God’s Nature, Our Nature – Part 2

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Mat. 5:43-45

35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Lk. 6:35-36).

I was shocked to learn recently that of the most hated group amongst prisoners by their fellow inmates are child molesters, also known as paedophiles. The other group that is equally hated in prison are rapists. These two groups of people are amongst those who are most likely to be attacked in jail by their fellow inmates. In other words, the men that we loathe most (criminals) do not like people who mercilessly prey on the weak.

Now, I know it is not easy to talk well of jailed criminals, many of who themselves have hurt people in extremely bad and cruel ways. But it is contemplative to know that somewhere in their dark hearts, these people can sport some form of kindness. I am also assured that, to the dismay of many of us, we will find many of these violent criminals seated in the front row in the Kingdom of God. They will have heard the gospel and they will have repented of their sins. And God forgot long ago that they ever sinned!

The heart of man is God’s abode. It can carry incredible riches – riches of the grace of God. That is why when we get to heaven, you will find these violent murderers seated up front. It is because one day, these men and women opened their hearts to the grace of God and it transformed their lives. God’s Kingdom is all about the heart.

Just consider the sun again. The sun has been around since Adam. That talks of how rich God is. That thing could be up there for eternity if God so desired, burning up and never diminishing. That talks of His power.

In the same way that He is rich and powerful physically and materially, God is more so spiritually. Amongst His many Godly characteristics (of which He is extremely rich) is the trait of kindness. Kindness goes hand in hand with mercy, and that is why Luke’s account is so helpful here. The root cause of kindness is mercy. Mercy talks of a soft heart. That is one reason why when we believe God gives us a heart of meat. He removes a heart of stone from us and gives us a soft heart so that we may be kind to people.

Kindness is something very deep, and spiritual. Kindness also speaks of humility. You have to be humble in order to be kind. Otherwise, you will lord it over anyone unfortunate enough to ‘benefit’ from your selfish brand of generosity, which is no generosity at all.

In the natural, when people hurt us we immediately think of ourselves. Self  takes over. That is when anger and little things like resentment, and irritation set in. We are so weak!

But kindness is the basis for forgiveness. You don’t forgive because it is written; you forgive because you love that person. With God, when we hurt Him, He thinks of us. When we hurt God, He comes up close and looks us up. He is not thinking about revenge, but He is looking for where the problem is. Once He finds the faultline, He lovingly fixes it. That is mercy.

God is calling us to carry the same heart that He has. And that can only be accomplished in the Spirit when we go to the cross, just as the Author of our salvation went to the cross. The gospel of the cross alone can cause us to have the heart that Jesus had and still has.

[Below: The roundabout leading to Singida Town]

2015-07-08 16.23.38

The Plurality of God’s Grace – Part 2

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Rom 5:10

Conceiving and giving birth to a child is one thing, but raising up that child to become the person you want them to be is a different matter altogether. But, whereas in the natural the child-rearing part is the hardest – in most cases it is an absolute nightmare; and the world is littered with the relics of many a failed mission in that regard – yet here scripture declares that God, through the gospel that so powerfully reconciled us to Him, is able to bring us to maturity with the same certainty that He reconciled us to Himself in the first place.

As much as our reconciliation with God is a miracle beyond words, yet the work of the cross in us is an even more incredible feat, guaranteed to transform our lowly lives of sin into powerful testimonies of the holiness of God. What a grace!

The second part of this amazing scripture states: “…much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Notice the “much more”. That should encourage us.

Initially also, notice that the Bible makes it clear that there is the reconciliation, and then there is the salvation. In other words, what we normally call “salvation”, the Bible calls “reconciliation”. We say, “I am saved”; the Bible says, “No, you are reconciled with God”.

According to this scripture, salvation is a process that we are undergoing right now in our earthly lives. Scripture here is equating salvation with perfection. One day, our salvation will be completed. The gospel is working in us to perfect us.

Now, let us put this into proper perspective. The first thing we need to acknowledge is that the gospel is a living Entity. The gospel is actually Christ Himself. So when the gospel works in us, it is actually Christ Himself working in us to produce in us His own character, the character of God.

Unfortunately, there are some believers who live so much in the natural they are completely unaware of the profound work that needs to happen deep in their spirits. Instead, they concentrate on superficial things.

How do we allow Christ to work in us? It is when we allow the work of the cross in us. It is when we accept tribulations, hardships, trials and persecution for the sake of the gospel. The channel through which Christ comes to live in us is the channel of suffering and death. Through our acceptance of His death Christ comes into our hearts. And when Christ comes, He comes with His life. Christ’s life in us will save us. In other words, it will transform and perfect us.

Heaven is not waiting for immature babes. Once God calls us, He gets to work in us because He does not want to spend eternity changing nappies in heaven! Have you ever noticed that, even though there are hundreds, probably thousands of deaths occurring daily in the world, yet it takes an awful long time to hear about the death of a saint. And in nearly every instance when a believer dies, people’s hearts can testify that they have died in victory.

God is busy working to mature and perfect us here on earth, that we may stand before Him perfect.

We can hereby conclude that the two-fold purpose for which Christ came to earth and died on the cross for was:

  1. To reconcile us to God through one single act of repentance; and
  2. To perfect us in the Spirit through the work of the cross.

So what should be our response to such enormous grace? We readily and joyfully accept the reconciliation part. How about we cheerily begin working on the salvation/perfecting part, which is the reason we are still down here on earth?

Paul says in Colossians: “… 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily” (Col. 1:28-29).

We cannot wait for the work of perfecting to happen in heaven. The power of the cross is there purposely to work in us now. Do not hold onto your life. Allow the cross of Christ to break and humble you.

[Below: The Master, through the cross, is putting our lives in order]

Image8830

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]

Image10957

God’s Work In Us!

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Cor.1:25

This scripture here simply means that the littlest thing that God can do in a man is infinitely greater than anything that can be witnessed or accomplished in the natural, however big or powerful it might be. The word “men” in this scripture stands for supernatural manifestations, even if they originate with God. But the most important thing this scripture is saying is that the tiniest touch, the slightest change that can be effected in our lives through God’s hand working upon our hearts is infinitely more valuable than these manifestations.

In other words, God wants to draw a very strict line between the deep work of the Spirit and miracles (signs and wonders). This is because this work brings a transformation in a person, and it is this transformation that God is interested in. This is His real business with us.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” Gal.6:15

By now, we know that the only way that God works upon a man’s heart is through the revelation of the cross, that spiritual circumcision, the stripping away of “the works of the flesh” (Gal. 5:19).

People are easily moved by miracles and other manifestations of God’s power. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. But God’s working upon a man’s heart to transform them is more powerful than the greatest miracle; it is more important than the healing of our bodies; more needful than food on the table; and more exciting than any kind of prosperity agenda.

Ultimately, the things listed above only end up ministering to us in the natural realm. Their initial impact might be big, but it gradually peters out. If you received healing, for example, ten years down the road you might have forgotten about the healing, but you will still be required to take up your cross daily and follow Christ.

In our last post we discussed Elijah and we saw the extent to which this man knew God in that he waited until he heard God’s “still small voice”, and that was when he went out, for he knew then that he would meet God. He wasn’t moved in the least by the outer manifestations of God’s power – the wind, the earthquake, nor the fire.

Had it been us, we most probably would have rushed out at the first powerful sign of God’s presence. We wouldn’t have known to wait for anything else. We wouldn’t have waited and witnessed the true power of God in His “still small voice”, which is the quiet working of the Holy Spirit upon the inner man of the spirit.

This assertion is confirmed today by the huge number of believers who are rushing after the outer manifestations of God’s power. Today, God’s people are running all over the planet looking for miracles. They are paying millions of dollars to cross vast tracts of sea and land, seeking for healing miracles in some far-flung “schools of healing” and assorted “ministries”.

And there are people who, if God does not heal them physically, or if God does not meet them at their point of need on some issue, they lose their hope and trust in God. They lose their joy. But that should not be so.

Let me tell you where the real miracle should be taking place: it is in your heart, if you will allow God’s hand to work in you. You don’t even need to leave your living room! You don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars to attend a “healing school”. The greatest miracle can happen right there, in your living room. This is because the real miracle is not a physical one, but a spiritual one; and the answer to you owning this immeasurable miracle lies, simply, in your heart!

People are sadly unaware that God wants to do a spiritual miracle in them. God doesn’t want to work on the body, He wants to work on the heart!

In 1 Cor. 14:22 the Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians: Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.”

Every outer manifestation of God’s power is for the unbelievers, that they might see and believe. But with us, these things are hardly meant to grab our true attention. On the contrary, the things that truly minister to us are things that deal with the issues of our hearts – as here Paul tells us in disclosing the importance of the gift of prophecy in church.

In other words, although miracles, healings, prophesyings, etc. are good and desirable, yet God expects us to see and to desire something incalculably more precious – the transforming work of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts and lives. The two are not mutually exclusive; and yet the one is decidedly greater than the other.

So, once again, where is God? Is He in the miracles? Is He in the healings and other powerful manifestations of the Holy Spirit?

The bold answer is, Hardly. God is not there. God is in men’s hearts, working to transform them.

People dance with joy when they receive miracles from God. But that God can actually do a work in our hearts – that is what should throw us into throes of ecstasy.

But sometimes we are hard of heart, and we put our hands to our ears, not wanting to hear anything other than what we want to hear; having no desire to possess anything other than what we want to possess.
But it is in possessing a humble heart that we will receive the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. 2:9), the victory over sin

[Below: They might appear out of place on the sleek tarmac, but for the many otherwise inaccessible parts of the Tanzanian hinterland the Toyota Dyna is a much-valued and indispensable workhorse]

Image10821 Image8497

The Apostolic Message (Part 3)

Under the Old Covenant, the highest spiritual ministry that God gave to his people was the ministry of the prophet. In other words, if God wanted to communicate something really important to His people He sent the prophets. The Bible tells us so in Hebrews 1:1:

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets…”

But in the New Covenant, we see the arrival of a new ministry, the apostle. This ministry is greater than that of the prophet, for in 1 Corinthians 12:28 the Apostle Paul writes: And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers …”

So what does the apostle do? Actually, he does not do much. All he carries is a message. But it is a message full of the power of God. The apostle’s message has the power to transform a man from being carnal to being spiritual. In other words, from a person of sin to a person of righteousness. In even better words, from a person who does not please God to one who pleases God.

The message that the apostle carries is the message of the cross. The Apostle Paul puts it this way: “17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:17-18).

The message of the cross of Jesus is greater than baptism or any outside markings. There are some Christian denominations that put all their emphasis on baptism. To them, getting baptized is synonymous with being born again. But one could come out of the water and be no different from someone who has just taken a bath.

The second birth, however, is a miracle of God that occurs in a man’s heart, and this miracle is what transforms a man. That is why the Apostle Paul says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Gal. 6:17).

In Hebrews 6:1 the Apostle Paul also writes:

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection…”

And in Colossians 1:28: “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”

Even as God wills that we all be saved, yet it is our perfection that God is most concerned. Hence the revelation of the cross through the apostolic gospel.

In the Old Testament, the cross had been revealed since God’s dealings with Adam. But it was never revealed clearly, for God waited until the fullness of time would come, when Christ, the perfect Lamb, would be sacrificed on the cross. All the Old Testament prophets therefore saw the cross, but they did not see it clearly. Nonetheless, everyone who pleased God in the Old Testament had to have carried the cross, one way or another. But it is clear from the Bible that these were only a handful of people.

When Jesus went up to heaven, He sent us His Holy Spirit. Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment…” (Jn. 16:8)

That statement by Jesus immediately sets alarm bells ringing in us that these things – sin, righteousness and judgment – were not dealt with sufficiently under the law of the Old Covenant.

Or they were not dealt with at all.

But now, through the ministry of the apostle, the Holy Spirit would effectively deal with these things. If it is sin it would be defeated. If it is righteousness it would be established. And men will be made to know that a time is coming when all will be judged by a righteous Judge.

Everything is bound up within the cross of Jesus Christ. It is through the cross that these things will be accomplished. If these things were not made clear under the Old Covenant, now, under the New, they will become clear as day, for Christ has accomplished all.

The apostle, therefore, is like a professional, sent by God. If you are taught something by an amateur, it is not always clear or perfect. When the professional arrives, however, everything flows smoothly. He brings things out more clearly and perfects everything.

That is what the apostle does through revealing the power and grace that is found in the cross. Any child of God who submits himself under the ministry of the apostle can understand all that the cross is meant to do in their lives, not bits and pieces about salvation. When the message of the cross is delivered to the church under the anointing of the apostolic ministry, God’s people can understand that, even as they rejoice at the fact of their salvation, yet, more importantly, they realize they are called upon to suffer for the sake of the gospel.

In this way, both the flesh and sin are confronted in church.

In the Old Testament, very few people pleased God. Not many did His will. God had a difficult time dealing with His people. But God bore with them, sometimes punishing them according to the law, although He never punished them according to the extent of their evil ways because He is a merciful God.

But in the New Testament, God expects all His children to walk in the fullness of His will, and to please Him fully. Not by law, but by grace.

Still, for the believer who does not walk in this revelation, the gospel of the cross is as difficult as trying to commit a Ph.D dissertation to a kid in kindergarten. He will say, “Too hard!” – and seek for an option that eases the suffering on his flesh. That is why, for many Christians who are not under the apostolic ministry, all they know about the cross is that Christ died there for their sins (the initial salvation). They do not know the role of the cross in enabling them to live a victorious life over their flesh and over sin.

The apostolic message is one of self-denial, of taking up our cross daily and following Christ:

“…For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter” – Rom. 8:36.

“As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ” – Gal. 6:12

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” – Gal. 6:14.

That is why all the other ministries, including that of the prophet, must come under the ministry of the apostle, for grace’s sake. The grace of Jesus Christ diffuses from this one ministry – this ministry that clearly sees the cross – to the other ministries. Any ministry purporting to work outside the authority of the apostolic ministry is simply lighting strange fires.

The Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians, “You may have ten thousand teachers, but it is I who bore you in the gospel!”

There are many churches today where you find the pastor is the alpha and omega. In others it is the bishop, or the archbishop. In others it is make-believe ‘apostles’, ‘prophets’, etc. There are all kinds and all levels of spiritual leaders, but the true father of the church is the apostle. He has the authority and power in the Spirit to bring and men and women into the true image of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

Where the apostolic ministry is not, there is no grace, there is only law. That is why pastors introduce long strings of rules, laws and regulations (do’s and don’ts) in church.

The Apostle does not do that. Did you ever read how Paul dealt with the Corinthians even after they had reneged on their contributions for the church in Jerusalem for a whole year? He did not threaten them. Nor did he set a law on them. Nor did he tell them, “Ok, let’s try the ten percent.”

On the contrary, he used the example of the Macedonians to encourage the Corinthians to give. He dealt with them the way a father would deal with his children.

Instead of giving them rules and principles, Paul talked to them about the grace of God. Indeed, he was in effect telling them: If it is not of grace, it is not worth it. All that God accepts is what has been accomplished in our hearts as a result of the working of the Holy Spirit.

Now, today, you have very many teachings in church about giving. All are geared to make God’s people to give. I went to one church where I found five different categories of envelopes, each one for a different offering!

All this is due to a lack of a connection with the apostolic gospel. Without the apostolic message, law reigns supreme. It might be more so in some churches than in others; but still it is law.

The gospel is about setting people free and only the apostolic gospel of grace and truth can do that.

Have you seen the light? Which by interpretation means, have you met up with the true ministry of the apostle,the one who can show you the strait and narrow way?

Is the cross close enough to you that you are able to take it up daily and follow Christ? (Lk 9:23)

[“Have you seen the light?” One of the most beautiful songs, here beautifully sang]

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!]

Image10573

Drama vs Reality in Church

11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:

12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.) Prov. 7:11-12

The segment that caught my attention in this portion of scripture is: “She is loud…”

The flesh is loud. The flesh loves making noises. It loves dramatics. It loves bombastics. Now, I am not saying that anyone who talks in a loud voice is carnal; no. We cannot interpret scripture in such a physical manner. Scripture is spiritual, and I am talking in the Spirit here.

Notice, “(She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)

We could paraphrase this scripture in the following manner: ‘She is loud, but there is no change in her character. She is proud, unfaithful and disobedient. She is full of the flesh. She is full of sin.’

This scripture is talking about a carnal, worldly church.

Many years ago, I attended an open-air evangelistic meeting in our town of Musoma. I had just arrived in town and I did not know any pastor, save the one whose church I had begun to attend.

During the meeting, all the pastors from the town were called to introduce themselves. They all stood on the large podium and began introducing themselves one by one.

It is many years ago, but I can never forget this particular pastor who took the microphone and, with a voice like thunder, sounded the loudest “Hallelujah!” I have ever heard in the history of my life.

This preacher was a tall, strong man, and he looked extremely lively and energetic.

“Halleloooooooooooooooooooooooojah!” he roared in a voice that seemed it would end in eternity.

The response from the crowd was like the Niagara Falls. They roared back an almighty “AAAAAAAmen!!” accompanied by shrieks, screams and ululations from the hundreds of women gathered there.

I was new in salvation, and I had never heard anything like it. The power of that noise overwhelmed me. As I stood there I felt a tingling in my body, a tingling that began at the soles of my feet and washed its way up my body, caressed the nape of my neck, and ended with every hair on my head standing on end, like a needle.

That was power!! I thought.

The pastor appeared larger-than-life to me and I remember thinking, “This man’s church is the church I want to attend!” I wondered how anyone could attend any other church.

At that particular time I was working in a certain company and I never got around to making good my resolve to begin attending this pastor’s church. But with time, however, I came to meet and to know this man much better. It would be unfair to go into details here, but the more I got to know him, the more I realized that his “Hallelujah!” was more a gimmick than they reality of his own life.

As I grew more in my salvation, I began getting very suspicious with dramatics in church. And many experiences down the road have proved this belief to be true.

I believe that no force on earth or in heaven can raise as much dust as the Holy Spirit, when He deems it fit to do so. But when the Holy Spirit conducts dramatics in church, the church is edified. In other words, God’s people grow in grace.

On the other hand, the dramatics of the flesh are merely manifestations of the flesh, and they effect no change in one’s character. Actually, all they accomplish is that they puff up the flesh.

When the Jerusalem church received the Holy Spirit, there was much noise broadcast abroad, and much ‘manifestation’; so much so, in fact, that the whole city was stirred. But pray, what was the fruit of that Holy Ghost-inspired ‘drama’?

The fruit was that the disciples’ lives were changed, the Word of God went forth mightily, and the Church was born. The Holy Spirit’s ‘noise’ brought about the fruit of the Spirit in people’s lives – obedience to the gospel.

But today, it is a slightly different story. Not every manifestation brings edification, simply because not every manifestation in church today is of the Holy Spirit. People sway to and from in church but they are not spiritual on the inside.

That is why I cannot understand why someone in church begins shaking and tossing about their heads when someone is on the pulpit and making a big noise over practically nothing. American Pentecostal churches are particularly hard-hit by this phenomenon.

You will find, for example, some preacher proclaiming in the pulpit: “I have been chosen! I have been hand-picked! I will not fail you!” – whatever that means – and there are people in this man’s congregation swaying to and fro ostensibly “under the power” as if what this man is saying is the greatest spiritual experience these people have ever undergone!

But the important question that we need to ask ourselves is: What has all this shaking and swaying and teeth-chattering effected in our lives? Have we grown more spiritual? Have we changed? Are we carrying more and more bowels of mercies within us? Are we becoming more forgiving? Are we getting more humble in character? Is the joy of the Lord increasing in our lives? Are our hearts more and more becoming carriers of peace?

If the shaking/dramatics that we are experiencing in church are not bringing us to this state of affairs in our character, then we ought to know that all this shaking is a work of the flesh. The Bible makes it clear that all this lust after dramatics comes from the flesh.

We should therefore stop all this useless shaking and drama in church and instead concentrate on seeking after the true gospel, the gospel that will effect a work of the cross upon our lives, to change us.

The Bible does not say that anyone in the early church began shaking upon hearing the gospel. But it does say they changed.

[Below: A street in Musoma Town]

Image1100

The Danger of Worldly Wisdom

18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours… 1 Cor. 3:18-21

You would be surprised to learn that many of the warnings to God’s people in the Bible are directed, not to the foolish people amongst the saints, but to the intelligent, the learned, the educated, the enlightened, and the wise – in short, to anyone with brains. These are the people who are most easily deceived in church. They are more susceptible to deception than the foolish people in church.

Did you ever notice the kind of people who sit under such worldly (but supposedly Biblical) teachings like motivational teachings and ‘power of the mind’ (“As a man thinketh, so is he”) teachings, prosperity teachings and all other kinds of false teachings? They are all highly intelligent and educated people. You wouldn’t understand what motivational preaching was if you’d never seen the inside of a classroom, would you?

Another aspect of this issue is the kind of scriptures that these preachers chose to preach on. Motivational preachers love Proverbs 23:7: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” They preach on it more than any other scripture. What they fail to realize is that the Bible is not talking about the grey matter within our skulls. On the contrary, the Bible is talking about the mind of the spirit. These are two completely divergent things, and they will never meet. The Bible talks of two different natures: the carnal nature and the spiritual nature. When we  unwittingly give life to the human mind through these teachings, we are building up the carnal nature in us.

I am sorry to say so, but highly intelligent people love to have their minds soothed by high-sounding philosophies. And most of them are not aware they are listening to worldly philosophies, not the Word of life.

That is why the scriptures specifically warn those people who rely on their minds. The Bible holds that the human mind is enmity to the Holy Spirit and to our spirits also (Gal. 5:17). God encourages us to desist from giving place to this enemy.

There are people who become very defensive when you touch negatively on the human mind. They have many scriptures to ‘prove’ that the human mind is needed to build up God’s Kingdom. But that can never be. Our human wisdom is worldly wisdom, and God cannot allow it to be involved in building His Kingdom, for it is spiritual. Instead of being defensive, therefore, we should strive for humility, for “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (Jam. 4:6).

God speaks and deals with us through our spirits. The spirit, after all, is eternal; the human mind and human wisdom are temporal. Through the spiritual interaction God can transform our spirits into the image of Christ. It is only through our spirits that God can give the things that we truly need, things like humility…

[Below: Downtown Dar es Salaam]

Image5018

Seducing Spirits and Doctrines of Devils – Part 2

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

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

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

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

5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 1 Tim. 4:1-6

Have you ever heard of cluster bombs? They are bombs that are released from a single ‘mother’ bomb (I suppose), and they scatter all over the place. They do much more damage than a single bomb would.

In the spirit, cluster bombs are what people of God come against when they depart from the faith. Notice in the scripture above that it is not people giving heed to a seducing spirit or to a doctrine of a devil, no. On the contrary, there is a multitude of demons out there, all with the singular purpose of dispersing many wrong doctrines, and spreading much deception.

And how do God’s people become ensnared by these demonic doctrines? It is when they depart from the truth. There is a departing from the truth. And the Bible says that a time will come when God’s people will depart from following the truth.

“3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

The Bible declares that we have loved the lie more than the truth. And you do not have to be demon-possessed to believe in demonically-inspired doctrines.

Today in Christendom, apart from those demonic doctrines that Paul mentions in the above scripture (forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats), there are many more that the devil has released from his arsenal.

In mainstream Pentecostalism, the prosperity gospel probably tops the list of suspect ‘faiths’. This gospel is more widely accepted than any other false teachings because it caters so well to the flesh. Who does not love the good life?

But you will not find this teaching in the New Testament, not an iota of it. All the Bible says is that if we have food and clothing, these things are sufficient for us and that true riches constitute being content with them (1 Tim. 6:5-10) as long as we are living Godly lives. That is as far as the Bible goes with material or worldly “prosperity”.

Material and financial riches are all right, if God chooses to bless us with them. But they do not form any part of the New Testament teachings. And they are certainly not the spiritual blessings that God promised Abraham, our father of faith. The Bible talks of our father Abraham, who was rich in worldly possessions, in this manner:

“For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).

If we were to agree with the proponents of the prosperity message, we would not be in league with the Old Testament partriarchs, the OT prophets, our Lord Jesus Himself, the Early Church, nor the apostles of Christ.

The minute the church leaves the central message of Jesus of denying self, taking up our cross and following Christ (Mat. 16:24), we throw ourselves wide open for the devil to attack and defeat us because we have given him the one weapon he needs to defeat us – our flesh.

The first man, Adam, had a problem. The Bible says,

“And when the woman 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” (Gen. 3:6).

The flesh was alive in Eve and Adam, and sin found a foothold.

In the second Adam, Christ, the flesh has been crucified. At the cross Christ completely and utterly defeated Satan through defeating sin – by crucifying the body of sinful flesh..

“3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:3-4).

The cross is the only place where we can crucify the flesh and defeat the devil. The truth of the Bible is the cross.

We have a choice. We could choose to ally ourselves with the victory that Christ got on the cross, by crucifying the deeds of our flesh; or we could ally ourselves with the flesh – and become susceptible to every new doctrine the devil brings in through his seducing spirits and devils.

And demonic doctrines play havoc with people’s lives. There is no questioning the fact that the doctrine of “forbidding to marry”, in particular, has wrought incredible destruction in the lives of men, women and children. Having been swept under the carpet through the centuries, today that damage is headline news even in the secular world.

Likewise, the prosperity gospel has wreaked havoc in the lives of men and women. This is especially so in Third World countries where poverty is rife. Unscrupulous preachers have used this gospel to enrich themselves at the expense of poor believers. The preachers tell their flock to bring in all their wealth, with the promise of “reaping a hundredfold”, and other false promises.

Moreover, today material and financial “gain” is touted as godliness in church. The wealthier one is “in Christ”, the more spiritual they are considered. But notice Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 6:5: “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself”.

“From such withdraw thyself”. Withdraw yourself from whom? From men who suppose that gain is godliness. Withdraw yourself from men who teach that the more prosperous you are materially, the closer you are to God. That is the spirit of the world. In the world, the closer you get to the center of power, the more affluent you become.

“From such withdraw thyself”. That’s the final nail in the prosperity gospel’s coffin.

There are many other virulent doctrines within the church today, but we do not have the opportunity to deal with them here.

The bottom line is that these doctrines do not deal with sin. They do nothing to transform men and women into the image of Jesus Christ. But the gospel of Jesus Christ is about a transformation. The message of a transformed life was the singular gospel that the Early Church heard and preached.

And tragedy of it all is that the minute we leave off following this message of transformation, as the scriptures so clearly warn us, we throw ourselves wide open to deception.

[Below: “Oh, happy day!”]

Image7640

“Be Ye Transformed!” – Part 1

“Be ye Transformed!”

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom. 12:1-2

Several months ago I was in my hometown of Musoma to visit my dad and the church there. During the Sunday service, Pastor Amas stood up to lead the service and he said, “I will tell you what pleases me in church. Let me tell you what pleases me in church!”

His eyes were gleaming with excitement.

“What I love in church”, he said, “is someone who is changing. A person who is being transformed in their lives gives me the greatest joy in church.”

And y’know, I was sitting there waiting to stand up and preach, but after I heard those words I began wondering if there was anything left for me to say.

Today I cannot recall what I preached on that day, but I do remember each word Pastor Amas said in those three or four sentences.

I am forever grateful for the Lord for allowing me to know what I know today. More and more I realize the gospel is all about a transformed life. This was the singular thing that the Apostle Paul struggled so strenuously to achieve, not only in his personal life, but in the life of every believer who came to Christ.

In Colossians 1 :24-29 he says, 24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: 25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 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: 28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

In his ministry, Paul worked to achieve only one thing – only one: to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. That means, simply, that we are imperfect, and we need a transforming work to perfect us in the image of Christ.

Here in Colossians, the apostle tells us what this work is: it is a mystery, the mystery of Christ in us. In other words, the riches of Christ in us is His ability to transform us! The “Christ in you” in this scripture talks of the work of the cross in us.

Many Christians’ eyes are on that word, “glory”; but they do not see the transforming work that Christ needs to do in them. They are not aware that the glory is in the transformation. Christ could give you all the Rolls Royces in the world, but if He is not transforming you, then that is not the Christ who died on Calvary! Remember Paul warns of “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4). There are many other Jesus-es out there!

Similarly, I could be physically raised from the dead like Lazarus was, but if there is no transformation in my spiritual life, if the cross is not at work in my life, that resurrection won’t amount to much. I will live for a few more years in this tiresome world, and that will be that. But to be like Christ is what God desires in my life above all.

And in Romans 12, the apostle tells us exactly how we are to achieve this transformation – it is by presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice. That talks of the cross again. The cross is our new altar, and our bodies are the new sacrifices. Jesus brought about a whole new way of pleasing God. Many people think God is pleased when they do things, things like giving a lot of money in church, helping the poor, etc. But that’s a big “NO!” there. God is not pleased with these things. God is pleased with a life laid on the altar. That means God is pleased with someone who is walking in the revelation of the cross in their hearts.

You can help the poor but you are proud on the inside. God wants the sacrifice of your pride, not your money. That sounds harsh, but it is the truth. And surely, it is preposterous to think that we could please God with the things we own or with our money, while the Bible declares in Psalms 50:12, “…the world is mine, and the fulness thereof”; and in Haggai, The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts” (Hag. 2:8).

The only thing we have that God desires are our hearts.

There are many things we do thinking we are pleasing God, but in which God is not pleased at all. And right here we can understand now why the Apostle Paul would preach no other gospel other than the mystery of Christ, Christ crucified. This is the gospel that brings death to the man on the inside.

I will tell you what pleases God. What pleases God, what God loves, is someone who is changing, changing through a revelation of and a working of the cross in their lives.

That person, whether they do or don’t do things, their work with God is done because they have given of their innermost things – their life. And the proof of their given life is the change in their lives, becoming more and more women and men of grace..

Today the church is seeking after many things, but God is seeking after only one thing: a transformed life.

[Below: This was the day Pastor Amas spoke about what pleases him in church]

Image927 10306641_1546825072212356_4457156670870813623_n