Models And Examples

Probably the most powerful theme that touched lives during our Easter conference in Shinyanga was the subject of being an example, a model. Many of the sisters who shared spoke on this topic. Sister Veronique said, “Whether we like it or not (once we are saved) we are all examples and models. We die so that the life of Christ may revealed in us.”

She said further, “It is God’s plan that you and I become examples of the life of the Spirit.”

Those were truly humbling words. I thought, What a privilege! What an indescribable honor it is to become an example of the life of the Spirit in this world. The Bible calls this world

“this present evil world”. (Gal. 1:4)

What a privilege to show off the glory and life of God in a dark and dying world!

But again, what a responsibility! We are to be examples of the life of the Spirit in our homes, and everywhere else, in every circumstance and every situation.

The thought that I ought to be an model and example to my wife and children brought a slight chill to my body. With we men, we want to be respected as husbands and fathers in our houses. And yet, that respect is earned! It is earned as we humble ourselves more and reflect the character of Jesus who laid down His life for us. It is not a simple matter of providing for our families. It is the more noble task of humbling ourselves and asking for forgiveness when we need to, both to our spouses and our children. That is the example we need to show as Christians.

The fruit of the Spirit is the example we need to bring forth.

Being an example of the life of the Spirit comes with a price. It is accompanied by a death to the flesh. The two cannot co-exist. Galatians 5:17:

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

The flesh and the Spirit strive against each other. None is willing to let the other win. They are mortal enemies within us. But we are the referee. Our (crucified or uncrucified) wills allow or disallow the flesh or the Spirit to carry the victory in our lives.

When we crucify the flesh, we suffer. We suffer when we are mistreated or humiliated and we patiently bear it with a loving and forgiving heart. We suffer when we lack something for the gospel’s sake. We suffer when our rights are taken away. We suffer when we have to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. It is doing all this with joy in our hearts.

A Christian suffers in many different ways. But it is this suffering for the gospel’s sake that brings or bears the life of Christ in us. It is not a matter of being a good person. It is a matter of dying to our flesh, period!

This is the only way that we can become models and examples in our families, in the church, and to the world. We are called to live such a spiritually desirable life that people will look at our lives and say, “This is what I am missing. This is what I desire to have in my life.”

[One way or another we are all called to lead – lead by example]


A Game of Chess

Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. 2 Cointhians 11:1-4

Have you ever played a game of chess? I do sometimes play it – with my computer. The most dangerous piece on that chessboard is called the queen. The queen strikes terror in any opponent’s heart. The minute I see my adversary’s queen begin to take position I always know I am in trouble. The real terror, of course, is that the queen always moves with purpose. She knows exactly where she is headed, and she is always headed for a kill.

Whenever I see the other player’s queen begin to move, I know I have made a wrong move somewhere, and that I have given the queen the chance to move in for the kill.

As a born-again Christian, I equate the queen with sin in a Christian’s life. The minute we get into another gospel, other than the right gospel, we have made ‘a wrong move’, and sin moves in and it kills us. There are many Christians today who, unawares, are dead although they still profess Christianity.

In the above scripture the Apostle Paul was warning the church of Corinth against accepting ‘another’ gospel other than that which he had preached to them – the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ. The gospel that Paul had preached to these people was a gospel designed and given to him by God Himself to accomplish the task of presenting a ‘chaste virgin’ to Christ. ‘Chaste’ means ‘clean’, ‘untainted’. In gospel-speak that means holy, righteous, pure, completely sinless.

Sin dwells in a man’s heart, of course, and the gospel that Paul preached dealt with exactly that – Christians’ hearts.

In many scriptures Paul calls the gospel a ‘mystery’. It is the mystery of Christ, revealed to the Church through the ministry of the apostles and prophets.

Today, just as in Paul’s day, may false apostles and prophets have risen up to proclaim a gospel of their own. The main difference between their gospel and the gospel that Paul preached is that (just like in Paul’s time) this other gospel is a worldly gospel. It is not a gospel of the heart, meaning it does not deal with the heart. When the gospel deals with the heart the flesh dies. The flesh and all that clings to it, dies away.

On the contrary, this ‘strange’ gospel not only does not deal with the heart, but it feeds the flesh. (I once attended a service where a famous preacher told us to ‘claim that Mercedes Benz’!). God’s people are taught how to prosper materially, how to have their bodies healed, how to live healthy lives – all things which have to do with this “body of death”, that is, a body which will ultimately die.

In the final analysis, these kinds of gospels appease the flesh; and sin moves in for the kill. Sin closes in, because sin fears nothing except the cross of Jesus Christ. It was through the death of the cross alone that Christ was able to triumph over the powers and principalities of darkness, including the total defeat of sin. Where the cross of Christ is working in a man’s life, sin cannot show its ugly head.

We stand and we fall before God strictly in relation to the condition of our hearts. We need to cry to God so that we might find ourselves walking that narrow road where we are keeping a pure heart and walking holy lives before God. The Bible is clear that this can only be accomplished through the working of the cross in our hearts.

That is why the Apostle Paul would not preach any other gospel other than the gospel of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” 1 Cor. 2:2. In other words, he determined to preach no other gospel other than the gospel of the cross of Christ. In many of his writings Paul calls this gospel a ‘mystery’.

Not that Paul had a choice. He reckoned himself a bond slave of Jesus Christ, which meant he could only preach that which God commanded him to preach.

The gospel he preached – the revelation of the cross – was the only gospel that could deliver man from the power of sin.

That is the gospel that will show you how rotten your heart is and that you need to have it cleaned up. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God”. Seeking the Kingdom of God means being at peace with God in our hearts. And we cannot be at peace with God while our hearts are carrying every sort of filth.

The material and physical life (of which Christians are so concerned today) follows after. That is why Jesus used the word “seek first”.

Christians should not be walking about with dark hearts. Jesus died on the cross for the very purpose, and He has put apostles and prophets in the church to reveal His cross and the power therein to totally banish sin in Christians’ lives. When we are walking in that revelation we will walk in victory over sin and the world, and all the deceptiveness that goes with it.

The Price of Seeing Jesus – Total Loss of Our Lives

`But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Philippians` 3:7-11

In Galatians chapter 1 and in other scriptures the Apostle Paul asserts that he saw the risen Christ. I do not wish to dampen anyone`s spirits; but it is my contention that few men in our age have had a revelation of the risen Christ as Paul had.

It is true we sing songs like `I See The Lord`, quoting Isaiah. And I am not saying that we do not know the Lord, or that we are not walking in a certain degree of victory in our lives. But the Bible says in Exodus 33:20 that there shall no man see God and live.

We all know that even the other Apostles did not see the Lord in the spirit in the same way that Saul, as he was known then, did. In 2 Corinthians chapter 12 Paul says about the time that he was taken into the third heaven, that he heard things which it is not lawful for a man to utter!

2Co 12:4  `… he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.` Paul saw something profound. He saw something that no man can see and remain alive, humanly speaking.

When he saw the risen Lord, Saul died. He died and a totally new man, Paul, was born in the Spirit.

There is a price in seeing Jesus fully. All the Apostles and early Christians who saw the Lord in the spirit paid a terrible price. Many lost their worldly property. Others lost their liberty. Others were killed for the testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In today`s generation it is not easy to find Christians who are living that kind of life. In fact, many are running in the opposite direction. Many prefer the soft, comfortable life.

As I said, this is not a judgement of our Christian generation. Rather, it is a challenge. We see that in all generations paying the price for seeing the Lord has never been an easy thing.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, they say. No one can talk of the gospel without mentioning Jesus Christ. But note also that one can hardly talk about the gospel without mentioning Paul.

Such is the high price of walking in the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ that we must die totally to self.

The Power of Humility – Chronicles of a Bus Conductor (Pt. 2)

(I have modified the title of both this and the previous posts because in both I am talking about one person – a young, Muslim bus conductor. The accounts I am narrating here are true. I witnessed them with my eyes.)

A week or so after I had witnessed the conductor choosing not to fight that woman in the bus, I met him again, in a completely different scenario. This time, a group of us was driving to a function in a brother’s car. We were approaching an intersection when I noticed, just ahead of us, that vehicles had stopped. We were supposed to have the right of way at this intersection so, ever curious, I checked out the window to see what had caused this mini-traffic jam.

My heart beat with excitement – or was it fear? – when I saw the same conductor helping two children who, it appeared, had remained stranded, unable to cross the 4-lane road. He was holding them by the hand and slowly leading them across. This is something I have never seen a conductor do here; and I guess everyone else found it somewhat unusual because all cars on both sides of the highway stood still till the conductor had taken the kids across. By the time they had crossed over, the lines of cars had stretched for quite a distance both ways but, as if to salute the man, no vehicle made a move until the conductor had crossed back to his bus.

Once the kids had safely crossed over, the man quickly raced back to his bus, his sandaled feet hitting hard at the tarmac, and we heard the bus begin to move.

As the traffic began flowing once again I was trembling as I spoke to my fellow passengers in the car: “Guys, mark that man; there is something I want to tell you about him!”

I attempted to narrate to them the incident of that particular conductor with the woman who had insulted him. Having witnessed the conductor’s remarkable behavior once again with the children, the story registered deeply with each one.

Someone once said, “I have met a lot of non-Christians in church, and that’s not a judgment”.

I will also say this: I have met a lot of wonderful, loving people outside of church, and this makes me wonder whether we who consider ourselves Christians are not taking the grace of God for granted. Let us fear and tremble lest we be found fruit-less at the appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Grace is Mercy – And Victory (Part 2)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:8-9

In my last post I promised to narrate two incidences in my life where I have witnessed God’s grace – here in the form of His unsolicited mercy – in my life. Well, as I was meditating on these experiences I came to realize I had spoken hastily: there are actually many more occurrences in my life where I have seen the Lord’s grace working in my life than I can narrate. Probably these two stood out more prominently, but the others are no less spectacular.

Time and space does not allow me to narrate both incidences here, so in this post I will narrate only one. If I find the grace to narrate the other one, I will in a later post. Everything, though, is geared to give glory to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let me begin by saying that I was educated in a British school. That doesn’t mean that I went to Britain, no. But our African school had a British principal and we were taught by many British teachers. I remember names like Mr. Kirkwood, Mr. Shaw, Mr. James, Mr. Pragnell, and many others whom I cannot now recall. This school and the teachers built into me an appreciation of the things of God, for which I am eternally grateful. The teachers weren’t necessarily saved, but they had that deep-rooted tradition of worshiping God. Every day we would sing Christian songs, and pray. This kind of lifestyle had a big impact on my later life.

But not everything about the British is praiseworthy – and I hope by saying this I will not be receiving a summonses from The Hague! The flip side of my British upbringing was that I took on a certain trait of not wanting to be disturbed. Later on in life I found that I highly valued my privacy, something that was set to put me on a sure collision course with society at large because Africans generally have few reservations or barriers in their relationships.

It was with this rather egotistic mindset that I moved to Musoma in 1993 and the first morning after I arrived I was subjected to the rudest intrusion into my privacy that I had ever met. Exactly at 5 a.m. I was woken up by the loudest noise I had ever heard at that hour, which I later learned was a Muslim ‘crier’ calling the faithful to prayer over a loud-speaker.

I had never been subjected to such an experience before and I was livid. What right had anyone to wake me up at such an unholy hour? And if he had any right to yell into a microphone at that time, I also had the right to sleep!

Mind you I was saved, but had you shone a flashlight into my face at that moment, you would have turned to stone. I could feel my eyes and they were icicles! I lay there in bed seething and thinking of which appropriate authority I should go see first thing in the morning. At that time I wished I was a lawyer – then I could know the precise clause in the Constitution which guaranteed my right to sleep without interruption! The thought even crossed my mind that I should write a letter to some newspaper editor to highlight this great social injustice.

But the morning light dispersed many of these thoughts and I was not even sure then how I would present my case to a civil authority. I decided to persevere and await the end of the matter. One way or another, I was certain there would be an end to it!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, let me say that I really suffered as my ego was pounded morning after morning, day after day. I could have moved to another location in town, but in Musoma there are mosques strategically situated in every part of town. The agony went on for quite a long time.  I don’t recall having the grace to even pray about the situation. Whenever my thoughts turned in that direction, I would be anything but a fine, young, born-again Christian man.

Then one day, I woke up and it was gone! The condition that had troubled me for so long had simply, in an instant,  vanished from my heart. I remember clearly that I just woke up and I felt this deep peace in my heart. It was like someone had come in while I slept and cleaned my heart – literally. I hadn’t realized how much of a burden I had been carrying! I found myself having the softest, most loving thoughts towards the Muslim crier. At that moment I truly loved him. I felt clearly in my heart that I would even welcome it if they were to affix that loud-speaker to my bedroom window and direct the horn towards my bed!

And that has been it up till today. I have my challenges with regard to the Muslim faith, but I have never had a problem again with the crier. Never. Whatever time he decides to make his move, or however loudly he calls out, whether he be far or near, my heart is always at peace.

I want to make it clear that it is not that I decided to accommodate the situation, or something as simple as that. No. This was a supernatural transformation that occurred in my heart one morning; and it was so tangible that I knew immediately the Lord had touched and helped me.

I did mention that I did not pray about this temptation. That does not mean we should not pray. I would not encourage any such thing. Indeed, we should pray very hard to be delivered from temptation and trials. But I am sure God delivered me even without me praying just to show me His abundant grace, which is not dependent on a formula or any principle.

Israel, not Jacob!

But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not:  for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name;  thou art mine.” Isaiah 43:1

In the scripture above we see that God is addressing two different kinds of people: Jacob whom He created, and Israel whom He formed. Without going into long drawn-out discussions about the meanings of the words “created” and “formed” here, we at least know that God is more interested with Israel than Jacob because when the angel of the Lord met Jacob on his way back to his fathers’ land, Jacob demanded a blessing from Him, and the Lord told him, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel:  for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” Genesis 32:28.

Henceforth Jacob would be known as Israel. That is of profound significance.

In all His dealings with man God allows the natural to precede the spiritual, and if we are not careful we miss out on the real blessing that God intended for us to have. That is why we who are called by God under the New Testament cannot simply rejoice in the material and physical blessings that God gives us. They come so easily and naturally we are tempted to think they are an end in themselves. On the day I got saved God healed me of a terrible physical illness. It was such a big miracle, and it could still be the highlight of my life with Jesus.

But we must discover the hidden meaning of God’s true calling in our lives. The Apostle Paul talks about a hidden mystery. When we read the Apostles’ epistles we see they did not talk very much about miracles and material blessings, even though they experienced all these. Rather, they spoke about something infinitely more spiritual – the changing of our carnal selves into spiritual, which is a process!

Nor can we rest in the mere act of salvation itself. We cannot underestimate its importance in our lives (eternal life with Jesus), yet the Bible is filled with proof that this is not the end of the matter. For example, in 1 Corinthians 3:15 we read that If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss:  but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

Elsewhere in Jude 1:23 we read: “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire;  hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”

Paul also talks about “a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day:  and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

There are many Christians today who are so worldly-minded that it cannot be said of them that they would love the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Which means that people will be saved all right, but there will be a distinction: while some will enter in triumphantly, yet for others it is as if they will have barely made it.

The conclusion of the whole matter is that God does not want us to remain ‘Jacobs’. Here I mean carnal, or immature Christians. He wants to form us into the image of His spiritual people, “the Israel of God”  -Galatians 6:16. When we speak of “form” we get the impression of people in whose lives God’s hand has worked to bring out something out of something. He works on what He has created to form something new. It is this which He desires to do in our lives. There is a big difference between the simple calling of God and his formative work in our lives.

Hence the revelation of the Cross. It is of utmost importance to us to understand that the apostolic gospel that has come down to us is a revelation. The Apostle Paul (whose mental faculties we cannot fault) says he received the gospel by revelation. Moreover, in Ephesians 3 he implies that all true apostles and prophets in every generation would be men who would have caught the gospel by revelation, a revelation of the Cross. They would understand what it means to be a Christian: it is to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, that our minds may be renewed (i.e. put far from sin) and that we may conform to the image of Christ. And this will be accomplished by the work of the Cross in our lives.

When you receive the Cross as a ‘Jacob’ (i.e. without revelation) you will understand that Jesus came to die for your sins so you do not go to hell, which is true. But you cannot go beyond that, and soon you will turn to the weak, worldly materialistic gospel which does not have the power to deal with sin. But when you get the revelation of the Cross, which is only found under the true apostolic ministry, you will understand that the Cross came to work in your life also so that your body of sin may suffer and die with Christ, and to rise to the resurrection from the dead in newness of life; and to become a mature son and daughter of God, worthy and capable to inherit that spiritual Kingdom, as we read in Galatians 4:1-7: “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son;  and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

Note the angel’s words to Jacob: “as a prince hast thou power…”! He had fought the good fight and he was worthy!

In other words you become a man or woman who has died to sin. Many people today are praying for the hand of God upon their lives. Behold, the hand of the Lord is the Cross! If we think the hand of the Lord are the worldly blessings He gives us, the healings and all that, we are doomed to spiritual immaturity and carnality. While in Mauritius, I witnessed the death of a man whom the church had prayed for a long time to get healed. I visited him one week before he died, and he was sitting there, weak in body, but strong in faith, in righteousness and holiness. He died triumphantly, and we rejoiced on the day of his burial.

We need to join ourselves with the true gospel of Jesus Christ, Christ crucified. Then we will know, as Paul says in Romans 12, “that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” How can we say we are in the will of God while we are walking in sin? It is simply impossible. We are called to a walk of holiness and purity – of body, soul and spirit: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;  and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Anything beneath that, however flamboyant it might appear, and under whatever name it is called, is carnality!

Lessons I Learned From Christian and Martine.

We have a lovely couple in our church in Mauritius, Martine & Christian. The husband has been suffering from a kidney problem for a long time and last year his wife offered to donate one of her kidneys. A date for the transplant operation was scheduled, and the whole church, led by Brother Miki, prayed earnestly over the couple. However, when the time arrived for the operation to take place, the doctors diagnosed that Christian’s heart was too weak and he would not survive a transplant operation. So they sent him back home.

On the surface this appeared like a big blow. The Church had prayed fervently, and yet this couple was sent back empty-handed…. The devil must have been wringing his hands in glee!

But in Christ Jesus there can only be victory. Through the CTMI website, the couple’s plight became to all the churches that work with CTMI. What followed was a flood of sympathy…. Brothers and sisters from across the region sent in text messages and emails of encouragement and support, and they prayed. The whole Church rose up to support these lovely brethren.

And in that manner, another of the enemy’s attacks against one of God’s children was neutralized. Love won the day.

Sometimes God allows situations in our lives in order to reveal the far greater treasure that He has deposited in us through Jesus Christ. That treasure is of far greater value than the things that we can see or experience in the natural. “For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” 2 Cor. 4:18.

The last news I received was that Brother Christian is at home now, continuing with dialysis and trusting God.

But this is a couple who have felt the love of God flowing out to them from brothers and sisters probably in a way they might never have been able to experience otherwise.

This incident led me to think about what Jesus accomplished for us on the Cross, and I realized His benefits to us are spiritual. The Bible says that we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Some people like to twist scripture for their own gain, but here the Bible clearly states that we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings.

The Lord led me to Psalm 103, and I saw what King David saw in the spirit long before Jesus came to earth to accomplish these things. Being a prohet, David could see far into the future, and he saw the many benefits that Jesus would accomplish for us by His death on the Cross. When he saw what he saw, David could only say to himself: “Soul, bless the Lord!”

“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfies your mouth with good things; so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:1-5

But David is also aware of how easy it is for the flesh to completely obscure our vision of the goodness of God towards us. That is why he exhorts his soul to “bless the Lord… and forget not His benefits”.

Were these physical or material benefits, it would probably be much easier for us today to “bless” and thank God, simply because we could see and touch them. But that is the way of the flesh. It rejoices only in what it sees and feels materially. Led down the narrow, spiritual path of sorrow and self-denial, the flesh remains only to demand and complain. And no wonder, for “the carnal nature is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).

The spiritual world into which we are called, however, is a completely different realm, with different principles of operating and viewing things! All the blessings that David enumerates in that Psalm are spiritual blessings, and if we are not walking in the spirit we will never see them. And they are awesome blessings!

Who forgives all your iniquities. That means our sins have been forgiven. This is the greatest blessing that God could ever give to us. We need to understand the holy nature of God to realize the awfulness of sin – and what His forgiveness means to us. But in Christ Jesus, God has not only forgiven us of our sins, but He has also washed us clean, completely clean. It is not as if He forgives us but keeps a record of our sins so He can look them up any time we displease Him (that is the way of human nature!). With Him it is as if we never sinned before. His grace is that big.

Not only that, but God has given us His Holy Spirit, by whose power we overcome sin. Sin is always hard at work, attempting to ensnare us once again in its deadly grip. But “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” 1 Jn 4:4. Jesus lives in us by His Holy Spirit.

Not only that, but God also makes a way for us to stand again blameless before Him if and when we sin. All we need to do is to repent with a true heart. God’s benefits with regard to our former, fallen nature are incalculable. No wonder forgiveness of our sins is the first benefit that David could talk about.

Who heals our diseases. We need to be spiritual to know that God operates both in time and in eternity. Actually, God is the creator of time. That is what the scripture says in 2 Pet. 3:8: “…one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” God could, and will one day do away with time. We will know only eternity.

We could get sick, and even die, but the Bible looks much further ahead than this worldly life; and it foresees a period when we shall live with no sin and no sickness in our bodies, in the eternal Kingdom. If we are suffering in this world, do we have the faith and patience to trust and wait on God? We need much faith and patience in this regard. When they were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego told King Nebuchadnezzer: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace… but if not, be it known that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up” (Dan. 3:17,18). These men did not simply desire relief from physical pain. They were willing to undergo even that because they knew that in themselves they had a far bigger reward in the spirit.

The flesh sees and wants only that which is temporal! The quicker the fix, the better! Yet we see that the saints of old received these same blessings through “faith and patience” (Heb. 6:12).

Who redeems your life from destruction. We were destined for the eternal destruction of our souls, by the fact that by our very nature we were sinners and therefore enemies of God, and “the wages of sin is death” – Rom. 6:23. But through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, we received mercy, and were delivered from that awful judgment. We could never, in this worldly realm, comprehend fully the magnitude of the salvation that God has wrought for us through the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Colossians 1:13-14 says, “Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of our sins.”

Not only that, but God gave us the right to become His children, His sons and daughters. How truly amazing! We are not just some beggarly souls whom God has magnanimously saved from the brink of hell, and is there breathing down our necks, holding a warning sign before us that says: “You better behave, or else…”

No! The Bible says in Hebrews 10:19 says that we have the boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. That word ‘boldness’ means ‘the right to’.

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies. I have a few stories to tell. But no words of mine could capably tell of the love and mercy that the Lord has shown to me, over and over again, particularly when I least deserved it. There are times when my heart has been so twisted that I knew I only deserved judgment from the Lord. But, lo and behold! It was during such moments when I felt that sweet, gentle presence of the Holy Spirit embracing me and loving me; and I knew without a doubt that God was not holding the condition of my heart against me. He was forgiving me – and loving me.

Who satisfies your mouth with good things; so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord feeds us with all those spiritual goodies: wonderful, living words of encouragement from His Word, and the daily anointing and working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is so that we may grow spiritually. As the old, carnal man wastes away, so the new spiritual man is renewed day by day.

Not only that, but we grow to become that mature, perfect man of the spirit who shall live eternally with “the everlasting God” (Gen. 21:33). Do you know that before he fell into sin, Adam never grew old? He never knew old age. He never knew what it was to become tired. He was not affected by all the negative forces of this world, spiritual and physical, that beat at us every day. In fact he was living in an entirely different world from our own, the Garden of Eden, which God Himself had created. (Everything in our world today is tainted by sin, and nothing here on earth even comes close to comparing with the Garden of Eden).

God threw Adam out of that garden and put an angel with a flaming sword to guard it, so that Adam would not be able to go back. Had he been able to re-enter the Garden of Eden Adam might have eaten of the tree of life and lived forever in his fallen, sinful condition! Oh, the wisdom and mercy of God!

After Adam sinned, God told him that now the ground would produce all kinds of thorns and thistles – circumstances and situations that would torment him spiritually and in the flesh. But praise be to God because in Jesus we have the victory in every circumstance and situation.

The secret to our being able to thank God fully for His blessings in our lives is our capacity to see into the spirit realm, simply because His blessings to us are spiritual. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” – Eph. 1:3.

Everything that we come into contact with through our five senses is temporal, of this world. Even the most ‘spiritual’ things that we know of down here could hardly compare with the beauty of the reality that is there with us right now in the spirit, and which we shall find in heaven. Let me illustrate. We hear many beautiful gospel tunes sang here on earth. In fact, we pray and wish that these songs will be sang in heaven. They are so beautiful we want to listen to them forever!

Now, many of the things that will be in the world to come are still a mystery to us. But I have heard testimonies of people who heard something like angels singing or a heavenly tune, in a dream or vision; and they all testified that the tunes they heard were infinitely far much sweeter than anything they had ever heard in this world! That reminds us of the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4: “I knew a man in Christ… how that he was caught up into paradise, and he heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter”!

The New Living Translation puts it this way: “…I was caught up into paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be told.” From these scriptures, we just might begin to get a picture of how vastly different things are in the spiritual realm in relation to the physical, material world we live in!

In each aspect of God’s grace that David mentioned in Psalm 103, the most awesome part of it all is that God does everything for us on a scale far above anything that we could ever imagine in our wildest dreams; He adds spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing to us. The purpose of His doing all that is so that ultimately we may arrive at a true understanding of His love for us, as Apostle Paul puts it so clearly in Ephesians 3:17-19: “…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God”.

This realization will cause us to surrender to Him fully, with inexpressible joy. We will rejoice in every situation because we know He is in control of our lives, now and in eternity. And it is His will that we should rejoice in this world just as much as we shall rejoice in heaven.