About Worrying… And Judging

3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. 1 Cor. 4:5

Oh, how we worry! How we worry about what people think about us. Some of us worry until we develop stomach ulcers.

(I guess that’s why I love President Donald Trump. He never seems to worry about anything!)

I love what the Apostle Paul says here:

“… it is A VERY SMALL THING that I should be judged by you.”

Can you imagine that? And yet here we are, believers, fretting about every little thing that is said about us and frying our hair on account of people’s attitudes towards us. But Paul says he does not worry in the least about what people think or say about him. In other words, Paul is saying that that was the least of his concerns. What a relief!

Of course, there are legitimate worries for the believer; and I am not talking about the stock market. Worrying about the stock market translates to worrying about your stomach, which is something that God is totally against. Actually, there is only one legitimate worry for the believer in the entire world, and that worry is sin in his/her life. That’s why the Apostle Paul talks of

“the hidden things of darkness…”

and

“the counsels of the hearts”.

Yep! That should really worry us. It should worry us if we have dark corners in our hearts. And it should worry us if the counsels of our hearts are not aligned with God’s will. That should really, really, really have us worried!! And we should not stop worrying until we have cleared every trace of darkness from our hearts. Let us strive to live a sinless life through living the crucified life; and we shall experience true freedom!

But there is another side to the coin. There is another side to this grace that we have been called to inherit. Right here the Apostle Paul tells us what that grace is. He talks about not judging things before that time.

“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”

Have you ever realized how quick we are at judging people? By judging, I believe the Apostle Paul meant both good and bad judgments. On the one hand we heap praises on people; and on the other we judge others harshly, largely based on… well, what we don’t know! We think we know people; but we can never really know a person’s heart perfectly. Probably the most difficult thing in this world is knowing absolutely what is in a man’s heart. In fact, it is impossible for mortal man to know what is in another man’s heart. Only God knows our hearts perfectly. We know only in part. So what does scripture tell us here?

Quit praising men; and quit judging men. We should take people at face value and leave the judging and praising to God. If someone lies to you, for example, that is your business only to the extent that, once you learn of his lie, you can have compassion on him and pray for him to repent. Beyond there, leave it to God.

The same goes for the praises. Actually, the only Person you can praise with a perfect heart is our Lord Jesus Christ. Go easy with the rest.

One of the things that I am absolutely sure of on judgment day is that there will be many surprises; and not small ones. Some will be very disturbing. Others, hopefully, beautiful ones. For this reason, the Apostle Paul is beseeching us to keep these things (praises and judgments) to the barest manageable minimum down here. According to the Bible, we don’t know anything yet; and for this reason there is no reason why we should even praise or judge men at all! Let’s leave that to God alone.

Ultimately, I love the fact that there is grace is Christ to live the kind of life that the Apostle Paul lived. That is what we should be truly grateful to God for. Paul lived that kind of life; why can’t we? I pray God therefore that He may enable me – and you – to keep the two important things in our lives in mind: firstly, to mind our own business, as it were; i.e. the business of keeping our hearts clear and sinless; and secondly, to take people at face value and leave the judging and praising to God.

[It is impossible for mortal man to know what is in another man’s heart]

Image21646

The Lesson of Absalom

25 But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.

26 And when he polled his head, (for it was at every year’s end that he polled it: because the hair was heavy on him, therefore he polled it:) he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king’s weight. 2 Sam. 14:25-26

I probably ought to have labeled this post “The Danger of Celebrity Christianity”.

In my country, there is a man, a preacher of the gospel. He is tall, full-bodied and extremely handsome. He cuts his hair in a ‘Table Mountain’ style, which gives him an added macho look. He wears casual clothing. No suits, and no ties.

He has an appealing raspy drawl and, when he is on stage, his body motions and movements command the attention of everyone. The man is irresistible.

Many years ago, this man came to our town to preach in an open-air meeting, and all the women of the town, both saved and unsaved, flocked to see him. As he began preaching, his very posture had the women screaming and ululating wildly. The man loved it and we, too, in our simplicity, did. In our hearts, the man was an idol.

He went on to entertain us immensely. At the end of the 4 or 5-day meeting, the big open-air field could afford standing space only.

Sad to say, many of us came to learn later that this man was also one of the most notorious adulterers in the land. On this particular occasion, when he finally left our town, he left with one of the women he had ‘converted’ during his crusade.

The story of Absalom in the Old Testament is an analogy of our modern-day charismatic preachers. Absalom was a man of incredible handsomeness, and he used his deep charisma and beauty to his advantage in his attempt to dethrone King David, his father. The Bible says he “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Sam. 15:6).

In the same vein, today’s preachers use their charisma and material or physical attributes to dethrone God the Father from the hearts of men. They do so by drawing to themselves the attention of men.

The Bible further says that when Absalom set out on his diabolical mission, he conscripted to himself simple men who knew nothing of his intentions.

And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not any thing.” (2 Sam. 15:11)

In the same manner, men of spiritual simplicity hearken to the call of our modern-age celebrity preachers. They applaud and celebrate them. They call them “mighty men of God”.

Today, you hear all over the place, “Man of God! Man of God!”

You hear also men being referred to as “The man of the hour”; or, “The one and only So-and-so”.

All these inferences actually come from the world. It is the devil who brings them into the church.

And the men of God to whom this attention is directed keep silent because they love men’s approval.

When He was here on earth, our Lord Jesus Christ reacted strongly to such approbations when they were directed at Him. Jesus would not impute or allow any glory to be imputed to Him.

One time, someone called Jesus “good”, but Jesus would have none of it.

“16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God…” (Mat. 19:16-17)

Jesus could quietly have let it pass. But Jesus would only ascribe glory to God. He did not want any attention drawn to Himself.

On another occasion, Jesus responded in the same manner to a woman who tried to draw attention to the glories of His worldly birth.

“27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. 28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” (Lk. 11:27-28)

Jesus used every opportunity to draw attention to and give glory to God the Father and to His will.

That is why the church needs to have the mindset of Christ again, as with the early church. In Philippians 2:5-8, God through the Apostle Paul appeals to us:

“5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…”

What was this mind?

“6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Jesus humbled Himself, that He might become obedient to, and hence glorify God the Father.

We, too – preachers and laymen alike – need to humble ourselves in like manner to the end that God might be exalted. This requires the cross to work in our lives. The cross will break our pride and we shall become like Paul who, although he carried the greatest of all ministries, yet he could declare concerning himself, “… I be nothing” (2 Cor. 12:11).

[Let our lives be for nothing else but the exaltation of God]

“Hallowing” Our Father – Part 3

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise…” (Mat. 21:16)

One time the president of our country was coming to our town for some national celebrations. At that time our church probably had the best keyboard in town. The keyboard was a gift from a friend in the U.S. (Americans, I think, are the most generous people on earth. I thank them, and may God bless them exceedingly).

The leader of our town’s police band happened to be a friend of mine, and he knew about our keyboard. So, one day, sometime before the celebrations were to take place, he came knocking and asked us to lend their band our keyboard for they would be playing the national anthem during the celebrations. And, he told us, he would be playing it himself. I was happy to hear him say that because he was the finest piano player I had ever met.

When the day finally came, the president arrived right on schedule and the biggest stadium in town was filled to capacity. Finally, it was time to play the national anthem. I stood as close to my friend as possible because I wanted to see him play our big keyboard.

The minute he started playing… Wow! Nothing I can say here can express both the power of that keyboard and the expertise with which the police officer played it. Speakers as big as trucks were placed all over the stadium and our big keyboard got the ultimate reward for what it was worth. It gave the sweetest music all over town!

The man was a professional piano player and he did not play the anthem in the traditional way. Instead, he played the song in an incredibly original style. I could feel all the hairs standing on end as I listened to the music. The performance was so incredibly powerful that it was all quiet all over the big stadium. No one moved and no one spoke. When he finished playing, the applause was he received a standing ovation accompanied by a long, thunderous applause.

He played many more songs over the course of the celebrations, to the enjoyment of everyone.

The policeman told me later that the president later called and personally congratulated him for his performance.

I too was awed by the talent that I saw in that man. Later on, whenever I would go to visit him, I would take a long, hard look at him and think, “This man could be playing for kings and royalty all over the world.” But in this imperfect world, things do not the man and his talents were left buried in the police barracks he lived in.

I intended to speak about the president in this illustration, but I ended up talking about my police friend! But I meant to show that if the president of your country were visiting your town you would not call up any old band to play for him. No, sir! Contrariwise, you would bring in the best band, even if it meant calling up one from a different town!

Now, when it comes to good things if you think you know good things, I can assure you that God knows them infinitely better than you do. There are many ways of praising God; but there is the best way to do it. We therefore have no reason to worship God in any old way. As a matter of fact, with God only the best way will do. So what is this “best” way?

Scripture gives us the answer:

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise…” (Mat. 21:16)

Did you see the words “perfected praise” there? What does that tell you? It tells you that God knows the best and He wants the best. When it comes to “hallowing” Him, the Bible tells us that God has perfected praise!

How did God “perfect” praise? It is by putting it in the mouths of “babes and sucklings”.

Now this is serious stuff. This is not talking of our gurgling babies. On the contrary, it is talking about the believer. It is talking of brokenness in a believer’s spirit. It is talking of humility.

Most people think God is interested in the good music they make. He is, of course, but again He is not. God is interested in our good music only if we have a humble and broken spirit. If we do not have a humble and broken spirit, God is not interested in ANYTHING we do for Him. We cannot reduce that bar in any way to please men. Jesus spent all His life here on earth doing the will of God, not of men.

This is the central meaning of the cross in our lives. The cross comes to deal with our flesh. God is more interested in a humble lifestyle than our beautiful music and songs. No song that you sing for God can move Him an inch if it is not accompanied by a humble lifestyle.

The gospel is the life of Christ that we live in our mortal bodies. That is why we must allow the cross to have its way in our lives, to humble us, that we might do the will of God.

One of the most amazing attributes that God has, as we already noted, is God’s capacity to humble Himself. This is something that the fleshly, carnal self simply cannot do. It is impossible for the flesh to humble itself. It can create many scenarios that appear to be of humility, but it can never attain to the real thing. That is why, on judgment day, many pious-looking people will be thrown into hell, because they were not.

Humility is the capacity to obey God. To obey God is to go against the flesh. To obey God, we must be in the Spirit. And to be in the Spirit we must die to self, or the flesh. And to die to the flesh requires that one crucify their flesh.

Ultimately, “hallowing” God has more to do with taking up our cross and following Christ, than singing.

“Hallowing” Our Father – Part 1

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name… Mat. 6:9

How often do you think the Name of the Lord should be “hallowed”, or praised? How often do you praise Him? The Psalmist wrote:

“1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. 2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. 3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised.” Ps. 113:1-4

From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same the Lord’s Name is to be praised.

If you were to begin praising the Lord since the day you were born and if you continually praised Him until the day that you died (let’s assume at a ripe old age) what a joy that would be! One of the unspeakable benefits that you would reap out of such an enterprise is that there would be no place for you to grumble, complain or backbite, all which are works of the flesh and which highly displease God. Blessed is the man who can rise up every morning with praise on his tongue and who continues to praise throughout the day.

But the real blessing in praising God every second of your life is that you would be doing the most important task that any man can engage in, which is to acknowledge, to praise, and to adore, and to uplift the Name of the Living God.

And why, pray, all this praise? It is because our God is so great and worthy… The Psalmist says of Him:

4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, 6 Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!” (Ps. 113:4-6)

Notice that the glory of the Lord is above the heavens. But (v.6) the Lord humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!

It is an incredible grace that you and I can even find ourselves praising the Lord and that our praises should reach Him. NOTHING supersedes this in our relationship with God. One of the extraordinary attributes that the Lord has is humility – the humility to give us His attention. We should continuously thank the Lord for that. If the Lord did not have that quality, we would be lost forever for no man is worthy to stand in the Lord’s presence. No man, I say. It is a grace and an honor that our praises can be heard by the great God Jehovah.

And so it was that when the apostles asked the Lord to teach them how to pray, the first thing that the Lord taught them was to acknowledge the greatness of our God. God the Father is so much worthy to be praised.

Hallelujah! Forever and ever and ever His praises are to ring out from every corner of the earth.

Worshiping God In Revelation

1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. Is. 66:1-3

If someone asked me who the greatest singer of all time is, straight off I would answer: Whitney Houston. There is no question about that, as far as I am concerned. Whitney had the sweetest voice I ever heard.

Now, let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that Whitney sang for the Lord. The sad fact associated with this is that, in all probability God might not have been aware either of her sweet voice or her touching lyrics. This is because it is not our sweet voices nor the beauty of our lyrics that move God. What moves God is the heart – a humble and repentant heart. A repentant heart is a heart that can turn around from its sinful ways and begin obeying God. I do not know if Whitney had a humble and repentant heart. The only thing I am sure of  is that her sweet voice wouldn’t move God an inch unless she had that kind of heart. In order to please God, we need to walk in the revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What is the revelation of the gospel? Revelation is having God’s viewpoint. Revelation is knowing what pleases God. There are many things that believers do believing that in doing them they are pleasing God. But there is only one thing that we can do to truly please God: it is to see things as God sees them and by the grace of God align our lives with that vision.

When we have God’s viewpoint, we see things differently. Let us take the example of a pastor who has 10,000 members in his church. That’s a good thing – taking so many people to heaven! But if that pastor’s sights are set on the numbers, then he does not see things as God sees. He has no revelation.

On the other hand, if that same pastor can see the transformation that is needed in his church members’ lives through the working of the cross, and desire that transformation to be effected in even one person amongst these 10,000, then that pastor is walking in the revelation of the gospel. He has realized that God is interested in a transformation, not numbers.

Unfortunately, many pastors rejoice in the numbers.

But the New Testament is full of exhortations to believers to desire to be transformed and to grow in grace. God is not pleased when we remain babes all our lives, even babes in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1-3).

God desires all men to be saved, but the Kingdom of God is not about numbers. On the contrary, it is about transformed lives, no matter they may be few (Mat. 7:13). That is why, when it comes to praising and worshiping God, we cannot attempt to persuade God with our sweet voices and wonderful lyrics. God listens to our singing with a spiritual ear, an ear set on the condition of our hearts.

God is looking for transformed people!

In any case, there is nothing we can ‘surprise’ God with. God says in verse 2: “For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD”.

God is the creator of all things.

But – surprise! – there is one thing that is outside the realm of God. There is something that God did not create. That thing is sin. Incredibly, this sin nature lives in us! But sin separates man from God.

The only thing, therefore, that we can do to truly surprise God is when we allow His revelation to come into our hearts and there bring about a transformation. God, who knows our rebellious human nature, is moved by a heart that can humble itself and repent.

It is for this very reason that God in Isaiah draws a disturbing distinction between our activities for and on behalf of Him and how He views those activities if they are not carried out on the platform of a crucified life:

“He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.”

When we do anything for God, but are careless about the condition of our hearts, God abhors that which we do. Actually, at no one time, for example, did God ever feel that He needed our praise so much that He could overlook the purity of our hearts. Never.

The Apostle Paul brings this into closer perspective when he admonishes us under the New Covenant: “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” (1 Tim. 2:8)

When we go to church we should not just love to raise our hands and voices in prayer to God. We are to do it

“… without wrath and doubting”.

That cannot be without a crucifixion of our carnal nature since there will always be situations in our lives that will tempt us to get angry or to doubt God. And we cannot take these things lightly.

When God’s revelation comes into our hearts, we realize the things that please God have to do with the condition of our hearts. And, most important of all, we realize how we must first crucify our carnal nature before we attempt to do anything for God or to ‘please’ Him.

[Below: A praise session. Whatever we do for God, He looks at our hearts first]

Image2253

God Is Worthy To Be Praised!

We think we have a major problem! You can see all that when we are praying to God. When we are praying, that is when you realize how much dependent we are on God for everything in our lives. The place of prayer is a wonderful place to be and, indeed, prayer is a gift from God to man. God gives us the faith for that.

But I am sure that although there is a time and place for prayer in our Christian lives, we should not believe that our needs, whatever they may be, are the most important thing in heaven and earth.

There is a need before which all others fade into insignificance. And the bearer of this need is none other than God Himself. Does that sound confusing? Not the least bit! Of course, it requires the Holy Spirit to reveal this to us, but rest assured that God has a bigger need than any one of us can comprehend.

And what is this all-important need that God has? It is the need to be praised. God desires so much to be praised! That would sound selfish were it not for the fact that God not just desires but He deserves to be praised. God deserves so much to be worshipped, extolled, thanked, lifted up, loved – much more than we can possibly comprehend in our human capacities.

More than that, God deserves everything we have. He deserves our very lives.

If I, Mwita, were to ask anyone to praise me, I would not be too sure that I deserved it.

But God has never been unsure of anything He is does or requires of us. He tells us in Deuteronomy 6:5: “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”

He deserves everything we have.

If there is anything that can show the greatness of our God, it is the need that is there for Him to be praised and extolled above anything else.

King David is one of the greatest men that ever walked on earth. I believe David’s importance before the Lord owes much to the insight he had concerning the greatness of God and the need to praise Him. King David spent a considerable time of his life simply praising the Lord on various instruments. He also set up a choir, complete with all kinds of instruments and the most skilful musicians, Godly men, to perpetually stand before the Lord and just praise the Lord.

I remember when I got saved, many years back. I was in my final year at the university. Whenever we entered the auditorium the singers invariably began with a praise song. The minute the lead singer lifted the microphone to her lips, I would feel the power of God descending on me and immediately the tears would begin rolling down my eyes. The power and presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable. I cannot remember that we had to sing two or even three songs in order for the Holy Spirit to manifest.

These worship leaders were not artists, nor entertainers. They were true worshippers.

I was recently in Mauritius and I was deeply touched by the heart of worship that I saw in the worship team at Eglise Chretienne (Christian Church), whose services I regularly attended. Led by King and Audrey, the choir has a formidable capacity to lead people to worship God in the Spirit.

Brother King is a sight to behold when he leads worship. He lays his entire life – heart, soul and strength – into whatever he is doing; but you can feel he is doing something in the presence of God, not men. May the Lord bless Brother King!

It is not pleasing to say so, but to a large extent the business of praising God today has been turned into just that – a business – with a keen eye on the money, the fame, and the power it has to entertain the flesh.

Indeed, when it comes to praising God in church, many people are in either of two extremes: one extreme is where the flesh is given free flow and you find people simply entertaining themselves and looking for other profits instead of praising the Lord in Spirit and truth. With the abundance of modern music instruments and skilled players and singers today, it is the easiest thing to find people entertaining themselves in church instead of worshipping God. People jump, dance, and do many other things in the name of worshipping God, but you can feel it is the flesh.

At the other end are those whom you find clapping to God with their finger-tips – probably fearing that if they clap too hard their fine hands will hurt; or that if they sing too loudly, they might tear their delicate vocal cords! May God help us!

When it comes to praising the Lord there is only one way to do it – “with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Hallelujah!

One day, King David danced so hard before the Lord that his royal robe somehow got loosened, and maybe a piece of royal skin showed. His wife, Michal, despised him for that. In her view, he had lowered his personality. But unknown to her, he had just upgraded it!

But there is a need for God’s people to praise Him. Our God is so great, holy, merciful, loving that there are no words – or actions – truly sufficient to praise Him for Who He is. If it were possible we could spend all our time, 24/7, just praising God. The Bible in the Book of Revelation says that there are some wonderful creatures in Heaven doing just that!

And one day, all of creation will kneel down and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

It is all right to pray and ask God for our needs. But it is far much more wonderful to find ourselves praising, extolling and thanking God just for who He is, and for what He has done (not just for us in the selfish, carnal sense; but more so because of everything He has done, including all of creation, because He made everything for us).

Our needs pale in the revelation of the need to praise and extol our God. Oh, that our hearts would forever be caught up in a spirit of praise to our God, for He so much deserves it!

Seasons of Our Lives

Ecc 3:1-8  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Recently a brother from a church in a neighboring country visited our country on a business trip. We welcomed him into our house and he stayed with my family for a week. During that period of time, he and I were constantly together since he needed me to direct him to the various places he was to visit.

This brother amazed me in that he would not stop talking about me.  He would keep telling me things like:

“Brother, I am amazed at the grace you have!”

“Oh, you handled that situation so well!”

“What a wonderful family you have! There is so much freedom in your home!”

It was quite a revelation to me. I frankly did not know that much about myself!

Now, I am not so stupid as to allow myself to be carted off on the praises of a man, however sincere they may be. But, apart from that, it was the fact that I did not exactly see what this brother’s excitement was all about. We may be the ‘perfect’ family, but we are not exactly angels in my house and I was pretty sure there were quite a number of things he could notice in us that were not truly Christ-like; some of which, truth be said, were prominently displayed right on the doorpost! But the brother did not appear to notice any of these faults. On the contrary, he was quick and sincere in expressing his opinions about all the wonderful things that he saw in me and my family. The remarkable thing was that one could clearly feel the genuineness of his heart. My family and I were challenged by his positive outlook of things and we immensely enjoyed his stay with us.

But things have not always gone so well for me. There were times when I have been maligned, opposed and hit upon.

After this brother left, I reflected on what had been going on and the above scripture came to mind. I realized that there will be many different seasons in our spiritual lives. There will be good times and bad times; light times and heavy times; cheery times and sad times. There will be times when men will praise us and there will be times when they will revile us for Christ’s sake. The obvious fact here is that in all these circumstances it is our hearts that are being tested.

When things go well for us, as when that young man praised me so richly, something in my heart is being tested. I am being ‘shaken’. If anything good can be found in me, it is so that glory may be given to my Savior Lord Jesus, Who it is that has crafted me to that degree. It is a time for me to fall down in utter contempt of who I am without Him.

On the other hand, when men rise up against me, that same heart is being tested in another area: most likely the area of love.

This is what happened to the Apostle Paul in nearly every city that he preached in. The classic example involves the Galatian church which initially welcomed him into their midst “as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.” But not long afterwards these same men considered Paul an enemy because he stuck to the truth from which they were slowly sliding away from (vs 16). He had become their enemy! Can you see that?

But on all occasions in his dealings with them, Paul’s heart remained steadfast. He never allowed himself to feel uplifted by the praise of men, even when he knew that what they said about his ministry to them was true. And when people opposed Paul, he did not rave and rant or threaten them. Through the grace of God that was in him, Paul continued loving them and laying down his life for them. He tells the Galatians: “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you…” (vs 19).

That is the heart of Christ that we should carry always.

I wish you all a lovely Sunday!

Of Proclamations and Our Worship of God – Pt. 2

I haven’t read anywhere in the Bible where God is upbraiding His people for not praising Him loud enough. On the contrary, I have read many Scriptures where God tells His people, both in the Old and New Testaments, that He does not actually need their praises. In fact, in one scripture in the Old Testament, God has a particularly nasty reaction to the Israelites’ songs and their ‘empty’ worship of Him.

The reason God was so angry with them is because they were walking in sin but at the same time praising Him.

The Christian world today is outdoing itself in its efforts to praise and uplift God. Many beautiful new songs are being composed, old songs and hymns are redone and presented with ever greater passion; singers with the most beautiful voices are being discovered; piano chords and guitar strings are tweaked to the highest levels of creativity – the whole spectrum is a sight to behold indeed. There are churches which have been set up solely on the praise and worship theme. I think all this is good, but at the same time I believe things are not as rosy in the Spirit as they appear to be on the outside.

There are also what we would call new age ‘Christian’ artists and preachers and songs that I would rather die than listen to or watch. I once went to Youtube and they were singing a song about “crying holy” or whatever, and it was the most revolting thing I have ever seen. There are thousands of these artists, and regrettably Christians are going absolutely gaga over them. I have never understood why we need to identify with the world in order to preach the gospel of Christ. Most likely, we misinterpret scripture.

I have not seen a preacher wearing earrings yet (I mean the male preachers), and probably they are there, it’s only that I have not seen them. But our choirs today are awash with male singers touting Rastafarian hairstyles and all decked out in gold chains and earrings, etc. I do not know what to expect next, but it is clear Jesus has quite a band coming His way…

Christian proclamations and declarations from the pulpit all the way to the street present a picture where the Christian world is one of total victory over the devil and all his works.

By now you probably are thinking that if I am not the Anti-Christ himself then I am a major pessimist who has failed to find joy and fulfilment in his Christian life. Don’t even consider the thought. I am as happy as Jesus Himself. And don’t get me wrong. As I said earlier, I have no problem with Christian worship when it is done in the right spirit. What I am pointing out here is that God is more interested in the state of our lives than our vocal proclamations. There are far too many Christians today walking in sin, and yet their mouths are full of proclamations of the glory of God. And God’s real problem with us today, just as with the Israelites, is sin. God loves praise, but He hates sin and He would rather deal with the latter first.

If I am playing with my children and I see a snake, I will kill the snake first then continue playing with my children.

We Christian believers should not therefore put a smokescreen of praise before God. God can see the sin that is ravaging the Church today. It is open secret that Christianity in our generation has a major problem with sin. Sin is rampant among lay Christians and preachers alike. Even big-time preachers who have been known to raise the dust on TV and some who served God faithfully in years past have been hit by scandals…

Something is wrong, and we should stop praising and listen.

It is time to go back to the basics. Let us go back to the Cross, where Christ was crucified. Therein is the power to defeat sin in our lives, the gospel of the revelation of the Cross of Christ. Paul preached this very gospel, and even if his ministry was not inundated with miracles as today’s gospels appear to be, it had the power to set men and women from the power of sin, and we see from his epistles that this was Paul’s chief concern: to set God’s people free from sin.

That gospel, though unproclaimed in similar terms, has always been there in earlier generations, and the men and women who walked in it lived a victorious life over sin.

I remember that in the 1970s and the early 80s, at least in the small world that I lived in, a saved person was a threat to sinners, who evaded them like the plague. My elder brother was the first to get saved in our big family. Whenever he would begin praying an overpowering Presence would fill our home and we would all run away – dad would walk staidly towards the village beer hall but clearly a man on the run! We would come back only when we were sure John had finished praying. Then, my mom, who had been a beer brewer, gave her heart to Jesus. Then followed two of my brothers, then my dad, who was the village champion drunkard. Many years later, I too accepted the Lord. I am assured we are all the fruit of not only the prayers of my brother, but also the victorious lifestyle that he led. In those years Christians lived a victorious life over sin, and we saw it, and it affected us.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same thing even for many of those same Christians today. Something has gone awfully wrong somewhere. We talk a lot, but there is a power that is simply not there. There is song, yes, but not the power.

Nowadays a preacher divorces their husband or wife then they come on TV and, to the accompaniment of a ‘powerful’ praise session, they begin talking and justifying themselves. Where is the power of the gospel in that? And there, in the auditorium, are thousands of Christians cheering him/her on. If you multiply that number with that of the faithful who are watching at home on TV and assenting to this preacher’s doctrine, you realize this truly is a big church, but then you begin wondering “What kind of ‘church’ is this going to turn out to be?” The answer is: a defeated, sinning church. I once saw a homosexual ‘church’ on TV in South Africa, complete with a homosexual pastor, and they were praising Jesus! But we ‘straight’ sinners cannot disassociate ourselves from this abomination if we are divorcing and remarrying in church and continuing with our praise and cheering sessions.

In all this chaos, it is not that people are not praying as before, or that they are not reading their Bibles. Rather, it is simply that wrong doctrines have been allowed into the Church, and have taken the place of the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ. Wrong doctrines which simply have not the power to deal with sin.

Jesus came to earth to deal with sin and all its works once and for all. And He did that by crucifying the body of the flesh. If there is no crucifixion of the flesh, if the Christian is not having a daily revelation of that work of the Cross, there is no way he is going to live a victorious spiritual life. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:31: “…by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily”. In order for Paul to rejoice in his labors for Christ, he had to crucify his flesh daily. It means he partook of the sufferings and death of Christ. Now, if you cheer when all this is going on, God has no problem with that because after this there will be victory. Unfortunately, many Christians today are cheering while there is so much defeat in their lives!

The gospel bequeathed to us from Jesus Christ through the Apostles states that just as we were sold into sin, we have now been sold to righteousness. How? By dying to the body of the flesh. After which, by the working of the same Holy Spirit who resurrected Jesus from the dead we too are resurrected into the glorious life of victory in the spirit, victory over sin.

This is the gospel that needs to come back to the Church today, and which the Church needs to accept. I believe it is coming back, through true Apostles and ministers of God whom God is reinstating in our day. But is the Church willing to accept it? Or we will continue dancing while sin ravages the Church?

The Bible warns of a falling away of many believers just before the return of Christ. At no other time do we need to heed Christ’s and the Apostles’ warnings than in the days we are living in.