A Given Life – Part 2

But there is another interesting aspect to living a sacrificial life. Remember when Jesus sent two of his disciples to get him an ass to ride into Jerusalem on? In fact, let us read the entire account as St. Luke tells it.

“29 And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, 30 Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him thither. 31 And if any man ask you, why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. 32 And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. 33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? 34 And they said, The Lord hath need of him. And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they sat Jesus thereon.” (Lk. 19:29-35)

Mark finishes off this account thus:

“… and they let them go.” (Mk. 11:6)

The owners let the disciples go. Without another word. I love that. Loosing the colt without the owners’ permission was the setting for a conflagration that could have turned “nuclear” at any moment. But the owners let the disciples go. What had happened? Had some form of hypnosis gotten hold on these men?

By no means. What had happened was that God had prepared these simple village men long beforehand; and, on this day, when God’s call finally came upon their lives, they answered it. They answered it to the full. How did they answer it to the full? By not speaking another word. When they heard it was going to the Lord, they let the colt go without hesitation, without a word.

Do we realize how wordy we are when we are faced with a trial and are not willing to take up our cross? Not realizing we have been called to lose our lives, in a situation like this we would have asked a few more questions, even if we knew well who the colt was going to. Losing is not easy. But these men simply

“… let them go.”

Again, Wow! What a heart! When men surrender their lives fully to the Lord, they are ready to let go anything; and to do so without hesitation. They are like men under hypnosis. Why? Because they are dead. They are dead to self.

Do you not wonder at how these men just let the disciples take away the colt without questioning them further? What kind of men were they? It talks of men whom God had prepared.

What a life!! Would you not want to meet these men when you get to heaven? I certainly would.

[At the height of the dry season, baobab trees shed their leaves and straddle the central Tanzanian plateaus like gigantic scarecrows]


It Is Of Grace!

8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

10 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.

11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. 1 Cor. 15:8-11

My wife and I arrived in Arusha this afternoon, where we will spend the night before departing tomorrow for Nairobi to attend my sister-in-law’s funeral. As I was relaxing in my room and savouring the cool Arusha weather, my spirit calmed down and I found myself reflecting on an incident that had taken place not too long ago.

A travelling brother had passed by my house and he had the sweetest words of praise for my work in Singida. But in speaking, he said something that my spirit utterly repelled against. He attempted to compare me to some of the other brethren we work with. As he spoke, the Holy Spirit impressed upon my spirit the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. And the Lord was impressing upon me that nothing done on His behalf was about us; that, on the contrary, it is all about the grace of God in us.

Through the words of the Apostle Paul, I realized that we are simply… nothing. Paul himself used the same word about himself: in 2 Cor. 12:11 he writes,

“… in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.”

And here, in our key scripture, he says:

“… by the grace of God I am what I am… I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”

Concerning his ministry, Paul said, “not I”.

In fact, what Paul had to say about himself was interesting:

“8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (v. 8-9)

Paul has a very negative view about himself without the grace of God. He was “as of one born out of due time… the least of the apostles… not meet to be called an apostle”.

But when the grace of God came into His life, it began working and the fruit of that work became evident; and thereafter it is this fruit of the Spirit alone that would matter in his life.

It is not us. We cannot claim to do God’s works. On the contrary, it is God’s grace in us that works the works of God. If it is us, then whatever we are doing is not God’s work; it is our work, and it not only has no lasting value and it is bound to perish but, even more ominously, it is an abomination to God.

With Paul, it was so much about the grace of God that, even though he worked more than the other apostles, yet he said:

“Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.” (v. 11)

Wow! In other words, Paul was saying, “It is not about me. It is not about them. Rather, it is about the grace of God in us.”

Neither Paul nor the other apostles were competing against one another.

Any other viewpoint breeds pride and competition. It produces the works of the flesh. The Spirit of God is not involved in such attitudes and, therefore, even though there might appear to be a big thing going on on the outside, yet it is all a work of the flesh and people’s spirits are not edified.

We are free to do whatever God has called us to. There is no law against the doing. But it is our attitude that is everything, for we must always give place to and acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s working in us. And it is only through a revelation of the crucified Christ (as Paul had) that we can carry this heart and allow God to be what He desires to be in us – Lord of lords and King of kings, to whom alone be glory, honor and majesty.

[Does what you do bring glory to God – or to you?]


A Different Spirit

51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,

52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to savethem. And they went to another village. Lk. 9:51-56

It doesn’t take much to find yourself at odds with Jesus through carrying a different spirit than the one He carries. All you need to be is your dear old, loving self! Which, unfortunately, all of us are, to some degree. This scripture proves just that. These guys, James and John, were not the devil with horns. They were actually true, bona fide apostles of Jesus! But titles are meaningless where mean old self is in control. Without that all-important work of the cross in our hearts, even though we remain saved, yet we are as human as the meanest human being on the planet.

Let us recap what had been happening here. Apparently, Jesus had been passing through a number of villages on His way to Jerusalem. The residents of these villages probably had never seen Jesus, but they had heard of the great works that He had been doing further down the road. When He finally came to their villages, the villagers came out in force crying, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Glory, hallelujah!”

Women swooned on simply seeing Jesus. Men worshiped at His feet. Many cried tears of emotion upon seeing this glorious Man. It was a moment of joy and high emotion for everyone.

The apostles of Jesus lapped at the glory that was being poured upon Jesus – and them. They huffed and puffed with pride. There were smiles all around. This, at last, was what it meant to be an apostle of Jesus! So much attention, so much glory! Wow!! They were finally beginning to reap the fruits of their apostleship. It is clear this was what they were thinking.

They were on a high, they were on a roll. So it was, that when a certain village of the Samaritans appeared to put a halt to their roll, they did not take kindly to it.

Jesus had always sent people ahead to prepare a place for Him. I believe the reason was not selfishness on the part of Jesus. On the contrary, because Jesus traveled with such a large team (His 12 apostles and probably many more) He definitely needed preparations for these guys to eat and sleep. He did not send men ahead to prepare the townspeople to receive Him. At no time did Jesus ever think about Himself.

But every village that Jesus had passed through had received Him with chants of “Glory, glory, hallelujah!” Everyone knew who He was and His arrival was highly anticipated. But it was not to be so in one particular village.

When the messengers whom Jesus had sent to this Samaritan village entered it, no one appeared to take any notice of them. So they grabbed a megaphone and announced that they had been sent by the mighty Jesus. But people went on with their business as if they were deaf. In a desperate attempt to fire things up, the apostles started the “Glory, glory, Hallelujah” jingle. No one joined them. Not a leaf rustled. These Samaritans were not going to receive anyone whose final destination was Jerusalem, whoever he was!

The messengers came back to Jesus and the apostles with the grim news that this particular village had actually refused to receive Him. Upon hearing the news, the apostles were furious. They had just had a taste of worldly glory, and they wanted more of it. Certainly, they could not now cope with anyone who showed Jesus – and them – any form of disrespect.

That piece of news was especially galling for James and John, who had a peculiar penchant for glory. These were the two guys who would later on go to Jesus with their mother asking to have one sit at His right hand and the other at His left in His glory. Finally, unable to control themselves, James and John asked Jesus to have fire sent down from heaven to burn up these worthless Samaritans who would not bow to Him.

In other words, the lives of the Samaritans were of less value to these apostles than their own pride! And Jesus was extremely displeased. He was displeased, not at the Samaritans, but at His apostles! The Bible says that He turned and rebuked them. He told them, “You are carrying a strange spirit in you!”

We do not have to be the devil to carry a different spirit than Jesus’. All we need is to allow that nature of our old man to have the upper hand, and we have fallen. When we allow pride, arrogance and the lusts of the flesh to reign in our lives, we have fallen. We have allowed a different spirit than Christ’s to reign over us. For the Spirit of Jesus, who is the Holy Spirit Himself, is selfless, humble and loving. He does not carry the selfishness and glory-seeking that the worldly spirit does. It is the flesh which loves worldly glory. The flesh has no love in it. It will go to any extreme to fulfill its selfish desires. It will even kill.

(I have seen men of God who are so used to being called “Bishop so-and-so” that if you call them “Brother”, they consider it an insult.)

Jesus was deeply displeased with His apostles for carrying a different spirit than the one He had. He came down hard on them.He came with grace and love. They carried a spirit of carnality, and this spirit is full of murder. Jesus rebuked them sharply.

That is what God does with us when we are not carrying our cross and following Jesus’ example. God is not happy with us at all. God can only be happy with the man or woman who is daily dying to self. God is happy with the person who does not look for excuses to put away the cross of Jesus. On the contrary, God is pleased with the person who lovingly embraces the cross.

Below: We must use our freedom only to serve God and one another. 20120309-074819

Spiritual Discernment for Spiritual Transformation – Part 2

On the day that I got saved – O happy day! – about four men laid their hands on me in the living room of our house. (These men are still alive today and serving God. May God bless them dearly, I remember them with much affection.)

As these men were praying over me, suddenly I had the clear impression that there was a mighty wind rushing about in the room and that the earth beneath me was shaking. I recall that I was even tempted to open my eyes to witness these incredible events.

Actually, there was no such thing happening – in the natural, at least. After the men had prayed over me, I looked around in the room, and everything was just as it had been. Not even a stool had moved.

But, unknown to me, in the spirit world, things had happened exactly as I had witnessed them in my ‘vision’. The minute I accepted Jesus into my life, God had moved mightily in my life. He effected such a change in me that I immediately became a new creation – literally. Physically, I was the same old guy; but on the inside, I was changed.

I got saved at 4:30 p.m., and by evening I had scrapped all my plans. Anybody who called on me I just told them I was now saved, and that they, too, needed to get saved.

In those days people feared saved people more than the police, so the minute I told them I was saved, no one remained around to hear anything more. I didn’t even need to see anyone off. They bolted out like they had met their worst nightmare!

I had become a truly changed man.

I have used this example to show what God expects and effects in our lives. It is a work in our hearts. Way down deep in our hearts. It is not anything physical.

Where is God? God’s people are looking for Him all over. They are looking for Him in the miracles, the healings, and in every ‘power’ that occurs in church. And this has opened the door for every kind of deception to invade the Body of Christ.

Today you have people screaming “Power!!” in church, but they are wading waist-high in sin and spiritual defeat.

But I can tell you exactly where God is. God is way deep in our hearts, working. That is where God is.

It is like you go to a gold-shaft and you are looking for someone on the surface, you won’t find them. They are hundreds of feet way down in the mine, digging. That’s where you will find God.

Had Elijah been one of our modern ‘prophets’ – the kind of guy who wakes up one day and declares to the world that God has instructed him to purchase a 63-million dollar private jet – he wouldn’t have had the vaguest idea which direction God would appear from up there on that mountain!

In fact, it is not just that this modern ‘Elijah’ would not have known where God was, but in all certainty he would have assumed God would be either in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Nothing would have convinced him to look elsewhere – or to wait.

The tragic outcome of such a scenario is that Elijah would not have met God, and God would not have spoken to him! That’s a real tragedy, and it is happening right now all over churchdom.

Today, God’s people are scrambling into all these churches that have these ‘fireworks’ – miracles, healings, signs and wonders, charismatic preachers, prosperity; etc. believing they are meeting God.

But Elijah wouldn’t have been moved by any of the things you find in today’s charismatic churches. Actually, Elijah saw much more of God’s power than any of us can claim to have seen – but he didn’t move an inch. As wave after wave of the power of God passed by on that mountain, Elijah stayed put. That is the mark of a man who has spiritual discernment.

The Bible gives us the reason Elijah wasn’t moved by these earth-shaking shows of God’s power: it was simply because “the LORD was not” in them! To the natural man, it is unthinkable that God was not in these things whereas He had initiated them Himself. But if the Bible says God was not in them, then He was not in them. Elijah discerned this, and he waited.

When the thing he was waiting for finally presented itself, Elijah acknowledged it: “… after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.”

Elijah waited for “a still small voice” – and it finally arrived.

What was this “still small voice”?

In 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 the Apostle Paul writes: 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

The “still small voice” is the quiet work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is an unseen work and it occurs way down deep in our hearts. That is why the cross is foolishness to the man who does not walk in the revelation of God.

Many times we want to believe that we know God or that we have met God; but let me tell you that knowing or meeting God is not an easy thing. It is not something we can talk of lightly.

It is not even a vision, even of Jesus Himself. It is not even visiting heaven. Nor is it a healing. All these are good and desirable. But God is not in them!!

God is in that quiet voice of the Holy Spirit, effecting a change in the inner man of the spirit.

Before dying on the cross, we see Jesus doing many miracles. But the life – His life, the resurrection life – was not in the miracles. The life came when He died on the cross.

God’s presence in our lives is revealed in the quiet undercurrent of His power working and transforming us from the inside as we accept that work.

That is why, after a time, we can say of someone, “That man has changed!”

Such a statement is much more powerful than, “That man has been healed (of a physical ailment)”, although the latter is also of God.

Lastly, let me point out that it is also good to do things under the influence of the Holy Spirit – things like dancing, shouting, and such. Even prophecy is good. But it is important to note that these things won’t change you. You could have all the prophets in the world prophecy over you, but that won’t bring any change in your heart.

What will bring a change in your life is a revelation of the cross – a work of God upon your heart.

God’s mighty works are all right and needful; but God is not there. If you are the kind of believer who is always running after emotional experiences – things like miracles, healings, the lure of the prosperity gospel – you will never experience the true transformation needed to make you are mature son or daughter of God in the Spirit.

God’s final “wave” is the cross, where we daily die to self through the working of the Holy Spirit in us – the “still small voice” – in order that the life of Christ might be found in us.

[Below: This bold star never waits for night to fall!]


Abraham’s Instant Obedience – Part 2

We can also see Abraham’s heart when the three men, the angels of the Lord, visited him. The Bible says about Abraham that he was sitting outside his tent. The Bible does not say that he knew they were the angel of the Lord; all he saw were three men approaching. But it was what followed that shows us the character of a Godly man.

Let’s try and see what went on here. I imagine that Abraham saw some very tired-looking strangers passing by his home and his tender heart was touched. They certainly were not walking with ‘Angel of the Most High God’ written on their blazers. Abraham saw these men and he purposed to do something about it. But imagine this man, 99 years old, running to invite passersby, literally forcing them, to accept of his generosity! Abraham had a generosity that would leave many of us reeling with disbelief.

The Bible says that Abraham ran and that he and Sarah personally ministered to these visitors; and it was not your ordinary “Another cookie, please?” Back then, what he and Sarah prepared was a 5-course meal.

(With regard to this, I have a few families to thank. I wouldn’t forget my wife).

God is looking at the condition of our hearts. God is interested with the ease with which we can keep our hearts pure and holy before Him. Christians are forever harping about how God is interested in many other things in our lives. True, yes; but first things must come first. Mind you, God could give us those ‘other things’ without necessarily being pleased with us. But we are interested in what pleases the Lord.

Only by obeying God as Abraham did will we become towering men of faith and mature in character as Abraham was.

And, pray, what price are we willing to make that happen? What price are we willing to pay to make sure our hearts are pure before God and man, especially in today’s world with its many stumbling blocks? Once God grants us to know the price we need to pay in order to live that kind of lifestyle, then we will have known the true price of Christianity.

It is truly sad to see how proud Christians are today. They do many things, but they are not ready to carry their cross and follow Jesus.

The Christian life is a given life. We must be willing to die to our pride and to ourselves!

And we must be swift to do it. We must be swift to release, quick to let go the things in our hearts that hinder us from pleasing the Lord.

Of necessity I find I often have to hit out at myself, “Don’t be stupid!” when I realize that my heart is deceptively moving towards a certain direction.

I want to run a different race. I want to run with father Abraham.

Recently a brother from a distant town called me on the phone and he began telling me about the problems that he has been having in his marriage. It was not the first time for me to hear about that particular couple; I heard about their troubles a long time ago and, being far, I had assumed everything worked out well eventually. Now he was telling me that nothing had changed and that, if anything, things just got worse between him and his wife.

This time, I knew exactly what to tell him. I felt he needed to hear the really Good News. I said, “Brother, if you are having a problem with someone, then the problem is not the other person, but you. Had you determined in your heart to not harbor problems, right now there would be no difficulty in your marriage regardless of what your wife is doing against you. You are taking too long to obey God!”

I assure you that I spoke those words with all the grace that the Lord had given me at that time.

We all have our job cut out for us.

I have a prayer in my heart. Maybe we all need to make this prayer. “Lord, deny me everything, but give me the swiftness that you gave to Abraham in heeding to your voice. Thank you, Lord. Amen.”

(You have the liberty of making this prayer without including the “deny me everything” part. That was just for me).

The Cross Our Strength.

My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor. 12:9

The earth’s magnetic north is described as “the direction a compass needle always points”. Man has his magnetic north, which is the flesh. That is a fact, lest we boast. Man’s desires, aspirations and actions all gravitate towards self, the flesh. That is why when Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6).Those are our original parents, and that’s quite a statement the Bible is making there!

Many aspects of our ‘self’ nature are so well-hidden we are not aware of them. We see only the surface of things. We see the good deeds we do. Sometimes we do such remarkable deeds that we are tempted to believe in the ‘goodness’ of man.

But nothing we do can fool God. God knows what is in the heart of man, and the fact is, we are rotten to the core. The Bible in Romans 3 provides us with our ‘charge sheet’, as it were, and in verse19 it concludes that the entire world is “guilty before God”!

We dare not boast. On the contrary, we can thank God for His grace in giving us a Savior, Jesus Christ His Son. He alone was the sacrifice considered worthy enough by God to take away our sins.

The flesh does not go away just because we are saved. The ‘magnetic north’ instinct hounds us to our deathbed, and woe to the man who thinks he is so spiritual as to ignore that fact. We are not called to ignore it but to defeat it. True, God does a lot for us at salvation; but, just as a father would help a child to cross a street then let go his hand, God also calls us to responsibility in the Kingdom. And by allowing us to carry the Cross God gives us the privilege of being a part of the winning team, of which He is the Captain! What an honor!

Losing our lives is the challenge. The call of God in our lives is to partake of Christ’s victory by participating in His death. That is the heart of the message of the Cross. That is what the Apostles talked about in their epistles. God and the Apostles knew that if we are victorious over the flesh, no other enemy can defeat us. The Apostle Peter says: “And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” 1 Pet. 3:13. He is talking about spiritual victory.

The charismatic gospel that is prevalent in the Church today will never deal with the flesh. Actually it is a gospel of ‘me’. Recently I saw an advertisement that said simply, ‘You. First.’ How apt!

 Miracles and healings, though a work of the Spirit, can never bring a man to spiritual maturity. God intended something else to bring the Church to maturity. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:22-24, “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

Spiritual maturity is what God wants the Church to arrive at. He is looking for sons and daughters, not spiritual babes. That certainly makes sense, doesn’t it?

You might notice that the Corinthian church had all the gifts of the Holy Spirit operating in their midst, but the Apostle Paul still referred to them as spiritual babes.

The Apostle Peter raised Tabitha from the dead, but still Paul chided him for his immature behavior.

It is the revelation of the Cross of Christ only that can deal with the carnal nature of man. That was why Paul would preach no other gospel other than “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). And when he says he would boast in nothing else apart from that Cross “by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14) there is nothing of false humility with Paul there. Rather, he is testifying to a real work in his heart. Paul knew where the power of the gospel lay:  it was in the Cross working in his life! What Paul means by ‘weaknesses’ in 2 Cor. 12:9 are the sufferings of Christ through which he would partake of the power of God.

That is why the Church today needs a spiritual understanding, or a revelation of the Cross of Christ.  And that is why in our day we can thank God for men like Miki Hardy, in whom the Lord has invested such a revelation.

Anyone who has the chance to hear the preaching of the gospel that addresses their flesh should be grateful to God for that grace and privilege. In the midst of the many gospels being preached today, and where the flesh is either not dealt with or is even celebrated, it is truly a grace from God to hear the one gospel that confronts head-on this most indefatigable of God’s enemies.

I thank God that I do not only write this blog or preach, but that I am a partaker of the most important aspect of our calling, which is to carry my Cross and follow after Christ!