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]

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God’s Singular Focus

1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

5 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.

6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. Mat. 17:1-8

There are slightly differing versions of this account in the three gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. But there is no mistaking what happens at the end of each account. In every account of this story, Elijah and Moses left the scene, and disciples were left beholding only two things: Jesus Himself, and the words that God had spoken from out of the cloud:

“This is my beloved Son: hear him.”

In other words, God powerfully took Elijah and Moses out of the New Covenant scenario. Peter would have loved to retain both these Old Testament prophets with Jesus; but God firmly said no.

It is not possible to have both the old covenant and the new one working in our lives.

I remember in school we had something called a duster. The duster was used to clean off the blackboard. Here, in this account, God Himself came in a cloud and dusted Moses and Elijah off the map. But He did not dust off Jesus. The cross is undustable. The cross is inerasable.

Although the apostles were probably witnessing a heavenly scene (the Bible says that Jesus’ clothes and countenance changed and became heavenly white) yet, when God appeared on the scene in the cloud, He neither referenced Elijah nor Moses. Instead, He spoke only about Jesus:

“This is my beloved Son: hear him.”

This was a powerful demonstration to the disciples of the singular focus that God attaches to Jesus – and to the cross.

Today, people want to lump Jesus, Moses and Elijah together. They want to place the old and the new together. But that is simply unacceptable with God.

Today the majority of believers are either into law or into miracles and signs and wonders. But, at the same time, all these people proclaim, “Jesus!” But, although these things (law and miracles) may be good in themselves, neither one of them have the power that is needed to do in us the singular thing that pleases God, i.e. to transform us and to form in us the character of Jesus. The Apostle Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 1:22-24:

“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 can be ‘baptized’ into the law up to your neck, but you cannot please God through the law. You can also be into miracles and signs and wonders; but you cannot please God through these things. Jesus said that many who are doing miracles right now will not go to heaven (Mat 7:22). The only thing you can please God with is by taking up your cross and following Jesus.

Few today are hearing the gospel of the cross preached. Even fewer still are willing to take up their cross and follow Christ. Many would rather listen to the comfortable gospel of prosperity and of solving one’s problems (financial prosperity, miracles, healing, promotion, etc.).

But God has wiped everything off His blackboard and left only one thing: Jesus Christ, and him crucified. God wants His new covenant class (the church) to focus on only one thing. This was the singular focus that the Apostle Paul also had (1 Cor. 2:2; Gal. 3:1). The cross is the SINGULAR way we can please God. Why the cross? The cross crucifies the flesh and this brings the grace of God into our lives. And it is through carrying God’s grace in our hearts alone that we can please God:

“Wherefore… let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear”. (Heb. 12:28)

That is how we can come to understand the reason for Paul’s singular focus on the cross of Christ. In all his teachings and in all his life, Paul purposed to know (and to live) nothing apart from Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And the power that was in Paul’s life was and is profound and unambiguous even to this day; and it will be unto eternity.

Christ crucified is God’s revelation to the world.

[“And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.”]

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Obedience in Hardship

8 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,

9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.

11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.

12 And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.

14 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.

15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.

16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah. 1 Ki. 17:8-16

As with the Shunammite woman, this fair lady’s name is not mentioned. But she was equally great. Oh, to be great in God’s sight!

This widow woman was a Canaanite (Oba. 1:20). She was not an Israelite.

Notice it was the Lord who commanded her to sustain Elijah. A command is something that has to be obeyed. This Canaanite woman heard and obeyed God’s Word. This is what makes her so great. In other words, she heard the Word of the Lord in her spirit, and she obeyed it. By obeying God’s Word, this poor widow became a great woman of faith.

In Luke 4:26, Jesus also speaks of this woman:

“24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; 26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.” (Lk. 4:24-26)

Notice the reason Jesus says that Elijah was sent to this Canaanite woman was because she would receive and obey Elijah’s word, which was God’s Word. Even though there were many widows in Israel during the famine, yet none would accept God’s Word to do what this Canaanite widow did – to serve the servant of God their last meal in the face of a deadly famine.

During the time of this great famine, we read that Israelite women were boiling and eating their own children in order to preserve themselves (2 Ki. 6:28-29)! That speaks of character. It would not have been easy for Elijah to convince such a person to let him eat any food that they had prepared first. These people were faithless and desperate.

But God knew the Canaanite widow would obey Him in spite of her grim situation. So He sent Elijah to her.

True faith is obeying God in the face of difficult times, including persecution. I cringe when I think of the many times that I have failed to obey God in the face of just such situations. When I consider this poor, primitive Canaanite woman’s faith, I deeply abhor myself. I realize I am the least in the Kingdom of God. I repent, even this morning. May God have mercy on me.

It does not matter to God who we are or what we do. God is God, and He has commanded us to obey Him. He uses hardships and difficult situations to test our faith. Great faith is not when we are raising the dead. Great faith is when we are obeying God in the face of hardship and trouble.

The Bible says:

“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)

“Be thou faithful unto death”. That is God’s commandment to us.

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God’s Work In Us!

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Cor.1:25

This scripture here simply means that the littlest thing that God can do in a man is infinitely greater than anything that can be witnessed or accomplished in the natural, however big or powerful it might be. The word “men” in this scripture stands for supernatural manifestations, even if they originate with God. But the most important thing this scripture is saying is that the tiniest touch, the slightest change that can be effected in our lives through God’s hand working upon our hearts is infinitely more valuable than these manifestations.

In other words, God wants to draw a very strict line between the deep work of the Spirit and miracles (signs and wonders). This is because this work brings a transformation in a person, and it is this transformation that God is interested in. This is His real business with us.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” Gal.6:15

By now, we know that the only way that God works upon a man’s heart is through the revelation of the cross, that spiritual circumcision, the stripping away of “the works of the flesh” (Gal. 5:19).

People are easily moved by miracles and other manifestations of God’s power. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. But God’s working upon a man’s heart to transform them is more powerful than the greatest miracle; it is more important than the healing of our bodies; more needful than food on the table; and more exciting than any kind of prosperity agenda.

Ultimately, the things listed above only end up ministering to us in the natural realm. Their initial impact might be big, but it gradually peters out. If you received healing, for example, ten years down the road you might have forgotten about the healing, but you will still be required to take up your cross daily and follow Christ.

In our last post we discussed Elijah and we saw the extent to which this man knew God in that he waited until he heard God’s “still small voice”, and that was when he went out, for he knew then that he would meet God. He wasn’t moved in the least by the outer manifestations of God’s power – the wind, the earthquake, nor the fire.

Had it been us, we most probably would have rushed out at the first powerful sign of God’s presence. We wouldn’t have known to wait for anything else. We wouldn’t have waited and witnessed the true power of God in His “still small voice”, which is the quiet working of the Holy Spirit upon the inner man of the spirit.

This assertion is confirmed today by the huge number of believers who are rushing after the outer manifestations of God’s power. Today, God’s people are running all over the planet looking for miracles. They are paying millions of dollars to cross vast tracts of sea and land, seeking for healing miracles in some far-flung “schools of healing” and assorted “ministries”.

And there are people who, if God does not heal them physically, or if God does not meet them at their point of need on some issue, they lose their hope and trust in God. They lose their joy. But that should not be so.

Let me tell you where the real miracle should be taking place: it is in your heart, if you will allow God’s hand to work in you. You don’t even need to leave your living room! You don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars to attend a “healing school”. The greatest miracle can happen right there, in your living room. This is because the real miracle is not a physical one, but a spiritual one; and the answer to you owning this immeasurable miracle lies, simply, in your heart!

People are sadly unaware that God wants to do a spiritual miracle in them. God doesn’t want to work on the body, He wants to work on the heart!

In 1 Cor. 14:22 the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians: Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.”

Every outer manifestation of God’s power is for the unbelievers, that they might see and believe. But with us, these things are hardly meant to grab our true attention. On the contrary, the things that truly minister to us are things that deal with the issues of our hearts – as here Paul tells us in disclosing the importance of the gift of prophecy in church.

In other words, although miracles, healings, prophesyings, etc. are good and desirable, yet God expects us to see and to desire something incalculably more precious – the transforming work of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts and lives. The two are not mutually exclusive; and yet the one is decidedly greater than the other.

So, once again, where is God? Is He in the miracles? Is He in the healings and other powerful manifestations of the Holy Spirit?

The bold answer is, Hardly. God is not there. God is in men’s hearts, working to transform them.

People dance with joy when they receive miracles from God. But that God can actually do a work in our hearts – that is what should throw us into throes of ecstasy.

But sometimes we are hard of heart, and we put our hands to our ears, not wanting to hear anything other than what we want to hear; having no desire to possess anything other than what we want to possess.
But it is in possessing a humble heart that we will receive the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9), the victory over sin

[Below: They might appear out of place on the sleek tarmac, but for the many otherwise inaccessible parts of the Tanzanian hinterland the Toyota Dyna is a much-valued and indispensable workhorse]

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Spiritual Discernment for Spiritual Transformation – Part 2

On the day that I got saved – O happy day! – about four men laid their hands on me in the living room of our house. (These men are still alive today and serving God. May God bless them dearly, I remember them with much affection.)

As these men were praying over me, suddenly I had the clear impression that there was a mighty wind rushing about in the room and that the earth beneath me was shaking. I recall that I was even tempted to open my eyes to witness these incredible events.

Actually, there was no such thing happening – in the natural, at least. After the men had prayed over me, I looked around in the room, and everything was just as it had been. Not even a stool had moved.

But, unknown to me, in the spirit world, things had happened exactly as I had witnessed them in my ‘vision’. The minute I accepted Jesus into my life, God had moved mightily in my life. He effected such a change in me that I immediately became a new creation – literally. Physically, I was the same old guy; but on the inside, I was changed.

I got saved at 4:30 p.m., and by evening I had scrapped all my plans. Anybody who called on me I just told them I was now saved, and that they, too, needed to get saved.

In those days people feared saved people more than the police, so the minute I told them I was saved, no one remained around to hear anything more. I didn’t even need to see anyone off. They bolted out like they had met their worst nightmare!

I had become a truly changed man.

I have used this example to show what God expects and effects in our lives. It is a work in our hearts. Way down deep in our hearts. It is not anything physical.

Where is God? God’s people are looking for Him all over. They are looking for Him in the miracles, the healings, and in every ‘power’ that occurs in church. And this has opened the door for every kind of deception to invade the Body of Christ.

Today you have people screaming “Power!!” in church, but they are wading waist-high in sin and spiritual defeat.

But I can tell you exactly where God is. God is way deep in our hearts, working. That is where God is.

It is like you go to a gold-shaft and you are looking for someone on the surface, you won’t find them. They are hundreds of feet way down in the mine, digging. That’s where you will find God.

Had Elijah been one of our modern ‘prophets’ – the kind of guy who wakes up one day and declares to the world that God has instructed him to purchase a 63-million dollar private jet – he wouldn’t have had the vaguest idea which direction God would appear from up there on that mountain!

In fact, it is not just that this modern ‘Elijah’ would not have known where God was, but in all certainty he would have assumed God would be either in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Nothing would have convinced him to look elsewhere – or to wait.

The tragic outcome of such a scenario is that Elijah would not have met God, and God would not have spoken to him! That’s a real tragedy, and it is happening right now all over churchdom.

Today, God’s people are scrambling into all these churches that have these ‘fireworks’ – miracles, healings, signs and wonders, charismatic preachers, prosperity; etc. believing they are meeting God.

But Elijah wouldn’t have been moved by any of the things you find in today’s charismatic churches. Actually, Elijah saw much more of God’s power than any of us can claim to have seen – but he didn’t move an inch. As wave after wave of the power of God passed by on that mountain, Elijah stayed put. That is the mark of a man who has spiritual discernment.

The Bible gives us the reason Elijah wasn’t moved by these earth-shaking shows of God’s power: it was simply because “the LORD was not” in them! To the natural man, it is unthinkable that God was not in these things whereas He had initiated them Himself. But if the Bible says God was not in them, then He was not in them. Elijah discerned this, and he waited.

When the thing he was waiting for finally presented itself, Elijah acknowledged it: “… after the fire a still small voice. 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.”

Elijah waited for “a still small voice” – and it finally arrived.

What was this “still small voice”?

In 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 the Apostle Paul writes: 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. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

The “still small voice” is the quiet work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is an unseen work and it occurs way down deep in our hearts. That is why the cross is foolishness to the man who does not walk in the revelation of God.

Many times we want to believe that we know God or that we have met God; but let me tell you that knowing or meeting God is not an easy thing. It is not something we can talk of lightly.

It is not even a vision, even of Jesus Himself. It is not even visiting heaven. Nor is it a healing. All these are good and desirable. But God is not in them!!

God is in that quiet voice of the Holy Spirit, effecting a change in the inner man of the spirit.

Before dying on the cross, we see Jesus doing many miracles. But the life – His life, the resurrection life – was not in the miracles. The life came when He died on the cross.

God’s presence in our lives is revealed in the quiet undercurrent of His power working and transforming us from the inside as we accept that work.

That is why, after a time, we can say of someone, “That man has changed!”

Such a statement is much more powerful than, “That man has been healed (of a physical ailment)”, although the latter is also of God.

Lastly, let me point out that it is also good to do things under the influence of the Holy Spirit – things like dancing, shouting, and such. Even prophecy is good. But it is important to note that these things won’t change you. You could have all the prophets in the world prophecy over you, but that won’t bring any change in your heart.

What will bring a change in your life is a revelation of the cross – a work of God upon your heart.

God’s mighty works are all right and needful; but God is not there. If you are the kind of believer who is always running after emotional experiences – things like miracles, healings, the lure of the prosperity gospel – you will never experience the true transformation needed to make you are mature son or daughter of God in the Spirit.

God’s final “wave” is the cross, where we daily die to self through the working of the Holy Spirit in us – the “still small voice” – in order that the life of Christ might be found in us.

[Below: This bold star never waits for night to fall!]

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Spiritual Discernment for Spiritual Transformation – Part 1

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… 1 Ki. 19:9-13

God moves “in waves”, so to speak, but you would be surprised to learn that His final wave occurred some 2,000 years ago when Christ died on the cross. Through Christ’s work on the cross, the church was born then, and God knew or thought He had finished His job. Luckily for Him, God does not slumber or sleep, otherwise He might have woken up to find He had made a deadly miscalculation. As He looked on in horror God saw men undo, right inside His church, the work that Christ had accomplished at the cross at such great cost.

You can read about all the apostasy that the early apostles came up against in the epistles.

Not long afterwards, the work of the cross lay dead and buried and forgotten. Instead, men began wearing wooden, silver and gold crosses around their necks and in various other parts of their bodies to signify that they carried the cross! Christ’s work was moved from the heart and into the realm of the physical. The cross was thus made of no effect.

But it is clear that in our day, God is at work again, restoring Christ’s work in our hearts.

This is the gist of this post. Join with me in Part 2 to see exactly how God effects this work in us.

[Below: The evening sun reflects off Lake Singidani in Singida]

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Knowing God… Food for Thought

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…

It is a fact that the men of old who knew God did not recognize him in the miracles He performed, important as these were in announcing His presence and power. The clearest example of this is Elijah who, as we saw in 2 of my earlier posts (“Take Up Your Cross And Follow Christ” and “We Are Dead Men!”), the wind, the earthquake and the fire came but he did not move from his position. No manifestation of God’s power would budge Elijah from seeking to know God for who He truly was. Praise God for that! That is the mark of a truly spiritual person.

When finally Elijah heard God’s “still small voice”, then it was that he went out to meet Him.

Remember many of these prophets were men through whom God worked many mighty miracles. But, apparently, in their spirits they saw something much, much bigger than the miracles they were performing!

What was it that these men saw that was a far greater wonder than the mighty miracles that God did in their day? They saw Jesus. But they did not see any Jesus. (Right here let me say that it is sad how today’s Christians seem not to know the Bible: the Apostle Paul warns us of “another Jesus”, “another spirit” and “another gospel” (2 Cor.11:4); and yet God’s children swallow anything as long as it has the name ‘Jesus’ attached to it. The church needs to be able to discern! There are ‘Jesus’s’ galore in the world today, and spirits and gospels, and they are deceiving God’s people).

But these men of old saw a suffering Jesus, and from this suffering Jesus they saw an indescribable glory that awed them in their visions and dreams. 1 Peter 1:10-11 says: “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”

And for them, if the indescribable glory they had seen was in a suffering Christ, then that was where God was, too! In a hazy understanding of the glory that would be there in the New Covenant, they came to an understanding that God was not anywhere else except in His Son Jesus, whom He would give to suffer and die as a propitiation for the sins of the world.

We too – indeed, more so – cannot, and should not attempt know God except through a relationship with Christ “and him crucified”. The Apostle Paul makes that clear in 1 Corinthians 2:2. That “him crucified” means identifying our lives with His suffering and death. Anything else is “another Jesus”.

In light of Hebrews 1:2, the voice that Elijah heard was the voice of Jesus. In other words, Elijah received a revelation of Jesus just as we too have received. And in waiting until he had heard God’s “still small voice” before he went out to meet Him, Elijah was not only displaying his maturity in his understanding of God, but he was also foreshadowing what would happen under the New Covenant: “God… hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son”.

Both what Elijah saw and what the writer of Hebrews is speaking of there are one and the same thing: it was a revelation of the crucified Christ.

Do you know that Jesus came to earth and spoke? Yes, He did, and He spoke many things. You can find His words, verbatim, in the gospels of Matthew through John. God made it is so much easier for us to know exactly what Jesus had spoken to the Old Testament prophets by writing Jesus’ words down right there in the Bible.

It wasn’t so easy for the Old Testament prophets. What a grace we have today, and are we aware of it?

God spoke through the apostles in the early church, men who had come to know Christ through identifying their lives with His sufferings and death; and He is still speaking today through the apostleship ministry of such men. These are the men whom God has given the responsibility to reveal Christ to the church. These are men who talk of the cross of Christ, because Jesus talked of the cross above everything else.

When we lack the revelation of what Jesus said, we run after the miracles and everything else!

Talking of miracles, you see, God is the God of the entire universe. He is Lord over all and He is capable of doing anything. We cannot therefore confine Him to miracles and signs and wonders. He can perform these all right, but He is beyond these. He is more than these – infinitely so.

And God is concerned that we should know Him as He IS, in His fullness. Shouldn’t we be grateful for that? I believe we should.

Just as the men (and women) of old saw God in the cross of Christ, so should we. The greatest miracle that can happen in any man’s life is for the cross to work in their lives, to change them and perfect them. All heaven eagerly anticipates the glory that will be found in such a life!

Knowing God is a work – a daily working of the cross in our lives. A daily crucifixion of our character, our carnal desires and our lives.

Knowing God is not a one-touch thing.

Some years back, someone excitedly came back from a meeting he had attended in a neighboring country and told me: “Something happened to me! When the preacher placed his hands on me I fell down!”

That’s all right, and I did not want to doubt that something had happened to him. God’s power could have been involved in whatever happened to him. But God is more than that. After the excitement is over we need to move on. Even after Lazarus was raised from the dead, he still needed to take up his cross and follow Christ.

Do you want to know who God is? Don’t look for Him in the miracles, in the healings, nor in the provision. All these are of God all right, and they are for His children. But remember Jesus gave these to the Jews but when He began to show them where the real glory lay, “they forsook him”!

If you are serious about wanting to know God, look for Him where the men of old – the Old Testament prophets, and the New Testament apostles – looked for Him. They sought and found God in identifying their lives with the sufferings of Christ.

Desire to catch the revelation of the cross in your life.

[Below: Birds on the shores of Lake Victoria, Mwanza]

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