In Kobe’s Death, A Lesson

24 After certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. 25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. 26 He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. Acts 24:24-26

We are all instruments in the hands of God. God has the right to use us in any way He wants; after all, it is He who created us.

A few days ago, in one of our large cities here in Tanzania, over 20 people were trampled to death as they were rushing to dip their feet in so-called holy oil in an open-air meeting held by one of the many fake apostles and prophets that nowadays characterize the modern church. Many more people were injured.

Many theories were presented as to what could possibly have caused such a huge disaster. But to me it was clear that, after having warned His people through various means against these false apostles and prophets, God decided to use a different method. He chose certain of His subjects (the people who died) to teach others a lesson. God said, “Maybe the rest will learn from these.”

In other words, God was exercising His right to use those people any way He liked. And He liked it that way. Not that it was necessarily pleasing to Him to see them die. (And I have no idea where they went.) He was not cheering their deaths. But He had a point to make and He would have it made. Nothing that happened on that day was accidental. Even the people who died were very carefully chosen by Him.

Now, God used those people to make a statement concerning the dangers inherent in the present-day false apostolic and prophetic ministries. (You would have to be very high on drugs to not realize or acknowledge that a ‘ministry’ where people are trampling each other to death is not of God). God was telling His people, the church, “Come out from among them!”

Now the whole country, at least those who are willing to acknowledge it, are aware that these ministries of ‘anointed’ oil, ‘anointed’ water, etc, are not of God, but of the devil. They kill, defraud and do many other harmful things to God’s people.

In the same way that God used these people in my country, I believe He used Kobe Bryant to make a wake-up call to the world. I have no way of knowing whether Kobe had made his peace with God before he died. But whether he had or not, the first and foremost fact is that Kobe was an instrument of God. God had every right to use him any way He wanted.

And God used him. I doubt there is anyone out there among the world’s high and mighty who now doubts the fact of death. And that it can pick you out anywhere and at any moment.

Kobe was not only famous. He was also a powerful and influential figure in worldly circles. People like Kobe are people who are generally viewed by the world as indestructible. That is the way human nature is: we tend to place people on impossible pedestals. That is why his death, which came right out of the blue, was such a shocker to many.

Felix was the governor of Judea, and when Paul met him, he did not mince words with him concerning his final resting place. He told him the truth. Paul pinned down on the important aspects of life. He told Governor Felix that if his life was not built on righteousness and temperance, he would face eternal damnation in hell. Paul did not look upon the greatness of Felix; he saw a sinner before him.

The Apostle Paul was chosen by God to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to kings and rulers. Paul was also an instrument in God’s hands. He preached the Kingdom of God – a Kingdom of righteousness and temperance – to these powerful men and women. These were men who had the opportunity to live lives of excess, and he warned them against it.

Larger than life or not, we will all come into the judgment seat of Christ. I am not in any way judging Kobe. I hardly know him. And as I said, it could well be that he had made his peace with God before his death. But God used him to loudly proclaim to a sinful world that death will ultimately usher us into His presence and that for this reason we should hearken to the message of Paul to Felix:

“… he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come”.

Many memorial services will be held for Kobe Bryant; but none of these things matter now as far as he is concerned. What matters is the life he lived prior to his death. God expected him to live every day of his 41 years here on earth in righteousness and temperance, and that is what he will answer for before God.

And so it will be with every one of us. May God help us all!

The Eminence Of The Cross – Part 1

38 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. 39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Mat. 12:38-40

Our lives are bound up with God to the extent that we live the crucified life. That was what Jesus was telling these Jews here. They – just like many believers today – believed the Kingdom of God consisted of signs and wonders. But Jesus here set the record straight: when it comes to the Kingdom of God, the only true sign that would be given this generation was the suffering, death and resurrection of our souls.

Actually, Jesus reprimanded the Jews for seeking after a sign. He said that seeking after a sign is the mark of “an evil and adulterous generation”.

That’s quite telling. That’s talking of people who are not interested in seeking after the holiness of God. Rather, they are using God (religion) to seek after their own gain. Material, financial and physical gain, to be exact. But Jesus said,

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God”.

Even seeking after bodily healing of itself is a form of selfishness. Seeking after your own healing first (you will know you are doing this in your heart of hearts) is a form of idol worship. Today, there are so many believers who worship their bodies. But we are to seek for God’s Kingdom first to be established in our hearts.

I believe it grieves God’s heart the way many believers today throng to these miracle-working churches. All they are seeking after is a sign, a miracle, a healing, or an awe-inspiring wonder. According to scripture, these are “an evil and adulterous generation”.

In fact, let’s up the ante. Or, rather, let us see how the Bible judges today’s generation of miracle-seekers. Yes, God judges all miracle-seekers, as we shall see. Firstly, the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 1:22-24 declares something which is very contrary to popular charismatic belief:

“22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified… 24 Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

In his day, Paul’s generation was demanding a sign. Today’s generation loves preaching Christ; but not “Christ crucified”. Today, the gospel is all about being blessed – materially, financially and physically. They preach another Jesus. The cross is out. And so is God’s wisdom and power.

But the real killer is 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. Here scripture says:

“9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

What, pray, is the “truth” the Bible is talking of here?

The truth is Jesus. He Himself declared,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (Jn. 14:6)

And, who, pray is the Bible talking of here? Is the Bible addressing pagan sinners? By no means. The world is already deceived. Satan’s work is to deceive those who have been called to the truth. Here, therefore, the Bible is talking of God’s people who refused to love the truth (Jesus), but had pleasure in a lie.

There is no shortage of believers today who are so deceived even the drunkard in the bar can see what is going on, for it is happening in broad daylight. In Africa, congregations of the deceived are so vast that some ‘churches’ use football fields to hold their services. So many people running to receive a lie! There is so much damnable folly and unrighteousness going on in these charismatic churches today. Just to mention a few: People are persuaded to eat grass and snakes in church. Apparently, this is done under a form of hypnotism for no one in their right minds would do such a thing. Many other things are done to God’s people in these churches under this particular form of hypnotism.

Merchandise, purportedly from the holy land, is sold in churches: flags, oil, sand, water, etc. Women are raped in church under the guise of being healed and receiving other ‘blessings’. And preachers live the high life at the expense of fooled believers. The list is inexhaustible. There is a church whose members worship naked. They read the Bible and they discovered that Adam was naked (although Adam was not naked; he was covered with the glory of God). Then there are the mainstream established churches, who have taken centuries to establish each their own particular form of lie.

The common factor amongst all these groupings is that they have refused to affirm the singular Truth that was preached by the Apostles: Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. They have cast aside the cross of Jesus Christ. They have cast aside the singular thing that connects them with the living God.

So what is that scripture we just read in 2 Thessalonians saying? It is warning us. It is stating that you cannot fool God. God can see when His people have no love for the truth, and he is not happy about it at all. God saw through the mask of people’s worldly desires and He realized people did not really love His Son, Jesus (the Truth). All they wanted were the miracles. The Bible here says that, for this reason, God let loose a spirit of “strong delusion”. A spirit of signs and wonders. They had refused to believe in the singular gospel of the cross, so God let loose Satan (in a spirit of “deceivableness”) upon them. This spirit is at work in the church today and, as we just saw, it is not working in parables. It is plainly see-able.

But it is the cross and what it does in our lives that will usher us into the presence of God. We saw in our last post that Jesus has received the ultimate reward from God the Father: He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. And the Bible makes clear that Jesus did not receive this honor on account of the miracles that He performed when He was here on earth. Rather, it was on account of the cross that He allowed to work in His life.

Many believers, as we just saw, make a big fuss out of miracles and signs and wonders. But when we get to heaven, these (whether we worked or whether we received them) will be of very little consequence to our final accounting with God. What will determine how God receives us in heaven will be how we denied ourselves by partaking of the sufferings and death of Christ when we were here on earth.

This was what Jesus was trying to tell the scribes and Pharisees here.

[Our reward is to live forever with Jesus after we have taken up our cross]

The Eternal Glory

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 1 Corinthians 15:41

I very much doubt that the Apostle Paul was into astronomy. Nowhere in the Bible does it indicate that he dabbled in that fine art, not before, nor even after he met Christ. When he therefore talks about the sun, the moon and the stars Paul is not talking about these great creations of God as we know them in the natural.

We recall Joseph and his dreams. In one of them Joseph was shown the sun, the moon and eleven stars bowing down to him. We all know that the forms he saw referred to his father and his brethren. In other words, they referred to people!

So it is with Paul here. He is talking about people. I will leave someone else to explain what the sun and the moon refer to in this scripture. I will only talk about the stars. The stars here refer to you and me. This particular scripture gives us one of the most powerful glimpses into the Kingdom of Heaven as it will be in eternity. Paul here is saying that at the resurrection of the dead, some of us will have more glory than others.

That’s a sobering thought, if ever there was one. This is pretty serious stuff Paul is talking of here. When you read Romans chapter 8 verses 29 and 30, as well as other scriptures (verse 17, etc.) you notice that the end of our calling is glorification with Jesus Christ. But it is clear that we will not all be at the same level of glory with one another – or even with Jesus! The latter thought ought to sober us up even more.

And you don’t need a degree in theology to understand the implications of that. All it means is that the life we have now, in this world, is an opportunity to serve God and His Church, as well as all of mankind with all our hearts, all our minds and all our strength as we look forward to the eternal reward.

Let us not waste this precious opportunity by serving self. Let us rather desire to crucify self at the cross and take up the life of Christ – as we look to the glory to come.

I love what the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 5:13: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

The next time you look up into the night sky and see a star twinkling, think about you – and the life God has called you to live.

[Below: With wonderful brethren in the North of Mauritius.]

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Rooting for the Eternal Glory

If you’ve nothing to cheer about in this world you are probably dead. There are so many things to literally raise your hairs on end with the thrill they provide. My favorite sports is athletics; I admire the individual effort a competitor is forced to make in this field. I can tell you of the many times my whole self has exploded in a burst of adrenaline (sometimes I even cry tears) as I watch a hard-won victory on the tracks.

Watching the athletic prowess of his compatriots of his day, the Apostle Paul no doubt was impressed by their accomplishments. But Paul’s eyes were latched onto a similar accomplishment, albeit of a different nature. He says in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 verse 25, “… Now they do it to obtain a corruptible; but we an incorruptible.” He is talking about the crown of glory that a victor receives.

No earthly glory can compare with the glory that will be revealed upon the victors at the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is why we should desire to work towards the eternal glory. Sure, there are many legitimate things here on earth to excite us, but their fading light should not blind us from seeing that blessed hope that we ought to so eagerly await.

But how are we to keep our eyes on that eternal goal? How do we work for it? The Apostle lays it down for us: “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (verse 27).

That points us to the Cross. That is why we should desire to have a revelation of the Cross in our hearts, so we may truly learn how to lay down our lives as Jesus laid down His, to take up our cross and follow Him.

The Bible says about Jesus that He “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.   Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:7-11).

To follow in those footsteps is our challenge if we are to partake of that heavenly glory. There is no other way, and there is no compromise.