Ability

lioness-314605_640Isaiah 36:8: Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.

Ability comes from God. Paul said we are not sufficient in ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, our sufficiency is of God, who has make us able ministers of the gospel, not of the letters but of the Spirit (2Corinthians 3:6).

There is a difference between self-efforts and the Spirit’s effort within us, as he works in us, both to will and to do of the will of God (Philippians 2:13). When Jesus was going to leave the disciples, he told them that he will not leave them comfortless. He was not going to leave them helpless, leave them disoriented, and leave them wondering what to do next, leave them confused (John 14:16-18).

He was going to send an helper to them- the Holy Spirit. They are supposed to take their relationship with the Holy Spirit serious. He was going to be in them (John 14:17). A spiritual flow will come from within them. Their sense of mission will come from within them and the ability to carry out the mission will come from the same place.

Jesus made a public proclamation that if anyone thirsts he should come to him and the water he shall give him shall be in him rivers of living water (John 7:37-39). And that water, according to John, is the Holy Spirit, which means everyone who believes in Jesus can be given the capacity to flow in the life of God, move in the Spirit. Paul will later write that as many as are led by the Holy Spirit they are the Sons of God (Romans 8:14). The same Spirit through whose work made Jesus declared to be the son of God also affirms divine sonship in us through his leading, through his work as the divine ability in us.

In a story in the book of Ezekiel, a prophetic story, there was water coming from the threshold of the temple (we are the temple of the Holy Spirit [1Corinthians 3:16-17]) and that water was life-living (Ezekiel 47:1-9). Wherever the water gets to what is dead comes alive. The power of the Spirit makes us extraordinary. We are spiritual beings, capable of spiritual impact.

Jesus said that he is the vine and we are the branches, i.e. the same level of power and ability in him is also in us (John 15:1-10). That was backed up by Paul when he said that it was the same power that raised Jesus from the dead that also worked in us making us come alive, taking us from the state of being dead in trespasses and sin, to being made alive by the Spirit through faith (Ephesians 1:15-2:9). We are now spiritually alive with spiritual abilities.

Paul said that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection of the dead (Romans 1:4), and we get to share in that reality as parts of his body. We are made alive by the same power that made him alive, that changed him from the dead raising him up to the right hand of power, where we also are in him.

That is why Jesus told the apostles that whoever believes in the words of the gospel will lay hands on the sick and they will recover, will cast our devils; they will walk in the same power he walked in on the earth, walking in the same power he walked in.

He had told the disciples that whoever believers in him will do the works he does and even greater works than that they will do (John 14:12). That means the manifestation in the life of Jesus while he was in the flesh was a demonstration of the minimum that we should walk in as members of his body.

We should recognise that his being in us now (Romans 8:9), we can do much more in us as a collective body. He was just one, and since being Christians is all about being like Christ, we should recognise the tremendous power at work in us, we are multiplied “Christs” on the earth. And Paul said that the whole creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.

That is one of the prayer points of Paul. He prayed that the eyes of our understanding will be enlightened so that we make fully walk in the reality of the power that is at work in us, which was the same which worked in Jesus raising him from the dead (Ephesians 2:1-9).

The special abilities that we have through Christ are called gifts. That means we do not work for them, they work in us, they define our spiritual uniqueness, the dimension in which we contribute to the body of Christ. They define our usefulness.

Jesus said that his food is to do the will of God and to complete his work (John 4:34). That is the same for us in a spiritual sense. We all have service points; those are points in which the grace of God flows from us to others.

Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep (John 21:1-17). He was not to think that he was not significant since he denied Jesus thrice (Luke 22:61). He had an assignment to carry out, he had a job to do, and he had the people of God to serve.

We are not supposed to think just about ourselves or our convenience. The highest form of fulfilment that God designed for the Christian is to contribute his role in the body of God. The great challenge for the churches is to turn each member into a minister. That should be noticeable in the “DNA” of the church.

People come from different backgrounds. But we should all move forward to discover the expression of our spiritual gifts and use them. The problem has been the emphasis on the positions of the apostle, teacher, prophet, pastor and evangelist, which are set in the church by Christ (Ephesians 4:9-16) and so are most prominent.

They are the minority, the leadership cadre, but there are myriads of other gifts. These are anything which you do with ease, with joy and in a way that definitely makes you seem alive in a special way. It cuts across all human interests. In that context you are meant to be light, you are to be the salt of the earth, you are to be God’s undercover agent. As people come in contact with you in the course of pursuing your secular or spiritual interests, impacting them for the course of Christ should be the natural course of things. In that context you are the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, the teacher, the pastor, and using a whole plethora of spiritual possibilities that you bring to bear there.

Wherever we are, we are representatives of Christ. Paul said that we are ambassadors of Jesus Christ (2Corinthians 5:20). We are in the world but not of the world (John 17:14). We came with higher power to free the “earthlings” from their endless futile pursuits, helping them to experience the glorious liberty of the sons of God (Romans 8:19-21).

Jesus said that he wants the people to be his witness everywhere in the world, and he gives the supernatural ability to make that positive impact, by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), helping them to express the divine life in a way that makes Jesus’ manifest, though he is not physical here.

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Purifying fire

sweden-123784_640Isaiah 4:4: when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.

We need the experience of the fire to rid us of our impurities. From the focus verse, God said that his solution to impurity is fire. Isaiah experienced the fire of God for that purpose.

In a vision he saw God high and lifted up (Isaiah 6:1-8). In the light of God’s presence he saw the starkness of his own impurity. He cried out: I am a man of unclean lips.

He knew he could not help himself. There was nothing he could do. He might have tried to do something to change himself to no avail. Help however came in the form of the fire from the presence of God, purifying him leading up to many more years of spiritual service. Paul said that it is those who purge themselves of impurities who will be fit for noble use in the great house of God (2Timothy 2:19-22).

Jesus is called the baptiser with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:16). The “Holy” Spirit is sent to help us in our holiness walk, especially by his impurity consuming fire dimension.

Peter said that we should be holy as our father is holy and we have the Holy Spirit called the Helper for that, in its unseen influence in our lives (John 3:3-8). It is clear that the direction our thoughts go, that is where our lives go. And the Spirit serves to influence our thoughts in the direction of God. The alternative is for us to have our thoughts stirred in the opposite direction, as Eve’s thoughts were (Genesis 3); she was made to consider an alternative to the will of God.

That is why the bible wants us to watch the company we keep. The man that will be blessed will not keep company with the scornful, the corrupt (Psalm 1). The bible says that we should not be deceived, evil company corrupt good manners (1Corinthians 15:33).   Hence we are called to prioritise fellowship with other Christians (Hebrews 10:24-25), through speaking the truth in love we get to be built up in all things into Christ (Ephesians 4:7-16). What you are being built into shows what is being broken in our lives, in action reaction rhythm. The change that the word of God brings to your life is not measureable.

There is power in the word to transform, to bring us to a place of change. We cannot change ourselves. We need outside help. Isaiah needed the coal of fire brought from the presence of God; we need the fire of the Holy Spirit and the force of the word to work in our lives to move us into the realm of change and glory.

We are meant to be conveyors of the glory and the power of God, and we receive help by the power of God to be different, to be transformed. There is a spirit working in the children of disobedience into his world (Ephesians 2:2), if we are not fully yielded to the Holy Spirit, to work in us, we will be sucked into the world in its decadent and corrupt mindset.

We are to look to Jesus, following his example of grace, power and commitment to God (Hebrews 12:1-3). Daily we can come to the throne of grace to receive help to live like Jesus (Hebrews 4:16). Rather than complain about the negative influences in the world, we can ask for God’s divine influence to be active in our lives to help is live about the world’s level.

Purity is the quality that God wants, and the version Jesus brings is the inside-out version, while the Pharisee are satisfied with the outside “holiness”. For them once the outside is clean that is all that mattered.

But Jesus said make the tree (in itself) clean and the fruit will be clean (Matthew 12:33). But no man can reach his heart to clean it up. And Jeremiah says that the heart for man has wickedness locked inside (Jeremiah 17:9). But the blood of Jesus has the power to access man deep in his heart (Hebrews 9:14) and with that the heart of stone of man is changed into that of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), from wicked to becoming the containers of the goodness of God.

Paul said we should do “good” to all men especially those who are in the household of faith (Galatians 6:10), following Jesus who Luke said went about doing “good” to people and healing those who are oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). In another place, Paul said that we should not be weary in doing “good” because in due season we will reap if we faint not (Galatians 6:9). The purifying fire leaves only goodness in your heart, leaves only the words of grace in your mouth and leaves only pleasant thoughts in your mind.

In the experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, at the first time in Acts chapter 2, fire appeared on the head of the people, and they began to speak in tongues as the spirit gave them utterance. Since fire is associated with purification, the process of speaking in tongues therefore should be seen as being associated with purification. Paul specifically said that when we speak in tongues we build ourselves up (1Corinthians 14:2, 4), and that in a spiritual sense inclusive of holiness.

Jude when warning against being influenced by the rot-bearers in the church told his audience that they are to sin-proof their lives by praying in the Holy Spirit. After listing the various dangers and corrupting influences around, he said: but you are building up your faith on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit. That is a different kind of praying. There is the praying in the Holy Spirit, which Paul calls praying with the Spirit as opposed to praying with the understanding, the natural mind (1Corinthians 14:14-15).

When he was listing the armour of God which we are supposed to put on, being strong in the Lord and in the power of his might (e.g. to resist Satan’s sin influence), he ended by highlighting the importance of praying in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18).

These are words that are unknown, unlearned language that may sound like babbling. It is the groaning (Romans 8:26) that cannot be uttered (naturally communicated), deep yearning coming from deep within. It is like fire coming from our spirit spilling to the soul and cleaning it up; cleaning up the thinking, the emotions and the will, setting us up for a life of holiness. Speaking in tongues activates the presence of the Holy Spirit to produce his holiness in our lives.

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Prophetic word: to speak against sin is important

To speak against sin is important. Then those who hear and who are not Christians but want to be free will know that freedom is in Jesus and come running to his open arms. And they will receive help by receiving salvation. They come realising that otherwise, they are helpless.

But many preachers do not want to preach against sin because they themselves are enmeshed in it. They are afraid that if they preach too much against sin they might be exposed as a fraud. These people become the gates through which different sins find entrance and place in the church.

Some are not enmeshed in sin but they do not preach against it because they do not want to offend people. They do not know that what they permit, they enforce by default. They have become partakers of other people’s sin.

By not speaking against it they give the people permission to continue in the error of their ways. They will be judged as if they commit the sin. The judgment is not only for those who commit the sin but also for those who give others permission either covertly or overtly to continue. If you will not speak out then the blood is on your head, you will bear similar blame, even if by yourself you are as clean as can be.

 

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The flame of the Lord

fire-184527_640Song of Solomon 8:6: Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.

The chapter is the end of the Songs of love, and things have gotten serious. There are words used in this verse like seal, heart, love, strong, jealousy, grave and fire/flame which attests to the seriousness of the topic of discussion, the seriousness of love.

Love defines who you are attached to. So you better be attached to the right person. It can make or mar you. Since life is about relationship, getting into the right ones and getting out of the wrong ones are very important; to put your life in the right order.

Seal

There is no love without a sense of possessiveness; that sense of ownership, because love involves the giving of yourself, and in a related sense you become incomplete when separated from the object of your love.

The seal is a sign of ownership and also of commitment. So the statement: set me as a seal on your heart, means mark yourself as being mine, and by that see that I am commitment to you in an absolute sense.

The woman wants the man to set her as a seal on his heart and arm. The arm speaks of effort, the expenditure of energy. So she expects that everything he has to be for her.

Heart

The heart is the seat of purpose. So to be as a seal on the heart means to be added to that man’s purpose. The woman was saying: I want to become part of who you are, involved in your purpose, as your reason for living. That was what Jesus did, and through his death and resurrection we get to be part of his body, in a fully functional sense, not just in a theological sense.

The heart is the place for the operation of the love of God, but we need to be careful because all other kinds of love are in competition with the love of God for our hearts and the bible says that we should guard our hearts with all diligence because whatever love takes root in our live, that love will bear fruit, either it is the love of God (fruits of life) or the love of the world (fruits of death).

Moving in the power of God has something to with the heart, it is the place where we agree with God and Amos asked can two people walk together except they are agreed (Amos 3:3)? A heart full of God’s love is full of God and so is in agreement with God.

Love

Love is the overall theme of the book. It is the one word into which Jesus summarised the whole commandments of God (Mark 12:28-31). Love shows the direction in which we are moving. Love propels us, motivates us, it colours our world and actions. Everything we do is based on love, where love of self or love of God.

Paul said that in the last days, men shall be lovers of themselves and not lovers of God (2Timothy 3:1-5). Man will become even more self-centred than ever in history, instead of God-centred. Being God-centred in the last days will therefore make you seem a little wield, a little out of sorts (out of sync, out of flow, unaccepted) in this world, because they are moved by other loves while you are moved by the love of God. They do not know God; that means they do not know you (because you are of God) and you will be misunderstood.

Strong

Love has a binding influence. The cord of love is strong. That is the cord that God used to bind us to himself. For that purpose he gave us the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote that the love of God has been poured in our hearts by the Holy Spirit he has given to us (Romans 5:5), therefore binding us to himself, by the force of addiction. And John wrote against being attached (addicted) to the world. That binding cord to the world pulls us away from God.

Jealousy

Love has to do with jealousy. There is really no love without jealousy. Therefore God is described as a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). Because love is invested in its object, the loss of the connection (or the threat of it) with the object is loss of an investment. Lack of reciprocity of love breeds discontent. And that is saying it mildly.

James said that the Spirit in us is jealous over us because he communicates God’s passion for us, his sense of ownership (James 4:5-6). The Holy Spirit has an invested interest in us, because of the investment of the precious blood of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is sent to bring forth the fruit of the sacrificial love of God in our hearts, pulling us in the direction of his grace, seeking to cut off all the alternative kinds of influence on us.

Grave

Jealousy is as fierce as the grave. There is something about the grave, it stands for irreversibility. It pulls into it and does not let go, does not release. The love of God pulls you into himself, to cover us, swallow us in itself, make us die to our former affiliations and get us fully occupied with the demands of the divine love.

When love comes from a source, allegiance is demanded from the other side. So when God came down to save the children of Israel from the land of Egypt, in a strong expression of love, he demanded that they show commitment to him and the law was instituted to establish that commitment.

Fire/flame

Love described as fire means it has the power to consume. It is the fire of the love of God that removes impurities from us. It is that desire to please him, as we are on fire for him, that makes displeasing others for his sake nothing at all, melts away the fear of man from us (Proverbs 29:25). To be on fire for God is more than speaking in tongues, it involves pleasing him in all things. Jesus established the connection between love and obedience, saying if you love me, you will obey my commandment (John 14:15).

That is why the act of disobedience of Adam and Eve was more than just an expression of alternative opinion; it was a change from loving God to rejecting him and his love. And there was consequences, we still bear till today (Genesis 2:17; 3).

‘I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine’

red-29947_640Songs of Solomon 6:3: I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies.

The relationship between the husband and the wife had played out over the centuries, from the time God instituted marriage between Adam and Eve as the path of the deepest level for relationship between a man and a woman (Genesis 2-3).

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were the only human beings; they had a strong sense of being exclusive to each other.

It should be the same for marriages even now. Though there are other human beings, male and female around you, it should be as if they do not exist when it comes to the highest expression of the affection and deepest inner connection. Adam and Eve only had themselves. For you and your spouse, when it comes to certain things, it should be as if there is no one else on the earth, in the height of exclusivity.

Before God made Eve after making Adam (and the other animals), he said it was not good for man to be alone, hence the need to make him a fitting helper. So God made Eve and brought her to Adam. And he said this is the bone of my bones and the flesh of my flesh. That was another way of saying: I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. They shared a kinship, a sameness; a sense of being jointly unique and separate from the rest in all world. The same should be seen between you and your spouse, even if there are billions of people on the earth.

In the world you and your spouse should be like Adam and Eve with the rest (including the best of them) like the animals in the garden among whom God could not find any suitable for Adam. So no one is suitable for you in all the earth apart from your spouse. All others are “misfits.”

God had to take something from Adam: a rib, from which he specially-crafted Eve. So Eve was Adam’s, derived from him. Adam was also Eve’s; she came from him, as her original location. So they can say: I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.

The formation of the church is also derived from Christ. The part of Jesus from which the church the bride of Christ was formed is the “Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9).” After walking on the earth for forty days after his resurrection, He ascended to heaven and poured out the Spirit on them (Acts 2:33), forming them into the church and by the same Spirit, those who believe continue to add to the formation of the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33). With that we are his, and he is ours.

When it comes to possession, Jesus said that the life of a man does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses. He gave a parable about a man whose land brought forth plenty, and he decided to take it easy, build a bigger barn and have a swell time for the remaining time he has on the earth. But he died that night (Luke 12:13-21).

But in real terms, we are defined by what we have in spiritual essence, and certain intangibles. The woman, who dropped two coins into the offering container in the temple, did not have much in natural goods, but she had abundance of generousity in her heart (Mark 12:42-44). God looks at the heart and not the appearance (1Samuel 16:7).

In another place Jesus said that greatest shall be the servant of all (Mark 10:44). That means the servant heart is a possession of great value.

When it comes to faith Jesus said that we can have great faith (Matthew 8:10), little faith (Matthew 14:13)…. So faith as a possession also defines us. Jesus said we should have the faith of God, so that we can say to the mountain be removed and be thrown into the sea (Mark 11:22-24).

Paul wrote that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). So a love for the word of God is a good quality to possess. He also said that the word of Christ should be richly in our hearts.

We also have spiritual inheritance (which also manifests in the physical). Paul said that he commits the leaders of the church in Ephesus to the word of God’s grace which is able to build them up and give them an inheritance among those who are sanctified (Acts 20:32).

Jesus told the people after they have gone on a mission trip and healed the sick and cast out devils that they should not focus on their achievements but that their names are written in the kingdom of God. He wanted them to rejoice in their eternal possession rather than what the earthly.

Paul also wanted the people to set their hearts on things on heaven and not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:1-3). Though what we see are on the earth, we are supposed through the words of scriptures gain a hope, gain a picture, have an expectation, beyond the veil of time, flesh, beyond the veil of the consequence of Adam’s sin, beyond the limits of human perception.

Through the twisting of her perception, the devil was able to get Eve to choose the wrong thing, rejecting the word of God. And we inherit that twisted perception by birth, so we cannot rely on what we naturally perceive, neither on our emotion.

How did you think Eve felt when she took the fruit from the forbidden tree? She felt good, or else she would not have given it to her husband to eat. Decision therefore cannot be made on the basis of feeling alone.

Following his feeling, Peter said that Jesus should not die (Matthew 16:21-24). He was sentimental. He spoke based on human feelings, which seeks to avoid pain, avoid conflict.

But Jesus said: do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth, rather a sword (Matthew 10:34-39). He said his mission was to bring division into the family system as devotion to Christ brings a conflict within the entrenched family structure, as he builds the heavenly family (Ephesians 3:14-15), those who are his and he is there’s.