The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ

30 And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.

31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

32 And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.

33 And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.

34 And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. (Mk. 6:30-34)

The other day I read about someone who threw his daughter a 6 million dollar birthday party. That’s six million U.S. dollars. That man could afford to do that because he had the money. When you have tonnes of something, it means you can do many things with whatever you are full of.

In the world, money matters. But in the Kingdom of God, something else matters. The most important thing in the Kingdom of God is the grace of God.

I love the fact that when He was on earth, our Lord Jesus Christ was full of the grace of God. When it comes to the Kingdom of God, the most beautiful and the richest people in the Spirit are the people who have the grace of God in their hearts. What exactly does it mean to have the grace of God? It means to have a humble and broken spirit. If you can afford to have that kind of spirit, or heart, then you are the most fortunate person on earth. In God’s Kingdom there is no one as rich or as beautiful as a man or woman with a humble and broken spirit; a person, for example, who can say “Sorry” and mean it. Like King David, who immediately confessed, “I have sinned against the LORD” upon being confronted with his sin (1 Sam. 12:13).

Or someone who can truly forgive and forget. (One sure sign that you have not forgiven someone is when you find yourself bringing up the subject in your conversations with people).

The grace of God in our hearts enables us to do many things, all of them hinged on love. If we are truly born again, there are countless scenarios or areas where we can allow the grace of our Lord Jesus to shine through and affect people.

Jesus was full of the grace of God. In the scripture above, we see one aspect of the grace of God that He had. Here we find that our Lord would not think of Himself! He would not allow His heart to dwell on His needs. Instead, He saw and felt the needs of others. In this particular case, He saw deep into the hearts of the people who were expending so much energy and time to be near Him. The Bible says that He had compassion on them. And so our Lord forfeited His rest and instead, as Luke’s account says, He “received” the people. That means He welcomed them. He made them His guests – His welcome guests.

That is grace. Grace is seeing into another’s need. Grace is also forfeiting your rights and privileges in order that another might gain. Specifically, in this case, we see that our Lord welcomed and ministered to the people just when he needed to be resting.

When we have little or none of God’s grace we think only of ourselves. I have seen preachers who wouldn’t spare a minute for the very people they were preaching to. Immediately such a preacher ended his sermon he was packed into his private car or jet and off he went to his private hotel or wherever. His needs had to be met first.

But our Lord had a different heart. At whatever state He was in, our Lord was always ready and willing to welcome people to Him. Even Nicodemus visited the Lord at night, and the Lord received Him!

Let us consider another equally important aspect of God’s grace that we see Jesus manifesting here. Remember we are talking about the grace of God, not any old kind of grace. The world has its graces, too, but anything, however good, that does not originate with our Lord Jesus Christ is not of God, and it is of no consequence in the Spirit. There are, for example, extremely good people in this world, but if they do not confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives, then they simply have no eternal life in them and their goodness will do them little good.

In this regard, therefore, notice how Jesus saw the spiritual need of these people first and above anything else. Had these people come running after Jesus just to be fed with bread, Jesus would have dismissed them as quickly as He would later do with another group of ‘loaf-ers’ (Jn. 6:24-27).

But these people were hungry for something else and Jesus saw the spiritual void in their hearts. The Bible says He saw them “as sheep not having a shepherd”!

And so when the people came running to Him, the Bible says that Jesus sat down and taught the people. He became the Good Shepherd! Jesus did not rush to feed them bread first. On the contrary, He spent the entire day enriching their spirits by teaching them about the Kingdom of God. And they did not tire listening to Him! You cannot tire listening to a man who is full of the grace of God.

The spiritual need is the first need of the world. Indeed, it is the real need of the world, for in the final analysis every man shall die and stand before the judgement seat of God. When we have the grace of God as Jesus had we will first see the spiritual need of people and share with them the Good News of the Kingdom just as Jesus did here.

Finally, evening came and the people had nowhere to sleep nor any food to eat. Jesus decided to feed His tired and hungry listeners. Clearly, this was as an addendum here. God also cares about our physical needs, but our physical needs are not the life-threatening issues that many earth-bound preachers and believers want to make it out, which is a cover for the covetousness in their hearts.

Food and clothing are not our first order of business. God has promised to meet our material and physical needs and His Word is sufficient for us to believe in. In Hebrews 13:5-6 the Bible says:

“5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

And so on this day, Jesus decided to feed His guests. Now, when Jesus prepares a meal for His guests, He does not do things in a miserly way. He therefore did not feed them with popcorn or nuts. Instead, He fed them with fish and bread. Most of them probably hadn’t eaten bread or fish for a while. But, on that day, they ate fish until they could eat no more! When Jesus blesses, He blesses fully.

We ought to give of ourselves as our Lord did, for the grace to do all that Christ did here on earth is available to us today.

[Below: Waghill Hotel, the perfect place to relax in Mwanza City]


Photo courtesy: Carol Lanthier


Loving As Christ Has Loved Us

After spending a very difficult month attending to my father who was ill (thank God he is healed now), I am finally back where I belong. I am extremely grateful to WordPress for faithfully preserving this blog while I was away, and to my fellow bloggers and friends who must have been thinking about me. I thank you all for your patience and love.

And talking about love… I know there are people who love cats, dogs and every kind of animal. Now, this is good and commendable, and even God is happy when we love and have mercy on animals. In fact, it is not just that the Bible commands us to love our animals, but even were we to search our hearts, there is no way a man can claim to be Godly and yet have no bowels of mercy for animals, for that is the heart of God. In any case, animals are extremely loyal and lovable. They demand nothing, but they have much to give to anyone who takes time to be with them.

Seen in this light, it would appear that living and loving an animal is far much easier than living with fellow humans. Humans are difficult beings to live with. They have many things that are un-likable. Furthermore, I believe one of the weighty reasons why we find it so difficult to love one another is that when we look at fellow human beings, we see many of the weaknesses that we hate to see in our own lives. But the bottom line is that it is extremely difficult in our imperfect world to find a person whom we can look up to and perfectly desire the example of life that they have.

But it is to these imperfect humans that God has directed His peculiar form of love, and He calls us to follow suit. God calls upon us as His children to love our fellow human beings.

I believe there is something in man that is extremely endearing to God. The Bible says that God created man in His own image and, furthermore, that He has put His Spirit in man. Man is therefore God’s child, and God has poured all His love on him.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn 3:16).

God so loved man that He was willing to send His Son to die to save man. Whoever believes in Christ’s sacrifice inherits eternal life.

In the same way that Christ sacrificed Himself and gave away His life, God calls on us to die to self in order that others might live. We cannot claim to walk in love unless we are dying to self. Dying in this regard means giving up our rights to pave way for someone to pass along. It is like you are standing in a queue and someone comes up and you give them your place.

Our Lord Jesus Christ said, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk. 14:26).

The world cannot know true love, simply because love has to do with the cross working in our lives.

So, next time, as a child of God, make sure to give up your rights and/or privileges so that another might profit.

Free To Give!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nearly all these things are rooted in money.

Elsewhere, scripture also says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, let us consider verse 9:

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

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

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

So what is the meaning of this scripture?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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]


Abel’s Sacrifice

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

4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering. Gen. 4:3-4

For the first time (I think) God and I are in total agreement. Even I am amazed at the ease with how my heart meshes with God’s on this one.

The Bible says, “And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering”.

And my heart goes, “Yeah, why shouldn’t He?”

The Bible says that this man, Abel, brought an offering to God of “the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof.”

Notice the Bible does not say, “Abel offered the head and hooves and tails of his thinnest cows to the Lord.”

No. Instead, the Bible says, this man took the first-born of his flocks and offered them before the Lord. In other words, he gave to the Lord the firstfruits of his labor. He also offered to the Lord “of the fat thereof.” Just to make things super clear: the word “fat” here is referring to the fact that Abel chose the fattest parts of his animals (anyone who loves meat knows these are the juiciest), and offered these to the Lord. In other words, Abel gave to God his very best.

Can anyone tell me why God would not have respect unto such a person?

What is the significance of this scripture, anyway?

The Bible can only talk about the heart. Scripture here is trying to tell us that Abel loved the Lord with all his heart.

Now, I know that when it comes to giving there are churches which teach (and sometimes  coerce) people to bring into church the firstfruits of their produce, the tithe and many other miscellaneous offerings that they are found in the Old Testament. But the Bible does not talk about fulfilling the letter of the law. Under the New Covenant, there is only one ‘requirement’: God desires that we have a heart relationship with Him.

The reason we are so short of God’s “respect” – which translates into being short of the grace of God – is because we give Him our second best, third best, and onwards. The No.1 slot in our hearts is firmly reserved for the flesh. There are things our hearts just won’t give up even if we were burnt at the stake! Things like grudges, anger, unforgiveness, etc.

On the outside it might appear as if we are giving the Lord our all. We could be “busy” doing the Lord’s work, and we could even be in the news with our ‘powerful’ ministries. But God looks upon the heart. With God we can only be truly “busy” when we are giving Him the things of our hearts – which translates to taking up our cross and following Christ.

We can therefore conclude that Abel gave to the Lord his very best by dying to self, taking up his cross and following Christ.

Finally, let us see what God does when we give him our hearts unreservedly. I am sure that when the Bible says that God had “respect” unto Abel’s offering, it is not saying that God now started blessing Abel in material things, good health, and everything we have been taught under the charismatic gospel God gives to those who love Him. Sure, the Lord does sometimes bless us with the things of this world; but God’s Kingdom is not the New York Stock Exchange. There are times that we will lack these things.

But the Bible is a spiritual Book and when it says,

And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering”

it is talking about how God blessed Abel with the riches of His grace. It is talking about spiritual blessings – things that can only reside in a man’s heart. When we give the Lord our hearts unreservedly, He deposits His grace into our hearts. The Apostle Paul 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” (Eph. 1:3).

When the grace of God comes into our hearts, there are things that it produces in our lives. Things like “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23).

Loving the Lord was the No. 1 lesson that God taught the Israelites:

“29 … Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mk. 12:29-30).

If we give God the best that we have to offer – which can only be our lives – He in turn will have “respect” unto our offering. He will take our rotten lives and give us His grace. A beautiful exchange.

I, the writer of this blog, am a person who has not arrived at the place where Abel was. My prayer and desire is that I arrive there. Abel was indeed a great man before the Lord.

[Below: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”]


God Requires A Living Sacrifice

37 And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.
38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.
39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
40 Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?
41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you. Lk. 11:37-41
Verse 41 is an interesting and extremely important scripture for us as believers, and it is what I want us to consider today. Early on, however, let us realize that this is a passage of scripture which one might easily fail to get the gist of. The first part says, “But rather give alms of such things as ye have…” and on reading this one might think Jesus was urging us to give away our money and our material things.
But that was not what Jesus was saying here. Rather, He was talking about the profoundest work that needs to happen in a man’s life – the work of the cross deep in his heart.
In a nutshell, Jesus was saying that the transformational work that needs to be done in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit is greater than anything we might do on the outside in pleasing God.
Indeed, He was saying something of even greater significance. The implication of what Jesus was saying in this scripture was that this inner work of transformation is the only obligation that is required of us in pleasing God.
Notice the word “give” in this verse. This is the pivotal word. When Jesus says, “Give alms…” it points to the fact that we need to surrender something in our lives. And Jesus declared that when we surrender that thing, lo and behold, “… all things are clean unto you”!
The minute we surrender that thing, our obligation to God is over! God’s mathematics with us is incredibly simple.
In other words, there is a singular area in our lives in which alone God is pleased. Anything else that we do is pleasing to God also; but God accepts it only in as far as it is founded or based on that singular thing that God desires us to surrender to Him.
I believe the thing that God wants us to surrender is our will. Everything that we have on the inside of us is bound up in our will. When Jesus urges us to “rather give alms of such things as ye have”, it implies to surrender our inner will and desires.
But, pray, surrender to what? We are to surrender our will to the work of the cross.
Why would God want us to surrender our will to Him? Let us first see what God has to say about the human will.
“… your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.”
Well, there. There is our will. That is who we are on the inside. No matter how good we look on the outside, that is who we are on the inside, if God is not doing a work in us. It is a sickening sight that God beholds when He looks upon the human heart. And that is the thing that bothers God – the “ravening and wickedness” in us.
We all know what wickedness is, but what about “ravening”?
‘Ravening’ speaks of voraciousness, and it refers to the many insatiable desires that have such a stranglehold on our lives. Left on its own, the flesh would eat up everything in its path, including the very ground it was standing on!
If it were us, we would deal with this ‘human’ problem in the most efficient manner possible: we would dispose of it. Chuck it out of sight. But because of the great love that He has for us, God does not do that. On the contrary, He wants to deal with that “inward part” of our lives. He desires to set us free.
But man does not really love God, nor the things of God. He loves self more than he loves God. But man also knows that God requires something of him, so he creates a smokescreen, to try and deceive God. He creates a beautiful religion. He creates a rigorous array of principles, laws and by-laws, habits, etc to try and deceive God.
We cannot please God by carrying a wooden, silver or even a golden cross on a part of our body. We cannot even please Him by preaching or singing to Him. This is simply because Jesus said we are to “rather give alms of such things as ye have”, which talks of the things that are bound up in our will, which are the only things that we have in us.
‘Giving alms of such things as ye have’ is a far greater and incredible responsibility than anything one might do in the natural. If, for example, I have anger, nothing I do would please God in the Spirit more than if I allowed Him to deal and remove that anger in me.
I am sure that the man who can die to self is a far greater testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit than the most powerful preacher who has not allowed such a work to take place in his heart.
We have people who do all kinds of activities for God, but who are unaware that what pleases God is the sacrifice of a humble spirit upon which He can do a transforming work. We are to allow the cross to do a deep work in us, to change us, in the Spirit.
In their day, the the Pharisees had set in place many procedures and rules of conduct which made one to appear holy on the outside. Washing one’s hands before eating was one of these rules.
On this particular occasion, Jesus decided to eat without washing His hands. The Pharisee who had invited Jesus for dinner was aghast on seeing Jesus begin to eat with unwashed hands because his idea of holiness consisted in washing one’s hands. But Jesus had not come to fulfill what people thought made one holy. Jesus had come to do God’s will. He was therefore more bothered with what constituted holiness in God’s sight.
Jesus probably did not even say “Grace”. There are people who are very concerned about such things. Giving thanks for food is good and biblical, but it is not God’s yardstick for holiness.
Being holy means being clean on the inside, in our hearts. That is not an assignment that we can take lightly. It is a responsibility that requires us to press hard to the cross and to submit and re-submit our lives on the altar. That is why the Apostle Paul said, “… I die daily” (1 Cor. 15:31). Paul carried his cross daily.
Only then can our lives be identified with Christ’s in His suffering and death, and only then can we carry His image and character in us.

[Below: The new Musoma-Mwanza super highway that runs along Lake Victoria]


Persecution and Grace – Part 1

32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Heb. 10:32-34

The early church certainly did undergo persecution. There is no question about that. But there is also no question about the fact that, despite this persecution, or probably because of it the early church was also a church in which the grace of God flowed abundantly.

In Acts 21:8-11 we read: 8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy. 10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. 11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. Acts 21:11

This man, Philip, had four girls, all virgins, who prophesied! Without a doubt, this ought to be declared the first wonder of the modern world.

Here we have all four sisters in one family prophesying. Not one or two, but all four. And the Bible goes to pains to point out that all these girls were virgins, which I am sure points to the importance that God attaches to those who are willing to pay the price to become “vessels of honor” (2 Tim. 2:20-22).

But notice also that these four girls were not prophets; they simply prophesied. This is a ministry of exhortation or direction to the church through a direct Word from the Holy Spirit. It is a slightly lower ministry than the ministry of the prophet. (The functioning of the Holy Spirit within the church is infinitely unlimitable, and that is why we cannot have a tunnel vision of the Holy Spirit’s operation within the church.)

And, therefore, these girls stayed with Paul for “many days”, but it was not given them to tell Paul what would befall him in Jerusalem. It required a prophet of God, Agabus, to travel all the way from Judaea to come and confirm to Paul the weighty matter of his impending persecution in Jerusalem.

Notice also that the Bible refers to both Philip and Agabus by their spiritual offices, “evangelist” and “prophet”. The Bible does not call the girls prophets.

In other words, women may not hold office in the Spirit, which designates authority; but women can minister in the Spirit in many different roles.

(One more thing we need to point out is that these girls were prophesying in the church. There are people who will say that women ought not to open their mouths in church; but I can assure you that these girls were not prophesying in their father’s living room. They were prophesying in the church. There are all kinds of misunderstandings of scripture simply because people will not rely on the Holy Spirit, but on their minds. But the Holy Spirit is faithful, and the minute we turn to Him, He opens up the Word to us. Actually, there are two ways of reading scripture: you can read and try to understand it by using your very fine mind; or you can decide to become a fool for Christ’s sake and pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide and help you. One approach will bring you life; the other, law (“It is written!”) – and death.)

But what I want us to notice here is the incredible grace that was in the early church. This church, which was persecuted left, right and centre, was the same church that produced men like Philip, Agabus, and Paul – and these four extraordinary sisters.

Probably the modern church is not as persecuted as the early church was, and that is why it is difficult to find this pervasiveness of grace operating in today’s church as was the case with the early church. Maybe someone will point to the great move of the Holy Spirit during the charismatic era, and the many miracles and healings that took place then. That was the grace of God at work all right; but it is what I would call the “tip of the iceberg”. There is so much more grace at work when people are denying their flesh and partaking of the sufferings of Christ: there is so much more inner glory. There is victory over sin, joy, and peace. Even death has no power over such people.

No one desires persecution, nor does the Bible tell us to pray for persecution. But on the other hand, if you give the flesh too much rope, the Spirit is stifled. That is why, whether we are persecuted or not, we should always carry the mind that Christ had of denying the flesh. The flesh is our No.1 enemy. The Bible says about our Lord Jesus Christ, “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me… By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:5, 10).

Notice the word “offering” there. The believer’s body has been given him/her, not to be pampered, but to be sacrificed. And that is the mind that we need to carry.

[Below: Life for the early Christians was a life of great persecution and profound want]


Peter, A Humble Apostle (Part 1)

(This post is about the Apostle Peter, but you won’t read about him until Part 2)

30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal,

31 As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. Joshua 8:30-31

Do you know there is clockwise and there is anti-clockwise? You would be surprised to learn that most of the time we are working in an anti-clockwise manner in our Christian walk with God. While God is trying to perfect and glorify us ‘clockwise’, we are busy trying to seek for that same perfection in an anti-clockwise way!

That’s how funny we are.

I will explain that in a minute, but let me begin by saying that the reason we work against God is because we fear. We fear to expose our failings and our weaknesses. But we should not fear to be who we are, nor should we fear to be seen by people for what we truly are. That is the essence of the gospel as far we are concerned. We are not called to ‘protect our identities’, nor are we called to be ‘politically correct’ either in word or in deed.

Many born-again believers, especially after they have grown in years and find they are still struggling in some areas of their lives, decide to hide their failings. In trying to do this they build up a beautiful façade, putting up an image of how they would like to be viewed.  What they don’t realize is that in doing this they are ‘setting themselves in stone’ and that God will not be able to work in their lives. However difficult or hard or shameful it may be (to us) we are not to avoid confronting the truth and exposing ourselves at whatever cost. That is what humility is all about, and God is concerned with humility in our hearts above anything else.

God told the children of Israel that they should not try to chisel the stones upon which they would offer sacrifices to Him. He Himself would sanctify the stones by His presence.

You remember also that when the angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah, Samson’s father, in Judges 13, Manoah offered a sacrifice unto the Lord upon a bare rock (v.9). The Bible does not say that he chiseled at the rock first, no; he offered the sacrifice on the rock just as it was… and the rock instantly became the altar. These were men who understood the ways of the Lord.

And the Bible says that “19 …and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.

20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground” (Jdg. 13:19-20).

What this means for us is that we should go to the Lord just as we are and allow Him to perfect us. We are not to lay even a finger upon our character to try and change it. If we do this it becomes highly displeasing to God and we deny the Holy Spirit the opportunity to work in our lives.

But, alas! many of us try to suppress things. ‘Suppression’, however, has never been a good word, and certainly not for born-again believers. You suppress bombs and those kinds of things, not your spirit. We need to be what we are.

God loves your roughness. Let us say you easily get angry, for example. What a wonderful place to be! Don’t bother hiding it. Simply acknowledge it and allow God Himself to work in you to perfect you and use you for His glory. When we get busy trying to act right we lose flavor with God. God loves us most when we are exactly what we are. He loves to be able to perfect us.

Love Never Expects Anything Back

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

We could hardly claim to know the full implications of this scripture. For Jesus even to consider leaving Heaven to come to earth, that thought itself was an unimaginable sacrifice on His part. It was an affront to Who He was; but He allowed it. Praise be to Him!

But the Son of God would go beyond thinking it. He would actively carry out that thought, and carry it out to its fullness. He would perform it to perfection. But that would require Him to go all the way, and the road was long indeed. But go it He would; and He did.

He stepped out from His throne and put off the Body of His glory. Next He took up the body of our flesh and put it on. He then came down to earth and lived among fallen humankind, enduring the lowliest life that any man could ever know, beginning with His birth in a cowshed.

He knew hunger, he knew physical fatigue. He knew sleeplessness. In His adult life, He had nowhere to lay His head. He knew human-ness as any human being can claim to know it.

In His altercations with the Jewish leaders, Jesus endured the impossible as man stared God in the face and ridiculed the Law of God that He carried in His heart.

Ultimately, Jesus would suffer incredible physical humiliation and abuse at the hands of the Jews and the Roman soldiers; and finally He would die an ignominious death of crucifixion, alone, abandoned even by His closest associates. Jesus carried out God’s plan to its bitter end.

And yet there is a hidden mystery in all this…

When you read Hebrews 12:2 it talks of Jesus thus: “…  who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God”. Here you get the idea that Jesus would be rewarded for His sacrifice.

But when you read Jesus’ prayer in John 17:5, you get a completely different view of what Jesus hoped to get from His sacrifice. He says, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was”. In other words, after Jesus had accomplished His mission on the Cross all He was asking of His Father was to restore to Him the same glory that He had before the world was created.

Jesus would be rewarded as a man, but not as God. That is astonishing, to say the least. It means that Jesus (as God) was not receiving anything more than what He had before in return for His sacrifice. He would simply be going back to His old glory. The Bible says that Jesus was God. Even after all that suffering, there was nothing more He could become or gain as God apart from what He already had been. God cannot possibly become anything more than what He already is – GOD.

In other words, Jesus came down to our level for one purpose: He came for us, not for Himself. He came to make us to be like Him. The first Adam could never be God, because He was made from dust. The Bible says, “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” (1 Cor. 15:45) In other words, Jesus came to make us in the image of God Himself. Thus is fulfilled the scripture in Psalm 82:6, “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”

The Bible says that Jesus came to reconcile us with Himself. That is all He suffered and died for: that we might become like Him, and be united with Him. Then He would go back and sit exactly where He had sat before.

The incredulousness of Jesus’ sacrifice lies in the fact that he did it all for us. All He accomplished was for us. Jesus did not do it to receive anything back. He did all He did out of love. Love never expects anything back. That is the incredible mystery of God becoming man.

The Psalmist, beholding and understanding the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice in the spirit marvels, “LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!” Psalm 144:3

In another place he asks, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?  For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” Psalm 8:4-5

Jesus, though He was rich, became poor, that we might become rich. This is the greatest love story ever. The Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  Jesus sacrificed Himself selflessly to purchase for Himself something He loved dearly: man.

Dear reader, what thinkest thou? Knowing who man is, it is an incredible thought indeed. But, more incredibly still, as we partake of the nature of God, we also begin living the sacrificial life that He lived. This is the true blessing.

We Bring Life By Suffering – Part 2

If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 2 Cor. 11:30

At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus held a conversation with God that went like this: “God, I know you can do anything. Nothing is impossible with you. Please, Father, if there is another way that you can use to accomplish this without me going to the cross, please do it.”

You see, Jesus was as much flesh and blood as you and I, and the thought of hanging on that cross till He died was physically too much for Him. He knew the pain would be unbearable. The Bible says that He underwent such physical and emotional trauma that angels had to come and minister to Him.

But God’s answer to Him was typical: “My Son, it is true there is nothing that I cannot do. But this is the way that I have chosen. You have to suffer and die for the sins of my people. That is the only way acceptable to me.”

Now, the way we are, we want to know the ‘whys’ of things: ‘Why should this be this way?’, ‘Why shouldn’t it be this way?’ ‘Why, why?’ etc. Sometimes God provides us with answers, sometimes He does not. But that is not the important thing. The important thing is that if God has required something of us, we ought to obey because He knows what is best for us. That is faith.

When Jesus came to earth “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me”.  Heb 10:5.

A body. That is what God has prepared for us also. God has given to us a body to sacrifice. We are to give out bodies as a living sacrifice. It is a painful thing, but it is what we are called to. That is why we should desire the grace that God gave to the Early Church, which enabled them to endure that kind of sacrifice, because it is the only sacrifice acceptable to God.

We see that in the suffering of these men, the life of the Spirit came upon the Church. The Church shook the world. One of the most telling statements about how the Church affected the world then is found in Acts 17:6: “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also”!

We, too, will affect the world spiritually one way or another when we accept the sufferings of Christ in our lives. That is the grace we should desire and pray for.

I know what I am talking about because there was a time I used to spend hours praying for material blessings. I did not know God’s plan and purpose then. Now that by the grace of God I see (albeit dimly), I know what is God’s most important requirement for me. It is to desire His grace in my life.

Paul reached a place where he lived, not because of anything of this world he had, but by the grace of God alone. He says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 1 Cor. 15:10

This was the result of someone who had accepted to suffer in the flesh. May the Lord help us also in this generation. The materialistic gospel being preached today is destroying all this, but the Lord will touch and raise the few who will accept to suffer and bring true life to the Church.