It’s About Power!

He that blesseth his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him. Ps. 27:14

I am thinking of asking whoever is involved to enter my name in the annals of history as one of the great pioneers of discovery. Actually, probably the greatest of them all. I haven’t read much, and if there is someone who has made this discovery ahead of me, I will gladly let go my claim to the title. But if not, may the record-keeper be kindly informed that I seriously need this recognition.

So, what discovery have I made? What have I pioneered that is so important as to deserve such distinction? It is this: I have made the singular discovery that the greatest desire in man, above any other, is the desire for power. I used to think that the love of material comforts, or the love of money, or the sexual urge were the most powerful forces in man. But no; all these come a distant second to the lust for power.

And you wouldn’t believe it, but I have made this discovery through observing my chickens. I have been raising chickens for the last four years, so I ought to know what I am talking about. It took a while, but through long-term observation, this realization finally dawned upon me. I will, however, divulge the secret of how I made the observation to you for your gift of a couple of million dollars. (Why not; every preacher is asking for these kinds of gifts).

Armed with this knowledge, it has therefore come as no surprise to me to learn that the struggle between God and man (i.e. man in the flesh) is a struggle for power above anything else. The flesh wants to usurp God’s power, God’s position and God’s authority.

Proverbs 27:14, therefore, does not mean that God is prohibiting us from greeting our neighbor aloud early in the morning. As a matter of fact, done in the right spirit, greeting your neighbor cheerily in the morning is one of the best things that you can do. The Bible says a merry heart is good medicine (Prov. 17:22).

But we must dig further to get a proper understanding of this scripture. What the Bible is talking about here is something entirely different. It is talking about pleasing men. You cannot please men and please God at the same time. One has to give way to the other in our lives.

Through even the seemingly innocuous things that we do daily, the flesh is engaged in a never-ending struggle to dethrone God; to dethrone Him from our hearts and from our entire lives. The flesh wants to be noticed, and to be applauded – at the expense of God. Our smiles, our good deeds, when not done in the Spirit, are an extension of our inner pride. Greeting your neighbor aloud in the morning is a very good deed; but if it done so your neighbor can see how good you are, that is putting the flesh ahead of God. It is the flesh usurping God’s position in our hearts – and in the eyes of men.

But God will have none of it. That is why God introduces the cross into our lives. The cross comes, first and foremost, to deal with our pride. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ commanded us not to seek to be seen by men in anything we do, whether it be prayer, fasting, giving, or our piety. We should strive to do things in the hidden inner man, where men do not see and give us acclamation, but where God sees and rewards us. Why? Because when we do things in the sight of God, it is a testimony that we are humbling ourselves before Him, and giving Him His due glory, honor and praise. In other words, we are proclaiming His power. In the same manner, therefore, when we do things to be seen of men, we are making the flesh our god! And God will not share His glory with man. When men praise us, our reward with God is gone.

This is a grave challenge to the flesh. But the flesh needs, not just to be challenged, but to be crucified on the cross. And herein lies the relevance of the Pauline revelation in 1 Cor. 2:2:

“1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

When we do not have that revelation, we shall be doomed to doing obeisance to the flesh instead of God. And this translates into a curse upon our lives.

[A powerful lesson from the chickens]

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Our True Family

46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.

47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.

48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?

49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. Mat. 12:46-50

This is a tough one. It is a very, very tough one. In a sense, probably the toughest of all of Jesus’s lessons.

In a nutshell, there can be no emotional attachments in God’s Kingdom, only spiritual ones. There could be no greater emotional attachment than the familial one; and here Jesus discards it. We are to seek after spiritual relationships. The Bible says that God is Spirit. There can therefore be no other relationships acceptable to Him other than a spiritual one.

The church may not be perfect, but it is the Body of Jesus Christ! And where else, aside from this congregation of mostly imperfect men and women can we grow to know the will of our Father in heaven? No, there is nowhere else. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are our true family.

Yes, Peter still had a sword hidden in his inner robe, and we can imagine his thoughts were not so peaceful nor holy. Equally fierce and furious were James and John, who also harbored Napoleonic thoughts of conquering the world.

But, incredibly, Jesus  elevated these people above his earthly brothers, sisters and mother. He called them His family!

There are people who will value their flesh and blood kin over members of the Body of Christ. There are others who approve of people for various other reasons other than purely spiritual ones. But that attests to their inability to see in the Spirit. For when we see in the Spirit, we realize how truly valuable brethren in Christ are and how high our relating to them towers above earthly relationships, however close; and however weak our brethren in Christ may be.

It is best – before it gets too late and we come to realize the vanity of it all – that we as God’s children align ourselves fully with the church and stop appeasing other relationships, however important they might appear. There is a price to pay there; but, again, the gospel is all about paying the price.

God will give us grace and it is not as if we will stop loving our kith and kin in the flesh. Jesus Himself no doubt thought constantly and prayed for His family, a fact that is born out in John 19:25-27:

“25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.”

But, right to the very end, as we see here, Jesus’s thoughts about his mother and siblings were spiritual, not otherwise. His love for them was not emotional, but spiritual. In the end, through Jesus’s pursuit of only the spiritual, they, too, came to an understanding of the treasure that is God’s Kingdom. In the end, He bequeathed to them the true riches, heavenly ones.

[Powerful clip. Please go to “Settings”, click “Subtitles” for the English subtitles to appear]

Men and Women of Faith

One day we will get to heaven and we will meet the many grand and beautiful saints whom we read about in the Bible. These are men and women whose stories of faith leave us in awe. We can hardly picture ourselves hugging the likes of Abraham, Daniel, Rahab (wow!), or Paul, among countless others.

(We will also reunite with all the other saints who have gone on ahead. I personally know of a lovely lady who died a few years ago, whom I can hardly wait to meet in heaven!)

But, although these Biblical saints awe us with their exploits, the truly remarkable thing is that they lived and walked on this earth as ordinary people like you and me. There was nothing extraordinary about their earthly lives, certainly not in the sense we are tempted to imagine when we read their incredible accounts.

On the day I got saved, as they were praying over me the strange thought came to my mind that I would hear the roar of thunder and see intense flashes of lightning, and that every kind of earth-shaking event was about to take place. In other words, I had this deep conviction that something extraordinary would happen right then. I have no idea where that impression came from but it was there, clear as day. Well, when I finally opened my eyes nothing out of the ordinary had taken place. Everything was as it had been before I closed my eyes. Only, the guys who surrounded me seemed extremely happy!

But I did come to learn later that all this ‘seismic activity’ that I had seen in my mind did actually take place in the spirit realm at the very instant they prayed, and that at that very moment I was changed.

Likewise, we read about the battles of faith that the saints of old fought, and we wonder with amazement whether these happenigs really did occur. Some are just too fantastic! The answer is, yes, all the events we read about in the Bible were real. Everything we read of did happen. But the point is: it all happened in the spirit. Whether the results manifested physically or not is immaterial. All the victories we read of in the Bible were won in the spirit, by the power of the Holy Spirit. No Biblical event should ever be interpreted as a purely human experience.

Otherwise, we could never explain the incredible exploits of these men and women as recorded in the Bible. They were spiritual exploits. (Absolutely no man could slay eight hundred men with a spear all by himself, as one of David’s mighty men did  – unless he was enabled by the Holy Spirit 2 Sam. 23:8.)

The saints of old knew God’s ways. They aligned their lives with His will and achieved great victories.

There is much extraordinary activity taking place in the spirit today, probably more than anything that happened in Biblical days. It is inconceivable that in a generation as evil as ours God is not looking for men and women who will do mighty exploits in the spirit. May the Lord help us to know His ways.

There is, however, a wrong perception today among born-again believers about the Church’s true calling, and it is preventing the Church from walking in true spiritual victory. For example, born-again believers have been led to believe that God does not wish them to experience the slightest bit of trouble in this world. Moreover, believers are taught that God’s promises are for our material, financial and physical well-being.

It is a lie to teach God’s people that it is through such experiences that we get know God. Believers are being led to look out for the flesh!

Little wonder, then that the lines are blurred between what is holy and what is not, a sure sign of defeat within the Body of Christ. Today, for example, there is greater incidence of divorce (and re-marriage) within the Church than in any other generation, and such issues are being viewed with an increasingly tolerant eye. The Bible is being interpreted according to our emotions and fleshly whims!

The Biblical saints were considerate of God’s will in the spirit but gave out the flesh to be tormented, the classic example being Jesus Christ Himself (Heb. 10:5). Let their faith be our example to follow. We, too, like them, are called to achieve extraordinary deeds in the spirit. And, just as they awe us with their faith, they too are looking to us, in our daily ordinary lives, to awe them with our faith.