Carriers of God’s Plan and Purpose

11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.

12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it. Jer. 1:11-12

In this scripture, the rod of almond tree stands for chastisement. In other words, God was telling Jeremiah, “I will chastise you.”

The rod stands for chastisement.

But it is God’s last words to Jeremiah that are of interest to us here. God tells Jeremiah,

“Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.”

In other words, God was telling Jeremiah, “I will chasten you all right. But it is not the chastening that I will be considering, It is not the pain that you will experience that is of importance to me. What is important to me is my purpose.”

God’s purpose and plan supersedes our lives, much less our comfort, or our comfortable lifestyle. The Psalmist said,

“Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.” (Ps. 119:143)

We are mere vessels – albeit living ones – in the house of the Lord. Vessels are made by men. In the same manner, God moulds and shapes us to fit his purpose and plan. It is the height of presumption for a man to think that he knows the ways of God. But God has His ways, which He desires to teach us.

To carry God’s purpose in our hearts, the flesh in us must be crucified. We must die to our ways of sin. That is why if someone desires to carry God’s plan and purpose in his life, he must be willing to suffer much. God told Ananias concerning Paul,

“15 Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16)

In our human weakness, we are very concerned with our suffering. When God started dealing with Saul (who would later be called Paul), Saul “kicked against the pricks” (Acts 9:5).

But a time came when Paul lived only for God’s purpose and plan. Then, he realized the wisdom in God’s chastisement of him. He writes:

“9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

Paul gave himself completely to be destructed for God’s plan and purpose to be fulfilled in his life.

The Bible also says of our Lord Jesus Christ:

8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb. 5:8-10).

We will never amount to much in the Spirit if we are not willing to be chastised by the Lord. The Lord has only one instrument to shape us with: the rod, the cross. If we are to become true vessels in the house of the Lord, if we are to accomplish anything in the Kingdom of God, we must stop moaning and complaining when God applies the rod to us. We must see in the Spirit and see God’s hand of chastisement upon us, moulding and shaping us to fit His plan and purpose.

For, ultimately, our lives are of no value if they are not fitted into God’s divine plan and purpose.

At the end of the day, we are carriers of God’s plan and purpose. It is only be God’s grace that God esteems us so much higher than the donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on.

[The MV Sengerema, one of two ferries that ply the Mwanza-Sengerema channel on Lake Victoria. Nowadays, these ferries operate 24/7]

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There’s Balm In Gilead!

Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered? Jer. 8:22

I love the Apostle Paul with all my heart! The Apostle Paul is not someone you can love emotionally. He is not a rock star. You can only love the Apostle Paul in the Spirit, and I thank God for that.

Paul was he who paid the price to bring the life of Jesus Christ to the church. He suffered with Christ. And through his ministry, today there is healing balm in Gilead! There is healing balm in the church.

For that very reason, if any man cannot love the Apostle Paul, let him be accursed. Yes, let him be accursed.

The Israelite people in Jeremiah’s time underwent an extremely rough time. There came a time when there was no balm in Gilead! The spiritual health of an entire nation was appalling! And the Prophet Jeremiah lamented for the nation of Israel, God’s own people.

You may not believe it, but today the spiritual situation of God’s people is even worse. And yet, under the New Covenant, the answer to the question, “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there?”

is a resounding “Yes!” There is healing balm and there is a Physician in Gilead! Praise God for that!

But the enemy is also at work. I know of preachers who sell oil and claim it is the balm of Gilead. But God in Jeremiah is not talking about these conmen. He is talking about the things of the Spirit, and the things of men’s hearts. If someone can give or sell you oil that can deal with the things of your heart, then he will have nailed it for you. But I can assure right here that if you are ever going to meet up with such a preacher, he will not be selling you oil in a bottle. In any case, true preachers of God’s Word are not easy to come by. In fact, considering that today’s church has almost been totally over-ran by the enemy, the chances of finding such a man are getting exponentially more difficult to attain.

The church is filled with conmen masquerading as bearers of God’s healing balm…

But once in a while God comes across a good man, like He did with Paul. With God, of course, the good man is the man who is willing to be crucified with Christ. And God takes such a man and, through the cross of Christ, shapes him into His sharp instrument.

Isaiah saw that in the Spirit, for he says: “15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. 16 Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Is. 41:15-16)

This new instrument that God creates has teeth! In other words, it is effective. It has power in the Spirit, and it performs God’s work fully, effectively.

I truly thank God for the Apostle Paul. Paul put himself under the workmanship of God under the cross, and the result is that he brought life to the church. Oh, that the entire church were as willing to face the cross as the Apostle Paul was! There would be a spiritual revolution the world over.

But that is not the case. Actually, in light of the New Covenant, Jeremiah was prophesying about the modern church, and he was lamenting its state. He asks, “… why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?”

Which translates to, “Why is the church walking in sin? why are God’s people walking in spiritual defeat?”

That is the question we need to ask ourselves today. We are not to be bothered with, “Why do I have no food on my table?”, or, “Why have my children been sent home for lack of school fees?” for these are the things that seem to concern the modern church the most.

In truth, the real concern of the gospel is to change the inner character of those who would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Our real task is in the Spirit, to walk in the revelation of the cross.

And so I wholeheartedly thank God for the Apostle Paul. This was the man whom God prepared in order that he might bring life to the church. Paul brought life to the church by allowing the cross to work in him. God invested in him the revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God, the healing balm that would heal the wound of God’s people.

The wound of God’s people, the church, is sin. The gospel of the cross of Jesus carries the life of Christ, which is the balm that heals the wound of sin in the church. When God’s people are daily confronted by the cross, they learn to deal with the carnal nature of their lives, and thus defeat sin in their lives.

Today, the church is deceived, and they spend all their time casting out demons of every sort in their lives. They cast out demons of fear, demons of theft, demons of anger, demons of witchcraft, etc.

But the Bible says that these things dwell in our hearts. And we cannot “cast out” these things from our hearts with a word. On the contrary, we must face the knife and have them circumcised from our hearts by the work of the Holy Spirit.

The only thing, therefore, that can deal with the things of a man’s heart is the cross of Jesus Christ.

That is why Paul, writing to the Corinthians, reminded them that when he went to preach them the gospel at the first: “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).

I root for that with all my heart. I can imagine the determination in Paul’s heart. In the face of every kind of opposition, “… I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified”!

How truly wonderful.

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Seeing The Cross – Part 1

11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.

12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it. Jer. 1:11-12

This scripture is talking about visions and dreams. Jeremiah saw a vision. People today are having visions and dreams of every sort; but Jeremiah also had a vision, a vision from God.

In this two- or three-part series, I want to discuss the significance of what Jeremiah saw in light of the New Covenant.

First, let us consider God’s reaction to Jeremiah after Jeremiah had told God what he had seen. When Jeremiah told God what he had seen, God answered him:

“… Thou hast well seen…”.

The word “well” implies a commendation. It implies approval. In this scripture, in simple but powerful terms, God tells Jeremiah that He approves of what he had seen. In other words, God was pleased with Jeremiah.

Do you know how difficult it is for God to be pleased with man? For a man to please God is probably one of the most difficult things that can happen in the spiritual world. This is because we are so wicked! Actually, God’s final word on man is found in Genesis 6:6 where the Bible says that it “grieved (God) at his heart” that He had made man. Take a moment to meditate on that.

And – impossible as it might seem – man has gotten only worse since Genesis 6:6.

But here we see God praising Jeremiah. Why was God pleased with Jeremiah? It was because Jeremiah saw exactly the thing that God wanted him to see.

Had Jeremiah seen something different, God would most certainly have told him, “Jeremiah, you have not seen well!”

But here we see God telling Jeremiah, “Thou hast well seen”.

Clearly, therefore, God is pleased with the man or woman who can see in the Spirit. In fact, I believe that the only person with whom God can be pleased with is the man who sees in the Spirit. This is because when one sees in the Spirit he sees exactly the thing that God wants him to see, and God is happy with such an one.

We read in the Gospel of John 4:23: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”

When it says “worship”, the Bible is not talking about a praise and worship session. On the contrary – as we shall see in the next part of this post – it is talking about the totality of our way of life with the Lord. It is talking about our walk in the Spirit. We must walk as the Lord walks.

Jeremiah therefore was not someone who dreamed a dream or saw a vision in the natural. He was a man who first caught something in the Spirit and subsequently walked in the light of what he had seen.

This pleased the Lord exceedingly.

[Seeing in the Spirit is a way of life!]

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The Office of the Prophet

9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Jer. 1:9-11

Today there are prophets popping up all over the church landscape, and it appears they have a message that is very different from the one that Jeremiah had. I wonder why that should be so.

At any rate, people are running to these preachers and their ministries at breakneck speed, something which is not possible if these prophets were preaching the same message that Jeremiah was sent to preach. You cannot preach the message that Jeremiah preached and have people running to you. On the contrary, the minute they hear your gospel they will scatter like flies – and speak evil of you in the process.

Today’s prophets are prophesying the sweetest things to God’s people. They prophesy things like: “Thus saith the Lord, you will get a promotion at your job!”, or,

“I see money coming to you right now!”

“God says you will have a baby within the year!”

“The Lord is blessing you right now! Receive!!”

All are biblically valid words.

And so the congregation goes, “Prophesy, man of God!!”

“Speak, servant of the living God!”

“Power!!!”

“Word!”

(One prophet was actually introduced as “a man and a half”!)

But the prophet Jeremiah was not given such sweet words to preach. He was given some very unsavory words to deliver to God’s people, the nation of Israel. God told him that through the Word that He had given him, He had put him there purposely to “root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down…” Afterwards, the Lord told him, he would build and plant. That’s pretty tough language.

As a result Jeremiah received no accolades from the Israelites. On the contrary, he was persecuted.

Let us, right from the beginning, set the precedent that, if God was tough on His people under the Old Covenant, how much tougher do you think He is going to be on us under the New? I believe He will be much more harder on us. And yet we behave as if God is going to deal with us like eggshells!

God is not going to deal with anyone like eggshells. The first assignment that Jeremiah was given as a prophet was to see in the Spirit how God would deal with wayward Israel: Jeremiah saw an almond rod; and we know a rod stands for chastisement. God was telling Jeremiah that He was preparing to chastise, or punish, Israel.

The gospel comes to destroy something, and to set up something else in its place. The gospel of the cross – which is the singular gospel that was revealed to the Apostle Paul for the church – comes to destroy the flesh. It comes against the flesh. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not flesh-friendly.

After it has pulled down the flesh, the gospel then establishes the spiritual Kingdom of God in a man’s heart and life. The two things, the flesh and the Spirit, are mutually incompatible.

That is why when someone – a preacher of the gospel – solicits money to buy a 65 million-dollar private jet, like I heard lately on the Pentecostal grapevine, the spotlight has of necessity to turn on him. We are a spiritual people and when you hear such a “big bang” in the flesh you need to look closely at what you just heard. You ponder how much of such a ‘gospel’ is flesh and how much is Spirit. The scales weigh heavily on the flesh side!

It is unfortunately that these are the people around whom a vast majority of the pentecostal world revolves!!

When we preach or live out a gospel apart from the gospel of the cross of Christ, it is like we are declaring that God is reinstating the same thing He came to destroy! But you cannot destroy something and replace it again with the same thing!!

But if we are truly serious about following Christ, the first thing that we must acknowledge is what our Lord Jesus Himself said: “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mk. 8:34).

Notice, “Whosoever”. It is a personal choice or decision.

We ought to realize just how important the church is to God. And God has put these two ministries, the apostle and the prophet, in the church in order to lay God’s spiritual foundation in the church. The Bible says that the church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).

These Godly ministries do not come to pamper the flesh. They come to deal with the flesh. They come to destroy this body of the flesh, so they may establish God’s spiritual Kingdom in men and women.

In this post we just looked at the office of the prophet. If a prophet does not deal with the flesh in his prophesying, he is not a prophet of God. He will bring many things into the church, he will even bring temporal blessings upon people’s lives; but he will not bring the life of Christ into the church, for this life can only come about where there is a death of the flesh through the revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ.

[Below: A prophet warns God’s people. The true foundation for the church is Christ, and Him crucified]]Image10242

Beware Herodias!

6 But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.

7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.

8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.

9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.

10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.

11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. Mat. 14:6-11

I used to think King Herod’s promise to give his daughter “whatsoever she would ask” was just old-time parlance, or language – until it dawned on me that the king actually meant it. He was ready to give his daughter “whatsoever she would ask”.

Whatsoever she would ask!

And, y’know, she just goes and asks for John the Baptist’s head!

In Africa, we love meat so much that even the heads of the animals we slaughter are used to prepare soup.

But, pray, of what profit can a human head be to anyone? You cannot even make soup out of it! It is worthless.

My heart goes out to this little girl. I don’t know how old she was, but she must have been very young in age – and very talented. Imagine how beautiful she must have appeared as she danced for her dad’s assembled guests. Probably she had practised and practised for days in her room or somewhere, her pure heart imagining the joy that she would give to her parents and their guests. She probably wasn’t even thinking of getting a present.

But an incredible opportunity presented itself. The king was so pleased with her display that he bound himself with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. Mark’s account says that he promised to give her even unto half his kingdom!

I know in our ignorance we pooh-pooh these kinds of things; but stop for a moment and think of what a kingdom is. Take even five minutes. You can even check an encyclopedia if you need to. (Sometimes I wonder where we are hurrying to; and we miss out so much on God’s true blessings!)

The point here is to get the feel of what this girl had been promised by her father. In that instant she could have inherited the world. But she chose to ask for John the Baptist’s head!

What, pray, could possibly have made this lovely, wonderful girl to ask for a human head?

Verse 8 gives us the clue to this all-important question. It says she was instructed by her mother to do so.

The gospel of Mark puts it even clearer: “And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist” (Mk. 6:24).

In other words, she consulted with her mother. It was a deadly mistake.

Herodias had sat there the whole evening, brooding inwardly. All she wanted was John dead. No human mind could possibly “sound the depths” of the evil that lay in this woman’s heart.

The devil is so cruel! This girl’s mother robbed her of not only the chance to inherit half her father’s kingdom; she ended up with something which was of absolutely no value to her.

Probably beheading John was of value to her mother, but it was of absolutely no value to this girl!

The Prophet Jeremiah under the anointing of the Holy Spirit spoke thus of the nation of Israel: “10 For pass over the isles of Chittim, and see; and send unto Kedar, and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing. 11 Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. 12 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD. 13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:10-13).

It was such a horror what the Israelites had done, to seek after other gods (which were no gods) and to seek for a glory that would not profit. Even the heavens were astonished!

And that was exactly what Herod’s daughter did. She not only asked for something that would not profit her, but she asked for something that brought horror to everyone who would hear of it.

And it must have killed her spiritually. I cannot begin to imagine the nightly – and probably daytime – nightmares that followed after that.

Even her father Herod who in his own right was a by-name for cruelty was shocked by his daughter’s request. Had he been in a position to refuse her request, he most certainly would. But he had bound himself with an oath, upon which he could not renege.

And I can imagine with everyone else “shocked” would have been a monumental understatement.

Apart from shocking everyone to death, of course, the little girl also lost the opportunity to inherit half her father’s kingdom.

All this happened because this little girl consulted her mother! Herodias is a metaphor for evil. She hated the man of God with all her heart.

There are worldly gospels out there, and we better be careful. Paul warns us against these gospels in 2 Corinthians chapter 11. We need to be very careful what gospel we are consulting with or submitting ourselves to. If we submit ourselves to a worldly gospel, it will kill us spiritually.

A worldly gospel caters to the lusts of the flesh. It does not have a heavenly agenda. A heavenly agenda deals with the condition of our hearts.

And before we move on from here let me point out that a worldly gospel is a deceiving gospel, which means it is so subtle even the elect get caught in its snares.

Let me illustrate. If I preach that because I was faithful in giving God this and that amount of money, God therefore blessed me with this and that material blessing, what am I catering to? The flesh, of course! There is absolutely no heavenly agenda there.

If we tie in giving with “reaping” material blessings we have moved from the heart condition to the natural realm. If we preach this gospel in church, the man sitting in the pews who is blessed materially will be feeling comfortable and the one who has nothing will feel he has failed spiritually.

The only “catering to the spirit” that I see in that scenario is that people will die spiritually. The rich man will die of pride, and the poor man will die of a broken heart. The bitter irony is that the poor man could have given to the Lord all right, but his giving is now taken from his heart and tied in with his outside circumstances. And preachers today find no problem making such declarations openly. One prominent preacher here said on TV: “You cannot come to my church riding the back of a motor-cycle” – which is the normal mode of public transport here. He added, “You are supposed to come driving your own car, since I have prayed for you to be blessed!”

At the root of such a gospel is a worldly, not heavenly agenda, and it will kill people!

I also talked in one of my earlier posts about a man of God – a prominent, internationally-acclaimed TV preacher – who told a man as he was praying over him, “You have won a land case”, and that in full public view.

There is no heavenly agenda in such a statement. That would make God a worldly judge, a “divider” of worldly property. But Jesus in Luke 12:14 said He had not come to do such things.

There are a thousand ways that a worldly gospel can kill us. Even the healing ministry can kill you.

Can you see the ‘progression’ there: apostate Israel, Herod’s daughter, and finally us!

That is why we should not listen to or submit ourselves to any gospel except the one single gospel that the apostles paid such a great price to bring to light – the gospel of the cross of Jesus. This is the only gospel wherein the Holy Spirit can break us and bring us to our true inheritance – spiritual maturity, and reigning with Christ in heavenly places.

This is the gospel that deals with the issues of our hearts. And God is all about our hearts. All these things that these gospels promise are good, but they become a Herodias when they are preached in the natural realm, outside of the heart. They are not the subject. Our hearts are. And only the cross can deal with that.

I love the word “determined” in Paul’s words, For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” 1 Cor. 2:2. That would mean there were other, strange gospels that were clamoring for his attention; but he ignored them.

Herod’s daughter ought never to have listened to her mother. That simple action turned her daylight into night.

[Below: In Africa, poverty can sometimes go to extremes: here, somebody’s “shop” – literally!]

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We Should See Chastisement

Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.

Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.

And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.

Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.

For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.

And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.

Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. Jeremiah 1:11-17

Even with the gospel, unfortunately, things sometimes “go with the territory”, as the saying goes. People “see” all kinds of things, and it goes with the environment they are living in. The “seers” in the more affluent West see different things than what those in less developed countries see.

It is highly unlikely, though, that many of these “seers” have the vaguest idea which direction God is headed in.

Listening to many of our local so-called gospel songs (sang by the aptly-named ‘gospel artists’), one hears the craziest things! Africans are generally a poor people and if they are not in the Spirit, they tend to “go with the territory”. In other words, they talk and behave according to the environment of poverty that they are living in. That is why the message of prosperity is so popular in Africa. Preachers of this gospel are the richest people in Africa because they have made money out of promising riches to a desperate and poor people, who in turn give all that they have into the church coffers, expecting to reap a hundred-fold in return!

People are seeing all kinds of things! One time I heard a local song that began with the words, “What are you seeing in the Spirit, my brother?”

That sounded pretty deep, so I sat up to listen. The singer had the answer to her own question, though. She screamed: “Say, ‘I am being lifted high! Like Esther and Joseph of old, I am being lifted up high! From the dust I am being raised to glory!’”

I have no grudge against gospel artists, but seriously, if they have to sing, they should just sing “Glory, Hallelujah!” and no more. They especially should not try to “preach”.

In the scripture above the Prophet Jeremiah saw many things. But here I will talk of only one of the things that he saw in the Spirit. He saw a rod.

What does  that mean and what are the implications for the Church today? A rod means chastisement. That scripture means Jeremiah saw chastisement. In other words, he saw the cross of Christ. In his spirit he saw the crucified Christ and understood the message of the cross, just like the Apostle Paul would many generations later.

Jeremiah had seen well. He suffered much and he endured many things during his ministry.

When we are not on the right foundation we see what we want to see. We see all kinds of things. Another artist asked in one of his songs: “Why should I suffer when Christ is in me? Why should I have any trouble in this world? In Jesus’ Name, I command all problems to leave immediately! Right now!!” And you can hear people in the background literally going around the bend.

It goes with the territory, as I said. When we are poor, and we do not see in the Spirit, all we see is our poverty; and we begin looking into how Jesus can get out of our poverty.

If, on the other hand, we are well off financially and materially (and if we are spiritually blind), pride, arrogance and apathy become our bane.

But God has news for us, just as He had news for Jeremiah and the nation of Israel. Christians today are worshiping at the idols of materialism and the desires of the flesh. God’s servants are preaching a gospel of the flesh, for the flesh. God says He will punish them. But God in His boundless mercy always begins by punishing His servants, the faultless ones. This speaks of the true apostles and prophets in our generation who will have to suffer for the Church just as Jeremiah suffered for the nation of Israel. In other words, God always pays the price Himself! God begins by chastising His own servants.

The Apostle Paul tells the Galatians, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you”! Gal. 4:19

There are many people today who are calling themselves apostles and prophets, but they are not. They are counterfeits. You can tell them by the lifestyles that they live. These kinds of ‘ministers’ would not suffer for the gospel or for the Church. But a true apostle or prophet of God will suffer much for the Church.

It is clear today that the Church is working wickedness through the gospel of materialism that it is preaching. Someone has to pay the price to bring the Church back to God.

Just as Jeremiah saw a rod, the Church today will experience chastisement in order for it to return to a true relationship with God. That is why an understanding of the cross is so vital for the Church today. We need to embrace the revelation of the cross that Christ is bringing into the Church.

The gospel of prosperity, as it is being preached today, is simply idolatry. It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is one true gospel: the gospel of chastisement, like the one Jeremiah saw. That is the revelation the Church needs to catch today.

The Holy Spirit is Grieving

Jer_9:1  “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”

I now know that all the men and women whom God ever called to Him were men and women of tears. When I say ‘I now know’ that means there was a time when I did not know that. In fact, it has taken me a long time to really appreciate this truth. I have come to know that the Spirit of God is a grieving Spirit. God has nothing to rejoice about in this world. On the contrary, there is much, much to grieve Him, particularly in the days we are living in, and especially within the Church itself.

Some years back, there emerged a wave called “laughing in the presence of the Lord.” I remember participating in one such event. True, we laughed our heads off, but to be honest I felt nothing in my heart. I went home feeling empty and used. These are the kinds of strange, crazy doctrines that the Church today has allowed itself to accommodate!

But no, Sir. That kind of spirit never was, and never will be the Spirit of God. These are demonic doctrines brought in by the enemy to weaken the Church.

Nothing much is written about the Apostle Paul on the topic, but I realize that he also was a man of many tears. When Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that  “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake”, I believe it was no laughing matter. It was a breaking experience and it was accomplished with much tears on his part. Of necessity he had to constantly be on his knees, so that he could conclude: “for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

In my humble experience I have come to discover the only place to really meet God is when the tears are flowing from my eyes. Even in the most mundane of my experiences with God I always know it when the Holy Spirit is visiting me. My eyes fill with tears, and immediately I know He is there. I can just be standing somewhere, and all of a sudden I feel my eyes burning, and I have to quickly make sure I am alone because I know He is there and He needs my attention. And when the Holy Spirit wants your attention you need to be alone because no one else will understand what is going on. One time, many years ago, a lady invited us to dinner in her house, and there was a song playing there, and I just began crying. I was naïve, of course, and I should have known better. But I sat there shaking like a rattlebox; and the pastor who was the senior member of our team began laughing and said, “What is this stupid fellow doing?”

When I got saved I was a final year university student. I remember clearly whenever we entered the chapel for a service, even before the service began I would sit down and begin crying silently, the presence of God was so pervasive.

If there is one thing I can thank my God for today, it is that the tears have not dried from my eyes. The day they dry I know I will be a dead man. The one moment when I know without a doubt that “I am weak, but He is strong in me” is when I feel exactly that: weak. The Lord has won many battles for me as the Holy Spirit led me to simply sit in His presence and let the tears flow.

The Bible talks of Jesus in Hebrews 5:7 and Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:4, and I see this was exactly what happened to them. Of course, it is not a principle, or something that you can just decide to do by yourself. It cannot be an emotional thing that you can just work up. But I am sure that this is a grace that God alone can give. He alone knows our hearts and only He can lead us to that place of humbling ourselves before Him; and at the end of it all, we are left praising and thanking Him for such a grace! If anything we do is not initiated by the Holy Spirit, however spiritual it might appear it is of no spiritual value.

The Church is not in a position to laugh now. We are in a position where all we can do is to allow the Holy Spirit to touch our hearts, and we will first allow God to change our lives; then He will commission us to go out and effectively reach out to a dying world. God will come down and He will move on behalf of His Church.

Let us end by seeing what this broken man of God accomplished. “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.” verse 12