A Heavenly Recompense

12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. 13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. Lk. 14:12-14

When was the last time that you made a dinner or a supper and invited in the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind to eat of your goods? If you have, blessed are you.

But notice specifically that Jesus is concerned here that we do not seek after worldly recompense in the good that we do. On the contrary, we are to have an eye for a heavenly recompense, at the resurrection of the just. On that day, God will reward those who did not seek to be repaid here on earth.

But, pray, can a Christian desire worldly recompense rather than the heavenly one? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. More times than I can count, I have done good to someone and, if they did not thank me or take notice of it, I felt bad about it. That was the flesh, demanding worldly recompense and leading me to forfeit my heavenly reward.

Walking in the will of God is not a matter of one simply believing in Christ; more importantly, it is about one denying self and taking up their cross and following Christ. The Bible tells us that the flesh wars against the Spirit, and that if we side with it we cannot do the will of God in our lives. And for this reason, therefore, the Bible tells us to walk in the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16-17)

It tells us that if we walk in the Spirit, we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Have you noticed how we hunger for earthly recompense, including being thanked, noticed, praised and repaid back? The flesh demands worldly recompense. It demands to be paid in kind right here on earth. It has no heavenly agenda, for it is not of heaven.

But when the cross is at work in our lives, we “kill” these kinds of attitudes. We begin to care more about the only thing that really matters: the heavenly recompense. One day we will stand before God and be recompensed for the things that we did here on earth for which no man could repay us back.

It is in the light of this revelation that we can understand and appreciate Jesus’s other teachings.

“Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Mat. 5:42)

In Lk. 6:30, Jesus made that even clearer.

Give to every man that asketh of thee…”

Give to every man. I overheard one brother say that he does not give money to street beggars. He had a grudge against what he called their “laziness”. But, in this scriptures, street beggars fall right in the middle of “every man that asketh of thee”.

Jesus went on to qualify His statements:

“32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.” (Lk. 6:32-34)

Notice the word “thank” there. What was Jesus talking about here? He was referring to the heavenly recompense. One day, God will thank you in a way no man could.

The heavenly stakes are incredibly high. But, again, it can only be that one is truly fighting the good fight of faith that they can do these things. The spiritual man/woman does not need to be recompensed in the natural.

No Longer After The Flesh – Part 1

“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh…” (2 Cor. 5:16)

I do not know of many rich people who have any spiritual depth, and that’s a fact. The reason for this is because money has a way of blinding people to spiritual things. So does fame, worldly status, etc. That is why many of today’s Christian leaders are as blind as a bat. They allow themselves to become attached to their titles, soaking in the power and worldly esteem that comes with these things – and they go blind.

God has arranged it so that there is no man or woman who considers the things of this world who will see into His spiritual Kingdom. In fact, the Bible commands in 2 Corinthians 6:17:

“touch not the unclean thing”.

What do you think the unclean thing is?

We do not know sin as God knows it. With God, anything that is not of the Spirit is sin.

In order to have the things of God’s Kingdom, you must surrender this world.

But I digress. I was talking about the rich man. Not many have spiritual depth.

Am I the only one saying this?

Hardly. The Bible in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 expressly says,

“26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

If you want to glory in any way in the Kingdom of God, you must glory in Jesus alone.

This is one of the most difficult things to penetrate our hard hearts. We are so twisted we have no inkling of how God operates. That is why, however hard we try, we keep coming back to glorying in men in the natural.

But God has not ordained it to be so. In fact, God has ordained it to be the exact opposite. We are to glory in the Spirit. The Apostle Paul says,

“Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh…” (2 Cor. 5:16)

How powerful could scripture get?

We know no man after the flesh. Who are we? What do we have? Do we have any knowledge?

We are nothing, we have nothing; and we know nothing. The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:11 states of himself,

“I be nothing.”

The only reason Paul wrote those words was because it was fact. He knew he had to empty himself of self in order for Christ to be in him.

If you, a man or woman of God, have anything, it can only be

“Christ in you” (Col. 1:27)

So how does the Apostle Paul present Christ?

He presents Him as

“Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23)

In the natural He was weak.

And what does Paul say of himself?

“… of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.” (2 Cor. 12:5)

That is what it means to know God. That is why, as a rule, God denies the men and women who have something to hold onto in this world the heavenly things. It is too easy an opportunity for the flesh to exalt itself.

But God is merciful. He always has a remnant. Therefore there will always be men who are rich, educated or of high societal standing, who will be able to see into the things of the Spirit. As with everything to do with God, these are chosen as a matter of God’s mercy.

No man is ever allowed to say that they are where they are in their standing with God outside of God’s express mercy, choosing and grace.

This understanding brings God’s grace to a man’s life. It did with our Lord Jesus, and with the apostles.

[As unassuming as babes]

IMG_20180726_083408

The Price

… but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. Rom. 16:19

Do you know the price you need to pay to fulfill this scripture? You will have to give up many, many things. God will see to that, if you allow Him.

Evil, as spoken of here, is synonymous with the flesh. In other words, we need to be simple when it comes to the flesh. That is what this scripture is saying. Scripture is warning us here that if you decide to answer this high spiritual calling, you will, without a shadow of doubt, arrive at a place where you will not only live without many of the trappings of this world, but where also people will view you – and probably call you to your face – as stupid, a simpleton, poor, classless, a fool. Today, many of my brethren from Africa are losing limb and life (and marriages and children) in the desperate bid to get to the West to escape the so-called hard life. But, with the gospel, the hard life is exactly what we have been called to. A true child of God will not fear to live the hard life, nor to be viewed as, or called, any of those negative things, for the sake of the gospel.

Today I want to narrate to you the story of Mzee (Old man) Mgoloka. Mzee Mgoloka was a beauty in the Spirit, and he died leaving behind a legacy that shook all our churches at Zion Gospel Assembly.

Mzee Mgoloka was an elder in our church in Shinyanga. But he lived an interesting spiritual life; simple, frugal and extremely down-to-earth. The man did not even own a bicycle.

But Mzee Mgoloka had a working son and one day this young man decided to buy his father a truck so his father could relaxedly earn some income. The truck came complete with a driver.

Early the next morning after the hand-over, the truck was driven out to begin ‘rolling in the money’. But it hadn’t been gone ten minutes, though, when Mzee Mgoloka received a phone call from the driver.

“Hello, Mzee, please rush to such and such a place, I’ve just encountered a problem.”

“What problem?” Mzee Mgoloka enquired with surprise.

“Oh, just a small problem with the traffic police, sir”, the driver answered.

Within minutes, Mzee Mgoloka arrived on the scene. He went straight to the driver and asked him, “What’s the problem?”

“Oh, nothing, sir, except I didn’t come with any money.”

“What money? Money for what?” enquired the old man.

“Er, well, you know the way it is with the roads, Mzee.”

Immediately, it struck Mzee Mgoloka that in owning this truck, he had just stepped onto a very narrow road; but it was not the strait and narrow road that he had read in the Bible. This was a narrow road of a different kind. And he knew exactly where it led to.

BUT Mzee Mgoloka also knew what he needed to do.

He walked up to the traffic officer and addressed him.

“Sorry, sir”, he said, “I understand there is a problem with my truck. Please, sir, kindly, please, I beg you… if you can forgive an old man like me only this once, I promise to not bother you again.”

The traffic officer was fascinated by the old man’s show of humility and, after thinking it through, he granted him his request and waved the truck through.

Mzee Mgoloka got into the truck with the driver. He instructed the driver to turn around and head for his son’s house. When they arrived, Mzee Mgoloka asked the driver for the truck’s keys. He then got out of the vehicle and purposefully walked into the house. Once inside, he called out to his son.

When the young man arrived, Mzee Mgoloka handed him the truck’s keys.

“Son”, he said, “I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the good thoughts you have had towards me in buying me this truck. But I have perceived that this truck will take me straight to hell. This truck will prevent me from entering heaven, and I cannot allow that. So, here are the truck’s keys. And I thank you very much.”

The old man turned around and walked out of his son’s compound and that was the end of the matter. Not too long afterwards, Mzee Mgoloka died and went to heaven. He died on a Sunday afternoon, right after he had delivered a sermon in church. It was one of the rare Sundays that he had gotten the opportunity to preach in church. No doubt, God wanted this spiritual major-general to bid a proper farewell to the church.

Such is the price that we will need to pay to get to heaven. Mzee Mgoloka’s example might appear extreme, but in reality it is not. Not at all. On the contrary, that’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s how the simple, ordinary life of a spiritual person ought to be lived. The notion that such a lifestyle is ‘extreme’ is what has spawned the prosperity gospel and all the other gospels that cater to the flesh.

To this day, Mzee Mgoloka’s legacy stands, and it stands tall.

It is the flesh that fears to lose. Fear of this life is driving many of God’s children to do many spiritually regrettable things. The flesh wants to be coddled, and to receive the things of this world. But the spiritual person does not fear to lose. Remember Jesus’ words:

“Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” (Lk. 17:33)

If we decide to cater to the Spirit, we must be prepared to lose. And, for some of us, we probably will need to lose more than what Mzee Mgoloka lost.

[Beginning today, for a while, I shall be posting here the old Hillsong gospel songs. They are timeless. I hope they will be a blessing to you]

 

Spiritual Relationships – Part 2

25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. Jn. 19:25-27
As Jesus was preparing to leave this world, He handed over His most prized earthly possession, His mother, to “the disciple… whom he loved”. As we noted earlier, this was the disciple who pleased Jesus most, and he pleased Jesus by being close to Him. This means that he loved the Lord; and, in turn, the Lord loved him.
When Jesus was being crucified, Jesus’ mother and a few other ladies stood by, witnessing the whole scene. The disciple whom Jesus loved also stood close by.
It could very well be that not many – or not any – of Jesus’ other disciples was hanging about. The Bible does not even tell us that Jesus’ own brothers and sisters were about. They probably were too fearful to show up. But the Bible states that this particular disciple was standing by, close to Jesus’ mother.
God always works things for our good. The presence of this disciple provided the perfect setting for Jesus to do what was in His heart. This disciple stood close to Jesus up to the end, and in doing so he gave the Lord the opportunity to fulfill His heart’s desire. You can imagine the sorrow that would have filled Jesus’ heart if He had failed to find this disciple by His side when He needed him most.
And so it was that Jesus, fully satisfied in His heart with what He had accomplished through His sacrifice on the cross, that He was able do one final act that was on His heart. He called out to His mother,
“Woman, behold thy son!”
And to the disciple whom he loved:
“Behold thy mother!”
I love that! None of the human, emotional stuff: “Mommy! Oh, mommy! Oh! Oh!”
Or, “Johnny, please, I beg you, please, please, look after my mother after I am gone, will ya?”
There was none of that. There was simply clear, spiritual authority and direction.
Nor did Jesus hold a clan conference to see who amongst His brethren was best suited to take their mother with them. He had already stated earlier that His brethren and His family were those who would do the will of His heavenly Father (Mat. 12:50).
Without a doubt, this scripture is talking about spiritual relationships; but I felt it necessary to set a background for this subject, hence the long, convoluted route I have taken. Let us now finish.
A few weeks ago I was in one of our churches when a brother called the pastor to tell him he would not be attending Sunday service because a friend of his had asked him to officiate at a certain function on that same day. As the pastor received the call I saw his face, broken and downcast. Clearly, this brother was putting his friend’s interests above those of Christ, and his pastor was not happy about it.
Jesus would not have handed over his mother to such an one.
There are many people in church today who are putting worldly relationships above spiritual ones. In today’s ultra-modern society, this carnal, worldly spirit is very powerful within the church. Even within the church itself – between brother and brother – there are people who build relationships on worldly, not spiritual merits. Brothers and sisters bond in unhealthy relationships based on tribe, status, wealth, family-tree and such-like. But we cannot run the church like some country club. Any relationship built on any value other than a close spiritual relationship with Jesus is of the world, and of the devil; and we should shun it.
Why do you think Jesus delivered His mother to the disciple He loved? Was it because this man would provide food to Jesus’ mother? Was it because the man had status?
No, it was none of these things. But Jesus knew that this disciple would show His mother the Lord’s ways. This disciple, who had leaned on the breast of Jesus, knew all that was in the heart of Jesus and Jesus knew this man would bring a strong spiritual influence on His mother.
We should look to people whose hearts are close to Jesus, people who have a spiritual outlook. These are the people we should hinge our trust on. When we align our lives with such people, our lives and our relationships will be strong and healthy spiritually.
I thank God for the spiritual men and women whom He has put in my life, chief of whom are my pastor and my wife. These are people who would not entertain any spiritual nonsense from me. Whenever I am with them, I am assured of a straight spiritual course in my spiritual life. Sometimes this kind of relationship bears hard on my flesh; but, for me, so much the better.
If I was about to leave this world and the Lord allowed me to do what was in my heart, I know exactly the men and women I would leave my wife and kids with. I would not say to my wife, “Oh, wifey, I am going. There is this guy in church who has this big car which you know we have always desired to have. Wifey, do your best to get married to this man.”
I would not do that. If I had the chance to, I would call my pastor and tell him, “Pastor, behold your daughter!”
May we learn to put our trust in the people whom Jesus loves.
[The disciple whom Jesus loved did not love the world]

image14397

Free To Give!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nearly all these things are rooted in money.

Elsewhere, scripture also says:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, let us consider verse 9:

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

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

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

So what is the meaning of this scripture?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image9793

Ministry and the Crucified Life

15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

20 Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Mat. 16:15-23 

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

Another word for “world” as used in this scripture is “flesh”.

I know of a man – actually a friend of mine – who was elected to the office of top diocesan bishop of his denomination. He celebrated that achievement by slaughtering a number of goats and ordering crates upon crates of pop soda for the many guests he had invited. There was music and dancing and the drinks flowed like the River Nile.

Lastly, many speeches were made by distinguished guests, praising and thanking the Lord for this great “favor” that He had bestowed upon His “humble servant”.

“Humble”, they might have said, but in their eyes our friend was now a big man.

But I doubt that the office that this man was elected to could compare in importance to the office that Peter was shouldered with on that day by Jesus. We see in this scripture that Christ conferred upon Peter the ministry of “chief apostle”. (You may call it whatever you like, but Jesus did confer some office or authority to Peter here).

Just as my friend did, Peter probably also thought of celebrating this great occasion. (He could have sent for old man Zebedee to bring in a boatful of fish…)

The problem in Peter’s case, however, was that Jesus happened to be on the scene. Jesus was around. And where Jesus is, there are very few worldly celebrations. And I am pretty sure that Jesus was not thinking about any celebrations at that particular time. He mostly likely was thinking about the responsibility He had just handed to Peter.

We might not know what was going on in both these men’s minds, but the fact is, no celebrations were forthcoming for Peter. Instead, moments after Jesus had conferred upon him that big title, Jesus turned around and rebuked Peter in the most scathing terms for – of all things – being an “agent” of the devil!

(I love the way Jesus did things. He could so quickly separate the wheat from the chaff!)

In other words, Jesus was telling Peter that even though He had just “upgraded” him to the status of archbishop, this hadn’t changed him one little bit on the inside.

It is clear from these scriptures that you can be in the ministry but still be a carnal Christian. That means we have three clear types of ministers within the Body of Christ:

  1. The fake ones. These are incredibly many.
  2. The genuine, but carnal ones. Another large lot. This is the group we have been discussing so far.
  3. The genuine and truly spiritual ministers. This is a very small group since, as Jesus said, Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Mat. 7:14). Notice the word few.

That is why I love the way the Apostle Paul preached. Y’know, Paul came and revealed these great ministries within the Body of Christ, and he also revealed many other things. He revealed about the power of the cross, about grace, about even the state of the dead, and of the return of Christ. Paul had such incredible revelation of the Kingdom of God!

Indeed, even the other apostles noticed and acknowledged that Paul had a special ministry and they gave him the right hand of fellowship. Peter eventually wrote about Paul and, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, he talked about the special revelation that Paul had been given by God (2 Pet. 3:15).

This man, Paul, was no mean minister of the gospel.

But the truly captivating thing is that Paul, this “great minister” of the Word, would boast in none of those things. He would boast in nothing, absolutely – except only one: the cross of Jesus Christ.

He would only boast in a crucified life. He would boast only of what that cross had done to his flesh, and how in crucifying his flesh thereon he had been set free to do God’s will.

That is a lesson that every minister first, and then every believer, should learn above anything else. It is something that cannot be over-emphasized.

The way we know human nature, it is truly incredible that a man of Paul’s natural and spiritual capabilities could find nothing in all his experiences to boast about except what the cross had achieved in his life!

Today there are many things that people are boasting of in church. People are looking for things to boast in. The big titles, especially, are at a premium. Minister So-and-so. Apostle So-and-so. Prophet So-and-so.

Prosperity and the good life is also a big issue with these kinds of people. A high-profile preacher once took me to the multi-storied mansion he was building. He told me that even the local government was aware of his house. The house was so expensive I was thinking in terms of the CIA being aware!

But you wouldn’t have found the early apostles in any of these groupings or settings. They had nothing of this world – literally. No possessions, no fame, nothing. Jesus called Himself “The Son of Man”. He wouldn’t even call Himself the Son of God. And He had nowhere to lay His head.

But Jesus did achieve one thing. He carried His cross. The apostles also took up their cross and followed Christ. For them, all that mattered was taking up their cross and following Christ’s example.

[Sandwiched between State House and the Indian Ocean is a place where one can cool off from the hot mid-day Dar es Salaam sun]

Image4982

Prosperity Gospel vs Suffering for Christ

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him… Is. 53:10

Moses never went through the sufferings that his brethren underwent under Pharaoh’s brutal oppression. But soon enough he would undergo sufferings of his own, probably more severe than the Israelites were going through. Soon he would fall from a position of unlimited power and luxury to become a poor shepherd “boy”. He would know rejection, and loneliness. He would know the simple life like he had never known it in his life. It would be a system shock for him.

When Moses killed the Egyptian in defense of his people, he thought he knew God; but God told him no. In the wilderness, after the liberation of the children of Israel, Moses would know more suffering. He would know opposition. He would know hunger and thirst (40 days he spent in the presence of the Lord without food or water). Moses would pass through much for him to claim to know God.

In other words, in order for Moses to fit in with God’s plan for his life, he had to suffer. This is so important for the church to grasp. If it pleased God to “bruise” Jesus, it can hardly be supposed that we will not be “bruised” in like manner. Yes, we will, and we must be willing and prepared to pass through the same sufferings in the flesh that Christ went through. If we truly desire to be conformed to the image of Christ, we will rejoice at this revelation.

But the charismatic gospel that teaches the good life simply has no idea of this singular fact which confronts every child of God who desires to please God. That is why the bulk of today’s gospel is at fault. It does not recognize that our lives are to be identified with the sufferings and death of Christ on the cross. Nearly everything else is taught in church today, except that. But the sufferings of Christ are the essence of the gospel.

I can comfortably say that the majority of the church today has not grasped the revelation that the Apostle Paul received concerning our identification with Christ in His sufferings and death. But suffering and dying with Christ is the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have never read of anyone in the Bible who pleased God who did not go through some form of suffering.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him…”

The Bible also says, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18). Who are tempted? It is we. And how are we tempted? It is through the sufferings that we undergo in the flesh that our faith is tried.

In the clip below I want to show that the comfortable gospel that many of today’s major Pentecostal preachers are preaching something that clearly goes against the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The vein of their doctrine is the good worldly life. No hint of welcome for the sufferings of Christ.

Someone, in trying to defend these preachers, talked of context. But there is no issue of context here. You do not need  context to know where these men and women are headed.

The real tragedy here is that these are the kind of churches where the majority of Christians are concentrated. This is where many of God’s people are being comfortably robbed of their spiritual inheritance.

So what should we do? The Bible says “come out from among them” (2 Cor. 6:17). Yes. Come out from these kinds of churches. That’s painful and difficult, but it is the only way.

Way too many of God’s children are sitting comfortably by as worldly preachers whittle away their spiritual inheritance while promising them the temporal things of this world.

[Below: No suffering!]

The Simplicity of Godly Men

10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.
11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.
17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
Gen. 28:10-22

It is incredible how simple the men and women who knew God in the Bible were. It is incomprehensible to me that someone would meet God face to face and the only thing he could think to ask of God was safe passage, food and raiment. But this was exactly what this great partriarch did.

And he did it for a reason: “So that I come again to my father’s house in peace”.

These men did not desire a simple life for simplicity’s sake; rather, it was because they had their sights on something else.

It is so interesting how the men in the Bible had a singular vision. They did not see “all over the world”. They had a singular focus. And their focus was not on worldly things, however ‘spiritual’ they might appear. They focused on something heavenly, something truly spiritual.

Here we see Jacob’s singular vision: “So that I come again to my father’s house in peace”.

We need to understand that scripture cannot be interpreted in the natural. This is why our minds have absolutely no place in God’s plan of revealing things. The “father’s house” that Jacob is referring to is the land that was given to Abraham and his offspring by God through a promise; and anything that is promised by or given by or is of God in any way is spiritual. That is why a born-again believer is spiritual throughout, and if we are not we need to be.

And Jacob says, ‘That I go back there in peace’.

The Godly men and women of old had only one reason for living in this world: to accomplish God’s righteousness in their lives. As far as this world was concerned, all Jacob wanted were the bare necessities. He had his sights elsewhere: “So that I come again to my father’s house in peace”. That is a spiritual statement, if ever there was one!

Today, the concept of “bare necessities” has been bashed into submission by a materially-minded gospel. I once actually saw a prominent preacher say on television: “God wants you to have ten houses!” That’s not a fable; it is a fact.

If you are poor or if you are deficient in anything of this world today, you are labeled: ‘You have no faith!’

And yet we see Jacob praying to God, ‘If you will only give me safe passage in this world, food and raiment’, that was enough.

The men and women who knew God in the Bible did not think too much of this world. They knew God could bless them with the things of this world if He so desired. But they did not set their hearts on those things. They looked for something spiritual. That is the bottom line: they looked for something spiritual.

In Hebrews 11:9-10 the Bible speaks of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the following manner: “9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

These three men looked for something spiritual.

The Apostle Paul humbly says in 1 Timothy 6:8, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”

Paul uses the same language Jacob used. The apostles looked for something spiritual!

And yet, all these simple men were the truly great men of this world. The Bible says that these were men “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38).

The great men of God did not look for the great things of this world. They looked for the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom in their lives. They looked for that deep inner work of the cross in their hearts.

How far away the church has gone that we cannot use the same language today that these men used! It is so sad how the church has left the spiritual path and has turned into a carnal entity, believing that the things it justifies itself in seeking after are what is in God’s heart.

God in His magnanimity has no problem with us owning these things, and probably they are good for this world.

But even after we receive them we should hold onto them with our fingertips, because they are things that God will not allow into heaven. You cannot drive a Hummer into God’s heavenly Kingdom. And not even a healthy body will be allowed into that Kingdom. God will gladly welcome a healthy spirit into His Kingdom, but not a body, however healthy. The Bible in 1 Cor. 15:50 says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Sometimes it takes us eons to finally believe the Word of God!

There are ‘ministries’ today which have turned healing into the de facto Kingdom message.

But the message of the Kingdom of God is the singular message of the cross of Jesus Christ.

I love the gospel of the cross. You can go to heaven and back, but you will not find any other gospel that zeroes in on what God wants to do in our lives.

I thank God for the revelation that He gave to the Apostle Paul: “Christ, and him crucified”!

[Below: I give you praise, Lord, for health and strength and for the revelation of the cross in my life]

The Simplicity of Godly Men

10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.
11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.
17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
Gen. 28:10-22

It is incredible how simple the men and women who knew God in the Bible were. It is incomprehensible to me that someone would meet God face to face and the only thing he could think to ask of God was safe passage, food and raiment. But this was exactly what this great partriarch did.

And he did it for a reason: “So that I come again to my father’s house in peace”.

These men did not desire a simple life for simplicity’s sake; rather, it was because they had their sights on something else.

It is so interesting how the men in the Bible had a singular vision. They did not see “all over the world”. They had a singular focus. And their focus was not on worldly things, however ‘spiritual’ they might appear. They focused on something heavenly, something truly spiritual.

Here we see Jacob’s singular vision: “So that I come again to my father’s house in peace”.

We need to understand that scripture cannot be interpreted in the natural. This is why our minds have absolutely no place in God’s plan of revealing things. The “father’s house” that Jacob is referring to is the land that was given to Abraham and his offspring by God through a promise; and anything that is promised by or given by or is of God in any way is spiritual. That is why a born-again believer is spiritual throughout, and if we are not we need to be.

And Jacob says, ‘That I go back there in peace’.

The Godly men and women of old had only one reason for living in this world: to accomplish God’s righteousness in their lives. As far as this world was concerned, all Jacob wanted were the bare necessities. He had his sights elsewhere: “So that I come again to my father’s house in peace”. That is a spiritual statement, if ever there was one!

Today, the concept of “bare necessities” has been bashed into submission by a materially-minded gospel. I once actually saw a prominent preacher say on television: “God wants you to have ten houses!” That’s not a fable; it is a fact.

If you are poor or if you are deficient in anything of this world today, you are labeled: ‘You have no faith!’

And yet we see Jacob praying to God, ‘If you will only give me safe passage in this world, food and raiment’, that was enough.

The men and women who knew God in the Bible did not think too much of this world. They knew God could bless them with the things of this world if He so desired. But they did not set their hearts on those things. They looked for something spiritual. That is the bottom line: they looked for something spiritual.

In Hebrews 11:9-10 the Bible speaks of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the following manner: “9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

These three men looked for something spiritual.

The Apostle Paul humbly says in 1 Timothy 6:8, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”

Paul uses the same language Jacob used. The apostles looked for something spiritual!

And yet, all these simple men were the truly great men of this world. The Bible says that these were men “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38).

The great men of God did not look for the great things of this world. They looked for the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom in their lives. They looked for that deep inner work of the cross in their hearts.

How far away the church has gone that we cannot use the same language today that these men used! It is so sad how the church has left the spiritual path and has turned into a carnal entity, believing that the things it justifies itself in seeking after are what is in God’s heart.

God in His magnanimity has no problem with us owning these things, and probably they are good for this world.

But even after we receive them we should hold onto them with our fingertips, because they are things that God will not allow into heaven. You cannot drive a Hummer into God’s heavenly Kingdom. And not even a healthy body will be allowed into that Kingdom. God will gladly welcome a healthy spirit into His Kingdom, but not a body, however healthy.

There are ‘ministries’ today which have turned healing into the de facto Kingdom message.

But the message of the Kingdom of God is the singular message of the cross of Jesus Christ.

I love the gospel of the cross. You can go to heaven and back, but you will not find any other gospel that zeroes in on what God wants to do in our lives.

I thank God for the revelation that He gave to the Apostle Paul: “Christ, and him crucified”!

[Below: I give you praise, Lord, for the revelation of the cross]

The Priorities Of Life – Part 2

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. 1 Jn. 2:15-17

My last deposition in this 2-part series deals with the born-again believer’s attitude towards materialism. Actually, that is a contradiction. Christianity and materialism do not go together. Let me put it as clearly as I can right up front: WE HAVE NOTHING TO LIVE FOR IN THIS WORLD.

Everything that is in this world has to do with the lust of the flesh. That is why the Word of God says that “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof”.

I believe it is an affront of the highest order for a portion of the church to believe that Jesus left His abode in heaven and came to endure all that He endured in this world so that we might live a comfortable material life here on earth as “King’s Kids”. It is like saying that He died so that we might keep up with the Joneses!

That is atrocious, to say the least. God has not called us to such a race. As far as I can see in the Bible, the only promise that God gives to His children concerning this material world is that He will meet our basic needs. God’s attitude with regard to our life here on earth is best captured in the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy: “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1 Tim. 6:8). I wonder how we can add anything to that.

But Christians today are not just adding to God’s Word; they are actually contesting scripture!

I recently overheard a preacher of a mega-church in our city say over the radio, “The life of Lazarus (the poor beggar who lived on the crumbs which fell from his rich neighbor’s table) is not a model of the life that we have been called to live as children of God. His life is a disgrace! It is a cursed life. We are blessed. We are supposed to live the high life!”

In fact, her sermon was all about Lazarus and she literally ripped him apart. My heart fainted as I thought of all those unfortunate, deprived Christians listening to her on their small FM radios. They must have been devastated.

There are many “spirits” at work today, and this preacher certainly was talking under the influence of one (or probably a ‘legion’) of them; but I happen to know she was not talking under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

No doubt when she talked about Lazarus’ life, this poor preacher was referring to his natural life. She utterly failed to see Lazarus’ rich spiritual life. (Of course, it is not written down but from Jesus’ words you can gather that Lazarus was a God-fearing man.) She just saw Lazarus the sore-infested beggar, and she despised him. She did not see the Lazarus who lived a life that pleased God in the Spirit.

And, by the way, who said that begging is a sin? I don’t see that in the Bible. I will tell you what sin is in this setting. Pride and arrogance are.

The ‘prosperity’ gospel has been planted into the church by the enemy and it has received a large following because it is a close companion to the flesh, which grabs at it the way a drowning man grasps at a piece of straw. Many people, for a lack of a revelation of the true gospel of Jesus Christ that says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mat. 16:24) rush into the arms of such preachers. They are unaware that there is the true gospel, the revelation of the cross in our lives where we can gladly crucify the flesh and all its worldly lusts.

I personally know of dear, beloved brethren whose hearts are, unfortunately, very much on money. They are set on “making money”. One brother called me and said, “I am in the U.S. to seek after the mighty dollar!” I loved his candour.

I love these brethren, and I am not judging them. But it is also true that, with the gospel, you cannot have your cake and eat it.

We are spiritual. Whatever our lot in life, we must single-mindedly seek after only one thing. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mat 6:21). Our hearts need to be where our treasure is, which is God’s spiritual Kingdom. We need to seek after spiritual things. Our lives need to be alive to the will of God.

Paul sums it up well in Colossians 3:1-4, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”

For this to happen, we need to hear the right gospel, the gospel of the revelation of the cross. We cannot just swallow anything and hope that we will become spiritual. Becoming a spiritual person requires the keenest attention to that narrow road that Jesus talked about; and when we hear the right gospel, that road becomes clearer and clearer in our hearts.

We are not called to seek after this earthly life. Far from it, the Bible says about this world and its lusts, “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof”.