Instructed In God’s Ways

5 And Jehoshaphat said unto the king of Israel, Enquire, I pray thee, at the word of the LORD to day.
6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
7 And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him?
8 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so… 1 Ki. 22:5-8
The surest sign that your life is not laid on the altar, that you are not taking up your cross and following Christ, is when all you want to hear is the good news. You don’t want to hear any bad news. You don’t want, for example, to hear someone scolding, rebuking, or correcting you. I personally have a problem when someone tries to do any one of those things to me. Something rises up in me … It took me a long time to realize that that “something” is the old man, who is still alive in me.
That’s not a good confession, but it is the truth about me. And man, am I glad to hear there is a first, second and third heaven! I am glad to know that at least in one sense God is so far from me. That makes me know that I still have a long road ahead of me; and yet, somehow, I love that challenge! I am learning to take up my cross and follow Christ.
There are many “challenges” in this world. But how about we hear about the challenge of the cross for a change?
Many people think the old man is fairy tales. But he is as real as you and me. And he lives in us, when our lives are not fully crucified with Christ on the cross.
When you are not taking up your cross and following Christ there are many things that you don’t want to hear. You don’t want to hear that your business is not going well, or to find yourself broke, penniless. You don’t want to be in lack… But the Apostle Paul says that he was “instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (Phil. 4:12).
Instructed. It took a long time, but a time did arrive when Paul was ready for any situation, good or bad, that God would allow in his life. He accepted any situation with joy. Many of the situations that people of God will tell you are from the devil, Paul knew were from God! That is the difference between a man whose life is laid on the altar, and one whose life is not.
In the scripture above, it says that as King Ahab happily downed goblet after goblet of the finest wine in the land, about 400 prophets stood before him and prophesied in the loftiest terms about the victory that would be his once he went to war against the king of Syria.
In contrast, King Jehoshaphat was a righteous man. This means that this man’s life was laid on the altar. That does not mean he was perfect; but he was a man who was daily taking up his cross and following Christ. This man therefore knew the ways of the Lord. He was instructed in God’s ways. And when he saw such a large number of prophets and heard them prophesying the same thing “with one mouth” (v.13) – and good news, at that – he immediately got suspicious.
But King Ahab was an evil man, and he did not know the ways of the Lord. He was particularly indisposed to hearing any bad news, which invariably came from only one man, the prophet Micaiah. King Ahab wanted only to hear good news.
Do you know that many people of God today are crisscrossing the face of the planet seeking for a favorable prophecy about a situation they are facing? And, personally, when I read this kind of scripture, I can begin to understand the reason for the rise of the mega-church: it is because the message preached in such churches is one generally of a positive, upbeat approach. Here it is “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. All is good news – the gospel according to the flesh. Any bad news is out. Such news is not from God!
But if you read to the end of the saga in the above scripture, you will find that every prophecy that Micaiah made on that day (and it was all bad) came to be fulfilled. That means his was the Word of the Lord, bad news as it was.
When in the Spirit we identify our lives with Christ’s in His suffering and death, we will understand that God works both in the good and the bad. In both these situations we can learn to see God’s hand and allow Him to accomplish whatever He wants to accomplish.

[Below: A storm hits the Musoma pier]

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To Love – Our True Calling

To Love – Our True Calling

[This post is dedicated to my friends Frank and Carol Lanthier from Ontario, Canada who have not only dedicated their lives to serving the Lord, but have constantly maintained a pure heart throughout]

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

All the Christian blogs in the world combined could hardly do justice to these words, how much less a mere post as this! But the brightness of a diamond is the result of a million different flashes of light coming off of it.

Someone called me recently and said, “Could you look up Ezekiel chapter 43, I want us to discuss about the prophecy there, whether it has been fulfilled or not.” The man comes from a denomination where the word ‘prophecy’ is mentioned in every second sentence.

I am not very much into prophecy, and I knew I probably would have nothing to contribute. I knew that at best our ‘discussion’ would end in disputations, etc. Things like prophecy are important, of course, but they are also potential minefields, where someone can easily lose their soul trying to crack the prophecy code.

So I told the brother, “I would rather we discussed about love!”

Jesus said that in the Kingdom of God, many that are first shall be last, and many that are last will be first. That means that with God, things are not the way we see them in the natural. There are things that appear very important with us, but which are not so with God.

“1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

We could have and we could be all the things mentioned here, but if we are not walking in love, we are nothing in God’s sight. In today’s world especially, where the world is increasingly pressing itself to the fore, it is the easiest thing for God’s people to miss it. The people who ‘do’ things appear to be the most spiritual. In today’s Church setting, for example, there is a tendency to idolize so-called great men (and women) of God. The men of great faith, with the strong charisma that comes with this type of ministry, are particularly prone to this idol-worship. So are church leaders, worship leaders, gospel artists – and sometimes even we bloggers.

The flesh loves to boast in so many things: knowledge, spiritual insight, spiritual gifts, its ability to ‘do’ things (like giving), etc. These things are needful in God’s Kingdom, but they are not the rule with which the Lord measures us.

God measures us through our ability to love. And what is love?

Love is maintaining a pure heart. I believe that is the best expression of love that I can find in the Bible. I believe that a pure heart is what encompasses holiness, for our God is a holy God. It is not ‘doing’ or having things, even things of the Spirit. This world is a place where our hearts are tried 24/7. Therefore the challenge to love is the playground for the believer.

Love is the place where you can show who you truly are. It is the place where you can lose your life. It is the place where you are beaten and humbled by God (through circumstances) until you drop all your pride and discover and rejoice in the fact that you are nothing. If you are walking in love, you will constantly discover that you are not giving of your life as much as you think you are. Love is the place that of real sacrifice. And there are more than enough situations every day to exercise this love.

It is good to have prophecy and spiritual knowledge. These are deeply spiritual things. But it is far much better to walk in love, to take up our cross and follow Christ.

I believe there are people who do not even know the Bible, people who cannot read (or who cannot afford) a Bible. And yet these people know and walk in love because they are able to surrender to the Holy Spirit in them.

On the other hand, there are people who are very knowledgeable in spiritual matters, but who are unable to walk in love.

The greatest in the Kingdom of God is the man or woman who can walk in the kind of love that is stated in these scriptures. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit in us can lead us to walk victoriously on that road of the cross.

[Below: Frank and Carol Lanthier]

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Seducing Spirits and Doctrines of Devils – Part 1

1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. 1 Tim. 4:1-5

There is no single word, or combination of words, in any language, that could possibly convey the astonishment and the horror of how a ‘Christian’ denomination or sect that is clearly un-Biblical can be brought about and instituted on a worldwide scale through people giving heed to “seducing spirits” and “devils”. In other words, how the danger of a lack of spiritual revelation can lead to the birthing of ‘Christian’ denominations which carry demonic doctrines, and how these doctrines can become acceptable to so many believers.

It is a truly incomprehensible.

But this danger is exactly what Paul warns Timothy about in this scripture. “Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats were teachings that were not there in Paul’s day. But the Holy Spirit through Paul spoke of the emergence of these doctrines “in the latter times”. Today, these very doctrines have the majority of God’s people in their grip. Paul’s prophecy has clearly been fulfilled and we are living in the very times.

Had you told someone in Paul’s time that there were such denominations around, they would have had a hard time finding them. But we cannot say that today. Today, these denominations are the vanguard of what is considered Christian in today’s world.

What a farcical turnaround!

The cold fact is that people have deliberately cast aside the truth of God, and have willingly embraced deception.

I want to use this post (and probably the next two) to show how easily the remnant church (for today’s true church is only a remnant) can also be easily ensnared by false teachings and find themselves following after false teachings, bearing in mind always that the Bible here warns us that in the last days there will be seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.

Paul did not write to Timothy things which he knew would not affect the church. He knew there were doctrinal dangers that would become all too real to the true church of Christ. That is why he tells him,

If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained” (v. 6).

In other words, Timothy had become such a good follower of Paul that he had “attained” to an understanding of “the words of faith and of good doctrine” which Paul carried.

Clearly, many had not. Some had fallen by the way, of whom were Hymenaeus, Alexander, Demas and others (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 4:10).

Many more were trudging wearily along, not fully committed. Not once did the Apostle Paul find himself all alone, with only a handful of disciples willing to identify with his situation and the doctrine that he carried.

In the light of the false doctrines that we take so lightly today, I believe it is time to warn the church to beware lest they find themselves missing the mark, and taking a different road than the road that leads us to an attainment of the maturity and perfection and unity in Christ, which is the three-fold purpose for which the gospel has been preached to us.

[Below: A bus bound for Arusha. The city of Arusha is the main tourist destination in Tanzania, mainly because of the major natural attractions surrounding it: the Ngorongoro Crater, the Serengeti National Park and Mt. Kilimanjaro, amongst many others]

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Of Worldly Wealth And God’s Kingdom – Part 2

And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.

And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? Luke 12:13-14

In the days that we are living in the gospel of Jesus Christ has been compromised and today gain is thought to be godliness, as the Apostle Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:5. Paul called the people who advance these kinds of teachings “men of corrupt minds” and “from such”, he admonished Timothy, “withdraw thyself”.

Recently, on TV, a prominent preacher was praying over people who had various needs in his church. There were hundreds, probably thousands, each holding up a placard with their prayer requests written on them.

One man had a placard that read, “LAND CASE”, and when the preacher got to him, he placed his hands upon him and said to him, “You have won”. In other words, this preacher was telling this man, ‘by the word of the Lord’, that he had won a dispute over land.

Immediately I heard that, somehow I knew it was not right. There was no Biblical basis for what this preacher had just told this man. I would not contest the fact that he might have received a revelation concerning that man’s situation, but as far as I was concerned, his words or prophecy had to link up with scripture. And they didn’t.

But what disturbed me even more was the fact that this is a prominent preacher, whom millions of people from all over the world pay attention to. And he was doing or saying something that was completely contrary to the Word of God right on TV!

When we look at scripture, we see that Jesus’ approach to a similar situation is poles apart from this preacher’s. Contrary to this preacher, Jesus told His man that He did not come to be a ‘judge’ or a ‘divider’ of worldly possessions.

But what did Jesus mean then and what are the implications of His words for us today? Let us look at this scripture in some detail.

The first thing we notice is that this is the only scripture in the Bible where Jesus used the word “Man” to address a person; and notable still is the fact that He used this word in connection with worldly possessions. The conclusion we come to here is that someone whose heart is set on worldly possessions is a mere man. He is not a spiritual man. Spiritually speaking, that is a sick person and what he needs above all else is the healing of his heart.

To bring this into even clearer perspective, let us consider another place where the word ‘man’ is used in a similar fashion. Paul, speaking to the Corinthians, says, “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” 1 Cor. 3:3. Notice the connection between the words ‘men’ and ‘carnal’ here. The two go together.  They are allies. A carnal person is a worldly-minded person. He might be a Christian, but as long as his heart is set on the things of this world, the Bible calls him carnal. He is a man or woman in whom the works of the flesh are evident.

There is only one person in the world who is not carnal, and that is the spiritually-minded born-again believer, one whose affection is set on “things above, not on things on the earth” (Col.3:2). A spiritual person is no mere man.

Back to Jesus and His man. The claim of this man was acceptable in the natural, but in the Spirit, it pointed to a very big spiritual problem in this man’s heart. By addressing him “Man”, Jesus was telling him. ‘With your attitude, you are a mere man’. It is important we understand the sense in which Jesus addressed this man because, as we shall see, this is very relevant to the church at present.

The second thing we notice about this scripture is Jesus saying He was neither judge nor divider between a man and his brother. Who or what is a judge? A judge is a person who administers justice. He is an arbiter. This is the second important thing we need to keep in mind as we continue with our discussion. Since the matter in hand involved a familial inheritance, we can safely conclude that Jesus was telling this man that He did come to arbitrate on worldly possessions. We wouldn’t know whether what this man wanted Jesus to do was right or wrong until Jesus agreed or refused his request. And His answer was a ‘no’.

Lastly, let us consider Jesus’ words in verse 15: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (verse 15).

The words “consisteth not” say it all. Here Jesus was saying that the Life that God is giving us has nothing to do with worldly possessions. Whether you own the whole world, or whether you are so poor that even the shirt on your back is someone else’s property; none of these state of affairs has anything to do with the Kingdom of God that dwells in our hearts.

Now, remember that the Jews in Jesus’ day did not have the Holy Spirit in them and everything Jesus told them left them totally confused. They did not have the revelation of the Word. But we have the Holy Spirit, and we can understand clearly what God is saying. You see, Jesus was not simply ‘putting off’ the man, but He was making a very important statement whose meaning the Holy Spirit would later reveal to the church.

So what’s in it for the church here? What is God telling His people here?

There are Christians today who are using the Word of God to ‘claim’ worldly possessions, just like this man wanted to use Jesus to claim his ‘right’. There are they who claim it is their God-given ‘right’ as children of God to have this and that thing. They say, “I claim this and that in Jesus’ Name!”, – and they are referring to just a natural or worldly ‘right’. There are preachers who are teaching people that “It is your right as a child of God to have this and that!”

This heart condition of wanting the things of this world is a sin called covetousness, and the Bible equates it to idol worship (Col.3:5). In the Old Testament, this was the one sin that angered God above all. God’s first commandment to man is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Mat. 22:37-38).

There are people, infinitely more so today than in Jesus’ day, who want to use the Word of God as a ‘judge’ and a ‘divider’ of worldly possessions. A judge, as we just saw, grants rights to people. In the same way, people – Christians – want to use the Word of God to lay claim to certain ‘rights’ they feel they are entitled to as children of God. They use the Bible to ‘claim’ anything and everything they want.

I am referring here to the gospel of prosperity and other kindred gospels. These are carnal, worldly gospels.

But we have been called to serve God in Spirit and truth. I admire the Apostle Paul, who calls himself a “servant” of Jesus Christ. Paul was not a servant to this world.

In the final analysis, we have no rights to claim. On the contrary, we are called upon to lose our rights. That is what a revelation of the cross in our lives will teach us: to deny self, take up our cross and follow Christ.

Sodom and Gomorrah

The US state of Utah is trying to hold out against an avalanche called the gay movement. When I read this it reminded me of Lot and Sodom. He tried to hold out against the men of the town who wanted to sodomize the angels. But the onslaught was so fierce that it required the intervention of the angels themselves to ward off the attackers. Utah will need such heavenly help in its fight against the homosexual ‘marriage’ tornado that is pressing at its gates.

But there is another interesting analogy playing out here. Notice that the men of Sodom specifically wanted to have sex with the men who had come into Lot’s house. Lot was so distraught by the monstrous evil he could see unfolding that, in his desperation, he offered the Sodomite men his two virgin daughters; but they would not take them. They wanted the men. That small fact is very important in our understanding of the level of spiritual warfare the Church is engaged in in our day.

Lot was willing to sacrifice his two daughters because he knew the seriousness of the sin that was about to take place.

And this was not just a deviant group within society that was lusting after these men, no. It was the entire male population of the city. The Bible says “the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter”. Did you see that? Men “from every quarter”!

There is a parallel here with what is happening in the world today. Such is the extent of the extraordinary spiritual warfare going on in our generation: the most extreme form of effrontery against anything that is called God. If you think you are living in an ordinary world, wake up! We are not living in ordinary times.

Sodom and Gomorrah had provoked God severely. The angel of the Lord told Lot, “For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it” (Gen 19:13).

The Bible says that God is slow to anger. Don’t get it wrong here. Some people somehow interpret that to mean that God cannot get angry. That is impossible. Not unless He was senile, which He certainly is not. In any case, I don’t see that in the Bible. I only see the Bible saying that God is slow to anger.

By defiantly and aggressively attempting to institute sodomy and many other extreme evils in the world, man and Satan have clearly ‘climbed over the ramparts’ of God’s Kingdom and are now taking their war against God into God’s throne room. Men are not simply content with sinning against God and hiding it from Him, like Adam did; but they have gained a rebellious boldness and they are ready to taunt God.

Clearly, the world is daring God to do something.

God has never condoned the trashing of His holy tenets, even minimally. But here something more brazen is afoot. But, you see, there are levels, even with God. During Sodom’s time men elsewhere were also sinning against God. But a report of a different sort concerning Sodom arrived at God’s desk in Heaven; and He sent His angels to check out whether what He had heard was true.

In Africa we have a saying: ‘If you see a lion sleeping don’t mistake it for a cat’. The world, led by the nation of America, is making a big mistake; but a mistake it is. And I can imagine God is getting very, very angry. That is why I can predict that we are not far from Judgment Day. We have a Biblical precedent for that: Sodom and Gomorrah.

Soon, God is going to rise in all His glory and fury – and we are set for another almighty inferno.

So, in the midst of all these gory proceedings and the expectation of God’s judgement upon the earth, what should the position of the Church be?

The angel of the Lord that was with John admonished him in Revelation 22:10-11: “… Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”

The Word of God warns us about how we should walk in these end-times. These are times to walk in the fear of the Lord. It is not a time to be ‘world-friendly’.

But also in Luke 21:28 we are encouraged: “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” In other words, be strong, be encouraged – not discouraged – by all that you see going on. Stand strong! And rejoice exceedingly, for we are close to meeting the Lord in the clouds!