Freedom In Christ – Part 1

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 1 The. 4:13-14

Oh, the liberty that the gospel brings!

One of the things that money cannot buy in this world is reprieve from sorrow. And, without a doubt, one of the most painful sorrows that affects us here on earth is the loss of a loved one. Imagine the pain that death brings to those who are left behind by the passing away of a loved one. It affects us in our deepest parts. It is bad enough when it is an ordinary death but, in today’s violent and unpredictable world in particular, death sometimes is attended with terror, pain, suddenness and a host of other additional calamities that make it all the more difficult for the deceased’s relatives to bear. I cannot imagine the pain that the violence that accompanies so many deaths in a place like the U.S. city of Chicago, for example, causes to those left behind. It is estimated that every day, 12 people are shot dead in Chicago.

It is in this light that we can better appreciate the Apostle Paul’s words here. This scripture makes it clear that people ignore Christ at their own spiritual peril. It is in Christ that both the dead and the living can enjoy this liberty. What Paul says in essence here is that when we lose a brother or sister in Christ there is no sense of loss on our part! The brother or sister is simply sleeping, he says! Who would mourn a person who was only sleeping?

What a blessing, to be set free from such incredible pain! Imagine being set free from the many bondages and hurts that death brings! It is an incredible thought.

But these things, though hard to comprehend, are true in the Spirit. Remember when Jesus was told that His friend Lazarus had died. Jesus did not break out wailing. He simply told His disicples:

“Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.” (Jn. 11:11)

Jesus said this because He was the resurrection and the life. He did, in fact, raise Lazarus from the dead.

Today, Jesus is still the resurrection and the life, and He will remain so unto eternity. We may grieve for a brother or sister who has died in the Lord in the short term, but that is due to our human weakness. In truth, however, that person has gone to a far better place – to be with the Lord.

This realization affords us incredible freedom – freedom from sorrow. And sorrow is one of our greatest enemies. Sorrow can hit us where nothing else can.

The words of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 8:36 ring out true and clear when held in this perspective.

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

[Below: Women mourning at a funeral in rural Singida]

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“… Up Where We Belong”

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Eph. 1:3

Notice in the above portion of scripture how God’s Word looks only upwards! That’s so powerful. The writer of this epistle could have chosen to look downwards. He could have chosen to talk about all the earthly blessings that we have in Christ. But he chose to look up. He chose to consider the spiritual blessings that we have in Christ. In his discourse he chose to ignore the physical and material blessings of this world.

God, our father, desires to take us up. That is where we belong as His children. He wants us to partake of His spiritual blessings and His spiritual Kingdom. That is our inheritance as His children. And yet, too many believers today have their sights set on the physical and material blessings of this world. Even when the Lord has begun “a good work” in us (Phil. 1:6) it is the most difficult thing for believers to appreciate the spiritual nature of our calling.

But our calling is spiritual. That is why the Bible says:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”

It does not say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual and material blessings in Christ”. That would be true, of course, since God is the God of all blessings, both physical and spiritual. But the Bible in every place makes a distinction between the physical and the spiritual; between the temporal and the eternal. Whatever is temporal will one day pass away. You could not, for example, take your car with you to heaven, even if it was a blessing that was hand-delivered to you by God Himself. When you go to heaven, your beautiful car will be left to rust here on earth. But in heaven you will find love, a spiritual blessing. That is the stark contrast.

The church should therefore focus on God’s “spiritual blessings”. If the Bible can take the time and the effort and the space in its hallowed pages to include the word “spiritual”, I believe we should pay heed to what it is trying to tell us. It could even be a warning. Today you rarely hear the term “spiritual blessings” used in church. You just hear of “blessings”. Everything, the physical and the spiritual, is lumped together.

But if you read the entire Book of Ephesians and, indeed, every other book of the New Testament, you will not find much talk about physical or material blessings. The Bible, especially the New Testament, talks of many things, and nearly all of them have to do with the inner man of the spirit and the work of the cross that is needed to bring about a transformation in his character.

We must once again learn to hear from the Holy Spirit. For the world, riches comprise of material wealth. For the spiritual person, the Bible tells us what comprises true riches:

“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

For the church the true riches are “Christ in you”!

Jesus comes to live in us when we accept Him by faith; and when through that same faith we become partakers of the death of Christ through an understanding of the cross, we become partakers of His resurrection life. The life of Christ in us means we can exhibit, right here on earth, the character of Christ. And this is the whole purpose of the gospel.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23).

These characteristics form the true spiritual blessings that the Bible talks about. Their formation in us is the top priority with God. It is the character that Christ had when He was here on earth, and it is the same character that we will find Him with in heaven. In other words, these are the things that last, for God never changes.

Many believers will be deceived by worldly-minded preachers and worldly-minded gospels. They will be led to prioritize the blessings of this world over the things that would mature their spirits and make them partakers of true “spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”.

But God wants us to move on to perfection in the Spirit (1 Col. 1:28).

Living The Resurrection Life – Part 2

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Phil. 1:21

 

Part 2

“…and to die is gain.”

I haven’t heard anyone speak that kind of language lately. It appears that, today, the world has so much to offer!

But, again, the early apostles were men who saw in the Spirit. They were men who were ready for another world. They had leavin’ (this world) on their minds. In the Spirit, they saw and desired another world, God’s spiritual Kingdom. The Apostle Paul says,

“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (v. 23)

For Paul and the other apostles, being with Christ was “far better”!

But then, apparently, today, many believers cannot see as much into the Spirit. The reason for this is that other gospels have come in and blinded them to the heavenly vision. The churches with the biggest numbers today are those that preach on materialism. But the gospel of materialism is not taking anyone anywhere near heaven. On the contrary, it will most likely take many to hell.

Most people think that if they can throw in an “In the name of Jesus” to anything they say or do, then that thing becomes spiritual. But that’s not true. Jesus Himself said many would even do miracles in His Name and still not enter heaven (Mat. 7:22).

How can someone say, “to die is gain”?

It all depends on the gospel that one is hearing. There is only one gospel that has the power to make someone say such words. It is the gospel of the revelation of the cross of Christ. Today there are many gospels that abound, but they do not bring a revelation of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified”. And yet…  “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” is the only true message for the church today.

THE CHURCH NEEDS TO HEAR THE TRUE GOSPEL, THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED! THE REVELATION OF THE CROSS IN A MAN’S HEART IS THE POWER OF GOD THAT BRINGS THE TRANSFORMATION NEEDED TO MAKE A MAN WORTHY OF HEAVEN.

Upon reading the epistles, we find that many in the early church were men and women who did not count their lives dear to themselves (Acts 20:24), on account of the gospel that they heard. Through this gospel, they had a true heavenly vision. That means they saw the glories of heaven. They saw into the Spirit, and what they saw made them willing to trade in their worldly lives for the heavenly one. That is why they were willing to die. For them, death for the sake of the gospel was the Golden Gate to heaven.

But, pray, how can one be so willing to leave this world? And how can one be so unafraid of death?

It is because they had met with the resurrected Christ.

The classic example of this are the apostles. Many died for their faith. They were killed. We recall the Apostle James, who died at the hands of King Herod. But before the revelation of the cross in his heart, this man had so much of the world in him that Jesus nicknamed him and his brother John “the sons of thunder” (Mk. 3:17).

These were the men who were so chagrined that a particular village would not line up and obediently clap for Jesus as He passed through, so much so that they asked Jesus whether they could not be allowed to call down fire upon that little village as Elijah did.

James and John were they also who wanted each to be sat on either side of Jesus in His kingdom, thinking His was an earthly kingdom.

In every instance, Jesus rebuked them vehemently. It is safe to say that with the kind of outlook that they had in life, these were earthly, carnal men. They could hardly expect to go and live with Christ in His heavenly Kingdom.

But after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, we find a new attitude in James. It is clear now that in the Spirit, he had seen something different. He had seen “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” – and he had been transformed. He was willing to trade in his life for Christ.

In Acts 12:1-2 we read,

“1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.”

I am sure that, now, James welcomed death. In his spirit he must have been saying, “Hurry! Take me to my Lord!”

I can imagine if they had tried to kill James before the revelation of the crucified Christ had come into his heart. He would have died cursing and kicking. Not a spot of heavenly light in his life. Just seeing the dark world he was leaving behind, nothing else.

That is why the church needs the revelation of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) today more than ever. This is the only gospel that can make us to consider dying as gain. The words of the Apostle Paul need to be heard more and more in church today:

“… to die is gain”

In another place, the Apostle John says,

“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 Jn. 2:28).

We must leave the spirit of the world behind if we are to have confidence at Christ’s coming. We must be found abiding “in him” – in His sufferings, and in His death. Having this mind in us, we shall not fear physical death; on the contrary, we will welcome it, for it alone will usher us triumphantly into Christ’s presence.

[Below: The approach to Iguguno, a small town just outside Singida]

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The Gospel Brings Persecution

6 … And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.

7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.

8 But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;

9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.

11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.

12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,

14 That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:

15 And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.

16 And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home.

17 And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me:

18 And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.

19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled.

20 And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. Gen. 39:6-20

More often than not, the devil comes dressed as a woman. And if you refuse his advances, he has only one option for you: persecution.

It would have been the easiest of things for Potiphar’s wife to let things be, after Joseph had fled from her. But she would not. Through this action Joseph had proved that he would never lie with her, and she vowed in her heart to make him ‘see red’.

And red he did see, even though not to the extent she probably had intended. As a slave, he ought to have been killed immediately. But God’s hand was upon Joseph, and He was working all things for his good. Instead, Joseph was thrown into the king’s prison, and there he languished for 13 long years!

As children of God, persecution is the only thing that awaits us in this world. I realize that is not exactly ‘good news’; but it is the news of the hour – and the hour is now. If you have been hearing the gospel of how much God only wants to bless you and how He will not allow the devil to touch you even with his small finger, I can assure you that you have been hearing the wrong gospel. Actually, there is nothing in the Bible to support such beliefs. On the contrary, our Lord Jesus said,

“I am come to send fire on the earth…” (Lk. 12:49)

He also said,

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Mat. 10:34)

Where do we get the idea that Jesus brought peace and prosperity?

Right at the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, God had told the serpent:

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:15)

In other words, God said He would allow the devil to do something against us!

In the Bible, we see that this happened with Job, the Apostle Paul and all the men and women who walked with God. They all followed in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ. They were persecuted!

The problem with the church today, of course, is that it is complacent and worldly. In other words, it is world-friendly. But that is no position for the church. It can only be so for a church that is avoiding persecution. Persecution refers to a person who has turned their back on the world and its ways. The Bible says about Joseph:

And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.” (v. 10)

In the days that we are living especially, persecution is bound to increase. The world has so suddenly become emboldened against God it’s almost surreal. We will have a choice to make.

That is why we need to have the mind of Christ in us. That statement, “To have the mind of Christ” might have appeared banal a few years back, but today it is imperative. Having the mind of Christ means denying yourself, taking up our cross and following Christ.

And that is exactly why any other gospel simply will not do! Nothing apart from the gospel of the cross can prepare us for what is coming.

Jesus set His face towards Jerusalem, knowing He would suffer and die there. Nothing would turn Him back. But again He knew it was the will of the Father that he undergo the suffering. Resurrection life would come out of that suffering.

We, too, must accept and be willing to undergo suffering in this world. We must be prepared to undergo opposition of every sort, for the enemy’s anger against us has been kindled. And yet… the enemy is inconsequential here. It is God who is in control of everything, and He uses even the enemy’s anger for His purposes. That is why scripture says that “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom. 8:28).

We therefore need not fear as we go through persecution. On the contrary, we should be emboldened and strengthened in hope of receiving something far much better.

As Joseph would prove later, in dying we live – and live big!

[Below: The sun sets over Dar es Salaam City]

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Faith!

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. Rev. 2:10

“… be thou faithful unto death.”

Yesterday in our church service the Lord reminded us concerning faith. He taught us that our faith in Him must increase.

He reminded us that we have been saved by faith and that we must continue in that same faith. But the Lord also reminded us that our faith is based on one single fact: that Christ is risen.

Christ is risen! He is alive!

That speaks volumes. There is so much that is based on the single fact of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the reasons that undergirds our faith in Christ is that He is always with us, and that nothing – absolutely nothing – can defeat or overcome us as long as we are in Him, not even death. He has triumphed over all the powers of darkness.

In Colossians 2:15 it says: “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”

When He confronted Satan after His death and resurrection, our Lord Jesus made a complete rout of Satan and all his powers. Absolutely nothing can triumph against against us. Nothing! Neither sin, our present dreaded enemy, nor even death, the final enemy, has any power over us. Just as He defeated death, we too will defeat death when we finally arrive at its gates.

Yet, since we are still in the world, we will be constantly assaulted by our relentless enemy, the devil, with all his spiritual machinery.

“… in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses…” – 2 Cor. 12:10

And scripture further affirms: “35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:35-39

In all these things we are to stand firm in our faith, secure in the knowledge that at that particular moment of our trial Jesus is there with us and His strength is sufficient for that particular situation, because He has triumphed over it. That is exactly what Jesus meant when He said to take up our cross and follow Him.

Colossians says He utterly spoiled Satan and all his diabolical powers! Utterly!! Then He dragged them up from whatever hole they had been residing and “he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them”!

Nothing, either in heaven or on earth has any power over us. Nothing – except the love of Christ. As long as we are denying ourselves and taking up our cross daily – the same cross through which He triumphed against Satan – we have no reason to fear; but rather, we ought to be more grounded, more confident in our faith in Him.

So yesterday we sang songs of praise to our God, and of faith in Him. And we purposed to trust Him more, for He has conquered on our behalf.

He is alive!!

The Grace of Jesus Christ

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. 8:9

I have yet to hear of a church which has a known thief for an accountant or treasurer. In our human weakness, we are unable to tolerate other men’s weaknesses. If we found out that our church accountant was taking money from the church funds, there is no question about the next step that we would take: we would hold a high-level board meeting; and we all know what would go on in that meeting.

I remember one time in our church organisation we thought someone was stealing from the church coffers. I am not saying we should not have confronted him. But the way we went about it, ultimately it is we who needed to repent!

But Jesus wouldn’t even bat an eyelid, let alone call any meeting, low or high level. I am sure that Jesus must have suffered in His heart for such a man as Judas and, even though He knew exactly what road Judas would take in the end, He must have beseeched God exceedingly on his behalf, hoping against hope that the man would have a turn of heart.

But Judas’ will was set in stone, and no power in heaven or on earth could turn him away from the path of rebellion he had chosen to follow. Judas is a lesson to all of us, just as Lot’s wife was. God has given us a free will and we have a responsibility to bear before Him.

Jesus had so much grace! He watched on as Judas repeatedly stole from the “apostolic fund”. And He wouldn’t say one word, nor lift a finger. Not a word about temporary dismissal or sacking of Judas. He stayed with the thieving Judas Iscariot until Judas voluntarily resigned from the job!

The team that comprised Jesus’ closest associates here on earth was a team that in the natural no one would desire to own. We all know about the “sons of thunder”. These two guys’ combined anger could have created a small nuclear bomb. Then there was Jesus’ top apostle, Peter, who had a sword permanently strapped to his side, ostensibly to “bodyguard” Jesus.

At no time did Jesus get fed up and call a council meeting, where He would have gone along the lines: “Now, you sons of Zebedee, you must control yourself! I am tired of all the ruckus you are creating around here. You are embarrassing us guys, can’t you see?”

And, “And you, Peter, my kingdom is a kingdom of peace and love, so I don’t want to see you with that sword”.

I often wonder about those other guys, the disciples about whom not much is written. You would be forgiven to think they were angels. But from what I know about human nature, they most likely were more problematic to Jesus than these three.

But I can assure you that even if there had been a million disciples, each with his own personal negative attributes, and had Jesus stayed with them here for a hundred more years, Jesus would never had changed His tune. He would still have had more than enough grace to bear with them.

Jesus was waiting. He was waiting for the time when God’s grace would be poured upon these men. He knew that once He had been sacrificed on the cross, God’s unlimited grace would be poured upon them and they would change. Jesus could wait.

The Man, Jesus, had grace! He was rich in grace!

Later on, after Christ had suffered and died and was resurrected, He poured His grace upon these same men and they also found themselves carrying the same grace that Jesus had. That was how they were able to manifest Christ to the world. They could even consider warning one another and talking of God’s judgement upon anyone who would take this grace in vain.

But do we ever consider the reason that Jesus had so much grace, something that is so elusive to many of us? I am sure that the reason Jesus had so much grace in His life while He was here on earth was because He carried a revelation of the cross in His heart. Yes, in His heart Jesus saw and understood the cross. He always talked to His disciples about His sufferings and His death.

But we also know that this thing was hidden from His disciples. That was the difference between Jesus and His disciples. He had a revelation of the cross; they did not.

And it is still the difference today.

We live in the most exciting time in the entire history of mankind, the period of grace. We should be going about our daily lives extremely happy and loving! But we should realize it is also the period of the revelation of the cross of Christ. It is the period where we are to gladly welcome the sufferings of Christ in our lives. It is the period where we are to die to self. This grace only comes where a death has taken place. That is when the power and wisdom of God is manifested in our lives.

There are probably people waiting to receive that grace in heaven. But we should have it right here on this rotten earth, just as Jesus did.

We are a generation that has no excuse for living any other life other than a life full of grace. We are not like the disciples of Jesus. Then they had no revelation. But today we have no excuse. The Apostle Paul puts it this way, For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7). Notice the word “is” there. In other words, ‘It is finished, it is done.’ We only have one option. We should strive, with all the strength we have, to walk in this grace that has been poured upon us.

The Bible says, Charity suffereth long, and is kind” (1 Cor. 13:4). Love is patient and kind. Love is also many other things.

Are we any of those things?

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Christmas!

It could well be that our Lord Jesus Christ was born on the 25th of December, some 2,000 years ago. That, after all, is the basis of our celebrating Christmas. But, important as it is that Jesus was born on whatever day it was that He was born (and for sanity’s sake let’s just presume it was the 25th of December), I believe the fact of His crucifixion far supersedes that of His birth. If we are to celebrate days, we therefore ought to be celebrating the day of Christ’s crucifixion more than the day of His birth.

I do not wish to dampen anyone’s spirits here, but I believe the church must begin to move away from the frivolousness into which churchdom has been cast. Celebrating Christmas is all right, and indeed I believe that for the believer every infinitesimal second in their lives should be a moment of celebration. We have so much to celebrate! And celebrating our salvation even physically is no sin at all.

But we should be celebrating with a sense of maturity in our hearts.

When we look at the scriptures we realize that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son Jesus – for what? It was so Jesus could become the sacrificial Lamb. It was so He could die for our sins. Jesus did not come to earth to open bottles of champagne, no. He came specifically to die, to die for our sins.

The death of Jesus, therefore, is of far greater importance than His birth. Had Jesus been born and not died on that cross, nothing would have changed in our relationship with God. To date we would still be sinners in God’s sight. Had Jesus not come to the right decision at Gethsemane, believe me, things would be a whole lot different for us today.

But thank God that Jesus – worthy is He! – made the decision to accept the Father’s will. It was God’s will that Jesus be tortured and killed for our sins (Isaiah 53), and that was exactly what happened because Jesus accepted that responsibility, although He knew it would cost Him dearly. That is why He is worthy of all praise and glory.

Today, through believing in the sacrifice of Christ on that cross we stand righteous in God’s sight. Praise and glory be to our Lord Jesus Christ! So much worthy is He!

And now God in His incredible love for us calls upon us to not only believe in the sacrifice of Jesus, but to identify our lives with Christ’s in His sufferings and death so that we may experience and share in His glory and power. He wants us to be victorious over the flesh and sin, just as Christ was victorious. If we are to have a taste of Christ’s glory in our lives, then we need to realize that we have to lose in this life, just as Jesus lost. But this loss is temporal.

If we are not willing to walk in this identification with Christ, we stand to experience the real loss. The real loss for the believer is when we are only content with evading the fire of hell. Here we will lose in eternity. When we live a lifestyle that simply wants to stay saved but holding onto our lives, we will lose heavily in the Kingdom to come. Better we lose our lives now.

“13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1 Cor. 3:13-15

The “work” that Paul is talking of here is the work of identifying our lives with Christ’s by denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him. Here Paul was addressing a carnal church, the Corinthian church. When the Corinthians first heard the gospel of Jesus Christ they cast off the flesh and all its works. But lately they had begun to cuddle the flesh once again!

That is why God calls on us to not only receive Jesus into our lives, but to also have a revelation of Christ’s sufferings, death and resurrection in our hearts. Only then can we gladly identify our lives fully with Christ’s death on the cross – and with His resurrection life.

Then and only then can we celebrate any aspect of our salvation in truth and in the spirit. And we are called upon to celebrate every second of our lives!!

[Below: Late evening, cross-country buses begin arriving in Dar es Salaam. Some will arrive as late as 10 p.m. depending on the distance they have had to travel]

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