Grateful Beyond Measure

Without a doubt, the greatest scourge that ravaged the African continent during the 19th century – although it is reputed to date back to as far back as the 6th century – was the infamous trade in slaves. The slave trade was an evil that was as indescribable as it was unprecedented and it brought untold misery to the African peoples.

There are many stories, all true, of how the great Scottish missionary, David Livingstone fought the war against the slave trade both in small and in big ways. The story is told of how David Livingstone once met a slave caravan and, although he could do nothing to halt it – the slave traders were armed and dangerous – David stopped the caravan and managed to bargain for the release of one of the slaves upon whom he felt extreme pity.

The negotiations ended successfully after money had exchanged hands, and the slave was untied from the caravan. And there he stood in front of David, thinking he had merely exchanged hands from one slaver to another.

At which Livingstone told him, “Friend, you are free. You are free to go home.”

Upon hearing these words, the slave fell down at Livingstone’s feet and declared, “I will freely serve you all my life!”

He was overcome with the love and compassion that Livingstone had shown him.

Apart from writing this blog, one of the tasks that I do on my laptop is to translate gospel material from English to Swahili. The material that I translate comes mostly from brethren in the West.

When local people find me working on my laptop, they often ask me about the nature of my work, and I tell them. I tell them, “I am translating gospel material written by brethren from European countries.”

When they hear that, more often than not they say, “You must be receiving a lot of money from the white people for all this work!”

To which I reply, “No. I do not get paid to do these translations. Actually, I do not need any money to do this work. It gives me the greatest joy to do it for free. If they paid me to do this work, I would not have as much joy as I have doing it for free.”

Serving my Lord Jesus Christ is my joy. The opportunity to serve God the way I do is an indescribable reward from Christ to me. Many times I wonder at the incredible favor that I have to serve my Master in this way.

This joy is something that only my spirit comprehends, for my spirit knows well the redemption that Christ wrought for me.

But translating gospel teachings is not the only way that I am called to serve Christ. There are many other ways that the Bible calls us to serve Him. In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, chapters 11 and 12, the Apostle Paul lists three levels, or areas, of service to Christ, culminating with the famous thorn in the flesh. Paul’s bottom line in all his service to Christ is:

“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. 12:10)

Paul took pleasure, not only in serving God in peaceful terms, but even in conditions where the service involved suffering. This was a man who truly understood how much the Lord had paid to redeem him.

This is the place that the Lord calls us to arrive at.

[Below: In one area, at least, I serve my Lord with great joy!]

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The Cross For Our Worship

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Mat. 4:8-10

Let me begin, at the very outset, by stating the most important thing that I set out to say in this post.

What I want every reader to understand is that as far as the believer is concerned, the devil has only one goal – only one: to blind the believer to God’s plan and purpose in the Spirit. The devil’s singular goal in your life is to blind you to God’s spiritual purpose and instead have you focus on the material life of this world – and thus worship him.

Seeing this is the singular point that I wanted to make in this post, I probably need to write that in bold capitals:

THE DEVIL HAS ONLY ONE GOAL IN OUR LIVES: TO BLIND US TO GOD’S WILL AND PURPOSE IN THE SPIRIT, AND THEREBY WORSHIP HIM.

THAT IS NOT HIS NO. 1 OR NO. 2 OR NO. 3 GOAL: RATHER, IT IS HIS SINGULAR GOAL IN OUR LIVES.

Very few men would not stop to consider it, even if it were momentarily, if they were tempted with a substantial amount of worldly wealth. And no amount that the devil would give any man would hardly compare with what he was offering Jesus here: “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”.

Jesus was under severe, intense temptation here. The master of this world was offering Him “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”! Just stop and think about that. The devil’s “if” indicates that our Lord Jesus was about to lose and lose it big.

But in Jesus, Satan met more than his match. At every step of the way, Jesus did not miss a single beat. He met the devil’s challenge word for word – and the devil knew Jesus meant every word He said. Try as he might, the devil could not crack a chink in Jesus’ spiritual armor and finally he had to leave.

Notice in the scripture above that it is about whom we worship. If you told a believer today that they were worshipping Satan, they would have you arrested by the state police. Literally. But this scripture proves to us that, without a doubt, many believers are actually worshipping Satan.

Colossians 3:5 states:

“… covetousness… is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).

Idolatry is the worship of false gods, and the Bible teaches here that coveting the things of this world is equal to worshipping a false god – in this case, Satan himself.

Satan was trying to get Jesus to commit the sin of idolatry. He was showing Jesus the glory of this world and trying to get Him to lust and covet after it. Mind you, Jesus here was not God; He was as much man as you and I.

But Jesus was dead to covetousness. Long before He would be crucified physically, Jesus had crucified his flesh in the Spirit. He had not an iota of desire for the things of this world. As far as this world was concerned, for Him, the words of the Apostle Paul applied:

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:8).

Walking fully in the Spirit, Jesus made short work of the devil’s strenuous attempts to have him worship him by coveting the world.

Today, Satan has no such problems with the church as he had with Jesus. As a matter of fact, today, there is a gospel that is fully dedicated to worshipping the devil – and this gospel is alive and well in a born-again, Spirit-filled, tongues-speaking church. It is called the gospel of prosperity. A vast majority of the church of Jesus Christ are under the influence of this gospel.

The gospel of prosperity is vast in its scope. This gospel begins by saying that Jesus promised us that “… all these things shall be added unto you” (Mat. 6:33). From there on, it reverts into free-for-all mode, where any teaching is acceptable as long as it brings material and physical gain to the recipient.

The healing ministry, today largely an inherent part of the prosperity gospel, has itself become a big money-spinning industry. There are healing ministries, healing churches, and even healing schools! One of the most diabolical offshoots of the healing ministry is the wildly acclaimed ‘deliverance’ ministry, where the devil is clearly running things in person. At present, under this ministry, the hottest-selling commodity is something called anointing water. Whatever this water is, it has taken on a life of its own and it has become the life-support for many believers.

Incidentally, in many places of worship and even on the streets, this water is being sold at exorbitant prices.

Under the guise of ‘deliverance’ people are being made to eat grass, snakes, frogs… the list of horrors is endless.

Under the prosperity gospel, every other ministry – the worship ministry, the prophetic ministry, the apostolic ministry, and every all other ministries – have been hijacked to cater only for the physical and material well-being of God’s people. And, apart from the fact that these ministries no longer cater to the spiritual need of the church, today, all these ministries are million-dollar money- minting machines.

The devil loves to be worshipped and he will use everything in his power to achieve this goal. That is why he was willing to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if only He would worship him. If you know anything about how the world runs, you will acknowledge that what the devil was offering was a sure deal. Jesus would have become the most powerful man on earth!

Now, we all know that although the devil has power over all the material wealth in the world, yet he is the stingiest and most selfish soul alive. He is extremely rich in two these qualities. But here we see him willing to give Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”!

This shows the extent to which the devil will go to blind God’s people. If you have a problem with money in your heart, he will use money to ensnare you. He will bring money into your life. Of course, he will begin by giving you small amounts since it is not in his nature to give. But if he sees that the amount he is giving you is not enough to get you away from seeing into the Spirit, he will increase the bounty. But the devil goes even further than that. He will sacrifice everything if the catch justifies it!

That is why all the top preachers today are wildly moneyed. You cannot take someone who was powerfully called and anointed by God – as many of these men were initially – and try to con him with a ten-dollar bill! If you are serious about your mission to derail such a preacher, then you will have to think in terms of “releasing” private jets and million-dollar mansions. And, believe me, the devil knows all this and he is willing to pay the price.

He had no problem giving the Son of God “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”!

Today he is giving preachers dollars and material wealth.

Of course, with Jesus, the devil was patting in the dark. Jesus did not exhibit even one carnal trait upon which Satan could hinge his traps on. But he tried anyway.

But with us, he knows our weak spots. If you lust after anything, the devil knows it and he will give you tons of it, if need be.

But there is no way we can claim to be living for God if we love the world and the things in it. On the contrary, we need to die to the flesh and to the world. That is why we need to thank God exceedingly that He has brought us, once again, the revelation of the cross. Through this revelation, the Pauline doctrine of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) has become alive again! Praise Jesus for that!

And we should be extremely grateful that this gospel is being revealed in our day. How much God loves us! And how is it that God has brought about this revelation in our day?! We are not blind, and we can see the damage being done by the charismatic gospel. How much grateful should we be to God for bringing the cross into our hearts?

The cross “…by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).

What glorious words! Being crucified to the world, and the world to me, beats “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them”!

It is the only way I can worship God in truth and in the Spirit.

Free To Give!

7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.

8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 2 Cor. 8:7-9

Giving away our finances and our material wealth is one of the ways that we serve God. The devil therefore works hard to bind us in this area. According to this scripture, to find yourself free in the area of finances and giving as our Lord Jesus Christ was is an incredible grace. Indeed, this is an unbelievable scripture. That a believer can “abound” in everything else – “in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us” – and yet not be free in the area of financial giving! This talks of the power of money upon the human spirit.

The area of giving, for most believers, is where “the rubber meets the road”. The human heart is so bound up with money that to find oneself free in the area of finances is true freedom indeed! He who is free from the power of money is free in nearly every area of his spiritual life. Just imagine how rich the Corinthians were in all these other areas; and yet, in this single area, it is clear they were woefully lacking.

The Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). According to Galatians 5, evil is “… adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings” (Gal. 5:19-21).

Nearly all these things are rooted in money.

Elsewhere, scripture also says:

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Mat. 6:24).

The word “mammon” means money, wealth or worldly possessions. Mammon is so powerful that the Bible equates it with God! Mammon is the god of this world.

But notice the Bible says that we cannot serve God and mammon. It is clear, therefore, that we as believers need to be set free from the power of this force or god, mammon. In other words, we need to be set free from the power of the love of money! We are to be free in our spirits with regard to finances in every area, including in our giving. That is the only way to serve God.

That was why Jesus said of the poor widow who put in two cents in the offering box, that she had given more than everyone else (Mk. 12:42-44). This old lady was so free she gave away all her “living”.

Do you think she was grieving and telling God, “God, I am planting a seed so that you might bless me a hundedfold”?

Hardly. Had she said that in her heart, Jesus would not have said those words about her. But Jesus spoke about her because in her heart she was free from the power of money. Although she was poor, yet she was the richest person in the temple. She was so rich she could give all her living for the gospel’s sake.

“For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

The heart of this old widow was the heart of Christ. Free.

Had this widow died from hunger, she would have died gladly. She would not have been sorrowful about her condition.

Our love for money is a subject that we tiptoe about, simply because we do not want to offend the flesh. It is the flesh that is bound up with money, not the spirit. The spirit of the born-again believer yearns to be set free from the power of money.

Finally, let us consider verse 9:

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”

This is a verse that has become the bane of the church because carnal-minded preachers and believers use it for their own gain. They say, “Jesus became poor that we may inherit the wealth of this world.”

But this scripture is not even talking about that! Jesus did not become poor so that we might inherit worldly possessions for the simple reason that God’s Kingdom is spiritual. You will not find the dollar sign in heaven.

So what is the meaning of this scripture?

The Apostle Paul here is trying to show the Corinthians how free our Lord was in the area of finances. Christ did not serve mammon. He served God. That was how He could afford to become poor.  You do not become poor simply because you have decided to become poor. You become poor because a work of God has occurred in your heart and God has set you free.

And notice Jesus did not become poor for poverty’s sake. Jesus became poor that through His poverty we might be rich.

But, anyways, let us give the benefit of doubt to those who claim that this scripture is talking about Jesus sacrificing His worldly riches so that we might become financially and materially rich. This argument gets instantly killed by the fact that the Bible also tells us to become Christ’s disciples, to follow Christ’s example and manner of life. How about we follow Christ’s example in not just becoming rich, but also in becoming poor that through our poverty others might become rich? That would require  we go and sell all that we have and give to the poor! Incidentally, that was exactly what Jesus told the rich young ruler. And just like the rich young ruler, I am sure not many who follow this line would obey Christ’s command to go sell all.

The love of money is the root cause of all evil. We, being innately evil, have not the faintest chance of defeating this god, mammon. If we have been born again, we can only thank God for having delivered us from the power of darkness. Hallelujah to that! And to thank Him exceedingly for the Holy Spirit who, through the power of the cross, will fully conquer this most subtle and menacing of all our enemies, the love of money in our hearts as we willingly surrender our wills to Him.

The cross is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).

[Below: God was so rich He gave us His Son Jesus Christ!]

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God’s Nature, Our Nature – Part 1

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, 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. Mat. 5:43-45

Luke adds something there:

35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Lk. 6:35-36).

People want to be paid for every little thing they do! More so today than ever before, fewer and fewer people can think of doing anything for anyone – even God – without attaching a financial tag to their ‘good’ work.

And it is not just money that people are after. Appreciation and gratitude is another thing that people avidly seek after. People love the gratification of self. A simple “Thank you” can turn into a deadly trap for the heaven-bound person. The minute you demand to be acknowledged or thanked in your heart, the good you just did is forgotten, lost forever. Jesus specifically said so:

Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Mat. 6:2).

There are many things that the human heart desires, and when these desires are appeased, the Bible considers it as payment. But regardless of this warning by our Lord, even believers want to gain in this world.

But that is not God’s nature. God is kind, and He gives freely. Just stop and think about the many good things that God does for us? Who pays Him?

Let us consider what Matthew says:

“…for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Why does the Bible here mention only the sun and rain? It is because these two things form the basis of life on earth. And the Bible says that God gives them to us freely and without measure.

Think about the sun. The sun is not a spiritual something; it is matter. Now, definitely, a lot of physical energy is used to run that raging orb of fire! So who runs it? God does. God physically runs the sun. They say nothing is free in this world, but you haven’t seen a bill for the sunlight lately, have you? But God runs the sun at His own material and physical expense. God keeps the sun burning to provide the heat and light that is needed for us to stay alive, healthy and happy.

And just think about the rain. A lot of physical work is needed to condense and pour down all that water upon the earth. Physical work, I say. And who does all that work? It is God who does it. And once He is ready to pour down the rain, He does not ration the water for us. Year after year, generation upon generation He pours down rain far in excess of our needs.

The more interesting fact is that God keeps the fact of His ‘busy-ness’ on our behalf a closely-guarded secret. He keeps it under wraps, so to speak. So much so that most people think these things happen of their own accord.

The Bible says that God even dresses up the flowers, and that He feeds the birds! How busy God is. While we are busy defending our small little rights and protecting our insignificant little backyards, God is busy doing good on a physical and spiritual scale that defies any form of description.

There are people who work very hard and who believe that others should not benefit from their hard labor. God would put such people to shame!

And, by the way, did you happen to read that God neither slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121:4)? I haven’t read anywhere where it says that God would not want to ease up on His schedule and rest aways. But He stays awake and alert on our behalf. Have you ever thought how this world can remain in so much relative peace while there is so much evil abounding? That also comes from God. He holds back the evil.

God is the most selfless Person ever. This blog would not suffice to list the thousands of different kinds of provision that God affords mankind in the physical realm, free of charge.

Now, with all the physical and material cost that goes into the preparation and delivery of all these things, you would think that God would give them only to those who are obedient and pleasing to Him – those who do good. With God nothing is impossible, and it would be a very small matter for Him to only shine His sun on His good servant and leave the bad guy patting his way about in the darkness even if the two were sleeping in the same bed.

But again that is not God’s nature. Luke’s account says He is kind even to the unthankful. Now, I can assure you that dealing with a thankless person is an extremely testing experience. You do something for someone and they do not thank you well enough. That is highly inflammatory, to say the least.

But do you know how many thankless people are enjoying God’s sun and His rain and every other provision that God has to offer? In actual fact, God blesses the evil more than He does the good. Regardless of what you have heard taught in church, have you not noticed that the unrighteous people in this world are also the richest materially? Undoubtedly, that is one of the most obvious facts in this world.

And now we come to the mind-boggling final look at the nature of God. Have you, as a child of God, ever thought about the fact of God’s grace in choosing you to inherit salvation? You were no better than your fellow man who dies in their sin and goes to hell. You never paid a cent for your salvation. And the even more incredible truth is that you were rebellious right up to the minute that God saved you.

Personally, I recall that God came looking for me at the wrongest possible moment in my life. I was 25 years old at the time, and “enjoying life” to the full. And I was extremely rebellious. My grandmother used to call me the ‘king of the Baganda’. To this day, I never knew what she meant by that term, but I do know that in our family of more than ten members, I seemed to rule everyone and everything. Whatever I said in that house was law… even my father and my mother and my elder brothers were expected to obey it. Later on in my adult life, my mom would look at me and she would begin to laugh, and she would laugh and laugh and I would ask what she was laughing about, and she would remind me of any one of a thousand ‘epic’ dust storms that I raised in that home during my heydays.

Anyways, on the day that I got saved, as I knelt down and they began to pray for me, I do remember that I was tempted to stand up and walk away… the rebellious nature in me was rising up even as they prayed over me to get saved! But as the pastor and his team of three young men pressed on in prayer – with their hands firmly planted on my head – a miracle happened, and a transformation occurred in my life. I instantly became as meek as a lamb. You might think it a rather fictional account that someone would need four men to hold him down in order to get him saved; but Saul, who would later on become the Apostle Paul, needed a bolt of lightning from heaven to cool his heels!

Even today, I am awed by the grace of that moment. God held me down there until He had delivered me from the devil’s clutches. Somehow, He needed me that badly. Amazing!

In whatever fashion we were saved, though, the fact is that our salvation is totally a work of grace. It is God Himself who chooses men and calls them. And after He has called them, He washes them clean and begins forming them to become His sons and daughters in the Spirit.

[Below: Just like children, we are partakers of God’s hard labor, freely and generously given, both physically and spiritually]

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Grace, Grace For The Church – Part 1

Grace, Grace For The Church

 

28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.

29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first. Mk. 10:28-31

As usual, with the Bible no amount of writing can exhaust the riches to be found within even a tiny portion of scripture. All our blogs and all our posts just tap at the tip of these riches.

Having said that, let me begin by summarizing what I want to discuss with regard to the scripture above:

  1. Peter’s “carnal mind” (Rom. 8:7).
  2. The manner in which Jesus answered Peter’s question.
  3. The essence of the answer that Jesus gave to Peter. This one is guaranteed to blow away your mind.
  1. Peter’s carnal mind.

Someone showed me a clip of one of the world’s top prosperity preachers ranting: “If I want to believe God for a 65 million dollar plane you cannot stop me!”

Apparently, someone had told the man not to buy the plane, and he was not happy about it. As I watched the clip, I saw a man under siege; and I was reminded of how Peter also one time felt under siege; so much so that he began to hound Jesus after Jesus made it clear that the Kingdom that He had come to establish had nothing to do with worldly riches.

Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.”

That might appear to be a very innocent phrase, but it is not. When it says “Peter began to say”, it means there were other things he wanted to say. What the Bible is actually talking of here is a declaration of war: Peter was declaring war on Jesus!

In Matthew’s account it says: “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” (Mat. 19:27)

It is important to notice that Peter brought up this issue immediately after Jesus had finished telling His disciples how difficult it would be for those who love worldly riches to enter heaven. He had told them:

“24… Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mk. 10:24-25).

And the Bible says: And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?” (v. 26)

Clearly, they hadn’t been expecting this. It is clear that Peter and his fellow apostles had all along been tagging behind Jesus expecting to receiving these very riches that Jesus was now declaring were not a part of the Kingdom He had come to establish. The news did not settle well with Peter and, being the edgy man that he was, he couldn’t hold in his impatience any longer: he wanted to know right away if, as it appeared, riches were out of the equation, then what was he and his friends who had “forsaken all, and followed thee” to profit in?

“C’mon, man, answer me!!” That was what he must have wanted to shout out aloud and he probably wanted to get his hands on Jesus and shake Him up. The Lord had just executed the biggest upset in the history of his life!

In engaging Jesus thus, Peter unwittingly exposed the lust in his heart. Peter is therefore the first self-declared prosperity gospel disciple that we find amongst the followers of Jesus.

But Peter was representative of all the rest of Jesus’ disciples… and he is representative of many of us today. There is no denying the fact that many believers today love the world and the things in it more than they do God or His spiritual Kingdom.

But – praise God! – Peter eventually parted ways with that “mind” of the flesh. After the cross, Peter repented and mended his ways. For, when the Jerusalem church was born, Peter and the apostles probably set the Guinness World Record for becoming the richest men within the shortest period of time. The Bible states that on the very first day that the church was born, 3,000 souls were added to the church! Subsequently, “…the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).

That was surely a large number of people in that church. We have no idea of the total number of believers the church at Jerusalem eventually arrived at before it was finally scattered abroad by persecution.

Now, the Bible records that within this church, “34 … 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” (Acts 4:34-35).

Notice the word “prices”. That is talking of hard cash; and with all those numbers, that must have been a lot of money in that church. And all this money, the Bible says, found its way to the apostles’ feet. But, somehow, it did not find its way into their pockets!

The apostles did not use it to fulfill their own lusts in the name of “ministry”. They did not use even a dime of it for themselves. On the contrary, we see Peter and John walking to church without a cent in their pockets on the day they healed the lame man.

All the money that the apostles received they appointed Godly men to distribute to the needy. They did not even handle it themselves.

It is in this light that I believe God is waiting for all the prosperity preachers and their followers within the church today to face the cross and embrace the true gospel of Jesus Christ, of Christ and Him crucified.

[Below: Under the shadow of the Uluguru Mountains lies the main bus stand in Morogoro]

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Money And The Crucified Life

23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Mat. 10:23-25
Most rich people won’t go to heaven. That’s a Biblical fact and there is no need to burst a pressure nerve over such a statement. Jesus Himself said it, so we better believe it.
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”, He said.
I have read many research papers on this scripture, people turning every tiny leaf to see what Heaven could possibly have meant by such an impossible declaration. Some people even take hundreds of hours studying the historical aspects of the camel!
Jesus’ words are so hard, and many times people find it extremely difficult to take them at face value!
But how about we just take that scripture just as it is written there? How about we don’t add or remove anything from those words?
In any case, what are we trying to accomplish by skirting around these words exactly as they are put forth? Persecution? Yes, there is definitely some form of suffering involved when you touch on people and their love for the things of this world. The flesh is bound up with the things of this world.
If Jesus said it is hard for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God, let’s believe it, it is hard.
What does it mean to be rich, anyway? It means to possess things, the things of this world. Have you ever wondered why many rich people are rich, in the first place? It is because their hearts are bound up with the things that they possess! They love the things of this world. Were their hearts not set on those things, were their hearts set fully on God’s spiritual Kingdom, they would sell all they had and give the proceeds thereof to the poor. In other words, a man who has the wherewithal to make wealth in this world ought to be a recycling plant for God’s wealth, distributing the proceeds thereof to alleviate the suffering of the poor, both in and outside of the church.
That’s another hard-to-swallow fact, but it is there in the Bible. We can only deny it at our own peril. Alternatively, we can accept it and begin to align our lives with its requirements by the power of the Holy Spirit in us.
But does Jesus’ words in Mark 10:23-25 mean we are not to be rich? Is He suggesting it is a sin to be rich? By no means!
If a rich man can handle the wealth of this world at arms’ length and allow it not to go into his heart, may the Name of the Lord be praised for such a man. The Bible says that Jesus Himself was a rich Man, but He became poor that we might be rich. Philippians 3 also tells that the Apostle Paul suffered the loss of all things. Apart from the things that he mentions, Paul probably was an heir to a rich earthly inheritance, who knows?
A rich man who can bear to let go is the only rich man who can live for God’s purpose. Such is the only rich man who will enter into the Kingdom of God.
The singular reason many rich people will therefore not enter into heaven is because they have a love for things; they love the world, and the things in it. As we earlier noted, that is why many are rich in the first place. They love to possess things.
The Apostle John said that if we love the world and the things that are in it, the love for the Father is not in us (1 Jn. 2:15).
Wealth is more likely to corrupt a man or woman of God than to make them more God-like. Remember, wealth is a god (Mat. 6:24). Worldly wealth (or mammon) is the god of this world. That means it has power. That is why every man in the world is born running after that all-important hard currency, and the things of this world. The men and women of the world are under the power of mammon right from birth.
That is why we need a revelation of the cross. At the cross we can crucify the flesh, and neither money, nor wealth, nor anything of this world will have any power over us. You could own a worldly conglomerate, and it would have no power over you. On the other hand, you could own nothing and yet in your heart you are richer than the richest man on earth.
If two such men met, they would meet on level ground; none would feel more or less important than the other. It would be a fellowship where the Spirit of God ruled supreme.
The bottom line is that when we are walking that thin line of wealth, we better make sure our flesh is firmly nailed on the cross.
It is the same with women. To a man, a woman is fire! It is safer for a man to distance himself from women than to be near them and to commit fornication. The Apostle Paul says: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Cor. 7:1) .
But, again, blessed is the man who has control over his carnal vessels and who can interact freely with members of the opposite sex and be of benefit to them in the Spirit. This speaks of someone who has crucified their flesh. This is far more desirable in the Spirit than running away from women.
Jesus lived freely with many women, some who even ministered to Him with their wealth (Luke 8:3). But Jesus did not “touch” any woman in the wrong sense. That does not mean that He did not touch them physically. He surely must have touched them as He ministered to them; He must have embraced them out of the Godly love that He had for them. I am sure there was a lot of physical interaction between Jesus and these women, especially considering the fact that Jesus was a Man who was free in His spirit. But it would not even have crossed His mind to think of them in a sensual manner.
Jesus was a man who had crucified His flesh long even before He bore the cross for us.
It was the same with the apostles. There was not a whiff of sexual irresponsibility with these men. They were men whose lives were crucified with Christ.
There are many religions in the world today and invariably the first thing you hear about them is how the top “guru” is taking all the women he desires from his flock for his wives. That is the spirit of the world.
Unfortunately, this worldly spirit has penetrated into the church of Christ. True, there are a few men of God who have crucified their flesh; but a large majority of preachers and church leaders are using their positions to do many bad things with the women in their churches. The spirit of the world – the old man of the flesh – has total control over these men.
If these men cannot rein in their lusts and crucify them, they will not enter into the Kingdom of God. And nor, sadly, will the women with whom they are sleeping around, saved or not. It is as simple as that.

[Below: A lone Nyaturu homestead sits in the bush in Central Tanzania. Here hyenas roam freely at night and even during the daytime]

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God’s Love for Cain

3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.

4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. Gen. 4:3-7

It is interesting to read that God could actually refuse an offering from someone. In today’s church world, the improbability of such a thing happening is extremely high. Men have become so greedy for money that there are very few preachers of the gospel who can refuse an offering, for any reason whatsoever.

In fact, on the contrary, offerings are the highest item on the agenda of most preachers. For many (yes, the Apostle Paul says many), every fibre of their being is wired to the offering basket. If things don’t go well there, then the ministry is in danger of collapsing. Or, the church risks being closed!

Today, you would be forgiven for thinking that the foundation of the church of Jesus Christ is money!

I really admire God. He is not affected in the least by any vagary, be it heavenly, earthly, or from below the earth. All these can collapse, and God will remain exactly on the spot He was on while they were standing. God is so self-sufficient He can afford to refuse any offering.

But it is the reason why God refused this particular offering that concerns us here. Theories have been advanced from every corner of the church as to why God refused Cain’s offering. There are even suggestions that Cain offered God maize while God wanted only meat. You would think God eats meat!

But God does not eat meat, just as He does not eat maize.

I can tell you right here why God had no respect for Cain’s offering. It was because Cain did not carry a good heart. His offering did not come from a good heart. Cain’s offering did not bring a sweet aroma of self-sacrifice, and God rejected it on the spot.

Cain’s heart is bared for all to see in verse 5. It was quite a rotten heart that he carried.

That is why God is not happy with today’s preachers. Many are accepting offerings without looking into the hearts that give these offerings.

Now, it is not that God wants preachers to come up with a device, made in China or wherever, that can measure the sincerity of people’s hearts. But the true task of a pastor or preacher is to do just that – to know what is going on in people’s hearts. If a pastor cannot care about the condition of the hearts of the people he is leading, then that is a very big failure on his part, regardless of the nature of the gospel he might be preaching.

In Acts 16:16-18 we read, “16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”

There are some preachers who love to be praised so much they wouldn’t have cared if the girl had a demon in her or not. This girl was putting Paul & Co. under the truly big lights, and they could have glowed under her praise. But with these men of God, the issue was straightforward: there was a demon in the girl, and the only thing that was needed was for the demon to be cast out. When the moment arrived, Paul did just that. He cast out the demon.

There was no fanfare. No cameras rolling. No interviews with the demon. No “Man of God…” stuff. Nothing other than to cast out the demon.

Now, today you have preachers on TV who hold hour-long interviews with demons purportedly talking through the people they are trying to ‘deliver’. The purpose of this spiritually offensive circus, of course, is to draw attention to the ‘power’ in the minister’s church or ministry. Many people get deceived by these theatrics, but Jesus said you shall know them by their fruits. You can easily tell that a person is not really concerned with the spiritual condition of the people he is ministering to when he uses them – through excruciatingly humiliating experiences on live TV – to advance his ministry.

If someone has a demon in them and you have the God-given ability to cast out that demon, you should be able to cast it out in the blink of an eye. And for the victim’s sake, you wouldn’t hold any interviews. That person has suffered enough.

Paul did not do what these modern-day preachers do. He wasn’t pleased with the situation in the least. Instead, the Bible says that Paul was “grieved” in his spirit and, when he could not bear it any more, he simply cast out the demon.

There are many pastors who aren’t bothered by the condition of their flock’s hearts. To them, it is more important to keep the dollars, the shillings, the euros – and the compliments – flowing in. They love it when those fat checks come in, and when people call them “Man of God!”

But that is simply the flesh at work. The flesh grows fat on these things.

But thank God, God is not carnal. His is a Spirit of righteousness. And He has put spiritual ministries in the church. And with Cain we see that God was the perfect Pastor. He saw into Cain’s heart and told him, “I would be failing you if I honored your offering.”

That was love in action. Some people assume, by reading “But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect”, that God was at war with Cain. But God’s one-sided conversation with Cain proves otherwise. God loved Cain so much that He used every effort to make him see the error of carrying a bad heart. He even told him, “You need to defeat that sin in your heart!”

God was trying to lead Cain to the cross.

And, in refusing to receive Cain’s offering, we see God’s ultimate show of love. God wanted Cain to bring a heart offering, not a ‘religious’ offering. He wanted an offering that would be spiritually beneficial and fulfilling to Cain, not an offering that would simply fill some earthly coffers.

Ultimately, therefore, we can only come to the conclusion that God probably loved Cain even more than He did Abel. But God’s love for Cain was in the cross.

People mistakenly think that money is the root of every good in church. But the Bible disproves that, for it says: “For the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).

Grace and truth are the things upon which Christ’s church is founded, and God wants our hearts to be perfected in these two qualities.

That is why Paul preached the cross, for it is in the revelation of the cross in our hearts that we can walk the narrow road wherein grace and truth are found.

Let not pastors and other ministers of the gospel be not led by greed, but by a true love for God’s people. Were they to do so, they would lead God’s people to the cross, like the Apostle Paul did. In every church, the Apostle Paul taught the same message, a cleaving to the cross of Jesus Christ:

“16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. 17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” 1 Cor. 4:16-17

[Below: A humble spirit is of more value to God than any offering that we can make]

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