Understanding The Cross

The more you understand the cross of Jesus Christ, the more you begin to see things… things that are hidden. That is why the Apostle Paul calls the gospel of Jesus Christ a mystery, and a revelation (see Ephesians 3).

More and more as you understand the cross, you begin to realize that the Kingdom of God has nothing to do with the things of this world; in fact, one day, it becomes crystal clear to you that God’s Kingdom has absolutely nothing to do with anything of this world; that it is spiritual, and not material.

When it comes to the material life, for example, you begin to understand why Jesus had “not where to lay his head” (Mat. 8:20); and yet this same Man could walk on water, He could feed more than 5,000 people at one sitting; and He could raise the dead.

For which is greater: having a place to lay your head or walking on water?

You begin to understand why the Apostle Paul could tell the Corinthians concerning himself and the apostles:

“9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (2 Cor. 6:9-10)

You begin to understand why the apostles would walk about without a dime in their pockets (3:6) and yet the Bible indicates they could have been rich had they chosen to.

“34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 4:34-37)

All the church assets were at the apostles’ disposal. And yet, they would not use any of it on their own persons. Their hearts were not in these things.

It is as you grow in your understanding of the cross that you get to understand the vanity and the futility of this earthly life. You begin to understand even why Jesus did not marry; nor Paul. You understand Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:1-2:

“1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”

Marriage is holy, indeed (Heb. 13:4); but these earthly marriages are not God’s original plan. In other words, earthly marriage is not God’s plan in the Spirit. That is why a man and woman are not joined in their spirits, but in their bodies. They only become one in their spirits if both are living for Christ.

Jesus made it clear that in God’s heavenly Kingdom,

“… they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Mat. 22:30)

Earthly marriage exists simply to prevent us from fornication, as Paul states. Earthly marriage is a testimony to the power of the flesh and it is allowed because of the weakness of our flesh. God of necessity had to sanctify marriage; otherwise, it would be unholy and we would not be allowed to marry.

But our Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul and others, by the grace of God, crucified the flesh and were therefore able to not engage in earthly marriage. They were able to live only for the heavenly marriage.

The Roman Catholic church tried imitating this heavenly lifestyle of abstinence in the flesh and they have ended up destroying more lives than have all the wars in the world.

As you understand the cross more, you realize more and more that the spiritual man or woman indeed has nothing in this world to live for. The Apostle Paul realized this fully well. Hence he declares in Galatians 2:20:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

That means that every breathe of earthly air that Paul took, he took for Christ; every motion he made with his earthly body, he made for Christ; and that his thought processes were wired in the Spirit to Christ’s. He lived, not for himself, but for Christ. He never did, thought or spoke anything for himself, nor for the flesh, but for Christ. He says again,

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)

For Paul, to live was Christ.

We, on the contrary, live a ragtag life, where we try to infuse Christ and the flesh together. But that cannot be called a spiritual lifestyle. If we really want to be spiritual, we have a long way to go in disentagling ourselves from the earthly and living for what is purely spiritual.

But take heart… It is a journey, and a long one. As long as you are denying yourself and taking up your cross and following Christ, you are on the right track even if you are not perfect yet.

[JESUS – What a beautiful Name!]

Jacob’s ‘Mistake’

13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him.

14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.

15 And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day,

16 The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

17 And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head.

18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.

19 And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.

20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. Gen. 48:13-20

What a contrast! A man who can see God’s plan in the Spirit, and one who does not. And, we see here what happens when someone does not see in the Spirit and is confronted. Notice Joseph was “displeased” by his father Jacob’s actions.

In our country, my tribe is renowned. It is famous for all the wrong reasons, notably anger. I heard there is an anger management centre in New York. What is needed is for my entire tribe (which is very small, actually; this is affordable) to be airlifted to that centre in New York, NY and be given a crash program in anger management. I personally wouldn’t mind such a trip since I would get the chance to set my foot in the land of opportunity (although, truth be told, I was watching a clip of a street in Philadelphia recently and my conclusion was that some part of this great country has gone to the dogs).

Anyways, I was telling you about my tribe. In my country, when you introduce yourself as coming from my tribe, people generally step back a pace or two just to feel safe. We are feared that much.

With such a record-setting reputation, it makes it that much harder for someone from my tribe to have their right taken from them. They will fight to the death to hold on to their right. Nor do they take censure lying down.

That is how it has been for a big part of my life. I have been a fighter, and it was not the good fight of our faith. It took me a long time to finally come to the realization that I had a problem with people generally, but with my wife especially. It started out slowly, but I would criticize whatever she said or did. Nearly nothing she said seemed right or praiseworthy. I reached a point where even the slightest mistake on her part became a Mt. Everest for me. I was blowing up 24/7.

One time we had visitors at home and in the course of their stay, we took them to do some shopping in town. They wanted to buy a certain item, and my wife had already told them the price of the item, without my knowledge. When we arrived in town, they found to their dismay that the actual price of this item far exceeded the money they carried with them.

I asked them, “Who gave you the price?”

They said, “Mama” (my wife).

I was livid. I knew the right price and my wife had given them the wrong price without consulting with me! I took it personally that she would do something without consulting me.

Neither the visitors nor my wife had the additional money needed to purchase the item. I had the extra money; but in my heart I vowed I wouldn’t give out a dime. I vowed to let her suffer for her ‘stupidity’. I therefore whistled my way around the stalls as, from the corner of my eye, I watched my wife, visibly distressed,  haggling with the dealer for a price reduction. I felt extremely satisfied when the shopkeeper firmly kept repeating that a price reduction on that particular item was not possible.

If there is one person who can say that God is merciful and mean it, that person is me. At that particular moment that I was looking at my wife, God opened my eyes to see a vista of sorts. Deep inside me something stirred and I saw that God had all along been trying to do something to or for me through my wife’s many seeming mistakes, missteps, miscalculations, and oversights. Yes, the Lord showed me that it was He who was at work in all those things in my wife’s actions that were displeasing to me.

As children of God, we must acknowledge that nothing happens in our lives is by chance. More importantly still, we must realize that what appears displeasing to us in other people’s actions towards us is actually God at work. Joseph was “displeased”; but it was God at work in his father’s actions! And God works all for our good. It was all for Joseph and his sons’ good – and for the good of God’s Kingdom.

What displeases us in our natural ‘habitat’ is what we see in the natural. In the Spirit, though, what appears harmful to us in the natural is, in nearly every case, good and profitable to us in the Spirit. In the natural, Manasseh was the firstborn and there was absolutely no reason for Jacob to overstep him. But Jacob did overlook Manasseh – because he was answering God’s call in the Spirit.

When God sets out to do things His way, He does not need our permission. Our wills, our plans and our purposes are all twisted, and God is out to put things straight in our lives. God knows what is best for His Kingdom – and for us.

To end my saga now… As I stood watching my wife desperately trying to save an unsavable situation, and as the Lord put his finger on my pride and spiritual blindness, I broke down. Deeply humbled, I walked up to my wife and asked her, straight up, “How much do we need to add?”

“Five thousand”, she said.

I dipped into my pocket and came up with the money and humbly handed it to the shopkeeper.

Ever since that time, I have been very much aware of God’s dealings with me through my wife. I realized I had gone ‘overboard’ in the way I viewed and dealt with her and there is a lot of backtracking I have had to do in that regard since that day.

[Below: My wife is bound to make many mistakes; but God uses her actions to chastise me]

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Loving Our Wives

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it Eph. 5:25

My favorite scripture when it came to me and my wife had always been Ephesians 5:22-24:

“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

I especially loved the parts about the husband being the head of the wife and the exhortation to the wife to submit to her husband “in every thing”. Whenever an argument arose between me and my wife, I would bring up that scripture and I would insist that she submit to me in everything, just as the scriptures stated.

I would tell her, “If you do not submit to me, then you are not submitting to Christ.”

Little did I know that one day, God would show me just how much I needed to submit to my wife!

It is no secret that most conflicts in marriage do not occur because there is no “food on the table”; otherwise, Hollywood would top the list of most stable marriages. There is no lack of food there.

But, on the contrary, conflicts in marriage more often come about due to disagreement issues between the husband and wife. One or both parties find it impossible to concede to the other and the result is that they engage in an eternal state of agreeing to disagree. In many cases, this leads to divorce, with one – or both – parties claiming “irreconciliable differences”.

But the truth is that no difference between husband and wife is irreconciliable. The cold fact is that people are unable to take the spiritual path of denying self, taking up their cross and following Christ.

When you are far from the cross, arguments and disagreements are the order of the day in any marriage and, on my part, being a stranger to the death of the cross meant that I as the man always had to have the last word in the constant war of words that rose up between me and my wife.

One day, however, as I was studying the Word of God, I arrived at Ephesians 5:25, a scripture which I had always glossed over. This time, for the first time, I noticed the second part of that scripture:

“Husbands, love your wives, EVEN AS CHRIST ALSO LOVED THE CHURCH, AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR IT”.

I had never noticed that last part. At least, I had never stopped to think that I ought to love my wife as Christ loved His church. The idea appeared strangely new to me. So I decided to look up how Christ loved His church. And I found the answer right there. Christ loved His church by giving Himself for her.

Immediately, my justification mode kicked in. I began thinking of the many ways that I had given myself for my wife. I remembered the many good things I had done for her, especially when I had a good-paying job and I could provide for her. I recalled even how for a time, when we were both out of work, I had worked some of the lowliest jobs in order to provide for her.

But, on this particular day, the hand of the Lord was upon me, and I held off justifying myself, at least momentarily. I decided to study more.

I remembered Colossians had similar words, so I looked it up. I found it in Colossians 3:19:

“Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.”

There! That had to be it. I had always carried a hard and bitter heart towards my wife. I thought she was rebellious and argumentative, and I could not take it. Over the course of time I had developed a hard heart towards her.

For the first time, I saw the situation clearly. When the Lord showed me my heart, I realised that I did not love my wife, because I was bitter towards her. For the first time, I felt I had been running from something, and I stopped running and confronted it.

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and I felt I could make a go for it. I decided to work on the problem.

The first thing I did was, of course, was to stop justifying myself. I realized I did not love my wife, and that was it. The next step was to see how I could begin loving my wife in the new way that the Lord had shown me.

But I instantly realized this would be no easy undertaking. It was clear that if I was to begin loving my wife by “giving myself” to her, it meant I had to lower myself beneath her especially in the case of a disagreement. If a disagreement arose between us I had to allow her to win. The prospect was quite unnerving. But the Lord was there, speaking to me. There was no way I could ignore His voice. And so, by the grace of God, I began the long journey towards doing God’s will with regard to loving my wife.

Bending to my wife’s will is an ‘art’ that has taken me many years to perfect. Not that I am anywhere near perfect, of course. But the bitterness is gone. Now, many years later, however difficult the situation is and however hard we may disagree, the bitterness is no longer there. That is the Good News, as far as I am concerned.

I cherish with all my heart that valuable lesson… that of humbling myself to my wife by going down and letting her be the winner. That is how Christ gave Himself for His church.

[And now, for your listening pleasure…]

Suffering – Gateway To Life

29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. Phil. 1:29-30

I am a vain man. I tend, for example, to believe that my wife is the greatest woman in the entire universe. For once though, despite my overblown vanity, I could be right on this one. From reading the Word of God and from experience I am absolutely certain that my wife is one of the most excellent women in the world. To me she is Ruth, she is Esther, she is Abigail – all wrapped in one. I couldn’t provide a better description of her than Proverbs 31. She fits it like a glove. Her price is, undoubtedly, far above rubies.

I feel extremely blessed and somehow even over-favored by God to have Flo as my wife. She has enriched my life in many different ways. Above all, she has enabled us to have a stable and fulfilling marriage. I realize that having her for a wife is one way of God telling me, “I love you”. He is so caring, loving and faithful!

There are many men, though, even fellow brethren, who are not as blessed as I am in their marriages. They have suffered in many different ways through their marriages. One of my brothers, a fellow minister, has had the most difficult marriage imaginable for close to 30 years! The bad news is that the problem has only grown worse with time. The man is no angel, of course, but I know his heart. His wife, on the other hand, is an intractable, unyielding and unforgiving woman.

Another one of my friends hadn’t yet tasted what marriage was about before his wife began wearing a complete “full suite” to bed. She would even wear hard-core shorts, complete with a lockable Rambo-style belt – to bed!!

I used to feel sorry these and other people who were suffering in their marriages. I would think in my heart: ‘Poor folks! I am so blessed to have such a wonderful wife.’

And then, one day, the Lord showed me something that changed my whole outlook of the situation. He showed me that it is not having a spiritual wife that constitutes a blessing. The true blessing, He revealed to me, is when I am taking my cross and following Jesus.

God showed me that even though He may have blessed me with the sweetest wife on the planet, it did not mean that He was going to let me off the hook when it came to suffering for Christ. My faith may be working well in my marriage, but there were other areas where it would be tested. God would use other areas in my life to try out whether I was fully obedient to him. It is so easy to exercise our faith only in the small, painless areas of our lives. But we cannot serve God half-heartedly. God wants our entire lives to be submitted to His will. And in this regard, God is not short of areas to work in in our lives!

Whatever the case is, God will make sure that I arrive at a place where I will be confronted by the cross of Christ. Christianity is not there just for me to enjoy myself. Sure, God will allow me to enjoy myself in many areas. But in my relationship with God, my becoming a spiritual person is of far greater importance than my earthly enjoyment of His favors. Above everything else, God wants me to be spiritual and to live a spiritual lifestyle. But this spiritual lifestyle can only be attained when I am constantly crucifying my flesh and its desires. For this reason, God will make sure to bring obstacles in my life to club spiritual sense into my life. In other words, God will confront my carnal nature.

God may not use my wife, but He could use my children, or my neighbor, or a situation at my workplace. God could also use a financial situation. He could make me rich or He could make me poor, to test me. God could even use my pastor! Or He could use persecution. God can use anything. Many times we do not know what He intends to use. The one thing that is sure is that if I am called of God, He will put a stumbling block in my life just to block out all the carnality in my life.

That is why, much as I have no complaints in my marriage, still I must carry the mind of Christ and be ready to suffer in many other areas of my life. This suffering, as we just noted, comes in the form of confrontation. God uses situations or people to confront us in our different carnal ways. How we react is the most important thing with God. Do we humble ourselves or do we hold onto our rights? The one reaction holds life, and the other means death. We must choose wisely.

I can tell you from experience that it is not easy to choose to humble ourselves. It is not easy to choose life! But I am learning – sometimes step by step, like a baby – to walk the strait and narrow road.

God calls me to arm myself with the mind of Christ. For this reason I must watch my attitude, not just towards my wife but towards other situations also. That is why I must have the mind of Christ. The mind of Christ is a mind of humility. With a mind of humility, I can give God the glory by humbling myself in every situation and allowing Him to break the things that come from my human folly and pride.

That was the struggle that Paul had. Paul had no wife, good or bad, to deal with. Yet Paul suffered in many other areas of his life. Flesh is flesh. God had many areas to deal with in Paul’s life.

The joy of having a loving wife is that, after I have come from a day out working the “conflict” that Christ has set out before me, I can go back home to warm, welcoming arms, a beautiful smile, and a deeply loving and caring heart. That’s Flo.

[Below: Vain me with my Flo]

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2nd and 20th Anniversaries In One!

Two events occurred this week that mark a milestone in my life. In the first place, WordPress informed me on Monday, the 2nd of December, was my second anniversary at WordPress. That means I have been blogging for two years!

I was like, “Wow! Two years!!” To me it appeared as if I only began yesterday.

But I also had a secret which WordPress (nor, in all probability, any of my readers) would never have guessed in their wildest dreams. The classified fact is that this blog was actually born 29 years ago. I remember clearly the day in 1985 when I felt in my heart that I wanted to write. The thought was completely new – but clear as day. At that time I was not saved. But God knows the future and, although I did not know it at the time, the Lord had just planted a seed in my heart. It was a seed that He would cause to germinate in His own good time.

Eventually, I got saved, but still I did not write. In forcing me to wait, the Lord had a far more perfect plan for me. This became clear to me when I began writing only after I had begun receiving the gospel of the revelation of the cross and of grace in my heart. Had I began writing before that, I would not have been writing the clear revelation of the cross of Christ that has been revealed to me through the epistles of the Apostle Paul, as I do today. The Lord took an incredibly long time to finally open a door for me to begin writing, and I know now that this was so I wouldn’t just write anything except the clear message of the cross. In this I have seen and known God’s love for me and for His people who read this blog.

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank WordPress for affording me the opportunity to fulfill a dream – the dream to write.

But two years ago, I had not even heard of the word ‘blog’! But one day my dear friend Louise Echstein calls me from Mauritius and asks, “Mwita, do you know what a blog is?”

I told her no.

She then proceeded to tell me about WordPress – “and how you can be a blessing to many people there”, she said. She and my beloved brother Gilbert Grant introduced me to WordPress and encouraged me to begin blogging, and thus this blog was started. I am deeply appreciative of their efforts – and their friendship.

My greatest debt, though, is to Brother Miki Hardy of Church Team Ministries International (www.ctmi.org) through whom I became aware of the revelation of the gospel of the cross. I am eternally grateful to this man of God for the revelation of the gospel that he carries in his heart, and which he brought to us. Through this revelation, I have discovered the foundation of the gospel. And the message of the cross is the central message of this blog.

Lastly, of course, I am heavily – I mean heavily – indebted to my fellow bloggers and my readers who are the real reason for the existence of this blog. These wonderful folks have become an unexpected part of my life. I have friends from literally every corner of the world! Some have even become “closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).

I am so blessed and humbled at the same time. And I extend my heart to each one of you, praying that our Lord Jesus Christ may bless you with all the riches of His heavenly Kingdom.

Another event that makes this week a special one is that yesterday, the 3rd of December, my wife Flo and I celebrated our 20th marriage anniversary. On this very day in 1994 Flo and I exchanged our marriage vows and the Lord has blessed and protected our marriage up till this day.

Naturally, I travelled to Dar es Salaam to be with my wife. We did not throw much of a party; being together was really all the ‘party’ we needed! But Flo did prepare a huge jug of juice – and a very ordinary dinner.

We spent the evening singing and listening to our favorite songs. “Come What May” won over our hearts and we listened over and over to different versions of the song, at least two of them by Patti Labelle. The ‘party’ finally broke up at 2 a.m.

This has indeed been an incredible week for me and my family.

On my journey to Dar es Salaam I took some photos along the way. You can view them on my Facebook page, just type Zakaria Mwita.

[Below: Throughout the years the kitchen has been an integral part of our lives. Here Flo and I prepare some fruit juice for the evening…]

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Afterwards, we listened to “Come What May”

“Be Ye Holy; For I am Holy”

13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:13-16

I may not be very accurate here, but I would not be surprised to learn that all the talk that has been going on in this blog about the cross, suffering and dying is getting on someone’s nerves. But, the way things are, I pray that it may penetrate even further into that person’s system. I pray that it might become a revelation in their heart.

I am assured in my heart that the gospel of the revelation of the cross is the gospel that shall win the day for the church. I have been saved for 25 years and I have witnessed the charismatic gospel at work and I have witnessed the power of God moving mightily. But it is where we stand today that is important.  Today’s church is a weak church. Two things are clearly evident in today’s church: sin and confusion. When I talk of confusion I am talking about doctrinal error. No one in their right minds would contest the fact that the “gates of hell” seem to have overpowered the church in nearly every area. That defeat is the truest indication of the lack of real power within the church.

It is not an easy admission to make, but clearly the charismatic gospel has failed the church. Or, there was something it did not have right from the beginning, even though it was of God. Remember the story of Elijah and the wind breaking the rocks before the Lord; but God was not in the wind!

The church must eat humble pie and acknowledge that there is a problem. (When I read the Bible, I see that God’s people should not have a problem with the issue of humility. And yet you tell someone that they should change the direction they are moving in, or that they should make a rethink of what they believe in in light of scripture – and hackles begin to rise. And yet, the Bible says, See that ye refuse not him that speaketh…” – Heb. 12:25)

I humbly submit that the church needs to take notice of what God is saying in these last days through His holy apostles and prophets. God is bringing again to His people a revelation of the gospel that Jesus brought to the Early Church and which it is clearly documented in the Bible that this church walked in, or lived.

That revelation is something that has always been there in the Bible, but which the church lost sight of when it failed to focus on the strait and narrow road it was supposed to be walking on. This revelation is what the Apostle talks of in 1 Corinthians 1:18: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

When we read the New Testament, we do not see that there was a problem in the church when no miracles were being performed, or when there was a lack of material necessities. But we do find the apostles getting very concerned when the church was not taking up their cross and following Christ, when they allowed sin into their lives.

That fact puts the cross right at the center of everything – and the other two, suffering and death, are irretrievably tied up with the cross.

You see, you can live life here on earth without experiencing a single miracle in your life (except the miracle of salvation, of course) and still go to heaven. Jesus said you are allowed to go in with an eye or even one foot missing (Mat. 18:8,9). In the same way, you could live a life lacking in material necessities and still go to heaven – Romans 8:35-39.

But you cannot enter heaven with sin. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). That is why the whole purpose of the cross is to crucify the flesh and its lusts, and thus vanquish sin in our lives.

Before we dance to the tune of “Jesus Christ Superstar” and all the other frivolities the gospel has been turned into, we ought to ask ourselves: Are we walking in the victory over sin as demonstrated by the Early Church? Are we denying ourselves and crucifying the flesh?

When we talk of confusion, I can assure you that the church today has so lost focus that it does not even seem to know what is sin and what is not! Just imagine a pastor who divorces his wife, remarries, and continues to preach. And just imagine all those born-again, Bible- waving believers who are aware of what this pastor has done and who continue sitting under his ministry.

The Biblical scenario would be for that pastor to remain alone, with his new wife (if he has remarried) in his ‘church’, every member having abandoned him.

And right here let me say that divorce, unlike other sins, is not simply saying, “I am sorry” and moving on with your plans. If someone is truly repentant concerning divorce, then they need to get back to their wife (the one wife, because the Bible does not recognize your second and third wives, or husbands, for that matter); you get back to her and love her by dying for her, which means that you happily stay there till death do you part. Divorce is no joking matter with God!

That is why I reiterate my position, which I am convinced is a Biblical one, that God’s people will need to discover something other than the “Bless me” and other current gospels if they want to arrive at God’s true purpose for our lives – true holiness.

That other ‘something’ I am referring to is the gospel of the cross. It is not important, of course, what we choose to call it. Let’s just take up our cross and follow Christ.

[Below: Love your wife!]

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Abraham’s Instant Obedience – Part 2

We can also see Abraham’s heart when the three men, the angels of the Lord, visited him. The Bible says about Abraham that he was sitting outside his tent. The Bible does not say that he knew they were the angel of the Lord; all he saw were three men approaching. But it was what followed that shows us the character of a Godly man.

Let’s try and see what went on here. I imagine that Abraham saw some very tired-looking strangers passing by his home and his tender heart was touched. They certainly were not walking with ‘Angel of the Most High God’ written on their blazers. Abraham saw these men and he purposed to do something about it. But imagine this man, 99 years old, running to invite passersby, literally forcing them, to accept of his generosity! Abraham had a generosity that would leave many of us reeling with disbelief.

The Bible says that Abraham ran and that he and Sarah personally ministered to these visitors; and it was not your ordinary “Another cookie, please?” Back then, what he and Sarah prepared was a 5-course meal.

(With regard to this, I have a few families to thank. I wouldn’t forget my wife).

God is looking at the condition of our hearts. God is interested with the ease with which we can keep our hearts pure and holy before Him. Christians are forever harping about how God is interested in many other things in our lives. True, yes; but first things must come first. Mind you, God could give us those ‘other things’ without necessarily being pleased with us. But we are interested in what pleases the Lord.

Only by obeying God as Abraham did will we become towering men of faith and mature in character as Abraham was.

And, pray, what price are we willing to make that happen? What price are we willing to pay to make sure our hearts are pure before God and man, especially in today’s world with its many stumbling blocks? Once God grants us to know the price we need to pay in order to live that kind of lifestyle, then we will have known the true price of Christianity.

It is truly sad to see how proud Christians are today. They do many things, but they are not ready to carry their cross and follow Jesus.

The Christian life is a given life. We must be willing to die to our pride and to ourselves!

And we must be swift to do it. We must be swift to release, quick to let go the things in our hearts that hinder us from pleasing the Lord.

Of necessity I find I often have to hit out at myself, “Don’t be stupid!” when I realize that my heart is deceptively moving towards a certain direction.

I want to run a different race. I want to run with father Abraham.

Recently a brother from a distant town called me on the phone and he began telling me about the problems that he has been having in his marriage. It was not the first time for me to hear about that particular couple; I heard about their troubles a long time ago and, being far, I had assumed everything worked out well eventually. Now he was telling me that nothing had changed and that, if anything, things just got worse between him and his wife.

This time, I knew exactly what to tell him. I felt he needed to hear the really Good News. I said, “Brother, if you are having a problem with someone, then the problem is not the other person, but you. Had you determined in your heart to not harbor problems, right now there would be no difficulty in your marriage regardless of what your wife is doing against you. You are taking too long to obey God!”

I assure you that I spoke those words with all the grace that the Lord had given me at that time.

We all have our job cut out for us.

I have a prayer in my heart. Maybe we all need to make this prayer. “Lord, deny me everything, but give me the swiftness that you gave to Abraham in heeding to your voice. Thank you, Lord. Amen.”

(You have the liberty of making this prayer without including the “deny me everything” part. That was just for me).