God Can Use Anything

One time I went to visit a relative in the city and as I was sitting alone in the living room, his young son came in and found me reading a book. He told me, “That is my dad’s book.”

“Oh, great!”, I said jovially.

He didn’t seem to think it was so jovial. He looked blankly at me and said, “Put it down, you thief!”

I am no thief and in my tribe, the least form of punishment that I would have given that boy for insulting me was instant death.

But God gave me grace and I realized exactly what was happening. I realized God was checking to see what was in my heart.

God can use anything – even a small child – to show us what is in our hearts. Whenever something negative comes into our lives, we should beware that God has allowed it in order to uproot something that He does not like in our lives.

In my case, the Lord allowed me to see the mountain of pride that was in my heart. In fact, I was so humbled by what the Lord revealed to me that I became as small as a pin in that house and especially towards that boy. And by the time I left, he and I had become best of friends.

[God can use even a small child to check your pride level. And no, this is not the boy in the story]

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Fear God!

I agree completely with Pastor Jennings that America is in the condition she is in because she has ceased to fear God and has embraced things like homosexuality, lesbianism, etc.

307 mass shootings in 312 days. Wow! Who wants to go to America in 2018? It doesn’t require a medicineman to tell you there is something seriously wrong with such a country.

The solution for this country is not gun control. The solution is to return to God.

“And the Lord shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the Lord, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.” (Is. 19:22)

A Given Life – Part 1

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. Heb. 11:17-19

Let us read that again.

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried…”

I don’t know whether Abraham knew that he was being tried. I don’t know whether he knew God would ask him to stay his hand at the critical moment. But, whether he knew these things or not, what is important is that Abraham realized he had to lose. And so when he knew this, when God told him to, in his heart he therefore offered up Isaac. It says that when he was tried, Abraham

“… offered up Isaac.”

In his heart he released Isaac from being his only-begotten son. He willingly let him go. He lost him. By the time the angel appeared and told him,

“Lay not your hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him…” (Gen. 22:12)

in his heart Abraham had already slaughtered Isaac. That is why the Bible says in verse 19,

“Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”

Abraham therefore experienced the pain of losing his son. Just as God experienced the pain of losing His Son Jesus, Abraham, in a figure, lost Isaac.

But let me go back to the words that drew me to this scripture in the first place.

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried…”

Do we realize that when God asks us to lose something, that we are being tried? Indeed, the entirety of our call is a trial; for we have been called, without reservation, to lose. We are to go way beyond losing even. Consider the incredulity of Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:38-45.

“38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Wow! What a heart! And, pray, who is capable of these things? But this is exactly the heart that God has. It is God’s character. And it is the heart we ought to have as children of God. But it can only be had through the revelation of the cross. It is the laying of our lives on the altar, in order that we might do the will of God, as opposed to doing the will of the flesh.

When we have laid our lives at the altar, and they are no longer ours, the Bible calls that faith. Just as we see with Abraham here.

“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac”.

[Oh, those songs!!]

“The Sons Of God” – Part 2

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. Rom. 8:18-19

Although Adam might have been able to fly, yet, under the New Covenant, we could hardly find time to talk about Adam and his flying skills. On the contrary, we are to look at the heart. Something bad happened with Adam’s heart. And thereafter, grief, sorrow, fear and death reigned over the earth. Whether Adam was able to fly thereafter or not is no more of importance to us.

I truly thank God for the revelation that He has given to the church concerning the heart. Where would we be without this revelation? No doubt we would be preaching the charismatic gospel of material prosperity, et al.

But the Bible says:

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).

I have heard many preachers try to make this scripture to be about the human intellect. But they could hardly be more off-track. This scripture is not talking about the brain. Indeed, no scripture addresses the human intellect. All scripture addresses the heart. All it is saying here is that as a man is in his heart, so is he. As a man is in his heart, so is everything about him.

Elsewhere, the Psalmist wrote:

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Ps. 139:14)

The Psalmist was in the Spirit when he wrote those words. He was not in the flesh. The Psalmist here therefore is talking about the heart. God could hardly be bothered with our bodies the way we are.

In the Bible, we find men and women who had the heart of God. Men like David. And Abigail, among countless others. I have it in my heart to write about these two especially and, God willing, I shall do so within the next few days.

God has given us a heart that is fearfully and wonderfully made. A heart where God can dwell. Through Jesus Christ, our hearts have become the dwelling place of God.

Is that not so wonderful! But for us to arrive at the place where God dwells in our hearts, we have to pay the price. And, pray, what is the price?

The price is to circumcise our hearts. Those are the “sufferings” the Apostle Paul talks of in our key scripture above. Notice,

“we preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23)!

The true gospel of Jesus Christ preaches the singularity of the sufferings and death of Christ through crucifixion. It may not be a “pop” gospel, but it is the true gospel. Any other gospel, any other Jesus, is not genuine and the preaching of such simply draws men and women further from eternal life (2 Cor. 11:4).

In Matthew 16:24, Jesus Himself said,

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

The denial of self and the taking up of our cross is not easy. But there is no different path. The cross makes for a beautiful heart. A beautiful heart, on the other hand, makes the difference in this world – and in the next.

I find myself singularly wanting in any endeavor to do justice to this important subject. What I have written here is my small contribution for now. I pray it might make a difference in the lives of any who read it.

[Man is an incredibly wonderful creation. God intended it to be so. Judge Frank Caprio]

“The Sons Of God” – Part 1

“The Sons Of God” – Part 1

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. Rom. 8:18-19

The words “the creature” in verse 19 refer to all of creation. This verse could therefore also have been written, “For the earnest expectation of all creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”

All of creation. That understanding is important to our comprehension of this scripture. But… before we get to the meat of this scripture, let us look at another scripture in Genesis chapter 1.

“26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth… 31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” (Gen. 1:26-31)

The other day I read in the news that a lion mauled and badly injured eight young Maasai men in the countryside. The beast chanced upon them as they were digging a well and attacked them. The young morans were unprepared for the attack, of course, and as they scattered they cried out for help. But the lion fought off anyone who came to help and he managed to walk away from the confrontation largely unscathed. Fortunately, no one died; but some of the morans were badly injured.

In the comments section of that story, people were talking about how things would have turned out had the young men been from a different tribe. One comment read, “The headlines would have read: ‘Eight young men mauled to death by a lion'”.

The Maasai are without a doubt the most redoubtable people in the land. In the early days, a Maasai warrior had to hunt and kill a lion in order to be initiated into manhood.

But the lion is no animal to tangle with. It is known to be the boldest and most ferocious animal in Africa. This time, unprepared, nine young warriors were wrecked by a single marauding lion.

But the first man, Adam, was an awesome creation before the fall.  He was beautiful and wonderful to behold. We cannot imagine the glory that attended the first man. Adam was clothed with the glory and power of God. We could say he was supernatural. I once heard Benny Hinn claim that Adam could fly. I cannot argue with that. Adam was a truly awesome creation.

Had Adam encountered the lion, all alone, Adam would have played with it the way one plays with a cat. The Bible says,

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (v.28)

Adam had dominion over every living thing that moved upon the earth. He was every creation’s master. All of earthly creation was subject to him.

It was only after the fall that God turned the tables on Adam (or, rather, Adam turned the tables on himself!). Now, man fears everything. (Even a domestic cat, when cornered, can be deadly! Nothing in this world is safe anymore, and nothing is to be taken lightly.)

The Distinctiveness Of The Church – Part 2

In Romans 3:27 the Bible says:

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.”

I was in a burial recently. The man who had died was the regional bishop of one of the biggest Pentecostal churches in our country. He had under him all the churches in roughly one third of the country.

The burial ceremony was attended by a big government delegation, so illustrious was the man. But it was the bishops who came in their hordes. They literally covered the meeting. They were so many that I lost count as each was called up to the podium to be introduced to the massive crowd. And, in recognition of the position they held in church, each bishop was given the opportunity to address the meeting. The head bishop of that church organization was also there.

I had never been in such a meeting before. The introductions took more than three hours! But it was what was done by these bishops that truly amazed me. As each one stood and made their speech, they would turn around and address the head bishop who, together with the bishops, was seated on the podium facing the crowds. In fact, the bishops called him “Father Bishop”! And everything they said was directed at him. In other words, they were talking to the head bishop, not to the people.

When it came the turn of the head man himself to speak, he took the opportunity to remind the faithful (flock) of his position by telling them that it was he who represented them before the country’s president.

That is how the church is run today. But the early church, as we saw in the first part, was run differently. Then, nothing superseded the church body. Not even the leaders, be they bishops, pastors or deacons.

Had Paul been in this burial meeting, and had he had the opportunity to address the meeting, guess what? Paul would have addressed the people facing him. He would not have addressed the head bishop seated behind him. He would have addressed the saints. He would have said, “Saints”, or “Beloved” instead of “Bishop”.

Anyways, back to the scripture we started with.

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.”

Probably the thing that man loves above anything else is boasting. Man loves praise! If you say something good about them, men will give you “even to the half of my kingdom” (Mk. 6:23)!

But that is the spirit of this world. It has absolutely no place in the church. Unfortunately, today, men (and women) in the church love praise. They love to be called all the big names. They love being noticed, credited, accredited, applauded, respected, saluted, and everything in between. You cannot write a letter to a church and just address the “saints” or “faithful” like the Apostle Paul did. If you do not address the letter to the pastor, it will be thrown into the fire. Why? Simply because the pastor wants to be recognized! He wants to be noticed for who he is.

But – glory be to God! – the church is not about men; and the Apostle Paul by the wisdom and courage that was given to him made that emphatically clear in the epistles. On the contrary, the church is all about Christ and His bride, the church. And Paul stamped the mark of distinctiveness upon the church. In a wedding, men do not waste their attention on the best man. All the attention is on the bride and bridegroom.

John the Baptist told the Jews, when they enquired about him. They asked him, “Who are you? Are you the Christ?” To which he replied,

“28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John made it clear what the big prize was: it was the bride! John, the fore-runner to Jesus Christ called himself only “the friend of the bridegroom”. Then he said,

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

There is no place in the church for all the titles and self-serving positions that men have given to themselves in the church. Today, men in church are greater than Jesus Himself! But John said,

“There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.” (Mk. 1:7)

The Ministry Gifts

The church (as a body) is the singular most important thing with Christ. The church is the singular entity that Christ loves with all His heart. That is why He has given her the five-fold and other ministries. The ministries that Christ has put in the church are for serving the church, Christ’s Bride. Notice they are gifts. They are ministry gifts to the church. In fact, the Bible declares that Christ has put upon us His engagement ring.

“13 … in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Col. 1:13-14)

These ministry gifts have been given by Christ to prepare His Bride, the church, for Christ, who is the Bridegroom. They have been given to perfect her (Ephesians chapter 4). They are not garlands for men to wear around their necks. The gifts and callings of God are not for men to serve their egos with!

It is all about the church. It is all about every saint, every believer in Jesus, every “faithful”. Each one is equal in the eyes of God. No man or woman is bigger than the other.

The Leaders

So what about the carriers of the ministry gifts and church leaders in general? Who are they?

If John the Baptist considered himself not worthy to stoop and unlatch the shoes of Jesus, how much less so the new covenant servants of Jesus? These are simply men who have been entrusted with the responsibility to raise the church. They are servants. When Jesus was describing the role of the church leader, He told His disciples,

“… whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant”. (Mat. 20:26-27)

That is the spirit that ought to be in the church. Church is the place where every child of God ought to feel valued equally, their social, financial or any status notwithstanding. At any rate, the church is a Body. We all have bodies. At no one time have we ever felt that any part of our bodies was more important than the other.

[A tranquil beach in Mwanza City]

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