Itching Ears vs God’s Word – Part 1

1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

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. 4:1-4

[Before saying anything, let me express my heartfelt condolences and empathy to the victims and relatives of all who who were killed or injured during the Bastille Day terrorist attack this Thursday in France. Mine are not mere words, but my heart is torn apart by the violence that we are witnessing in every corner of the world on an almost daily basis. France has been hit particularly hard by terrorists, and my heart goes out to this lovely nation. May God bless and comfort you all.

All said and done, it is time for everyone to turn to God through believing the gospel of His Son Jesus Christ. Amen.]

Now, to the main article…

The Apostle Paul wrote many warnings and many “charges”, or commandments, to his spiritual son Timothy. This was because Paul, being an apostle and a prophet, saw in the Spirit things that would happen in the future, and what he saw troubled him greatly. He saw a time of great apostasy within the church, when God’s people would shun the truth and hanker after doctrines that would cater to the flesh. And it was revealed to him that there would be no shortage of preachers to lead God’s people down that road.

The Apostle Paul told Timothy there would come “perilous” times (1 Tim. 3:1), and that these times would occur on Timothy’s watch. “Perilous” means dangerous. Dangerous times for the church would come in Timothy’s time.

And so here we see Paul charging Timothy, and that before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, to… “Preach the word”. Then he adds something else there: preach “sound doctrine”.

What is “the word”? The Word of God is scripture. In our case, it is the Bible. The Bible is the reference point of everything we say or do. This was the same Book that was there in the early church’s time, even if not in its entirety. Jesus Himself stuck to scripture.

Here Paul was therefore telling Timothy: “You must be a stickler to the holy scriptures”.

I love that with all my heart. Sticking to the Bible seems to be a problematic thing with believers in our day. People read out the Bible all right, but they cannot seem to align their words (and actions) to what the Word says. More so, sound doctrine is lacking in an even greater extent in today’s church. People prefer to hear things that tickle them. But, if we are to believe Paul’s words here (which we should), sound doctrine has been lacking in the church for a long, long time. Two thousand years, to be exact.

Do you believe that Timothy met with the state of affairs that Paul describes in his two letters to him? I believe he did.

And so, therefore, Paul commands Timothy to “preach the Word”. God’s Word would be the answer to the coming apostasy.

It is incredible how the Word of God has been compromised today. I once attended a burial service in our town and the preacher who was to deliver the sermon, a man whom I knew well, read a scripture from the Book of Philippians. There was a huge crowd there that day and when it came to hearing the Word of God, there was dead silence. In our country, people respect the Word of God. They may not necessarily believe it, but they have a primitive fear of God.

The air was absolutely clear and, as the man read the scripture, I could feel every word dropping into my heart. So much so that I could also feel the hairs on my body stand. The Word of God, when read under certain circumstances, is tremendously powerful. I am sure that God wanted to speak to the sea of people there that day, and that He gave the man that particular scripture to read. God loves His people, and He wanted to bless them.

But it was not to be. It is beyond belief what happened the minute the preacher began his sermon. The minute he closed his Bible and began preaching, the man of God shot off on a tangent and from the first sentence to the last, nothing he said had any connection with the powerful scripture he had just read.

Utterly deflated and shocked, I looked for some shade and sat down. But I was not entirely surprised. I had known for some time that many preachers today read the Word of God in church only as a formality, but what they speak afterwards is the fruit of their mind rather than obeying God’s command to “preach the word”.

Amongst the more progressive circles within the church today, motivational speaking takes the place of preaching the Word. Preachers say things which have no basis in the Word of God and they expand on them to invent doctrines. The Bible calls these things “fables”. Motivational speaking in church creates “fables”. And here we are talking of Pentecostal churches.

This was what Paul warned Timothy about. In other words, he commanded Timothy to stick to the Word. He instructed him not to give heed to fanciful ideas that might come from his head – and from a lustful heart.

Let me end by saying that if there was a way to force preachers to stick to the Word of God, many – very many – would drop from ministry. Probably out of every ten preachers only one would remain. The situation is that serious. This is because these preachers would find in the Word truths that they are currently not aware of, either due to a lack of revelation, or simply because they cannot “endure sound doctrine” and they deliberately ignore Biblical truth. They would find that there are many things that they cannot speak and do. They would find, for example, that the Word of God curtails the freedom that they exercise in formulating their own doctrines. They would find, too, that the church is not there to amass worldly wealth. The church is not to say, “We are blessed” simply because someone has purchased a new car or a new private jet.

In the early days of my salvation, in the 1990s, preachers were attracted to a Korean car called Musso Ssangyong. Urban-based preachers competed to own a Musso. That was the “blessing” in those years. Many years later I would meet with those same Mussos, now very old, spewing smoke on the road like furnaces, and dragging to one side.

Today’s “blessings” amongst preachers consist of private jets and private estates. They, too, will pass away.

True blessings, however, are of the Spirit. It says so in Ephesians 1:3:

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

You don’t see a private jet mentioned there, do you? That is the heart of God.

[This is one of my favorite songs. I hope you enjoy it]

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Seeing Men Through God’s Eyes

Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Rom. 12:16

At my age I know a thing or two about the world we live in, and one of those things is that this particular scripture is one of the hardest things to achieve in this world. And here I do not need to go very far; all I have to do is to look at myself and I see how difficult it is to condescend to men of lower estate than I. It is one of the most testing tasks.

It is all right for the world to have such high-level attitudes as are described in this scripture because the world is not the paradise most people think it is; on the contrary, the Bible calls it “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4). The world is an evil place and here men take it as a matter of course to condescend to men of high estate, but not to men of low estate.

Again, notice that man has nothing good but his “own conceits”. That talks of the pride in our hearts. Pride makes us to think we are better than others. It also makes us to differentiate between men.

But that state of affairs ought not to occur in church. The Bible in 1 Tim. 3:15 calls the church “the pillar and ground of the truth.”

And what, pray, is the truth?

The truth of God’s Word is stated in Luke 3:5-6:

“5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

The church is level. The Bible exhorts us to be “… of the same mind one toward another.” Here there are no ‘touchables’ and ‘untouchables’. There are no learned and unlearned. There are no rich and poor, no privileged and unprivileged. There are no white and black, yellow or brown men. The church is one single unit and each believer a member in that unit. The Bible actually puts it this way:

“So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Rom. 12:5

What exactly does it mean by “every one members one of another”?

That is a cryptic scripture. But all it means is that we are meant to serve one another. God has put us in church to serve the other members of His Body – not ourselves. The highest person in the Kingdom of God is the one who of his own will and with all his heart becomes a servant to others.

The classic example of how Jesus treated men is that of blind Bartimaeus. Mark narrates the account in this manner.

“46 And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. 50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.” Mk. 10:46-52

Now, notice that Bartimaeus was not only blind, he was also a beggar. This is highly intolerable with men. In any society, beggars are the lowest of the low in terms of humanity, and they are tolerated only for tolerance’s sake. At best, they are ignored.

It is no wonder, therefore, what happened with Bartimaeus. Men in their bloated minds had placed Jesus on a worldly pedestal. To them, He was ‘Jesus the Great’. So they commanded the blind beggar to shut up and mind his place. How dare he, a nothing, disturb the greatest man that the world had ever seen? What nerve this fellow had! What…!!

But Jesus had a different spirit. He had not come down to seek the greatness of this world. He came down to the world to be nothing. (And that was exactly the reason why, as Philippians 2:9 says, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name”.)

Jesus heard Bartimaeus and, to the surprise of everyone, He stopped in His tracks and called for Bartimaeus to be brought to Him. In an instant, the castoff became the star. In their eyes, Bartimaeus was now an exalted man. And after he was healed, these same men rushed to take selfies with him. Men love worldly acclaim!

But God looks upon the heart. He considers the humble heart. The man who has died to self can do what Jesus did with ease, and please God.

This is the reason why, every time I look at scripture, I understand more and more why Paul wrote the Corinthians:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you… determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:1-2)

The cross is the ONLY solution to the flesh. Therein lies the power of God’s grace. Jesus had this power in Him and therefore He loved and esteemed men – from top to bottom. What a grace!

[Below: Downtown Singida: Through the simple things that they do in their daily lives each man sets out to be in a class of his own]

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Our Mandate – Grace

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. Jn. 1:12-16

Before I go ahead and discuss today’s subject, I have an apology to make. I wouldn’t want to bury my head in the sand and pretend that this blog is running extremely well. My readers will certainly have noticed that, of late, I have been posting very irregularly, and that my posts are few and far between. I pray that no one will interpret this as a sign of slackness on my part, for I carry the running of this blog as a serious responsibility from God.

The reason for my long absence here has to do with other responsibilities which have recently cropped up and had to be dealt with. But they are only temporary, and I will soon be free to run this blog like clockwork.

My apologies, therefore, to all those who might have began thinking that I had given up on this blog! Not, by the longest shot.

Today I want us to meditate on our responsibility as children of God. As sons and daughters of God, we have a responsibility in this world. We are called to be men and women of grace – and truth. Let us combine verses 12 and 16 in this portion of scripture, which makes perfect sense:

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name… And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.”

The Bible here says that we who have believed in Christ have received the fulness of God’s grace. In other words, we potentially have as much grace as Jesus had when He was here on earth. For Jesus came and lived on earth in the body of flesh, without sin (v.14). Even in the flesh Jesus reflected the fulness of God’s grace and truth.

I can almost hear a pin drop as we contemplate the profundity of this fact. Knowing how weak we are, we wonder if that could even have been possible.

But as children of God, we are mandated to carry the same grace and truth that Jesus carried. Why? Because this was God’s mandate to Jesus, and Jesus accomplished it to the full. How could we do less?

But carrying the grace and truth of God is not easy, for it requires death to the flesh. The Apostle Paul was one of the people who fought valiantly against the flesh, and yet he had this to say:

“18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Rom. 7:18-19)

In other words, Paul by and of himself could not carry the grace of God and do that which pleased God.

Paul concludes cryptically:

“24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…” (vs. 24-25)

But in Galatians 6:14, he explains exactly what he means by these words.

“14 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.”

Paul knew what he wanted. It was only through the cross that Paul could find the grace and truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So Paul gladly welcomed the cross and the sufferings of Christ into his life.

Where can we find true joy? It is when our flesh is crucified on the cross. This is where we can find true spiritual victory. This is what we find with Paul, the apostles and the early church.

Unfortunately, the flesh does not love to be crucified. The enemy of our souls, the devil, knowing this, has set in the path of God’s people heretical gospels, gospels that cater to the flesh. And men, as long as they have “religion” in their system, are contented. When God’s people are following only religion, but are not allowing the crucifixion of their flesh, there is no spiritual growth in their lives; and it is this growth that makes us men and women of grace and truth.

If the Church today is serious about fulfilling God’s mandate to carry His grace and truth as our Lord Jesus did, then there can be only one way to achieving this: it is by walking in the revelation of the cross, denying self, taking up our cross and following Christ.

Only through the power of resurrection can we truly walk in God’s grace and truth.

Finally, let us consider what it means to walk in God’s grace and truth.

It means being a good person. But it is more than that. It is to be spiritual, something which is infinitely far beyond being just good. Being a spiritual person is knowing the will of God. And in most cases the will of God has nothing to do with being good in the natural.

[Below: A young boy in Mwanza City breezes along in his wooden ‘car’]

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The True Gospel

32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.

34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.

35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 10:32-35

There are many gospels that are preached today in the name of Jesus. Amongst the most well-known of these is the prosperity gospel. Today, nearly everyone in the Christian world has heard of the prosperity gospel. The minute you mention “Prosperity gospel” everyone knows what you are talking about. It is that popular.

The prosperity gospel is vast in its scope. It has given birth to many different branches and sub-branches of teachings and beliefs. Most of the great Pentecostal ministries today – whatever their leaning – have their roots in the gospel of prosperity.

But the prosperity gospel is an aberrant in light of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Because it is built on the premise of receiving, rather than giving. One of the most prominent preachers of the prosperity gospel, on being asked to justify the opulent lifestyle that he lives, replied, “We gave, we believed, we received”.

The object, therefore, of the prosperity gospel is to receive. In light of the true gospel of Jesus Christ which demands our lives, this perspective is simplistic, and ultimately fatal, for it seeks to turn the gospel of Jesus Christ upside down.

I have watched interview after interview of many of the prominent preachers of the gospel of prosperity, and whenever they were asked about their lavish way of life, none was ever able to provide a clear answer to this question. They mumbled this and that, but they always made sure that whatever they said was pretty vague. One of them managed to say, “… We are open!” before walking off and leaving the reporter – and the viewer – more bewildered than ever. Incredible. And yet a man of God ought to be seen to be open.

But the gospel that Jesus came to preach is totally different from the gospel of prosperity. Here you hide nothing, simply because you have no reason to. Your life is not your own; it is given totally to Christ.

Unfortunately, this gospel is less well-known, and this is because it is not popular among preachers. Few preach it. This gospel is so lacking in our modern churches that when you mention it most people will think you are a cultist.

And yet… this gospel is actually the real message of the Bible. It is the message that our Lord Jesus brought to His people. It is the gospel over which the Apostle Paul wrote that he would not preach another, except it alone.

Moreover, this gospel has a name: it is called

“Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2); or, the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ.

This is a gospel that desires nothing of this world, and is therefore the only gospel that can make us to fulfill the great commission which Christ gave to the church:

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

God wants to light up in our hearts the knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ, who not only became poor that we might become rich, but who also gave His life to be a ransom for many.

That, as we see with the Apostle Paul here, was the heart that the early church carried.

Dare we, the present church, carry a different spirit? I believe not. Amongst the many gospels competing for our attention, we must choose, and we must choose the right one.

The right gospel can only be the gospel of “Christ, and him crucified”.

In conclusion, let me add a personal thought. I believe the reason that these rich prosperity preachers will never provide a clear answer as to why they own so much wealth is because, having arrived at their goal, they turn around and realize that what they have so joyously embraced is not the TRUTH!! In a way, therefore, they are embarrassed whenever someone asks them about the incomprehensible riches that they own.

[Below: Life in rural Tanzania: even owning a bicycle is a luxury to most people. But still many happily hear the right gospel]

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Seeing The Cross – Part 1

11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.

12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it. Jer. 1:11-12

This scripture is talking about visions and dreams. Jeremiah saw a vision. People today are having visions and dreams of every sort; but Jeremiah also had a vision, a vision from God.

In this two- or three-part series, I want to discuss the significance of what Jeremiah saw in light of the New Covenant.

First, let us consider God’s reaction to Jeremiah after Jeremiah had told God what he had seen. When Jeremiah told God what he had seen, God answered him:

“… Thou hast well seen…”.

The word “well” implies a commendation. It implies approval. In this scripture, in simple but powerful terms, God tells Jeremiah that He approves of what he had seen. In other words, God was pleased with Jeremiah.

Do you know how difficult it is for God to be pleased with man? For a man to please God is probably one of the most difficult things that can happen in the spiritual world. This is because we are so wicked! Actually, God’s final word on man is found in Genesis 6:6 where the Bible says that it “grieved (God) at his heart” that He had made man. Take a moment to meditate on that.

And – impossible as it might seem – man has gotten only worse since Genesis 6:6.

But here we see God praising Jeremiah. Why was God pleased with Jeremiah? It was because Jeremiah saw exactly the thing that God wanted him to see.

Had Jeremiah seen something different, God would most certainly have told him, “Jeremiah, you have not seen well!”

But here we see God telling Jeremiah, “Thou hast well seen”.

Clearly, therefore, God is pleased with the man or woman who can see in the Spirit. In fact, I believe that the only person with whom God can be pleased with is the man who sees in the Spirit. This is because when one sees in the Spirit he sees exactly the thing that God wants him to see, and God is happy with such an one.

We read in the Gospel of John 4:23: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”

When it says “worship”, the Bible is not talking about a praise and worship session. On the contrary – as we shall see in the next part of this post – it is talking about the totality of our way of life with the Lord. It is talking about our walk in the Spirit. We must walk as the Lord walks.

Jeremiah therefore was not someone who dreamed a dream or saw a vision in the natural. He was a man who first caught something in the Spirit and subsequently walked in the light of what he had seen.

This pleased the Lord exceedingly.

[Seeing in the Spirit is a way of life!]

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Do We Love Deception Or The Truth?

7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 The. 2:7-12

The Bible makes it clear that the Devil is already at work (v.7). It talks about how he works:

“9 … whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness”

The Bible here warns us that Satan works “with all power and signs and lying wonders”.

But who does Satan work in? Whom does he deceive?

“in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

In other words, the people who follow these deceptive preachers are culpable! Hard as it is to swallow, yet the truth is that they do not love God’s truth, but they are chasing after miracles for their own gain.

When the Bible says, “because they received not the love of the truth”, it means God’s truth has been revealed, but people do not want it; they want something else.

Ultimately, God has only one judgement for those who do not love Him after He has revealed His love to them:

“That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

You would not believe it, but the Bible says that the people who believe in these types of preachers “had pleasure in unrighteousness”. In other words, these are people who love wickedness more than righteousness! All they are seeking after in going to church is to fulfill the lusts of their flesh. All they want is to get something from God. And God says that is sin.

That is incredibly sad, but true. It is a hard, bitter fact about many who claim to be followers of Christ; but it is a Biblical fact.

It becomes clear to me why God would reveal some things to some people and not to others. Not that He is a respecter of persons, no. But rather, it is because He knows men’s hearts.

Is all lost? By no means. There is another option. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:22-24: “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.”

There is God’s truth right there: “Christ crucified”. This is the gospel of the New Covenant, and this was the gospel that the Apostle Paul preached.

Another fact arising from this is that this gospel can only be received by those who love God and are ready to deny themselves.

What is “Christ crucified”? It is the gospel that deals with the mind, or lusts of the flesh in us. It comes to separate us from these desires through the power of the Holy Spirit.

But most people do not like that, even though they declare their love for God. On the contrary, they love the flesh and its things. The devils sees the opportunity, and he comes in and deceives them.

He brings in these miracle workers.

The Apostle Peter warns us: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).

We are free to choose between the two – to live the crucified life, or to fulfill the desires of our flesh in the name of signs, wonders, and seeking after wisdom.

[Below: This is what goes on all the time all over the world in most charismatic churches, just because people want signs, while others are seeking after wisdom.]

God’s Love for Cain

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:

5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. Gen. 4:3-7

It is interesting to read that God could actually refuse an offering from someone. In today’s church world, the improbability of such a thing happening is extremely high. Men have become so greedy for money that there are very few preachers of the gospel who can refuse an offering, for any reason whatsoever.

In fact, on the contrary, offerings are the highest item on the agenda of most preachers. For many (yes, the Apostle Paul says many), every fibre of their being is wired to the offering basket. If things don’t go well there, then the ministry is in danger of collapsing. Or, the church risks being closed!

Today, you would be forgiven for thinking that the foundation of the church of Jesus Christ is money!

I really admire God. He is not affected in the least by any vagary, be it heavenly, earthly, or from below the earth. All these can collapse, and God will remain exactly on the spot He was on while they were standing. God is so self-sufficient He can afford to refuse any offering.

But it is the reason why God refused this particular offering that concerns us here. Theories have been advanced from every corner of the church as to why God refused Cain’s offering. There are even suggestions that Cain offered God maize while God wanted only meat. You would think God eats meat!

But God does not eat meat, just as He does not eat maize.

I can tell you right here why God had no respect for Cain’s offering. It was because Cain did not carry a good heart. His offering did not come from a good heart. Cain’s offering did not bring a sweet aroma of self-sacrifice, and God rejected it on the spot.

Cain’s heart is bared for all to see in verse 5. It was quite a rotten heart that he carried.

That is why God is not happy with today’s preachers. Many are accepting offerings without looking into the hearts that give these offerings.

Now, it is not that God wants preachers to come up with a device, made in China or wherever, that can measure the sincerity of people’s hearts. But the true task of a pastor or preacher is to do just that – to know what is going on in people’s hearts. If a pastor cannot care about the condition of the hearts of the people he is leading, then that is a very big failure on his part, regardless of the nature of the gospel he might be preaching.

In Acts 16:16-18 we read, “16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”

There are some preachers who love to be praised so much they wouldn’t have cared if the girl had a demon in her or not. This girl was putting Paul & Co. under the truly big lights, and they could have glowed under her praise. But with these men of God, the issue was straightforward: there was a demon in the girl, and the only thing that was needed was for the demon to be cast out. When the moment arrived, Paul did just that. He cast out the demon.

There was no fanfare. No cameras rolling. No interviews with the demon. No “Man of God…” stuff. Nothing other than to cast out the demon.

Now, today you have preachers on TV who hold hour-long interviews with demons purportedly talking through the people they are trying to ‘deliver’. The purpose of this spiritually offensive circus, of course, is to draw attention to the ‘power’ in the minister’s church or ministry. Many people get deceived by these theatrics, but Jesus said you shall know them by their fruits. You can easily tell that a person is not really concerned with the spiritual condition of the people he is ministering to when he uses them – through excruciatingly humiliating experiences on live TV – to advance his ministry.

If someone has a demon in them and you have the God-given ability to cast out that demon, you should be able to cast it out in the blink of an eye. And for the victim’s sake, you wouldn’t hold any interviews. That person has suffered enough.

Paul did not do what these modern-day preachers do. He wasn’t pleased with the situation in the least. Instead, the Bible says that Paul was “grieved” in his spirit and, when he could not bear it any more, he simply cast out the demon.

There are many pastors who aren’t bothered by the condition of their flock’s hearts. To them, it is more important to keep the dollars, the shillings, the euros – and the compliments – flowing in. They love it when those fat checks come in, and when people call them “Man of God!”

But that is simply the flesh at work. The flesh grows fat on these things.

But thank God, God is not carnal. His is a Spirit of righteousness. And He has put spiritual ministries in the church. And with Cain we see that God was the perfect Pastor. He saw into Cain’s heart and told him, “I would be failing you if I honored your offering.”

That was love in action. Some people assume, by reading “But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect”, that God was at war with Cain. But God’s one-sided conversation with Cain proves otherwise. God loved Cain so much that He used every effort to make him see the error of carrying a bad heart. He even told him, “You need to defeat that sin in your heart!”

God was trying to lead Cain to the cross.

And, in refusing to receive Cain’s offering, we see God’s ultimate show of love. God wanted Cain to bring a heart offering, not a ‘religious’ offering. He wanted an offering that would be spiritually beneficial and fulfilling to Cain, not an offering that would simply fill some earthly coffers.

Ultimately, therefore, we can only come to the conclusion that God probably loved Cain even more than He did Abel. But God’s love for Cain was in the cross.

People mistakenly think that money is the root of every good in church. But the Bible disproves that, for it says: “For the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10).

Grace and truth are the things upon which Christ’s church is founded, and God wants our hearts to be perfected in these two qualities.

That is why Paul preached the cross, for it is in the revelation of the cross in our hearts that we can walk the narrow road wherein grace and truth are found.

Let not pastors and other ministers of the gospel be not led by greed, but by a true love for God’s people. Were they to do so, they would lead God’s people to the cross, like the Apostle Paul did. In every church, the Apostle Paul taught the same message, a cleaving to the cross of Jesus Christ:

“16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. 17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” 1 Cor. 4:16-17

[Below: A humble spirit is of more value to God than any offering that we can make]

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