pure and unadulterated.

For this reason, therefore, we ought to rejoice with extreme joy, not just when things are going well in our lives; but even more so when they are not.

Have you ever suffered a little for the gospel’s sake and rejoiced for it? If you have, you are on the right track.


“2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

I have absolutely no doubt that patience is a virtue that most of us would give anything to have. From reading this scripture, it is clear that patience is a step away from Godly perfection. The man who can exhibit Godly restraint in the face of opposition is not far from being perfected in the Spirit (or they already are).

But did you ever stop to think about the cost of patience? The Bible gives it right there. The cost of patience, the Bible says, is joyfully accepting “divers temptations” in one’s life.

The call to salvation is no picnic. On the contrary, it is a call to deny ourselves and to take up our cross and follow Christ in His sufferings and death.

The ‘King’s Kids’ creed and the prosperity gospel that birthed it both belong to the garbage dump. Those are silly and childish beliefs and they will never work patience in anyone’s heart.

What does scripture mean by ” the trying of your faith worketh patience”?

Far from the popular belief that our faith is for claiming cars and private jets, scripture here makes it abundantly clear that our faith has been given to us in order that we may endure suffering. Our faith brings far more glorious blessings than the material blessings of this world. Yes, it is true that the trying of your faith could bring you a new car, money or any other material blessing. But that is a very small blessing.

The Bible tells us what the grand prize is when it comes to the trying of our faith. The Bible says it is… patience. Patience connotes suffering. But it is also a blessing of unspeakable magnitude. Why? Because it is eternal. As our faith is tried over and over in the fire of adversity, it grows stronger and stronger and it brings down bigger and bigger strongholds of the enemy. Like our pride. Or anger. Or fear.


“But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Are we so soon there? Have we so soon arrived at perfection? Yes, we have. But… not just yet. Notice that we have to “let patience have her perfect work” in order for us to be perfected.

Becoming perfect is a result of a life that is ruled by patience. If you are the kind of believer who cannot be touched, you need to know that you are not letting patience have her perfect work in you. In other words, you are not allowing the cross in your life. But the cross is exactly what you need. You need to work at killing your ego or whatever it is that is preventing you from becoming patient.

And how, pray, do you go about working on that? It is by ‘letting’. We have to allow things into our lives; things that chafe at us. In other words, be happy when trials and temptations are chipping away at your anger, pride, etc.

When we have become perfectly patient, that is when perfection begins working in us. When we have been perfected in patience, then we are “perfect and entire, wanting nothing”.

Whew! what a work! But, again, what a goal!

Count Your Blessings

Hi everyone. Shouldn’t we be grateful to God always for the littlest good that He does for us? But He does far more good than that for us.

And, pray, shouldn’t we be thankful even when the cross seems difficult to bear?

When we have the right (i.e. spiritual) eyes, we can see the good that God is always working on our behalf in every situation; and we can thank Him.

Count your blessings one by one, and you will have reason to praise and thank God.

A Ministry Of The Spirit! – Part 3

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Mat. 16:15-17

Did you ever stop to think that the flesh has its own revelation? Yes, it does. That was exactly what our Lord Jesus said here.  There is a revelation of the flesh just as much as there is a revelation of the Spirit; but Jesus qualified the latter by calling it a blessing:

“Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

But, pray, what was revealed to Peter, this which Jesus called a blessing?

It was Jesus! It was revealed to Peter that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God”!

And Jesus told Peter he was blessed for having that knowledge! This is the same revelation we need to have.

The revelation that is of the flesh is not a blessing. This ‘revelation’ does not see Jesus. It sees other things. And yet, paradoxically, it is this very revelation that is considered by the contemporary church a ‘blessing’. If someone prospers materially, they call it a blessing! Talk of a back to back understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ!!

The prosperity gospel is a product of the revelation that comes from the flesh. It is the flesh that sees the dollar sign; the Spirit does not. It is the flesh that sees and speaks of houses and lands and the general well-being of the body; the Spirit does not.

Even miracles and healing are not what the Spirit is about per se. Why else would the Apostle Paul write:

“22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified…”? (1 Cor. 1:22-23)

But probably the most important precedent in this regard is to be found in the Old Testament, in 1 Kings 19:11-13. Let us consider this portion of scripture.

“11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?”

Praise be to God, the Great God who is beyond all understanding! The LORD passed by and there was a strong wind, a wind so strong that it rent the mountains; but the LORD was not in that wind!

Then came an earthquake, and after that a fire; but God was in neither of those things. These were extremely powerful manifestations of the power of God; but God was not in them!

God instead was a still small voice. In none of the great signs and wonders that God did before Elijah did Elijah hear God’s voice. But, after they were all done, in the silence that followed, Elijah heard God’s voice.

What does that all this tell us?

To me it goes something like this: under the New Covenant, God passes by and miracles happen, healings occur, people are blessed materially and great signs and wonders are seen; but God is not in those things. God is in… a voice!

The Bible says in Hebrews 1:1-2:

“1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son…”

God is in His Word. And His Word is His Son. And God’s Son is Jesus Christ. When you connect the dots in the Spirit, you realize that everything in the Bible talks of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son. And, according to the Apostle Paul, there is only one Jesus: “Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)

Under the ministry of the Holy Spirit, one thing and one thing alone is emphasized: to know Him, Christ. How? Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Christ. That is why the Apostle Paul says:

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)

Paul did not follow Christ by singing, “Glory, glory, hallelujah!” You can sing that and still not be a follower of Christ. Paul became a follower of Christ by crucifying the flesh daily.

If a minister emphasizes healing of the body over spiritual wellness, his doctrine is of the flesh. I have heard of a ministry somewhere out there that has something called a healing school. A healing school!

Whatever that is, it cannot be of the Spirit. The Spirit cannot initiate a school dedicated to the healing of the body. The Holy Spirit has only one ‘school’ – one that deals with the healing of the heart. And that school has only one subject in its curriculum: the revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ. It is at the cross where, as our bodies are broken, that our hearts are healed.

And just to make things clearer still, even 1 Peter 2:24 does not refer to physical healing as most believers have been taught. It is not just on account of the context of that particular portion of scripture that I say this (the context certainly supports that stand); but on account of the entire Biblical context. The ministry of the Spirit is primarily for the healing of our souls.

So, to recap: yes, the flesh also has its own revelation. This ‘revelation’ involves cars, private jets, bling, lands, houses, paid bills, physical healing, job promotion, death to perceived enemies, visas to the U.S., the entire gamut. These are the things the flesh calls blessings.

But the man who is filled with the Spirit sees the cross. He feels happy for he has found the place where he can crucify “the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal. 5:24)

It is the cross that the spiritual man celebrates. And in so doing, in his life are fulfilled the words of the Apostle Paul:

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Gal. 6:14)

Blessed is such a man, for to know Christ, and Him crucifed, constitutes the true spiritual blessing.

Postscript: Moments after Peter had received this great spiritual revelation from God, the enemy broke through his weak defenses and blind-sided him with a powerful revelation from his own flesh.

“21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Mat. 16:21-23)

[As ‘primitive’ as both the mode of transportation and the road pictured here might appear, in the not-too-distant past, travelers in rural Tanzania had to rely on only one means of transport: their two bare feet, sometimes crossing hundreds of miles on foot to reach their destination]


“Angels Unawares”!

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Heb. 13:2

Who are the “strangers” the Bible is referring to here? A Biblical stranger is any person – apart from yourself – who has a need. It could even be your next door neighbor. But primarily, here, it refers to people that we do not know or whom under normal circumstances we could hardly care about.

Our key scripture above refers, chiefly, to the account, in Genesis chapter 18, of how Abraham entertained total strangers who just happened to be the LORD Himself and two of His angels. Let us look at this account up close.

“1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. 6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. 7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. 9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.”

In this account, we can clearly see Abraham’s attitude to strangers in the way he treated the three men. Abraham had a heart of mercy. He lifts up his eyes and sees three men standing outside his tent “in the heat of the day”. This little detail – “in the heat of the day” – indicates that the men were tired, exhausted and in need.

Abraham does not know they are angels. The LORD was not wearing a three-piece suit, nor did He roll up in a private jet. He came on foot and He looked tired and hungry.

Clearly, the men have come a long way and they probably have a long way to go. Abraham decides he cannot let them pass. He must do something for them! His heart trembles with mercy – and generosity.

But first, he must get their permission. Abraham has a servant’s heart. Just because he has something to give to these men, Abraham does not walk up to them with his hands stuck in his pockets and tell them, “I can see you are hungry. Now, sit down and let me see what I can do for you. And don’t make noise. I don’t like noise around my house.”

Bless the Lord, no. Abraham does not talk or behave like that. Instead, he tells them:

“3 My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant.”

Abraham calls himself their servant and deliberately makes these strangers his lords. To which they replied,

So do, as thou hast said.”

Abraham springs into action. Abraham has a large heart. Without thinking, his heart knows exactly what it needs to do to refresh these exhausted men. The rest, as they say, is history. The “morsel of bread” that he sets out to prepare for them turns out to be a banquet!

It could be that Abraham did not prepare a good and tender calf for every stranger who passed by… or, it may well be that he did. After all, not many people passed through the dry plains of Mamre in those days and Abraham’s heart was able to take care of anyone who had a need. But, whatever he did or did not do, Abraham’s heart to strangers, or people in need, is clearly revealed in these scriptures.

That is unlike so many of us. Many of us have an ‘accountant’ mind where keeping an account of the things we own is of more importance to us than helping someone in need. To many people, a stranger – or a needy person – is an intrusion into their lives! But it was not so with Abraham.

Has anyone passed by your house or your place of work lately, whom you felt was not deserving of your attention? They probably did not meet your (worldly) criteria of someone you needed to do a favor to.

Most people will bend over backwards to extend their warmest welcome to people they know or to people who look important – or to people they want to help – but not to “other” people.

But God comes incognito. When the Lord decides to visit you in person He does not send a celebrity your way. Nor does He send your best friend around. On the contrary, He will send a type of person that you couldn’t care about – or the kind of person that you loathe. That will be your angel. God knows our hearts and He knows all the pride and selfishness in us. This is a test that He therefore sets before us. Being the God of heaven, He is not going to give us kindergarten stuff. God will give us something that will test us to the core, for He longs to mature us in the Spirit.

But this test comes with a blessing. According to His good purposes, God sometimes does bless us materially to the extent that we do the same to others. But it is not the material blessing which we are to seek after, and that is why it is not a law for God to bless us in that manner. It is the fruit of the Spirit that is God’s true blessing to us. The Bible, in Luke 6:38, says:

“30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. 31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Lk. 6:30-38)

That is God’s character. But, again, notice God’s many promises to us when we “entertain strangers”. And God is faithful, which means He will fulfill every promise of His.

It all hinges on the heart. Do we have a loving, tender heart? Or is our heart hard and selfish and judgemental?

I thank God for the many men and women of God the world over who have exactly this heart. I personally have had the honor of coming across some of them. They are not necessarily the people who can preach the cross very well. But they are brothers and sisters who can live it.

God will bless these people with a heavenly blessing.


We Have A Responsibility

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. Lk. 2:52

Recently a brother and I were watching the popular “Jesus” movie at home. This is the movie that is adapted from the Gospel of St. Luke, and it attempts to narrate the gospel word for word. It has been translated into countless languages, and here we were watching the Swahili version. It is very popular here.

When the narrator arrived at Luke 2:52 he said, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and was loved by both God and man.”

Immediately, the brother said, “Y’know what? The narrator there just removed the responsibility from Jesus.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

The brother replied, “’Being loved’ is not the same as ‘pleasing’. The Bible says that Jesus pleased both God and man. That suggests a responsibility. But here the narrator says Jesus was loved, which implies He had no need to be responsible to either God or man.”

It immediately hit me that what this brother had said was true. And I was stumped. I have been watching the Jesus film for as long as I can remember, and it has always been a favorite of mine. I believe also that it is the most loved Christian movie in the Swahili-speaking world.

But I had never noticed what this brother noticed on that day. And yet, this is probably one of the most important oversights in this film.

In the days we are living in, where Satan is slowly but surely raising the stakes in the spirit world, we must be very careful with what we are reading, hearing and watching, especially with regard to scripture. I am sure the first thing the devil would want to compromise is the Word of God.

Today, indisputably, there is “another Jesus… another spirit… another gospel” being preached, and the church must beware (2 Cor. 11:4). There is deception.

Through a simple twist of scripture, the message of the gospel has been changed. It has been watered-down to accommodate what man wants to hear.

And today, increasingly, God’s people want to hear this other gospel. They want to hear about about blessings. They do not want to hear about their responsibility to God and man. And yet, this was the very message that Jesus lived. Notice He did not preach it (since Jesus did not begin preaching until He was 30 years old). On the contrary, Jesus lived the message of responsibility toward God and man.

As I thought about what I had just heard from the brother, I realized that, throughout the years, countless millions have been hearing the wrong message through this very popular Jesus movie. I wondered very much where the producers got that scripture from. Most likely, from a modern translation of the Bible.

As children of God, we all have a responsibility towards God. We have a responsibility to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ. That is what the Bible means when it says Jesus had “favour with God and man.”

That was the life that Jesus lived ever since He was a child

[Below: We have a responsibility toward God and man]


True Glory vs “Bakshishi”

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:21-22

We have to decide whether we are going to go with what the Bible says or whether we are going to work with what we want or think.

Notice very carefully Paul’s words here: “… we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

Paul did not say “we will through much blessings enter into the kingdom of God”.

But that is the way it has turned out today… God’s people are crossing vasts tracts of ocean and land seeking after only one thing: blessings.

When, I ask, did scripture change “tribulations” to read “blessings”?

I will tell you what: the church has been invaded; and we probably are not aware of it. The church has been invaded by the flesh!

What am I saying? That blessings are of the flesh? By no means.

But when we go seeking after those blessings, that is the flesh.

Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Notice the word “added” there. Blessings – and even our basic material needs – are an addition. They are not the real thing. That is why God can bless one man and not bless another materially: it makes no difference to Him. He knows they are of little consequence.

In Swahili, we call this “bakshishi”. “Bakshishi” is that little extra that the shopkeeper adds on top of the full measure that you paid for in the first instance. “Bakshishi” makes little difference to the full measure that you had gone to purchase.

Google Translate calls “bakshishi” a tip. For an employee, a tip is hardly the salary.

Is “bakshishi” bad? No.  But at no time did “bakshishi” become the full measure that we went to buy at the shop.

Since when did blessings become the measure of what we have been called to in God’s Kingdom? But blessings have become the central desire of God’s people today.

And yet, the Apostle Paul declares that the full measure of what has been paid for is – alas! – the very thing many believers are running away from today: tribulations.

“… we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

People are avoiding sufferings like the plague! And yet… Paul himself rejoiced at these tribulations (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Initially, he had sought to rejoice in the blessings; but when he got the revelation of the crucified Christ, he did not seek after the blessings anymore. He says:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

For what purpose?

“…that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The church is losing out. It is losing out to “bakshishi”. That is what is happening.

We are losing out on the true glory. We are left holding the “bakshishi”; by chasing after blessings we are left holding onto what amounts to nothing. Where, pray, did we lose the true measure of what Christ called us to?

We must get back to the crossroads…

But Philippians 2:5-11 exhorts us, “5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ 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. 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. 12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

[Below: A street in Singida]


(Un)Loving This Life

20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.

21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.

22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.

24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.  Mat. 20:20-24

While everyone in Jesus’ camp was thinking about the glory that would be theirs once they had arrived in Jerusalem (or wherever), and while the more bold ones were taking matters into their own hands in charting their own destiny by seeking to secure those all-important positions of importance, we see one person, the Lord Jesus – alone – thinking about something entirely different.

He was thinking of the cup and the baptism. He asked James and John, “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

While everyone else was thinking about a worldly kingdom and worldly glory (v. 24), Jesus was thinking about suffering – and death. He was thinking of what He would need to undergo in order to be finally free of the dictates of His earthly body.

Too many believers today are thinking about the good life – the good earthly life. But here we see Jesus’ spiritual mindset, which was to die to this life. That is why He told James and John, “Ye know not what ye ask.”

Too many of us do not know what we ask for when we pray. Unfortunately, we have been taught to “claim” blessings in Jesus’ name. We have never been taught to lose, and we see nothing wrong with this “claiming”. Our desires are all wrong, built on the foundation of self-preservation.

(I saw a big church on TV where they have been taught to hug their chests – to hug things to their chest – by faith – whenever the preacher says, “Receive!” It looked so childish.)

But there is everything wrong with a receiving mindset. With this kind of mindset, we will never be willing to share in the sufferings of Christ, and we therefore shall never know Christ’s resurrection life in us. We shall probably have everything of this world, but nothing of the true character of Christ and of the Kingdom of God in us.

We need to catch a certain revelation in our hearts – the same revelation that Jesus had, which was the same revelation that the apostles later on carried also. It was the revelation to lose.

I am not here to answer whether the good life is desirable or not for the believer. People with a worldly agenda want to dwell on these kinds of things. They pose their arguments with words like, “Do you mean to say that…?”

Why not, rather, we dwell on Jesus’ words, ““Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Why should we not want to know more about this cup and this baptism that Jesus talked about? Why should we not want to identify our lives with the kind of life Jesus was willing to undergo here? What a wonderful place this is for the believer! It is a place of spiritual ecstasy as well as a place of spiritual safety.

People, let us desire the spiritual aspect of our calling rather than the material side. Yes, it is true Jesus can also give us the material things. But where were Jesus’ eyes fixed? While the worldly-minded apostles’ eyes were fixed on the worldly glory, Jesus’ eyes were fixed on another glory – the heavenly glory. And you do not arrive there by singing, “Glory, glory, hallelujah!” Jesus knew He would arrive there by first having to lose everything that He had of this world: worldly dignity (soon even the slave girls in the high priest’s house would be slapping away at Him!), worldly riches (His last worldly possession, His robe, was taken by the Roman soldiers); even His very life.

May God give us the grace to lose our lives as Jesus did.

Gaius – A Rich Man

The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 John 1:1,2

Someone said to me recently, “Mwita, I pray that you may get a car!” and I laughed, sort of the way Sarah laughed, because truly nothing is too hard for the Lord. Now, if you live in Africa you might understand how sometimes owning something as simple as a car might need a miracle equivalent to Sarah’s!

The person who told me this was troubled by the fact that I travelled too much by bus.

I laughed all right, but as I was thinking over the words of this loving friend, I remembered John’s letter to Gaius. In 3 John 1:1-2, the Apostle John writes these words: “The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

The proponents of the prosperity gospel have worn out this scripture trying to prove that God wants all of His children to prosper materially. They claim that Gaius was one of the people that God had made rich; but all they have to stand on is John’s “wish”, or prayer!

Has it ever occurred to you that Gaius might have been a poor, needy brother, but one with a generous heart? It is not mentioned if Gaius was a rich man or a poor man. What is clear, however, is that Gaius was a generous man.

As a matter of fact, we could say with some conviction that in order for John to make such a prayer on behalf of Gaius, the latter most likely needed that prayer!

The Macedonians were not rich either, but they were generous. Presumably, the same situation applied to Gaius. There is no other reason for John to “wish” for Gaius to prosper and be in good health if Gaius was a rich man. It would be like stating the obvious.

Besides, there is no guarantee that simply by John “wishing” (or praying) for Gaius to prosper, that he would. God might have needed to keep Gaius a poor man for other purposes. The church today has been erroneously taught to believe many things concerning God’s provision, but we cannot limit God to what we think. We must be scriptural.

What the above scripture states, and which is of far greater significance to us, is the fact that Gaius was a spiritually prospering man. The Bible says clearly, “…even as thy soul prospereth.”

But it is not just that the Bible states that Gaius was prospering in his spirit; but the fruits of this prosperity are evident in the generosity he showed in ministering to God’s people. This heart that Gaius had – those are the true riches.

The Apostle John must have felt the heavy burden that Gaius was bearing in ministering to the saints, hence his prayer for Gaius to prosper materially. He knew many saints would benefit from Gaius’ ministry.

It is highly unlikely that when Gaius was going about his labor of love that he would have been looking for material returns for his kindness. Being the righteous man that he was, he was content with his physical state and would most likely have been beseeching God for a spiritual blessing.

A man who expects to “reap” in the natural is a carnal Christian. There is nowhere in the Bible where we are encouraged to have such a mindset. That is a carnal mentality, not a spiritual one.

A spiritual mindset is one that looks to the future, into the things of the Spirit. That is why the Bible says, And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Cor. 13:13). You don’t see a car mentioned there, do you? Nor a 3-storied house. There is nothing of this world in that scripture. Notice that Paul is talking of things that will abide. These are the things that the Bible encourages us to seek after.

I must end by asking my readers to not think that by using the above example I was in some way trying to compare myself with Gaius. Not by the longest shot! These were men against whom I couldn’t come up close to, spiritually speaking. I am grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to so much as put the soles of my feet on the same road that such men walked.

We Bring Life By Suffering – Part 2

If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 2 Cor. 11:30

At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus held a conversation with God that went like this: “God, I know you can do anything. Nothing is impossible with you. Please, Father, if there is another way that you can use to accomplish this without me going to the cross, please do it.”

You see, Jesus was as much flesh and blood as you and I, and the thought of hanging on that cross till He died was physically too much for Him. He knew the pain would be unbearable. The Bible says that He underwent such physical and emotional trauma that angels had to come and minister to Him.

But God’s answer to Him was typical: “My Son, it is true there is nothing that I cannot do. But this is the way that I have chosen. You have to suffer and die for the sins of my people. That is the only way acceptable to me.”

Now, the way we are, we want to know the ‘whys’ of things: ‘Why should this be this way?’, ‘Why shouldn’t it be this way?’ ‘Why, why?’ etc. Sometimes God provides us with answers, sometimes He does not. But that is not the important thing. The important thing is that if God has required something of us, we ought to obey because He knows what is best for us. That is faith.

When Jesus came to earth “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me”.  Heb 10:5.

A body. That is what God has prepared for us also. God has given to us a body to sacrifice. We are to give out bodies as a living sacrifice. It is a painful thing, but it is what we are called to. That is why we should desire the grace that God gave to the Early Church, which enabled them to endure that kind of sacrifice, because it is the only sacrifice acceptable to God.

We see that in the suffering of these men, the life of the Spirit came upon the Church. The Church shook the world. One of the most telling statements about how the Church affected the world then is found in Acts 17:6: “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also”!

We, too, will affect the world spiritually one way or another when we accept the sufferings of Christ in our lives. That is the grace we should desire and pray for.

I know what I am talking about because there was a time I used to spend hours praying for material blessings. I did not know God’s plan and purpose then. Now that by the grace of God I see (albeit dimly), I know what is God’s most important requirement for me. It is to desire His grace in my life.

Paul reached a place where he lived, not because of anything of this world he had, but by the grace of God alone. He says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 1 Cor. 15:10

This was the result of someone who had accepted to suffer in the flesh. May the Lord help us also in this generation. The materialistic gospel being preached today is destroying all this, but the Lord will touch and raise the few who will accept to suffer and bring true life to the Church.