Authorities

taxi-cab-381233_640Luke 20:25: He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Everything is God’s and so everything should be rendered to God. That means God determines everything. Our lives should be lived in full commitment to him.

That is why everything the devil does is to lessen our commitment to God, to make us like himself, by moving us in the direction of rebellion.

The things that are God’s includes- yes, everything. He made everything (Genesis 1:1), and even the positions of authority in all realms were created by, him, and they continued to exist because he allowed them to (Colossians 1:16). Even the devil exists because of God permits it.

To God, we owe absolute allegiance, but we can express relative allegiance to other levels of authority as established by God. The bible says that we should submit to all authorities because they are ordained by God (1Peter 2:13-15), with a particular reference to visible ones, because the only invisible authority we submit to Jesus. He is Lord (Romans 10:9-10).

Church authority

The church authority exists because of Jesus. The bible says that we should submit to church elders, giving honour to them (Hebrews 13:7, 17).

Paul wrote about the authority he has not to pull the church down but to build it up (2Corinthians 10:8). He did not exercise any other authority, he was unmarried, so he did not express authority on the family front, he did not hold a civic position, he did not found a company, he did not pursue a social agenda.

And because of that he offended many because he neither fought for the emancipation of the women folks nor the abolition of slavery; and not even eradication of poverty.

Even in his writing he seems to advocate the continued repression of women, and he has been painted in a male chauvinistic colour, as he seemed to suggest that women folks experience a lesser version of the grace of Jesus.

But, he only preached the gospel, founding and strengthening churches, laying the foundation as a master builder (1Corinthians 3:10-11), bearing authority in the church. He was a preacher, teacher and apostle (2Timothy 1:11).

But he knew people will build on the foundations he laid through the authority he bore. And later on people will build the abolition of slavery on it, that all men are equal before God, being a basic tenet of his gospel, and that everyone is equally in need of salvation, since we were equally on the path to hell if not for Jesus.

He wrote that regardless of sex, social standing or ethnic background, we all need Christ, and that in Christ there is neither male nor female (Galatian 3:28-29). He did not pursue many things but in his writing and life, he laid the foundation for them.

Church authority is wielded by those whom Christ has appointed. The bible says that Christ has set some in the church: apostle, prophet, pastor teachers, and pastor (Ephesians 4:10-12, 1Corinthians 12:28).

The primary tool of their work is the word of God. That is the way Christ designed the church, because he himself is God the Word (John 1:1-3). As the word comes to the people, it manifests in different ways in their lives, helping them to walk fully in all the purposes of God for them (Colossians 1:9-10).

And these spokesmen for Christ the word, specially equipped and prepared for those roles, serve to release others into their various ministries (1Timothy 4:14).

The fivefold ministers expressed Christ’s authority through the word. And church leadership authority in vested in those people. The bible says that those who labour in the word should be given double honour (1Timothy 5:17).

Government authority

This is civic authority. Paul taught that we should give honour to civic authority (Romans 13:1-7), those who hold political authority. But what if they require you to disobey God? You should resist that authority, like Daniel and his friends did in Babylon (Daniel 1, 3).

We can and should be involved with the civic authority (Daniel and his friends were). We should identify with the flag of the nation. God told the people of Israel while in Babylon that they should pray for the land (the highest level of commitment) since they will prosper in its prosperity (Jeremiah 29:7).

We see Paul identifying with Rome saying he was born there as he enforced his birthright (Acts 22:25-27). So our identification with the kingdom of God is not in opposition to our identification with an earthly country at the civic, sociocultural level, as the so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses want you to believe.

We are not meant to resist the authority of government rather pray for them. The bible says that prayer should be made for those in authority so that they will do the right thing, and we would live peaceably and serve God unhindered (1Timothy 2:1-2).

Family authority

In the family setting the father, the husband, is the head, and the wife is commanded to submit (Ephesians 5:22-33). The children are told to obey their earthly parents (Colossians 3:20). But if such a parent wants to hinder your worship of God, rebellion is in order, the same with the any other authority, even “church” authority.

Paul wrote that wives should submit to their own husbands as to the Lord, because the relationship between the husband and the wife should be a picture of Christ and the church, noting that the church should submit to Christ in everything.

Christ cares for the church unconditionally and loves her, giving his life for her.

Every true authority have a measure of sacrifice involved, as we see Christ sacrifice his life to save the church, which is the action. True authority also has an element of love involved, serving as the motivation of the leader.

Economic authority

Submitting to economic authority is about the being very dutiful and diligent (Romans 12:11). Expressing what that means Paul said that the slave and in our case the employee, should render to the master all respect and obedience, due diligence (1Timothy 6:1-5).

As far as he was concerned, that is a strong expression of Christian testimony, carrying out your job, assignment effectively even if the master is difficult (Titus 2:9-10, Ephesians 6:5-9, Colossians 3:22, 1Timothy 6:1). That is why being unwilling to work is frowned against in the bible (2Thessalonians 3:6-12). If you bear economic authority pay your workers promptly, said James (James 5:4). That is a responsibility of the one who bear economic authority.

Conclusion

One thing that is due to all authority is honour and submission, obedience. But for those who bear the authority, the bible says that he who is faithful in little will be given authority over many (Luke 19:17).

That means regardless of the level of authority we have, it can be expanded, as we are faithful in that application of one level of the authority, if becomes a platform for increase for us, to get to higher levels of authority.

If you are faithful in little you are faithful in much, says the bible (Luke 16:10). Faithfulness is being truthful to the word of God in what you do, expressing commitment and showing respect to the one who is the source of all authorities.

David increased in authority, coming from only ruling over Judah to ruling over the whole of Israel, while Saul had the kingdom taken from him, when he did not express faithfulness to God. Being faithful is also about humbling yourself under the mighty hand of God that he will lift you up in due season (1Peter 5:6).

Those with authority are to use it for positive change and empowering others, and not for personal enjoyment. God said that the king of Israel should not accumulate horses for himself (Deuteronomy 17:16).

All authority is given by God and those who bear it will give account to him. James said: let not everyone seek to be teachers because they will have stricter judgement (James 3:1).

God deals with them more severely, because of the authority they bear, i.e. the leaders. Even Jesus went through trial, the one who will bear ultimate authority. The bible said that he cried out to God who was able to save him, and that he learnt obedient by the things he suffered (Hebrews 5:7-9). He was going to bear all authority and he needed to be upright when it comes to obedience, shaped aright.

 

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More than enough

hands-306713_640Luke 15:17: “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!

This is reflection of the personality of God the father. In the presence of God there is fullness of Joy and on his right hand are pleasure forever more (Psalm 16:11). Those words we read in the book of psalms. It has words like fullness and forevermore. Both give the picture of the extent of God’s power, ability, and expression.

Fullness

Fullness is about the extent in reference to space. Fullness of joy means there is no space left for another thing. It means we are so full of it we have no space for anything else. In the experience of fullness, we explore what that means for the spaces of our spirit, soul and body (1Thessalonians 5:23).

Spirit

When God made man in the Garden of Eden, he filled him with his breath, filled him with his Spirit (Genesis 2:7). But with sin man was emptied of the Spirit. Man was made to walk with the Spirit of God. But because of sin man was cut off from the spirit.

A new spirit comes inside the believer at spiritual birth (John 3:1-8), but there is something more, there is the baptism of the Holy called in the infilling of the Holy Spirit that should come later. Now we get to be filled with the Holy Spirit, powered by him in all our ways. God has lavished his Spirit on us (Acts 2), in his true abundance style. By the coming of the Holy Spirit we are also filled with love (Romans 5:5).

Soul

The soul is the mind, emotion and will. Rather than be full of the wrong thing (thought, emotion, will pattern) we get to be full of the right thing in the word of God.

Paul said that we should be filled with the word of Christ (Colossians 3:16), and we overflow from that. Peter said that those who speak should do so as being filled with God (1Peter 4:9-11). We should be so filled with understanding and knowledge that we are able to please God in all way and at all times (Colossians 1:9-10). Knowledge and understanding is not for show-off but so we can please God.

We should also be full of discernment (Philippians 1:9) which will aid the outflow of love from us. Our soul needs a constant refill of the word. Jesus said that man shall not live by bread alone but by a constant refill on the word of God, which imparts life to our souls (Luke 4:4).

Body

What should our body be filled with if not sound health? And not only that, but we overflow in the same to others. As we lay our hands on them, Jesus said that they will recover (Mark 16:15-18). When Peter and John healed a man who was lame from birth, the explanation was that it was the name of Jesus who gave the man soundness of health (Acts 3:16).

That means soundness of health be can a gift, and Jesus through his stripes became the gift of healing and health for us (1Peter 2:24). On himself he bore our sicknesses and diseases. Here on earth the Holy Spirit gets to quicken our mortal body, applying the work of Jesus to our body (Romans 8:11).

Therefore our spirit, soul and body get to be filled in the now with the essence of God, for the super abundance of the experience of God in those three dimensions of man.

No impossibility with God

God is not caged by time. He is beyond time, which is why he should be feared. Mere humans can only affect you in time (Mathew 10:28), which is not significant, it is God’s opinion that matters. Man can only kill the body but God can destroy both body and soul in hell.

His decisions puts into cognizance his eternal plan, so you do well for yourself to yield to his will, to move by his rhythm. He is the one declaring the end from the beginning, saying: I will do my will I perform all my counsel (Isaiah 46:10). Nothing catches him unawares.

Jesus said: what is impossible with man, is possible with God (Matthew 19:26). God asked Moses, is my hand suddenly withered that the extent of my ability is reduced (Numbers 11:23)? That is not possible. God said that his hands are not shortened that he cannot save (Isaiah 59:1). There is no “cannot” with God.

Elijah’s experience

When there was scarcity in the land of Israel, the fact that the weather condition was suddenly unfavourable and everywhere was dry does not mean that God suddenly ran out of ideas in how to provide for Elijah (1Kings 17-18).

At first God commanded ravens to bring meat twice a day for Elijah and to drink water from a brook called Cherith, where God commanded him to be.

Therefore obedience is the best policy in experiencing the God who is more than enough. He is unlimited by those things that limit people even as he operates in the confines of time and space because God has resources to deploy that are beyond what we can think of.

The bible says that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly and above all that we can ask or think, not according to some accident of circumstance, but according to the power that is at work in us (Ephesians 3:20).

For Elijah, in the course of time, the water in the brook dried up, and God called him to move to the house of a widow, saying he had instructed her to feed him.

Here was a woman who only wanted to prepare the last meal for her and her son to eat and then wait to die, but God said he had commanded her to sustain Elijah, not just feed him!

Maybe it was not really the woman that the lord commanded, but her situation. God has decreed in the heavenlies that from her situation of “not enough,” God will create a “more than enough” provision to sustain Elijah for many months after.

And when Elijah met the woman what God said he had commanded was what he decreed. The bible says that we shall decree a thing and it shall be established unto us (Job 22:28). But what we decree is what we hear in our spirit that has been decreed by God. Elijah merely decreed to the woman the word of God, not something he concocted, or fancied. He was not on an ego trip, or running on presumptuous faith.

And in the final showdown with the prophets of Baal, before fire came down, he prayed to God: answer me today because I have only done this at your word. And God answer with fire from heaven.

He did not stand before the children of Israel presuming that God will answer (or even hoping God will answer) him because he had put him on the spot, he was not testing God, rather he was acting based on his word. And fire came from heaven to lick up the sacrifice that Elijah had set up, in a mighty display from the one who is more than enough.

Will of God: knowing, preparing for, and doing it

glasses-272401_640Luke 12:47: And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

What you know determined how you live, but we do not always live by what we know, we might be pushed by peer pressure, by innate personality error, be subjected to the push of self will or the move of pride.

Adam is the example in knowing the will of God but walking away from it because of the pressure from her wife (Genesis 3). Saul walked away from the will of God because of pressure from his men (1Samuel 15).

A man writing in the book of proverbs said that he did not want God to give him too much or too little money so that he will not have to displease God by denying his name or steal respectively. As far as he was concerned, his financial status or lack of it would out pressure on him to do wrong, will push him away from walking in the will and word of God (Proverbs 30:7-9).

The servant in the focus verse only exists to do the will of his lord and so are we, anything to the contrary in us is definitely a thought against Christ and that is the reason for spiritual warfare.

Paul said that the weapon of our warfare is not carnal but empowered, mighty through God to the pulling down strong and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, taking captive every thought to the obedience of Christ (2Corinthians 10:1-6). Anything that expresses opposition to the absolute supremacy of God, even at the thought level is meant to be brought down. Such a high thing was established in the mind of Eve, against the word the command of God for herself and her husband. It was not taken captive, so they were taken captive. They paid an heavy price.

The devil told her: don’t bother about the commandment of God, you can be like God creating any commandment for yourself create a commandment for yourself, and expressing independence from God is real wisdom.

But God says that the wisdom of men is start foolishness to God (1Corinthians 3:19). When man left the way of God and followed his own ways, the end was destruction. The bible says that there is a way that seems to man but the end is destruction (Proverbs 14:12).

But there are certain issues raised on the focus verse that will now be examined. We need to know what the will of God is; but beyond that we need to prepare to do it and also (wait for it!) do it. The problem sometimes is not lack of knowledge but lack of preparation and action as the focus verse highlighted.

Preparation

The will of God is so serious, it needs to be prepared for.

  1. Submission preparation

Jesus prepared himself to do the will of God, and part of what he did was go to John the Baptist for the baptism that will launch him to his ministry (Matthew 3:1-6, 13-17, 4:1-11, Mark 1:1-15, Luke 3:21-22).

John was a known prophet while Jesus was totally unknown, but John’s purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus. Jesus needed the preparatory work of John climaxed in his own baptism by him. When John wanted to oppose Jesus when he came to be baptised, Jesus said he needed to fulfil all righteousness. He needed to go through every preparatory necessities.

  1. Holy Spirit preparation

The heaven opened and the Holy Spirit came upon him as part of the preparation. Just as experiencing the ministry of John the Baptist, was preparation for Jesus, experiencing the ministry of the one who have gone before him. He also needed to be prepared by being empowered by the Holy Spirit.

  1. Identity preparation

A voice came from heaven identifying him as the Son of God, so also we need a reaffirming of our peculiar spiritual identity under God, as part of our own preparation. Our identity comes before our activity. It gives meaning to it, and helps us to be faithful in service, because it means we are being only true to ourselves, not just carrying out some tasks, and getting frustrated along the way. And just as Jesus submitted to the ministry of those who have gone before us so must we, ditto being baptised in the Holy Spirit, and the strengthening of our spiritual identity.

We see this repeated in the life of Paul. When Christ met him on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:1-31, 26:11-18), and he called Jesus Lord, God sent Ananias (an older, known Christian) to lay hands on him in Damascus, just as John laid hands on Jesus (one cannot be baptised without hands laid on him).

Paul had to submit to the ministry of Ananias, and at the same time he was baptised in the Holy Spirit, empowered before he was released to ministry in any form (Acts 1:8). And through Ananias God told Paul what his mission was, confirming what Christ had told him earlier, just as John confirmed to Jesus what he already knew about himself.

  1. Fasting preparation

Jesus submitted himself to that process of preparation. Thereafter he was led into the wilderness for forty final days of preparation. He did not eat forty days. It is interesting also that Paul did not eat or drink for three days before Ananias came to meet him.

  1.  Prayer preparation

Fasting in some form or the other is definitely part of preparing ourselves to do the will of God. And also prayer. Jesus was praying as he was coming from coming up from the water at Jordan when he was baptised. Also Paul, Jesus told Ananias, was in prayer after his supernatural encounter with Christ and before Ananias came by.

  1. Trial preparation

Jesus gained victory of Satan in the wilderness (he was tempted for forty day), where he was driven after the baptism of John. That shows that trials and test are part of the preparation for ministry. You see Paul going blind for three days even after meeting Christ. He had to be guided by hand to Damascus, contrary to what his go-getter self would have wanted.

  1. Victory preparation

Jesus gained victory over the devil in the wilderness, and he reaped the fruit of it by casting out devils right left and centre afterwards, in an expression of unquestioning dominion. His private victory over demonic operation, became part of his preparation for public ministry.

Paul also had to overcome his own spiritual blindness to qualify to give sight to others. Later he would affirm that it was the devil who blinds people so that the light of the gospel will not shine in our hearts (2Corinthians 4:4), himself inclusive.

The number seven preparation for ministry is victory over trial. The greater the trial, the greater the victory, which prepares for great effect in the field of doing the will of God.

If Jesus had not dealt with Satan, binding the strong man, he would not be able to pillage his goods, being his explanation when the Pharisee said he cast out devil but the prince of demons (Matthew 12:24-29).

Preparation is person specific

Preparation is beyond lip service, it is beyond observing someone else and trying to copy her. In many ways preparation is person specific. The preparation of Paul was different from the preparation of Peter, who had different tasks. The preparation of Jesus is different from that of John the Baptist because of their peculiar purposes.

John was in the wilderness for many years for his own spiritual development (Luke 1:80). While Jesus spent many years in the shop as a carpenter (Mark 6:3).

You may wonder: what purpose did that serve? Do you not know that Jesus had to spend some years walking to many villages and he needed to be physically prepared for such a gruelling itinerant regime?

After a time of ministry in a place, and he departed to a solitary place to pray, Peter came to inform him that many people were waiting for him, for another round of ministry (Mark 1).

But he said his mission was to go from place to place. John mission was to mostly in one area, for people to come to him, Jesus went to the people as a deliberate ministry policy. John subsisted on locust and honey living an austere life. Jesus did not live an austere life, his was the opposite, so much so that he was accused of being a glutton and a winebibber. He must have loved eating and he attended many social events and that gave him another reputation, howbeit negative one. He was called a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:16-19).

He came breaking the religious notions that the Pharisees entrenched in Israel. Jesus’s disciples did not even fast. There was a time some people asked, the disciples of John fast but your disciples do not fast. He said they do not need to, I am with them (Mark 2:18-19). They looked like a pretty laid back bunch, Jesus and his disciples. You cannot say that about John and his disciples.

The Pharisees fasted twice a week (Luke 18:11-12), and Jesus’ role on the earth was to break down their model of spirituality, and establish a new one which is about personally relationship, heart relationship, with God and not ritualistic observances.

Action

After preparation, there is action. Not only should the servant prepare but also do the will of the master, actually execute the task. Paul told Timothy: stir up the gift of God in you, put them to work, because God has not given you the spirit of fear (which hinders action), but the spirit of love, power and sound mind (which aid action) (2Timothy 1:6-8).

We cannot give the excuse of preparation for not making advancement for the kingdom.  We have to continually push forward, move forward. Paul called it redeeming the time because the days are evil, i.e. maximising opportunity for the greatest impact for the kingdom (Ephesians 5:16).

Paul said: woe me if I preach not the gospel (1Corinthians 9:16). Why such a fatal statement? It can only come from a man with an overarching sense of identification with Christ and his passion for the lost. Even while in prison, he used the opportunity of making a defence for himself, to push the gospel of Jesus, either covertly or overtly on others, so much so that one king in his audience at one time said: you almost made be a Christian (Acts 26:28). This was a man prepared, and all full of action in the direction of the will of God.