Abigail’s Beauty – Part 1

Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb. 1 Sam. 25:3

I am going to put out a rambling post here but, amidst the ramblings, there is a concrete gem, a gem that I will try to pry free from the general ramblings. The gem encased in these ramblings is a gem of priceless worth. The subject is centered on the heart, the human heart. The heart we are talking of here is not the organ that circulates blood in our bodies, no. We are talking of the other heart, the spirit of a man.

As a man is, so is his heart. Your character cannot exceed what your heart carries. In other words, your character can do no more than reflect your heart. The intentions of your heart will come through in your character. As a man is, so is his heart.

Was Abigail a physically attractive woman or was she not? I am sure she was. But that is not what the Bible is talking about here. When the Bible says that Abigail was “of a beautiful countenance” it is not talking about her physical beauty. At no one time has God ever been concerned with anyone’s physical beauty. God created both what we call “beautiful” and what we call “ugly”; and He saw it was good. Both are His, and He values them equally. At any rate, even the world itself has something that puts a balance between the so-called ugly and the beautiful. It is the saying that “beauty is in the beholder’s eye”. What you consider ugly someone else calls beautiful.

But, praise the Lord, none of this is of concern to us here. God is Spirit.

On the contrary, when the Bible talks here of Abigail’s beauty, it is talking about her heart. God told the Prophet Samuel:

“…for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

Nowhere in the Bible is it written that God said later, “Sorry, I recall I said a while back that I look on the heart, but let it be known that once in a while I look also on man’s outward appearance.” When God says something, He does not come back and add to or try to take back a little bit of what He has said.

God does not, has never, and will never look at or talk of anyone’s outward appearance. God is not moved by physical appearances or outward manifestations.

But that’s not us! (And here I am deliberately digressing, for I love these kinds of challenges that the Bible throws at us). Oh yes. The natural man is easily drawn to outward beauty. We have a big problem there. The charismatic gospel in particular has given room to physical, material and outward expressions of “Godliness”.

But we are called to be spiritual, and the spiritual man is not drawn to outward appearances or beauty. He is dead to that.

[So many different hearts in this photo; but Jesus would want them all to be identical in beauty]

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The Preacher – A Man in Bonds

For which I am an ambassador in bonds… Eph. 6:20

The word “bonds” means chains. Why would God put Paul in chains?

There are two things that characterize a true man of God. By a man of God, we mean a person who represents God. That is what an ambassador is. A man of God is a person who characterizes Godliness.

The first thing that characterizes a man of God are his words. By his words I mean the Word of God that he speaks. Many preachers preach for preaching’s sake. Yes, they know the Word and they can expound on it. But skilfully expounding on scripture is hardly God’s Word. A preacher must preach what he has been sent to preach, not what he wants to preach. We cannot preach a message just because it sounds good to us. The Apostle Paul says:

“18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Eph. 6:18-20)

Notice Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him that he may be enabled to preach as he ought to preach, not what or how he wants to preach. That means that Paul was asking the Ephesians to pray that God would put His Word in Paul’s heart and mouth. It was not that Paul could not preach. I believe he could preach very well; moreover, he knew so much he could have preached the world to his hearers.

But Paul desired to do or speak nothing apart from what God had told him to do or speak. For God looks at His Word and His purpose to accomplish it. He does not look to accomplish the whims of man.

That is the first important thing that characterizes a man of God. He must be able to speak God’s Word as he has been sent to speak. He must not speak God’s Word just because he can speak it or because he wants to speak it.

When he speaks God’s Word according to God’s directions, his hearers will hear God’s voice and they will be edified. They will be warned, encouraged and given direction – all in the Spirit.

The second thing that characterizes a true man of God is His life. Our Lord Jesus Christ said,

“16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Mat. 7:16-18)

Jesus is not talking about the preacher’s message here. He is now talking about a preacher’s life.

One of the most prominent tele-preachers and faith healers in our country, who has a huge following, was recently caught on video insulting and threatening to kill his neighbor. The neighbor is not saved. But, for a long time, he had kept chiding the pastor: “You are not fit to be a pastor!”

Without a doubt, the neighbor knew things about this pastor that many people, including this pastor’s congregation, did not know.

On this particular day, this pastor parked his car right in front of his neighbor’s gate, got out, and said, “This is your day!”

Someone was passing by and he recorded the whole saga – all the insults and the threats – on their cellphone. It is now all over social media.

The pastor was subsequently arrested and interrogated at the police station.

Now his loyal congregation is writing on social media: “Do not talk evil of the anointed man of God!”

But whether we are to heed Jesus’ words or peoples’ whims on social media is a choice we have to make on our own.

In a separate incident, a lady once visited my house and in the course of our conversation she told me about how her pastor had prayed for her to get healed from an ailment that had troubled her for a long time. She had in fact spent a lot of money in a private hospital trying to get treatment, but her condition only worsened.

“But”, she told me, “ever since the day that the pastor prayed over me, that condition ceased troubling me. I was set completely free.”

But she told me many other things about this pastor and the way he ran the church, things which brought only confusion to her spirit. In short, his character and behavior did not in the least reflect that of Christ.

The true man of God must live a life that conforms to that of Christ: a life where the flesh has been put to death and where Christ rules supreme in that man. The Bible says:

“2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” (1 Tim. 3:2-9)

It is up to the church to choose whether to follow God’s guidelines in the running of its affairs or to respect men instead. Today, there are men in the church who are bigger than Christ Himself. But, in the true church, it is Christ, “the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Eph. 1:23)

For that to happen, the man of God must of necessity be put in chains by Christ. This is so he cannot do or speak his will, but Christ’s.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

“… Up Where We Belong”

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Eph. 1:3

Notice in the above portion of scripture how God’s Word looks only upwards! That’s so powerful. The writer of this epistle could have chosen to look downwards. He could have chosen to talk about all the earthly blessings that we have in Christ. But he chose to look up. He chose to consider the spiritual blessings that we have in Christ. In his discourse he chose to ignore the physical and material blessings of this world.

God, our father, desires to take us up. That is where we belong as His children. He wants us to partake of His spiritual blessings and His spiritual Kingdom. That is our inheritance as His children. And yet, too many believers today have their sights set on the physical and material blessings of this world. Even when the Lord has begun “a good work” in us (Phil. 1:6) it is the most difficult thing for believers to appreciate the spiritual nature of our calling.

But our calling is spiritual. That is why the Bible says:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”

It does not say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual and material blessings in Christ”. That would be true, of course, since God is the God of all blessings, both physical and spiritual. But the Bible in every place makes a distinction between the physical and the spiritual; between the temporal and the eternal. Whatever is temporal will one day pass away. You could not, for example, take your car with you to heaven, even if it was a blessing that was hand-delivered to you by God Himself. When you go to heaven, your beautiful car will be left to rust here on earth. But in heaven you will find love, a spiritual blessing. That is the stark contrast.

The church should therefore focus on God’s “spiritual blessings”. If the Bible can take the time and the effort and the space in its hallowed pages to include the word “spiritual”, I believe we should pay heed to what it is trying to tell us. It could even be a warning. Today you rarely hear the term “spiritual blessings” used in church. You just hear of “blessings”. Everything, the physical and the spiritual, is lumped together.

But if you read the entire Book of Ephesians and, indeed, every other book of the New Testament, you will not find much talk about physical or material blessings. The Bible, especially the New Testament, talks of many things, and nearly all of them have to do with the inner man of the spirit and the work of the cross that is needed to bring about a transformation in his character.

We must once again learn to hear from the Holy Spirit. For the world, riches comprise of material wealth. For the spiritual person, the Bible tells us what comprises true riches:

“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

For the church the true riches are “Christ in you”!

Jesus comes to live in us when we accept Him by faith; and when through that same faith we become partakers of the death of Christ through an understanding of the cross, we become partakers of His resurrection life. The life of Christ in us means we can exhibit, right here on earth, the character of Christ. And this is the whole purpose of the gospel.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23).

These characteristics form the true spiritual blessings that the Bible talks about. Their formation in us is the top priority with God. It is the character that Christ had when He was here on earth, and it is the same character that we will find Him with in heaven. In other words, these are the things that last, for God never changes.

Many believers will be deceived by worldly-minded preachers and worldly-minded gospels. They will be led to prioritize the blessings of this world over the things that would mature their spirits and make them partakers of true “spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”.

But God wants us to move on to perfection in the Spirit (1 Col. 1:28).

“A Child of God”

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

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 cloke also.

41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Mat. 5:38-48

One of my childhood friend’s father used to say, “The white man is a child of God”. In observing all that the white man was capable of doing – and possibly even his comportment – this uneducated village man saw the pre-eminence that God had granted the white man over the rest of mankind. And he acknowledged it. To this day I respect this man for his words. Those were bold words to say in those days, when everyone else probably considered the white man an imperialist exploiter. No doubt today, in the current atmosphere of worsening racial hostilities, it probably would start a small world war to re-state those words. But I am sure my friend’s father would not hesitate to say them again: he was the kind of person who would stick to his convictions even if you put a loaded gun to his head.

Personally, I too consider that in the world there is the white man first, and everyone else following. That I regard to be the natural order of things. In my perception, I see that, in many ways that we cannot deny, God has placed the white man above his fellow man. That is my personal opinion.

But, of course, that is not the entire truth. It probably is not even the truth at all. This is because the truth under the New Covenant that we have with God is that the true “child of God” can only be one who has been begotten, and is walking, in the Spirit. And being spiritual has to do with character. The child of God, therefore, is one who can show forth the character of God through his or her life, attitude and everything. The white man, the black man, and any man of any color, can only be a child of God if they can bring forth the character of God in their lives. That is the truth.

There is currently a race war going on in the U.S., and it is bringing out the worst out of everyone involved. I will not delve into the murky details but, clearly, when you read the news, you can feel the bitterness, the anger, and the outright hatred gushing out of people’s hearts. That means these things/attitudes were always there, but there was nothing to bring them out. Now a situation has arisen that is stirring the waters, and the water flowing out of people’s hearts is not clean at all; it is muddy.

But this state of war is not peculiar to the U.S. alone. The entire world is seething under an unseen force, and “warfare” is written all across the face of the earth.

Nations are at war with other nations.

Citizens of one nation fight each other.

Even worse is the warfare going on inside our homes as husband fights wife, parents fight children, and relative engages relative.

Most unfortunately comes the admission that in church, too, there is warfare. And the worst part is that it is the leaders who are at the fore-front of this “church warfare”. They fight for the positions of power as well as the money. I believe this is the most inexcusable warfare of all, for it is to these very people that God has chosen to reveal Himself as a God of grace. But God’s people today are so hell-bent on getting their rights, they will fight their way right into the furnace.

All this warfare points to a fall in the character of mankind. Slowly but surely, mankind today is sinking into into the depths of the most spiritually malicious enemy of all – self. But in His words, Jesus pointed to the singular thing that can lift man again and turn him into a true “child of God”: the cross. The touch of the Master, through the revelation of the cross, brings true peace and calm in a man’s heart, because it transforms that man and makes him a loser. A true child of God is a loser. He willingly surrenders his earthly rights, just as Christ surrendered them.

That is why the church today needs a revelation of the cross. We cannot preach to the world what we ourselves are not living. We cannot teach the world character they are not seeing in us.

The New Covenant of the cross is the greatest miracle ever, and we are living right in the center of it. This, therefore, is the day when the church needs to rise forth and shine; to show forth the great riches of God’s grace. To turn the other cheek for your enemy to slap, to go two miles when one is required of us – that is true grace! This is the one single thing that is guaranteed to triumph in the face of all the hatred and violence in the world. Any other weapon will simply backfire, even a gun.

The simplicity in Jesus’ words above is awe-inspiring; and yet, to arrive at this excruciatingly simple state of affairs will require we, the church, to crucify our lives and die to self.

[Below: It is indeed well with our souls, if crucified with Christ]

Take Up Your Cross And Follow Christ

9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

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? 1 Kings 19:9-13

This scripture says that as the Lord passed by the prophet Elijah, three powerful forces attended the Lord’s passage – a powerful wind, an earthquake, and a fire. But the Lord was not in any one of these things!

These ‘powers’ were with God all right, but God was not in them. That’s what the Bible says right there. The wind “rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD” – but God was not in it. The earthquake and the fire must have brought on an even greater manifestation of the power of God but – wonders! – God was not in them.

It is clear that God did not reveal Himself in the fireworks, nor in the drama.

God was in the last one… “a still small voice”. No ‘power’ there.  No drama. Just “a still small voice” – and here God spoke.

Talking of voices, let us see what the New Testament has to say. In Hebrews 1:1-2 we read, “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…”

And at the Transfiguration we read, “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” (Mat. 17:5)

“Hear ye Jesus!” And Jesus said clearly, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mat. 16:24). In other words, if we want to be like Jesus; if we want to carry the character of Christ in us, we must arrive at an understanding of what the cross needs to do in our lives.

Let us consider another scripture: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Cor. 5:19

Mark that, “God was in Christ”! God is involved in all (or at least much) of the drama we find in church, but God is in His Son. Simple and clear. In other words, God is in the character of His Son! Simply, a change – a transformation – is required in us. The drama might be needful for other purposes, but the heart, or the core of God’s purpose in us is for us to be transformed to become like His Son Jesus Christ.

But humankind has a problem. In 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 we read: “22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

You notice that there are 3 classes of people clearly delineated here: those who require signs and wonders, those who seek after wisdom, and lastly, “them which are called”, those who take up their cross and follow Christ.

As far as the Bible is concerned, there are only two natural groups of people in the world: Jews and Gentiles. This third group, therefore – “them which are called” – is not a part of either of the two natural groups; it is a spiritual group. That means that those who have been called into the New Covenant with Christ are not in the miracle- or wisdom-seeking groups. They seek after only one thing: to crucify the flesh and to be transformed so they may walk in the perfect will of God.

And this is the group, apparently, that God is interested in.

There are many things happening in church today, and God is not in any of them. They could be of God all right (some clearly are not), but even with those that are of God, still God is not in them. That might sound contradictory, but actually it is not, in the light of Elijah’s experience in i Kings 19. Now, signs and wonders are not a bad thing, nor is seeking after wisdom. But God is not in them. They are not sin, but they are of no value in combating sin.

In recent years, wave after wave of ‘the power of God’ has been manifested within the Body of Christ, but the spiritual condition of the church has only gotten worse. The levels of sin and confusion are mounting to the extent where certain sins, like divorce have been ‘legalized’ in a large portion of the church.

Recently, I heard of a church where believers were made to eat grass like goats! Now that is total confusion.

The Bible tells us where the real power and wisdom of God is: it is when we are denying self, and taking up our cross. If one is not taking up their cross and following Christ, they are very weak Christians, no matter that they may be working miracles!

The Apostle Paul walked in this revelation and that was why he said, “…for when I am weak, then am I strong” (1 Cor. 12:10). This was a man who worked miracles, but he was not talking about miracles here!

God was in Christ, Christ crucified. God is everywhere; but “seriously speaking” God is in the revelation of that cross alone! This was the reason Paul would preach no other gospel other than Christ Jesus and Him crucified. He understood the power of the cross in transforming people and bringing the character of Christ into their lives!

Today you hear much talk about many things in the church, but God is not interested in any of those things. God is interested in one thing. He is interested in a spiritual church.

[Below: The ultra-modern Sam Nujoma highway in Dar es Salaam]

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Abraham’s Instant Obedience – Part 2

We can also see Abraham’s heart when the three men, the angels of the Lord, visited him. The Bible says about Abraham that he was sitting outside his tent. The Bible does not say that he knew they were the angel of the Lord; all he saw were three men approaching. But it was what followed that shows us the character of a Godly man.

Let’s try and see what went on here. I imagine that Abraham saw some very tired-looking strangers passing by his home and his tender heart was touched. They certainly were not walking with ‘Angel of the Most High God’ written on their blazers. Abraham saw these men and he purposed to do something about it. But imagine this man, 99 years old, running to invite passersby, literally forcing them, to accept of his generosity! Abraham had a generosity that would leave many of us reeling with disbelief.

The Bible says that Abraham ran and that he and Sarah personally ministered to these visitors; and it was not your ordinary “Another cookie, please?” Back then, what he and Sarah prepared was a 5-course meal.

(With regard to this, I have a few families to thank. I wouldn’t forget my wife).

God is looking at the condition of our hearts. God is interested with the ease with which we can keep our hearts pure and holy before Him. Christians are forever harping about how God is interested in many other things in our lives. True, yes; but first things must come first. Mind you, God could give us those ‘other things’ without necessarily being pleased with us. But we are interested in what pleases the Lord.

Only by obeying God as Abraham did will we become towering men of faith and mature in character as Abraham was.

And, pray, what price are we willing to make that happen? What price are we willing to pay to make sure our hearts are pure before God and man, especially in today’s world with its many stumbling blocks? Once God grants us to know the price we need to pay in order to live that kind of lifestyle, then we will have known the true price of Christianity.

It is truly sad to see how proud Christians are today. They do many things, but they are not ready to carry their cross and follow Jesus.

The Christian life is a given life. We must be willing to die to our pride and to ourselves!

And we must be swift to do it. We must be swift to release, quick to let go the things in our hearts that hinder us from pleasing the Lord.

Of necessity I find I often have to hit out at myself, “Don’t be stupid!” when I realize that my heart is deceptively moving towards a certain direction.

I want to run a different race. I want to run with father Abraham.

Recently a brother from a distant town called me on the phone and he began telling me about the problems that he has been having in his marriage. It was not the first time for me to hear about that particular couple; I heard about their troubles a long time ago and, being far, I had assumed everything worked out well eventually. Now he was telling me that nothing had changed and that, if anything, things just got worse between him and his wife.

This time, I knew exactly what to tell him. I felt he needed to hear the really Good News. I said, “Brother, if you are having a problem with someone, then the problem is not the other person, but you. Had you determined in your heart to not harbor problems, right now there would be no difficulty in your marriage regardless of what your wife is doing against you. You are taking too long to obey God!”

I assure you that I spoke those words with all the grace that the Lord had given me at that time.

We all have our job cut out for us.

I have a prayer in my heart. Maybe we all need to make this prayer. “Lord, deny me everything, but give me the swiftness that you gave to Abraham in heeding to your voice. Thank you, Lord. Amen.”

(You have the liberty of making this prayer without including the “deny me everything” part. That was just for me).

Building Spiritual Character – Part 2

Now today, in church, because people are not taught the proper gospel, because they are not taught to deny themselves and to take up their cross and follow Jesus, they are not being built up in character and they are unable to take up the responsibilities and challenges that come with marriage. Grown-ups act like spoilt kids. People easily tire of each other. But, even worse, they go a step further and “take the law into their own hands”, as it were, and divorce. They feel free to just walk away from marriage because they cannot stomach the bad things their partner is doing to them.

This clearly reveals the fact that God’s people are lacking seriously in the grace of God. To a large extent, Christ’s sacrifice is being proven powerless in Christians’ lives. They forget that there are many factors that are involved in marriage: that probably God is teaching them patience, He is “raising them up”. And because God needs you to grow up spiritually, He will use any ‘instrument’ He wishes to ‘straighten’ you. In most cases God’s chief instrument of correction is someone’s own spouse.

It may be also that God is giving you the rare opportunity to give your life like Jesus did in order that a very rude, un-Godly person (your spouse) may receive salvation in their lives.

Many factors are involved; but the bottom line is that there is a big price to pay with marriage. That is why when one is carrying their cross and following Jesus, the thought of divorce is, to use an understatement, unthinkable.

It is appalling to behold the unbridled freedom that God’s people today give to their flesh in many other areas of their lives. Many Christians live as if now, since we are under grace and not under law, there are no rules to follow.

The problem, of course, is the kind of teaching that people are being taught in our generation: a cheap gospel that lumps together the spirit and the flesh and leaves people to literally  find their own footing on a very shaky spiritual foundation!

The Bible says in Galatians 5:13 that we “have been called unto liberty”; but right there it also says, “only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh…”

Elsewhere, the Apostle Paul says that he became “… to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ)” 1 Cor. 9:21. Notice that Paul says he was under the law of Christ. It follows naturally that if there is a law of Christ, there is also a law of the flesh. When we allow ourselves and feel free to live certain lifestyles where it is clear we are pleasing the flesh and not God, we should ask ourselves under which law we are.

The Apostle Paul had a law, a law that had no place for a worldly lifestyle. He loved the Lord with all his heart, his soul and his strength.

The Apostle John put it this way: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 Jn. 2:15

Loving the world consists of many things, but it is dependent on the condition of our hearts. And what John is talking here is not law. That is simply loving the Lord. That is true grace.

Many Christians today feel free to do nearly everything they want to do especially when it comes to answering to the desires of the flesh. And, because of a lack of revelation of the Word of God in their hearts, they use those same scriptures to justify whatever they are doing! It is like some Roman Catholic friends of mine who challenge me to show them where it is specifically written: “Thou shall not drink beer”. They have many scriptures, both from the Old Testament and the New, which ‘prove’ that God allows Christians to drink beer!

Once you begin listening to the flesh, you cannot draw the line between right and wrong.

Tribulation – trials and testing – brings character and maturity into our lives. Nothing else will bring these valuable standards into a Christian’s life apart from that hard and difficult narrow road which Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount. This is a road where you will be tested and tried in every way. You will be despised, rejected, reviled, hated, beaten; a road where you will know hunger, and where you will lack many things in this life. Not that going through these hardships in itself is Christianity; but as you go through all this and you know your position with God, you will know these things are preparing you for the glory ahead.

The Bible says no weak thing shall enter into that Kingdom, only the strong. Here God is not talking about the toughies of this world (because people are always mis-interpreting scripture). He is talking about a different kind of toughie – one who has allowed their flesh to be dealt with by the cross of Jesus and who are living a life not their own, but another’s, Christ’s.

A Man’s Heart

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jer 17:9

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1Pe 1:18-19

I have not been very active lately on this blog. My house has no electricity and I have had minimal time to work on my computer. (This computer, by the way, is a gift from Carol and Frank Lanthier, a Canadian missionary couple who have worked tirelessly for the African continent and for whom I pray that they may continue to receive a fuller and deeper revelation of the gospel of the Cross of Christ).

Today’s post is dedicated to my wife. My wife does not read this blog for the simple reason that she is not the reading type. The only book she ever reads is the Bible; and even then she never seems to memorize where any particular verse is situated. Invariably, whenever she has to preach in church, she will ask me where such and such a verse is located.

The thought occurred to me that when my wife retires from her job not long into the future, she may choose reading as one of her retirement pastimes and in the course of it all she just might be tempted to see what it was that I had been writing on my blog all these years… and I can imagine her horror and disbelief on reading all the beautiful sermons that I have been posting out to unsuspecting readers. If she comes up and says: “You hypocrite, look at all the wonderful things you’ve been writing..!” I will bring up this post and tell her, “See, I did write something about myself.”

It is in that sense that this post is dedicated to her. So, here goes…

In this post I want to make a confession about a problem that I have. The problem is one that a casual observer would hardly notice and which my close associates might vaguely be aware of. The credit for people not seeing too much of my pride goes to the working of the gospel in my life because I know for a fact that things would be radically different if it were not for the gospel.

And here let me emphasize that I have witnessed major changes in my life since I got saved. There are crucial areas in my life to which I can point and say, “I have seen the Lord change me here!” Indeed, I am full of joy and gratitude as I observe the great work that God has clearly accomplished and the many victories that I have witnessed in my life. It is also good when people can see and testify to what the Lord has done in my life. But whatever anyone may or may not have noticed is of little consolation to me because for me personally this problem is as big as Mount Everest.

The problem I am referring to is pride… deep-seated pride. There is an area (or areas) in my life I never seem to like being touched. The truth, however, is that the Cross has not got to these areas.

I come from a proud, fierce and war-like tribe. My ancestors made cattle raids against the feared Maasai tribesmen of the Serengeti plains and vice versa, and the undocumented assessment is that before those days ended the Maasai feared us more than we did them.

My tribesmen are renown throughout the diaspora for their rash, irrational behavior. When we were kids growing up, if any one of us boys crossed dad the wrong way, he unvaryingly would grab at the nearest object and smash you with it. One day my elder brother provoked dad and in his fury my dad grabbed at the nearest thing – which happened to be our baby sister; and it was at the point of hurling ‘it’ that he realized what it was that he was holding.

I often see traces of that in my character. It is not something that I am proud of.

Now, I am not writing all this to justify myself. On the contrary, I simply wish to provide a background for where I have come from.

Now, I know that my detractors, on reading this confession, will clap their hands to their ears and say things like “Mwita, don’t write such things, you are shaming the gospel!” etc; but my rejoinder is: “They stripped the Lord Jesus naked and I haven’t done even half that much.” Which in itself is less than an understatement.

It is interesting how the Bible spares no one in exposing their weaknesses and folly, and yet we seek so much to be honored in the eyes of men! I have no desire to receive the honor of any man. The fact that I have a problem with pride is one that I joyfully wish to confess before I die. I don’t want to stand one day before God and hear Him accuse me of being a hypocrite.

May I conclude by saying that I am not discouraged by this problem. I take consolation from the fact that just as the Lord has helped me in other areas of my life, He also will give me victory in this area also. The Cross of Jesus has the ability to reach into the deepest parts of our flesh and uproot our deep-seated carnal natures. Probably some take much more time to uproot than others but… the Apostle Paul confidently states that the Lord who begun a good work in us “will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” Php 1:6.

I am a man of faith. I firmly believe that even now God is working something wonderful deep in my heart. I am assured that one day I shall wake up and find myself free. In the meantime, I can only trust God’s grace and His work in me.

This is the confession I would want my wife to read one day in the future. Hopefully, by then the working of the Cross in my heart will have perfected me in the image of Christ and I can have something to boast about before my wife – and God.